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Afternoon Three of our Jupiter observations, Mauna Kea Observatory

29 Aug 2010, 02:02 UTC
Afternoon Three of our Jupiter observations, Mauna Kea Observatory
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I'm now sitting in the IRTF office at Hale Pohaku (HP), the 3,000-metre level dormitory complex where we sleep after observing. There is more oxygen down here, so it makes for (somewhat) clearer thinking. Last night's images have already been put into movie form, fairly crudely, so there is a lot of image processing to do. The spectra take longer to analyse. But spectroscopy, which tells you about temperatures and densities of the molecules you are looking at, contains the real physics. I'm one of these people who don't believe the pretty pictures until I can see the spectra.Being actually present at the telescope when you are observing gives you so much more insight into what a complex operation modern astronomy is. If you pick up a scientific paper in Astrophysical Journal, Monthly Notices, Nature or Science, you never get the real picture of just how much goes into getting the data upon which all science is supposed to be based. Too many theoreticians think it drops like manna from heaven.Because I'm currently working on the NASA IRTF, I'll use that as an example. Starting at the "top" - in terms of altitude, not necessarily seniority - you have the ...

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