A nice short video on Keck and the hunt to find and confirm extrasolar planets. It features regular Keck observer Nader Haghighipour from the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii talking about his research into exoplanets.
I had a chance to help out with some of the interior shots. We had to hurry as the film crew was running late and they were up against the schedule, it was time to release the telescopes to the astronomers for the night. It is nice to see the crew got the needed shots and to see the final result a few months later.
Join us this Sunday for a live broadcast from Keck 2 remote observing! Here at Keck we will be participating in a campaign to observe Saturn’s auroras. Join JPL scientist Dr. Kevin Baines and Dr. Tom Stallard of the University of Leicester while they are engaged in using the telescope.Sunday April 21st
3am-5am Hawai’i Standard Time
6am-8am Pacific Daylight Time
9am-11am Eastern Daylight Time
You can join the webcast on UStream at the Live from Keck Observatory channel.
A number of telescopes are involved with these observations including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn, the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, and NASA’s IRTF telescope here on Mauna Kea.
At Keck the team of astronomers have five half night’s of observing on Keck 2 using the NIRSPEC spectrograph. They will be making infrared observations to understand more about the auroral features and the interaction of Saturn’s atmosphere with the planet’s magnetic fields.
For the W. M. Keck Observatory 20th anniversary I did a short video. The idea was to create a teaser that could be run at the start of many of the events.
It is surprising how much work can go into a 90 second video. With a very short time span to work with you have to pack a lot of visuals in quickly. The basic material was mostly historical images of the observatory construction, a few bits from local photographer Ethan Tweedie, recycle a couple bits from Keck in Motion add a few science images and pau!
Digging through the library archive with Peggi was a great look into Keck’s past. At one point we had dozens of photo albums scattered across the top of the cabinets and I notes that we were making a mess of her library. She replied in no uncertain terms… “This is great, this is what a librarian should be doing!”
If you have not already seen the vid enjoy!
The site does not identify who is assembling the information, but it does seem to be accurate, the current Keck listings are there. I found the site through a prominent link on the MKSS website. It appears to be official, but oddly enough is privately hosted at GoDaddy, not a UH or observatory server, need to see who is putting this together.
I suppose I should do a write-up of Keck Week. It has been a week since the event wound down. But… That was a massive whirlwind of activity, way too much to do, I am just now exiting decompression mode.
I am not the only one attempting to recover. I stopped by Debbie Goodwin’s office Monday. Her desk is piled with follow-up work, her usually neat office a bit of a wreck. The same story everywhere around headquarters, the remains of open house litter the complex, slowly disappearing as folks clean up and put away. At least the conference room had tables and chairs for Tuesday’s AO Team meeting.
We are still awaiting the numbers, visitors to open house, donations, etc. But even without data I think we can call the event a total success. It was huge in any case, turnout for open house was somewhere in the 1,500 to 2,000 visitor range as expected. What I do know was the reaction I got as I walked about the events.. A lot of happy folks! Everyone was having a good time.The two West Hawaii Astronomy Club exhibits were a mixed success, not through any fault of the club. The solar viewing was completely wiped out by the Waimea weather, not just the usual misty clouds, but pouring rain. To the success side, the Telescope Shoppe worked well, as I hoped it gave our club members something to talk about, a hook to draw in the visitor. The display of small, amateur instruments looked pretty good, everything from some of my binoculars on a parallelogram mount to Tony’s 12.5″ Obsession dob. A pair of Orion 8″ dobs gave us a ‘scope to point to for budget minded folks, an iOptron cube and a Meade 8″ LX-90 represented some GoTo options. This is an activity I highly recommend to anyone hosting a similar event. The rain did little to dampen the crowds every part of the complex was crowded. The other Operations Department exhibits were quite popular… David was playing with liquid nitrogen in the courtyard, exploding bottles, freezing bananas, making ice cream. In the electronics lab there were flashers to solder, small circuit boards with LED’s and a battery allowing folks to try their hand with a soldering iron. In the shop we had a hydraulic press stamping keychains. Kids pumping a lever to create the fifteen tons of pressure needed to emboss the Keck hexagons into brass.
It is a lot of fun, and a lot of work. It is a real treat for the community. With the enormous effort we will not be doing this every year. The last open house was three years ago, it will probably be that long before we do it again.
The usual engineering minutia takes up much of my week… Paperwork, documentation, purchase orders, meetings, etc. There are the occasional chances to just have a little electronic fun. Thus I greeted a request from a couple of our support astronomers with some enthusiasm. They needed a variable intensity light source for calibration of the OSIRIS spectrograph. This source sits inside an integrating sphere on the AO bench along with four spectral sources, small tubes of neon, argon, xenon and krypton.There was already a white light source in the calibration sphere, but control was limited to simply on or off. The spectrograph uses various filters that each let through differing amounts of light from the calibration source. This created problems during calibration, some sort of variable intensity source was needed. It also needed to be quite precise, with a well regulated output that would not vary during the hours a calibration script could run.
I set aside a bit of time each day to design and build the source. The last couple hours of the afternoon are best, at this point I have had quite enough paperwork. A chance to practice my trade sketching out the circuit, or simply sitting at the bench and soldering… Perfect.
Broadcasting live now!
I got pleasant surprise walking past the newspaper box on my way to lunch. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser published one of my photos across the top of the front page!I do not usually buy a copy of the Star- Advertiser, I made an exception today. Debbie Goodwin is working with the folks at the newspaper to get publicity for Keck Week. In the process sent them one of the photos I had provided her.
This is not actually one photo, but a panorama assembled from several shots. It was a nice night, if very cold, the first light of dawn just visible on the eastern horizon. Overhead the laser competed with the light of a bright moon. We were doing tests of the newly commissioned Keck 1 laser when I had a chance to get up on the roof and take some photos. Over the radio I begged Heather to lower the bottom shutter on Keck 1 so I could see the telescope inside the dome. I then took about 15 thirty second shots spanning the full view from our roof.
As cold as it was to shoot, it was also a pain to assemble, I worked on this one for hours to get it right. Only about 180° is shown on the newspaper, the original is a full 360°. The result was worth the effort, for your viewing pleasure I have re-posted the full version below. Click on the image to get a larger version…