Monday, September 24, 2012

Photons flowing freely

NOTE: This was written to have gone up here on our local Sunday, but this site was acting bizarrely.  It's now clear again on Tuesday after an overcast Monday.

The sun allegedly rose yesterday here at Pole, but it was mostly shrouded by clouds all day.  That seems to be the standard meteorological condition for this time of year, so no surprise there.  It cleared up today, and it is indeed quite bright outside with that big ball of fusion now visibly above the horizon. The delay of a day was not really that big a deal, because what is another day or so when you have not seen the sun for six months already?

We had some nice winds for a couple days late this week that kicked around a fair amount of drifting ice crystals.  It is about time we got some wind, since this has been such a tempest-free winter.  Trust us here at Ethan’s Vivifying Adventures to report the truth and don’t let other sensationalist blogs or posts to social media sites fool you.  It was not that bad a storm.  You could still see ARO from the station and vice versa.  Actual bad weather is not being able to see the next flag 10-12 feet away and having to navigate to it with hearing while keeping the same heading with respect to wind direction like when sailing.

I got word from NASA that my physical exam done by the doctor here at Pole is acceptable, which was a nice bit of news to receive.  It still is not an invitation to interview in Houston, but it just is not yet time for those invites to be sent.  That my availability (or immediate lack thereof) is not really an issue with this particular job application is a welcome change of pace.  So many times that is a big deal breaker for folks trying to line up future employment from down here during the winter.  Still in the mix!
“It is the opening of day in the sky-fields.”
Ghan-buri-Ghan, Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

on the brink

So, here are some views outside right now.  It's getting windier, with forecasts of gusts topping 40 knots, so we may miss the actual sunrise when it happens.  But, that's nothing new for this time of year here at Pole.

Refraction in effect, making it look like a sliver has already risen:

Glad to see the radio tower we put up last summer is still standing:

Some before and after views of the drift from the ARO steps.  A profile photo would probably show the evolution more effectively:

The station and associated lawn ornaments, with some nice pastel colors opposite the sun on the horizon:

It looks like November 2 is the pretend redeployment date that will be what I'm working toward this year.  Whether weather and all that other jazz mentioned in the earlier post have something contradictory to say about that is probably fairly likely.  I'm still in waiting mode regarding the astronaut candidate selection, and from what I have read they typically only give a couple weeks notice anyway, so mid-October will probably be the earliest I'd hear anything.
“I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.”
~Neil Armstrong

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stormy, as ever

It always seems like around sunrise and station opening here at Pole that we get a bit more energetic inclement weather.  Though our temperatures are a bit warmer, the wind has increased and the visibility decreased the last couple days.  It always has to happen, probably due to uneven solar heating of the atmosphere over the continent emerging from the winter night, but also to keep the Tripod of Flight Delays on its feet and functioning for the early season.  What might the three legs of said Tripod be?  Here they are:
1)      Weather delays (due to weather here and/or McMurdo)
2)      Mechanical issues with the planes
3)      Crew rest cycle conflict
 It seems usually there will be a period during early summer when these three issues randomly and cyclically occur, which can have a deleterious effect on the unprepared/unseasoned winterovers’ peace of mind/sanity.  To me it feels like the end of winter, and delays will undoubtedly happen as a matter of course.  It’s a while yet until planes start winging their way Poleward, but it is certainly beginning to look a lot like that time of year here.

No other news regarding that very cool topic of several weeks ago.  I gather only ~2 weeks of notice are generally given, or have been given in the past, before scheduled to go interview.  So, I’ve got a month or so before some contact could legitimately be expected for the earliest interview group.

“For over a long period of time there’s little in life so disheartening as constant cold-not deep enough to kill, mayhap, but always there, stealing your energy and your will and your body-fat, an ounce at a time, I’m afraid we’re in for a very hard stretch.  You’ll see.”
~Roland Deschain, “The Dark Tower”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

More photon flux

The red end of the spectrum returns to the lives and eyes of 50 souls at Pole:

I finally was able to give the OK for station window covers to be removed today.  Honestly, some folks have been agitating for that since mid-winter.  Though that got pretty old pretty fast, I guess I didn't mind it as much as the folks that decided to ignore the light restrictions on a routine basis.

"I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
~Bill Cosby

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That old sun keeps creeping closer to the horizon, but we still won't see it for another couple weeks.  Weather forecasts have us tagging the century mark again as soon as tomorrow.  I've had an extension to some instruments' observing season due to a geomagnetic storm that started several days ago, but otherwise most things are mostly business as usual.  There isn't any good word from NASA yet, but I'm confident I will have some lovely news to report in relatively short order.  I feel it in the Force!

“If you are of any account, stay at home and make your way by faithful diligence; but if you are “no account,” go away from home, and then you will have to work, whether you want to or not.  Thus you become a blessing to your friends by ceasing to be a nuisance to them-if the people you go among suffer by the operation.”
~Mark Twain, “Roughing It”

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cameras in transition

So, all the aurora cameras are now off for the daylight months.  I think they had a generally good observing season, and there seemed to be way more auroras on a daily basis than when I was here last time (2010).  That shouldn’t come as a surprise given the run-up to another solar maximum.

With the sun and temperatures coming back up, so has the NOAA camera out at ARO.  Take a look at that and you’ll be able to see the landscaping changes that have happened over the course of the winter night.  You also might catch the odd person headed to/from work there, as well.
“History is Philosophy teaching by examples.”