Observing at Kitt Peak, March 11-13

Here I am in the control room of the Mayall 4-meter telescope on top of Kitt Peak in southern Arizona.  This telescope is operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory on behalf of the National Science Foundation.  The goal of this observing run is to check in on as many Kuiper Belt objects as I can and measure their current positions.  These measurements help improve the orbits and thus make it possible to more accurately predict their positions.  We need this for RECON because I need to be able to predict when one of these objects will pass in front of a star.

The weather has been great and I’m getting lots of objects.  The goal was to measure 100 on this run and that should be about right.  It’s pretty exhausting work to keep track of everything and staying alert all night long.  The only break time I get is time for a little sleep and then I always watch the sunset.  I’m here for three nights and I was able to see a green flash at sunset for two of the three.  Also, there’s a nice little comet hanging out after sunrise (Comet PANSTARRS).  It’s more of a binocular object but it’s there and you can see it even without aid.