Still in the Dome

I'm still at Kitt Peak, on the 5th night of a 6 night run at the Mayall 4-m Telescope. Observing sometimes make me think of life in a nuclear shelter, post-apocalypse. No windows, no daylight, being very tired and drinking lots of coffee, which is not good given the nearest toilet is two floors down, down a very nuclear-shelter-like steel stairway. When the mighty dome moves, it's like another nuclear strike. In the control room, it's a little dark, with music thumping, and science being done.
Bed at about 6am with sleep to the early afternoon, followed by an hour or two of absorbing Sun-shine. Today we had a trundle around Kitt Peak to see the other telescopes. Here's a couple of snap-shots:



After a little instrument failure, we're back on the sky, but one thing I think people don't know is that we typically finish the night when it is still dark outside. Why? Well, even when the Sun is well below the horizon, it still lights up the sky and, while imperceptible to the human eye, there is enough light to swamp out detector. So, we normally push things as hard as we can (15 minutes into astronomical twilight) and then call it quits.

Of course, we still have a 4-m telescope and a wide-field camera (with a 36'x36' field of view) to play with, and while we can't do science, we can still get some pretty images. Yesterday, we decided to go after the Crab Nebula, with exposures of no more than a few seconds. We got three bands (B, V & R), which let's you make a false colour image of the Crab, and this is what I got.
The colours aren't perfect because I had to tone down the blue (for the aficionados, I didn't flat field the blue and so adjusted the colours so we wouldn't see the results), but you must admit, it's rather pretty :)


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