Saturday, December 31, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-30

SA: Tim
SO: Zolisa
Others:

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Summary
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another full, photometric night of observing. very poor seeing at the beginning, a spell of very good seeing in the middle, and then average to mediocre seeing at the end. attempted observations for 2011-3-RSA_OTH-003 and 2011-2-RSA_OTH-026 and successfully got data for:

2011-3-POL-005
2011-3-RSA_IUCAA_OTH_UKSC-001
2011-3-UW-001
2011-3-UW-008

Friday, December 30, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-29

SA: Tim
SO: Zolisa
Others: charl, keith

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Summary
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beautiful summer night. warm, dry, and photometric with excellent seeing for the first few hours and at times later. poor seeing in middle of night as wind shifted around. got data for the following programs:

2011-3-RU-003
2011-3-RU-006
2011-3-RSA_IUCAA_OTH_UKSC-001
2011-3-DC-005

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-28

SA: Tim
SO: Zolisa
Others: charl

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Summary
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observed first 3/4 of night with clear skies and mediocre to decent seeing. acquired pointing data during evening twilight and then carried out fabry-perot observations most of the night. observed four galaxies for 2011-3-RU-003 though the fourth was beset by somewhat poor IQ. we didn't have time to fix that in the race against the humidity that eventually closed us up for the last 1/4 of the night. also attempted observations for 2011-3-RSA_OTH-026.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-26

SA: Alexei
SO: Siphelo
Others:

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Summary
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=> Clear night with nice seeing during the first half of the night.
It jumps up after midnight, when wind turns to SE direction.
After that we were closed by humidity fast enough.

=> Science data for:
2011-3-DC-005
2011-3-RSA_IUCAA_OTH-001

Monday, December 26, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-25

SA: Alexei
SO: Siphelo
Others:

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Summary
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=> Clear night with high humidity. Were need to close about midnight,
but continue later.

=> Science data for:
2011-3-RSA_OTH-001
2011-3-UW-001

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-24

SA: Alexei
SO: Siphelo
Others: Amanda, Johan

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Summary
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=> Clear night with bad seeing.
Were closed by humidity.

=> Science data for:

2011-3-UW-010
2011-3-RSA_IUCAA_OTH-001

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-23

SA: Alexei
SO: Siphelo
Others:

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Summary
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=> Started with clear sky, but were closed about midnight with high humidity
and heavy clouds.

=> Science data for:
2011-3-UW-010
2011-3-RSA-029

Friday, December 23, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-22

SA: Alexei
SO: Siphelo
Others:

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Summary
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=> Started cloudy, cleared later, but humidity forced us to close at 23:00

=> Spectrophotometric standard observations for data taken in previous night

=> Some science data for 2011-RSA_OTH-001

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy passed within 140,000 km of the sun's surface on December 16 and has not only survived, but is putting on an amazing show in the southern sky. If weather permits, be sure to set your alarm for 0300 so you can get a view of it rising in the SE. The SAAO sky camera will be viewing it every clear night and we'll be posting time lapse videos of it daily. Here's the first view from the morning of December 22:


video


Night Log 2011-12-21

SA: Alexei
SO: Siphelo
Others: Amanda and Jonathan to help with tracker

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Summary
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=> Clear night with variable seeing

=> Science data for:
2011-3-IUCAA-005
2011-3-RU-001
2011-3-RSA_OTH-023
2011-3-UW-001

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-20

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others: Alexei all night long. Charl and Johan to help with tracker.

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Summary
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Clear, stable night.

Engineering data for:
ENG_ADC
ENG_FP

Science data for:
2011-2-RSA_OTH_UKSC-001
2011-3-IUCAA-006
2011-3-UW-010
2011-3-RSA_OTH-026

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-19

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others: BVIT team Barry and Jason via skype and teamviewer, Charl to fix the tracker and BVIT.

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Summary
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Started cloudy, cleared later to horrible seeing 3-5" and humidity forcing us to close at ~2am.

Engineering data for
ENG_FT

Science data for:

2011-3-RSA_OTH-006
2011-3-POL-005
2011-3-RSA-008

Monday, December 19, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-18

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others:

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Summary
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Irritatingly partly cloudy night, kept us opening and closing. Clouds finally departed in time for supernova observation at the end of the night. Phew!

Science for:
2011-3-RSA_OTH-009
2011-3-POL-005
2011-3-DC_RSA-001

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-17

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others:

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Summary
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Clear, photometric, warm night.

Engineering data for:
ENG_GEOM
ENG_ADC

Science data for:
2011-3-IUCAA-001
2011-3-UW-001
2011-3-POL-006

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-16

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others: Charl, Peter at various times.

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Summary
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Clear night, with variable seeing 1-1.5ish. Plagued with technical problems though.

Engineering data for ENG_GEOM

Science data for:

2011-2 -RSA_OTH_UKSC-001 (BVIT)
2011-3-POL-007

Friday, December 16, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-15

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others:

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Summary
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Warm weather, clear skies, stable night. Suddenly back in summer! :)

Science data for:
2011-3-RSA_OTH-009
2011-3-POL-007
2011-3-RSA-014
2011-3-UKSC_RSA-002
2011-3-POL-001

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-14

SA: Encarni
SO: Patrick
Others: Nic remotely from CT office helping with FP.

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Summary
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* No observations tonight - cloudy with high winds at the beginning of the night, high humidity afterwards.

