Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Toolik Lake

I'm writing from my room at the Toolik Lake Field Station. The temperature here is basically the same it was in Fairbanks, which is a bit surprising, but it was already cold in Fairbanks so I'm not complaining that it's not any colder. This marks my... 6th?... trip above the Arctic Circle. And though the Sun did technically get above the horizon today, the mountains of the Brooks Range to the south were still higher, so I'm calling this as my first day with no sunrise. Here's a timelapse I shot of the mountains with the Sun passing down behind them, just out of view.

Around 6:00pm I was outside and noticed a couple of bright moondogs - sundogs except from the Moon instead of the Sun. I've seen them a few times before but it's still unusual enough to be interesting. So as I was looking, I tipped my head back to look up and noticed a circumzenithal arc up near zenith! Now that's new to me! I snapped a few pictures as I watched not only those two things, but also the beginnings of a parhelic (parlunic?) circle, an upper tangent arc, and, after I looked at the picture on a computer, a supralateral arc. Pretty rare things to see from the Moon. Here's a picture:

Work-wise, I had no trouble pulling out the EMCCD camera I'm bringing back to Fairbanks, which was my whole reason for coming up here. All packed up and ready to go:

I tried to film the drive up and do a better job than my previous attempt:

But I think I had some trouble with several things and I'm not sure what I have is worth working with. I may try to film some more on tomorrow's drive back south to Fairbanks, so we'll see. But that wraps up my tasks up here, next I suppose I'll be thinking about rocket launches and heading to Venetie, AK.

Until then.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back in Alaska... back on the blog?

That's the Prius after ~1.5 months of sitting unattended. I've been out of Alaska since early December but I'm back now. In that time I went to the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco where I presented a poster on my time-of-flight calculation, which I'll probably explain in more detail here sometime while organizing my thoughts into a paper to be published. Then I spent the holidays in Arkansas.

I've been thinking for a while that I let this blog go for too long, and other people started pointing it out to me as well, so I'm going to try keeping up with it again. I built an automated all-sky aurora camera, you should click here to see what the sky looks like above Poker Flat RIGHT NOW!!!! Unless it's daytime because the camera only runs at nighttime. But there's a lot of nighttime in the interior this time of year, so your chances are pretty good. So much nighttime, in fact, that I've already worn out the shutter on one of the Nikon D610's used for the project - that's 180,847 photographs in ~1.5 months. Anyway, I intend to do a post or two here about how I set up the automation, so others who are interested can follow along.

Otherwise, I'm heading back up to Toolik Lake on Monday and returning to Fairbanks on Wednesday, weather permitting, so I'm sure I'll post something on that. Then we have a rocket launch window beginning at the end of this month, so I intend to do some behind the scenes rocket posts.

Until then.