Friday, 16 January 2009
A little breezy today
For a change I have no photos from the summit; just try taking a nice sunset photo in hurricane force winds and I bet you wouldn't either! All I got was a shot of a lenticular cloud forming in the pre-dawn sky from the Vacation Resort Hale Pohaku lower parking lot (around 5,000 feet below the summit) on Thursday morning. I've written about lenticular clouds before, they're an indication of high winds, so this wasn't a promising sign. Even so far below the summit I had to lean against the car to avoid blurring the shot due to the winds coming off the summit. A tripod would have been useless, it would have been blown away down the mountainside before I could have said "it's a bit windy, isn't it?".
We went to the summit on Thursday evening despite the winds. At around sunset I made a suggestion to our visiting observers that they may want to go outside and watch it knowing that they'd be back inside soon - it was like one of those comedy movies when the star asks someone to do something and starts counting down knowing they'll fail and will return shortly. In fact they came back sooner than I expected, it must have been a minute at most! I didn't join them outside. No way.
For the next hour or so I tried to train the visitors on how to use our observing software and we pretended to observe despite the dome being very tightly closed. They've been here before so at least they have seen the software before, but it's never the same if you can't see a star or two.
Anyway, we evacuated shortly afterwards as the wind speed touched hurricane force. Tonight I'm back at sea level because observing is simply out of the question, the winds slowly increased throughout last night and today and on occasion were very close to 100-mph (160-kph). We may have just reached the peak as in the last hour or so the winds seem to be decreasing, they're only a steady 80-mph right now (130-kph)! Unfortunately the predicted moisture appears to be moving in, so blizzard conditions might be our next problem.
The night sky was beautiful though, it was stunningly clear and dark. That's the way it goes in astronomy sometimes.