Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Surveying the infrared universe

Another photo taken on Sunday (Super Bowl) evening but this time from inside UKIRT's dome. It shows the revolutionary UKIRT Wide Field Camera (WFCAM) sitting atop the primary mirror (the mirror covers are closed unfortunately). The picture was taken during sunset - the dome slit is open as is the dome ventilation system (DVS). This allows the dome too cool down rapidly and equalise the dome and atmospheric temperatures for when observing starts. If this isn't done, thermal currents from the warm structures in the dome destroy the superb image quality the UKIRT usually enjoys.

The photographer in this case wasn't me but a very good friend of mine, Paul Hirst, who is using WFCAM as I write this. Paul used to work at the UKIRT and in fact commissioned WFCAM in 2005/2006 before moving onto Gemini (and leaving me with far too much work to do as I took over responsibility for the instrument among all my other duties!). He owes me a beer or two, but please, not Bud Light!

Paul's current employer operates the telescope to the right in the picture below. Since he was taking a picture of the UKIRT I thought I'd take a picture of his workplace at the same time!

Andy Lawrence, otherwise known as "The e-Astronomer", takes over at the UKIRT tomorrow night and will continue to observe for a few more nights. Both are taking data for the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS) of which Andy is, coincidentally, the principal investigator and the survey WFCAM was designed, built and commissioned for. What a small world!


Andy Lawrence said...

I will do my best not to break it.

Tom said...

We have our weekly meeting tomorrow and I will strongly suggest a "you break it, you pay for it" policy. A few million quid should keep us operating for a bit longer than STFC have planned...

You have decent trip insurance, don't you? ;)