Sunday, 19 December 2010

Winter arrives in Submillimeter Valley

Another picture from last week and something else I'll miss by not working on Mauna Kea anymore - winter's arrival on the summit. By the time we were up there much of the snow had melted as it often does at this time of year - January and February are usually the months for sustained snowfall and little melting. Still, as I write this, another winter storm is approaching and just an hour ago the report came in that snow was once again falling at the summit. This could be a long and difficult winter for the observatories atop Mauna Kea. It'll also be interesting for those of us who have just switched to remote operations! There will be no more stepping outside briefly to check on the conditions.

Having said that, I still remember commissioning the MICHELLE instrument at Gemini several years ago and many of those nights were spent in Hilo at sea level with a crew at the summit. For the first few days I would still step outside when the summit crew reported that conditions were deteriorating and would report back that "it looks just fine from here!".

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