Friday, February 06, 2009

Hero shot

The obligatory picture at the Pole is called a "hero shot". Here's mine:

Here's the entire IceCube night shift at the ceremonial South Pole. Tilo referred to this as our "Kenny shot".

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Up all day, up all day, up all day...

This website shows, among other things, sunrise and sunset times for locations all around the Earth. The March listing for the South Pole is fun.

Two milestones today

Before this season started, we had 40 active strings. The drillers added 19 new strings over the austral summer, but not all of them have frozen into place so that we can use them (ice is a really good insulator!) Today we were able to take data from 13 new strings along with the 40 existing strings, which is a good sign that we shouldn't have any problem when we add the last 6 strings and start taking data from all 59 strings. And that means they won't make me stay here all winter!

The other milestone is that I only have one week left before I leave!

Question 19: Can you see the stars and constellations? What is your favorite star you saw so far? Do you set lots of planets?

The South Pole only has one sunrise and one sunset every year. The sunrise happens in September and the sunset happens in March. That means that the sun has been up the entire time I've been here. I have noticed that the shadows have gotten longer, so the sun is definitely going down, but I'll be gone long before the 2-day-long sunset or the two-week-long dusk before all light disappears from the sky.

Because it's light out, I can only see one star and one planet right now. Can you guess what they are?

Question 18: Does the South Pole have a telescope to view the stars and planets?

There are at least a couple, although neither one uses the kind of light we can see with our eyes.

The South Pole Telescope is almost an entire building. It uses microwaves to build a picture of the stars or galaxy it's looking at.

Of course, I'm down here working on the IceCube Neutrino Telescope, which is using muons to build pictures of supernovae and other sources of neutrinos.

McMurdo Station has a regular telescope people can use to look for seals, killer whales, and the Norwegian icebreaker

Question 17: Do you like it at the South Pole? What is your favorite part about the South Pole?

Yes I like it here, although I've been away from home for over a month so I'll be ready to see my family and my home when I leave here in a week.

My favorite part is the free stuff -- free DVDs from the store, free meals, free COOKIES! It's not uncommon for people to leave here and go back to the "real world", where they'll go to a restaurant, order and eat their food, and then get up and walk out because they forget that they need to pay for things!

There are also days when it's fun to look outside and see the scenery, but today isn't one of those days. It's kind of foggy, so we look out the window and see nothing but white snow and white clouds. Kind of a boring view!