Tag Archives: meteorológia

27, and some minor thoughts

There is no problem with 27. I prefer odd numbers anyway, so this should be better that 26 :) And until my average speed on the racing bike (on a one hour time trial effort on a flat course) – in kilometres per hour – is above my age – in terrestrial years – there should be no problem. So I do not have any problems with my age yet. This is good.

My motivation levels are still high, so work is good, cycling is good. I have trained more than twice as much this January than during the same period last year (bit more than 500 km and 17 hours)! In 2010, only May was a better month than January, 2012. Unluckily my indoor trainer broke down, so I had to send it in for repair, and thus I was forced to go and ride outside in much lower temperatures than I am used to. But a new wind-stopper base layer (making it a total of two layers on my legs, and four layers on my upper body) solved the problem, and I managed to stay warm and comfortable even in 0°C. And since then the temperature only got lower, seriously lower, so I have to be very grateful to Tijl, who let me use his old trainer as a backup while mine is gone. And I have to place the weather forecast here, because now it is freezing since last Monday. And as you can see, positive temperatures are off the chart…

Wednesday was already so cold, that I had to wear knee warmers and the upper base layer while cycling to work… Everything is frozen. Luckily it is sunny, so at least it looks nice, so with some good music (and I mean the new Lana del Rey album here) it is easy to fell good about the situation. On one hand I miss the snow (and now I see that Hungary will get loads of it on the weekend), because winter should be snowy, but on the other hand I really don’t mind that I don’t have to clean my bike every evening after riding home from work…

For my birthday – although I do not need occasions to validate a purchase – I had already bought a new lens (Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L IS USM) and a pair of cycling shoes (SIDI Genius 5.5 Carbon Composite, white), but I will not stop here. I am just about to order a new wheel set for my racing bike… To be honest, I do not need anything else (what can be bought). Oh, and we have booked our flight to Mallorca and also the “villa” where we will stay for a week in May (it will be a great week of – finally not lonely – cycling). This year started well, and I have a feeling that it will turn out to be a very nice year. I hope :)

Update (from a day later): we have got the snow too. A bit more than forecasted, something like 5-7 cm… (Image source: NASA/GSFC, Rapid Response) The ice age is real…

When the Sahara comes over the Canaries

To cut the story short, as I really don’t have time to write endless posts, this is how the Canary Islands looked like from space on the 6th of May,

and this is what the same satellite (MODIS Aqua) saw after they got covered by sand from Africa (image from the 12th of May, credits: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response):

The dust concentration went up from ~0.1-0.5 µgr/m3 to 36 µgr/m3. (The position of the Sun is also a bit different on the two pictures above, lowering the contrast on the bottom one, but believe me, what you see there is mostly sand from the desert.) So this means a hundred times more dust in the atmosphere! And it was really noticeable just by looking around. Everything seemed to be behind a thin layer of yellowish fog… Of course this had a very bad effect on the transparency of the sky, making the observation very difficult during the last two nights. To make things worse, the humidity was also high, and the moonlight is also getting quite disturbing as we are moving closer to full moon. Tonight the humidity is back at ~10% and the dust concentration fall down to 1/10th of its peak value, so life is a bit easier now :)

4th night at the IAC-80

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…

3rd night at the IAC-80

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)!


2nd night at the IAC-80

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…