A mixed night.
Tonight has been much less straightforward than previous nights; we’ve dealt with a succession of computer glitches in the camera controls, for starters. Nothing serious, and nothing that our telescope operator hasn’t been able to resolve fairly rapidly, but still enough to eat up some time. For most of the middle of the night, the seeing was poorer than we’ve seen on this run so far, and a strong wind forced us to shut the slats that normally allow steady airflow across the dome. However, there have been some highlights too; several of the images have been stunning, and we’re now rushing to get ahead of twilight as the conditions are the best they’ve been. For me personally, though, the highlight was stepping outside to observe dust much nearer to home. Just outside the door a few hours ago was the tail of Scorpius and its neighbouring constellation Sagittarius. Neither gets very high from home (parts of Scorpius don’t even rise), but there they were. To the left was Jupiter, shining more brilliantly than anything else in the sky – apart from the last quarter Moon, rising and shining red as it passed through the dust hanging above the desert floor. Looking back to Scorpius, the Milky Way was clearly visible despite the presence of the Moon (Nature’s light pollution). In front of the stars, the dark dust clouds that block our view of the Galaxy, and in this case a reminder to get back inside and get back to work.