* Some engineering data ENG_FP throughput on MR only (with polarizer)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-12

SA: Amanda
SO: Siphelo
Others: Janus, Eben, Chris

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Summary
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. First night after engineering time. Some hardware issues at start, then clouds became too thick to observe around midnight. Only commissioning data were taken.

. Data taken for
ENG_RSS (DOD & Ken alignment tests)
2011-2-RSA_OTH_UKSC-001 (BVIT alignment test)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-08

SA: Amanda
SO: Siphelo
Others:

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Summary
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Engineering week. Telescope unavailable.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-07

SA: Amanda
SO: Siphelo
Others: Keith

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Summary
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Engineering work Telescope unavailable tonight. (Humidity would have killed us early in the night anyway!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-06

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others: Amanda

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Summary
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- Another clear, bright, stable decent seeing night. Spent
it doing various on-sky commissioning tests from guidance
to MOS and throughput. Only one science block done, for:
2011-3-UKSC_RSA-002

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-05

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others:

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Summary
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- Stable clear dry night with excellent seeing. Bright Moon,
most of the night spent on guidance and tracking related
on-sky commissioning tests. After that science data for:
2011-3-RU-015

Monday, December 5, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-04

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others: Stephen

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Summary
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- Humidity was low for a change. But still lost the night,
to clouds this time.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-03

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others:

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Summary
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- Two thirds a photometric night with terrible seeing, closed due
to humidity for last hours. Science data for bright and/or fuzzy
objects:
2011-3-RSA_OTH-010
2011-3-UC-003
2011-3-RSA_IUCAA_OTH-001

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Technically, it's a good kind of boring!

With things running fairly routinely up at SALT most nights, there really isn't much to blog about these days...  That's exactly the kind of of "boring" we've been waiting for so all I can offer is this rather serene shot of the telescope taking evening twilight flat fields a few days ago.


However, that's not to say that all's quiet as far as the Tech Ops team goes.  Here's Charl sporting his certificate that declares him to be one of the Sutherland Golf Club's Top 5 players for 2011 - Go Charl!!


& last weekend Eben arranged a fishing weekend for the gang at Infanta, at the mouth of the Breede River (thanks to Keith for providing some photos!).


Although some good ones got away (Of Course), it seems these guys aren't just pretty faces afterall!


Meanwhile, those that stayed behind on the hill for standby duties worked on other projects during their spare time.  Here's Tigger, inspecting progress on the latest electric bike endeavour...


Over on the southern end of the plateau the Polish crew of Piotr, Stan & Milena are working tirelessly on the installation & integration of the new robotic telescopes for the Solaris project.


For obvious reasons, these 2 are affectionately known as the PacMan telescopes :)  We look forward to seeing them chomping away at the southern sky in the near future!


& here we have proof of the direct benefits of installing numerous robotic telescopes on the hilltop.  SuperWASP South in particular is positively impacting the quality of life of the local community :)


Arcoss the plateau, at the 1.9-m, we were doing battle with the re-alignment of the fibre for GIRAFFE (the SAAO's fibre-fed échelle spectrograph).  Some of the old hardware was spruced up as best we could & a few new bits were installed to improve the user- & technician-friendliness of this instrument.


Following days of epic frustration, profound tedium & a debilitating case of "GIRAFFE neck", we eventually got the exposure-meter readings up from half a million to 3.5 million counts per second, at which point we declared victory & assumed an air of learned smuggery.


To undo some of the damage sustained by spending days huddled in the dark (making minute adjustments to various fiddly stage assemblies via walkie-talkie feedback), we went off to visit the cracked rock down the eastern side of the hill.


One can't help imagining aliens having popped out shortly after this thing "landed"...


It's quite a good size for a space ship really.


& makes for a wonderful photographic subject!


During the course of our walk we were treated to plenty of kestrel aerobatics - the one below was particularly vocal about us daring to walk along her cliff!  


The pair of black eagles also graced us with a couple of flybys :)


On the subject of raptors...  Francois & family have been taking care of an injured pale chanting goshawk that they've named Orion.


The shade cloth enclosure surrounding the SLODAR telescope (which is used to characterise the vertical profile of atmospheric turbulence) proved an ideal hospital room as the patient could be contained outdoors, but remain safe from predators (& cars!).


He was well fed during his stay with the Strumpfers & might even have developed a taste for ultra-rare Karoo boerewors!


Unfortunately the irreparable damage to his left shoulder will prevent him from flying again, but the guys at Eagle Encounters - the raptor rehab centre at the Spier wine estage in Stellenbosch - are hopeful that he may be placed in a breeding programme.  Given that he's estimated to be at least 7 years old, it'd be a good idea to try to pass on such good genes!

Night Log 2011-12-02

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others: Jonathan

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Summary
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- Almost full night lost to humidity and clouds. Did various
non-sky commissioning tests

Friday, December 2, 2011

Night Log 2011-12-01

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others:

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Summary
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- Half of night lost to cloud and humidity, seeing was great in the beginning.
In addition to calibrations and commissioning, got one science observation for:
2011-3-DC_RSA-001

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Night Log 2011-11-30

SA: Petri
SO: Zolisa
Others: Charl

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Summary
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- Most of the night lost to humidity. Some commissioning tests done,
battled with early tech.issues, and then got science for:
2011-3-RSA_OTH-003