Monday, 27 February 2012

Jet lag beckons...

Another long trip is ahead; half work, half vacation. I miss working at the summit of Mauna Kea and taking pictures up there but a benefit of the position I now hold is a little more travel, especially back to the island where I grew up. To be honest I don't enjoy the actual travel because most of it involves US domestic airlines which quite frankly suck more than a tuned-up vacuum cleaner but being in other places is something I've always enjoyed.

So, it's:

and onto:

and if you can't guess which city/university I mean, this might help:

Then it's back to:

and then some quality vacation time in:

The camera's coming with me. I hope to have some nice shots when I get back!

Monday, 20 February 2012

It was a dark and stormy night...

At the end of Ala Heiau Road in Puna on a wintry evening. This place is about two miles south of where I live and believe it or not I had never visited before.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Run away, run away!

This was very nearly the last photo I ever took! There's a high surf advisory for the east cost of Hawaii Island and thought I'd take a picture or two of the surf at sunset. This particular place is somewhere I haven't visited before so was a little wary about where I should stand but thought I'd found a safe enough place. Unfortunately the wind combined with the spray made it virtually impossible to take any decent pictures, I had to clean the lense every couple of minutes so just relaxed and watched the surf instead with the camera ready.

It was getting really dark so decided I'd try one or two more shots at high ISO (hence the noise in the picture) but the spray was just too bad. Then I noticed the highest set on its way in so tried to see if I could capture it - Bad Idea.

The first wave almost got me and the second one would have if I hadn't run away - not an easy thing to do in flip-flops (why I keep wearing them on slippery rocks is something I keep asking myself).

Hopefully the camera has survived - it seems to still be working but it needed a thorough clean. I'm going back to this spot though - I think this might be a splendid place at sunrise!

The biggest waves of the evening on their way a few seconds before the picture above.

Fifteen minutes earlier - not my finest effort but was really just scouting this place out.

Never turn your back on the ocean.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Another record-breaking year for UKIRT

For the second year running UKIRT has smashed its own publication record. In 2010 118 papers were published using UKIRT data which beat the previous record by 34 papers, a quite remarkable achievement given all the cutbacks in recent years. The new count for 2011 has been released and the record has been broken again and not by a small amount - a total of 138 papers this time round. As you can imagine I'm very proud of the record and on a science-per-dollar basis UKIRT must be one of the most productive major international observatories in the world, perhaps the most productive.

A moonlit UKIRT in July 2011.

The JCMT also broke its own record with 103 papers published in 2011, again a remarkable result given much of JCMT's time recently has been spent commissioning SCUBA-2, so a much reduced time spent on taking science data (SCUBA-2 is now commissioned and performing excellently!).

I think everyone at the Joint Astronomy Centre should be very proud of their recent achievements!

Announcement by the JAC.

Press release by the STFC.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Just a bit of fun

Another couple of pictures from the trip to Ka'u and Whittington Beach Park, both HDR. The weather and time of day were so unphotogenic I thought I'd give HDR a go. My Picasa software (free Google photo software) had also undergone some upgrades hence the framing - was just trying it out!

Incidentally, the blogger gadget on the top right of this page is broken, it's supposed to link to my Flickr photostream but no longer does. It's been broken for a while and haven't seen a fix for the gadget yet but will try and come up with an alternative soon. Just click on my photostream if you really want to see it.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A cloudy Ka'u coastline

This was the view looking south from Whittington Beach Park in Ka'u this afternoon. I've never been here before and can't figure out why. I know the view from atop the cliffs but for some reason never saw the turn-off into the beach park. A tad of research suggests the real name is Honu'apo Bay and Fish Ponds and there appears to be a lot of history behind this place although the view above is technically outside the park (as ever click on the picture to see a larger version).

I was up at 4am today and drove down to the Kalapana coast hoping to take some sunrise shots but when I got there it was still pitch black and the surf was high. The place I intended to use was being overrun by the waves and since there was only moonlight to go by I thought it a little too dangerous - "Astronomer goes missing in mysterious circumstances - only his flip-flops and lense cover found on a remote Puna beach" is a headline I've been trying to avoid over the years.

Thinking I'd find another spot I drove around for a bit but this is the east coast of Hawaii, so it started to rain and rain hard. Off home and back to bed then.

Anyway, come this afternoon I just wanted to get out for a bit so drove south into Ka'u and found some interesting places which I'll have to revisit. It felt wrong not taking a picture so there you have it, the one above.

This would be a fantastic place for photos at sunrise but it'd be a 3am start from my place to do that, so don't expect any too soon...

PS. It's actually a panorama and was a pain to put together, but didn't think that was worth mentioning!

PPS. The picture looks much nicer than I imagined here.