Friday, 11 February 2011

UKIRT: good news on its way I hope

Photo by Paul Hirst, published with permission.

The last few years have been quite traumatic both personally and professionally. I hope to publish some relatively good news in the next few weeks on the professional side of things. What I can say right now is that it looks as though the number of publications resulting from UKIRT data in 2010 has smashed the previous record. If this turns out to be correct it will be a stunning result for the telescope I've spent most of career at. UKIRT has been threatened with closure all its life but the threat became very real in the last couple of years. Despite this, it now looks as though the telescope is more scientifically productive than it has ever been.

More later.

The photo above was taken by my good friend and colleague Paul Hirst. Paul worked with me at UKIRT for many years and then left for a position at the Gemini North Telescope (but he still takes time off to comment on this blog every so often). He takes wonderful photos and there are a couple more I'll post from him of UKIRT which are even better than this one. But only if he buys lunch next time!


Anonymous said...

the photo shows a pretty blue sky. But, isn't the telescope used only at night to look at the stars?

There was talk of placing a bigger telescope on Mauna Kea. What effect will that have on you professionally?

Paul said...

Hi Tom,
Wonderful to see my photo posted below a headline such as this, and thanks for the very complimentary comments... :-)

Great news on the publication count and I do hope the good news comes through.

Lunch is indeed on me next time...

gigahawaii - that's right. :-) This is indeed a night time shot, it's just that the exposure time is so long that the stars and moon light up the telescope. The brightness on the wall and floor underneath the opening in the dome that looks like bright sunlight pouring through is actually moonlight, and the moon is making the sky a blue colour too just the same way as the sun does, only much fainter, but again the exposure was long enough to pick that up. It's how the sky would look at night when there's a full moon if you had super-sensitive eyes. If you click on the photo to get the bigger version, you can see stars in the sky too...


Tom said...

Paul - ta for answering gigi's question - I'd just logged on and was going to write a brief answer myself, so you saved me a job! Thanks!

Since you're paying for lunch I'll post your other two spectacular images very shortly! ;)

Lots of stuff going on right now as you can imagine, I'll update you over lunch. Unfortunately it's not stuff I can publish here at the moment but will when I can.

And gigi - the TMT (the larger telescope you refer to) is still a few years away. What impact it'll have, if any, is unknown. It'll be wonderful for science and astronomy though! If it happens.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, guys!

Beep said...

Like everyone here, I'm really happy to hear that UKIRT will have such wonderful proof of its productivity. Congrats to you and to everyone there. I know it is the result of superlative talent but also a lot of hard work.

All of the photos are stunning. They make me feel like I am really seeing the inside of the telescope, despite my physical limitations possibly barring me from ever seeing the inside of any telescope. One of the things I love about excellent photography is that viewing it is like I am traveling the world, even though right now I am curled up on only a corner of my bed because I am not well enough to fold and put away the clean towels which are on it. I fall asleep in these crazy positions, even when eating, and certainly when using the computer. Virtual travel makes all this go away. Thank you so much for your photos and your descriptions.