GPS data and short description is available here.
When you go to sleep at 9 AM after a long night of work (we talk about at least 12 hours at the telescope), then it is not that easy to fit in a short ride before the sunset as you wake up on the afternoon at 4 PM. And it is impossible to do if you have to work again during the next night. But as this was not the case for me yesterday, I went for another 52 km (with 1100 m of elevation gain). As it was only 14°C when I left (yeah, the weather this high is quite chilly compared to the 26°C in Santa Cruz), I am glad that I put my knee and arm warmers on (plus a wind vest, but I was quite sure about wearing that from the very beginning), because the descents with 45-70 km/h were a bit cold. This is the first time I used them ;)
Looking at the photo (and the crystal clear blue sky) above it might be hard to believe that I had to ride through clouds just before and after that picture was taken. But that’s how it was. The wind from the N just pushed the low clouds from one side of the ridge of the mountain to the other, so there was a continuous flow of wet and cold air from my left or my right, depending on which way I was riding. Video here :) Basically I did the same route as five days ago, just went a bit further down and up at the easternmost and westernmost point of the course. I can hardly feel now that I am riding more than 2 km higher than I usually do, so it is time for something bigger ;) Oh, and I met another cyclist, so I am not the only crazy one here (though I doubt that he brought his bike from Belgium on a plane…). I won’t have observing duties tomorrow, so I will probably read articles during the night. After tonight, I have only one more night at the IAC-80 :(
Honestly, I could live like this for much longer. Let’s say, being a support astronomer here on Tenerife or La Palma, working at the telescopes, then riding the bike around in my free time would be a good combination. (But first I need to finish my PhD :D) Though I think I would miss the Belgian chocolate, the great waffles, the beer and the fries, and I might get a tiny little bit lonely after some time… It is a bit sad that I would miss more Belgian stuff than Hungarian :( Pfff… I think I will stop thinking about this topic right now.
The fourth night was finally photometric, with low humidity (8-20%) and stable seeing, so I could observe the targets from our main program. (Yeehaw!) The start of the night was a bit scary though, as the humidity went up to 86 percent during dinner, but then, in one hour it dropped down below 15%. I have never seen such a rapid change in my life. Anyway, just to show something new, I merged some frames together from the footage of the 3rd night, to create photos with star trails.
Thanks to the perfect conditions, the time lapse video of this night is probably the most boring one, but it is still quite nice, I think. And if you watch carefully, you may notice a bright meteor just above the Teide around moonrise. Ok, for the lazy ones, and those, who want to have a look lasting longer than 1/24 seconds, I show you the frame with the shooting star.
This night is not mine, so I am at the residencia, but I have to stay awake if I do not want to mess up my night/day rhythm. Which you do not want to do in the middle of an observing run, believe me…
Finally, the third night brought good weather over Tenerife. The humidity was still not low enough to have cloudless skies (so no photometric conditions), but what is not good for astronomy, that can be perfect for photography. The clouds at the peak of the Teide were amazing.
And as the sunset came closer, the colors and shapes kept changing continuously. Then – as almost every day – the shadow of the volcano was again visible over the sea towards Gran Canaria as the Sun moved below the side of the mountain. Yes, what you see below is the shadow of the mountain’s slope (the dark rays from the middle towards the top right)!
There were some clouds during the night, but not that many – most of the time only the Teide’s lenticular cloud was hanging over the moonlit landscape. I made a time lapse again, which can be seen here. I have some nice things to show in tomorrow’s post already (it was really hard not to include it right now)!
Ok, the second night was not good for science. Again. This is a bit strange, as I usually do not have 2 consecutive nights of bad weather. As far as I can remember, it only happened once, during a really harsh winter in Hungary. Anyway, the humidity was too high to operate the telescope (80-100%).
But at least, the atmosphere started to clear up, and the dust was gone already, so I had high hopes about the forthcoming night (which happens to be right now, when I write this – and yes, I was right, we are getting data at the very moment). Still, as it was not sure, that the humidity would stay high all night, we stayed at the telescope. In the third quarter of the night, some clouds came from the NW, and stayed until sunrise, creating a beautiful background for my pictures.
Finally, for the first time since I am on the island, I could see Grand Canaria and La Palma in the distance (as the atmosphere became clean enough for it). There were amazing lenticular clouds on the sky again, formed by the uplift from the slopes of the Teide volcano.
I really wanted to leave as soon as the time lapse of the night was finished (though I made a minor mistake after I changed the batteries for the first time during the night, the video can be seen here), but I could not, as the landscape was so amazing, that I had to take pictures for like a half hour until I finally managed to go down to the residencia.
There – thanks to the guy at the kitchen (not the chef, but the one who usually works as the “waiter” there) – I had a really good, typically Spanish sandwich with smoked ham and tomatoes for breakfast, then I went to sleep. Yeah, sleeping from 9:00 to 17:00 is normal for an astronomer ;) And before I forget; you can find all the pictures I have taken so far on my flickr gallery here. I try to update it every day with a selection…