When most folks work late at the office it is a boring evening at a desk staring at a computer. I may have stared at a computer a bit, but it was hardly a boring evening.
A focusing test shot from the Keck CloudCam
The task that had me staying late was to focus the new cloud camera
. To accomplish this task I needed a dark sky and stars. The plan is the same as I have used before
, work the day and then stay into the evening.
Waiting for darkness had it’s advantages, an opportunity to do a little photography. In addition to the usual tool bag and lunch I took my camera gear with me.
With Sniffen on the roof while I watched the frames on the computer, I called the corrections up to him on the radio. It is tricky work to focus a fast lens, made worse by the need to do it remotely. We had to wait for each 30 second exposure, painfully slow. I hesitated to ask Sniffen to sit much longer out in the cold, but he was game and ready to assist. His tiny adjustments were deftly made, I watched as the lens moved through focus.
The summer Milky Way soars over the VLBA antenna atop Mauna Kea
The focus is not as good as I would like to see, I suspect that the Sigma 18mm f/1.8 lens leaves a little to be desired when used wide open. Perhaps one of the Rokinon lenses would work better. Or maybe I just need to step the lens down a stop or two.
After leaving Keck I took my time wandering down the mountain. I stopped at IRTF for a set of panorama shots. One of the first things I noted was the lack of airglow. Last time I shot from the summit the airglow was intense. Despite using the same camera and lens, with the same settings, the bright red glow was missing. Only a pale green near the horizon to be seen in the shots.
On a whim, I drove out to the VLBA antenna for a set of shots. This radio telescope was something different than the usual telescope shots I take. I walked around the dish until I could position the summer Milky Way beside the antenna. As the VLBA is a radio telescope there was no issue in using a little light from my flashlight to paint the dish and illuminate it for the photo.
I arrived home just before midnight, tired from a full day on the summit. The photos will wait for another day for processing.