Monday, June 29, 2009

Amazing June 24th Aurora's

Date has been corrected for the few folks who read this thing :}

Yeah I know a week later I get around to posting about it. Well really a week late is pretty good for me...

Anyway, on the 24th there was an amazing display of seemingly non-stop auroras going on. They were incredibly bright, so bright they were reflecting off the station! I had never seen anything like this the whole time I've been down here. Thankfully, I finally have figured out how to take night shots so I threw my gear on, grabbed the camera and a tripod and took off. I was outside a total of about 4 hours just chasing the aurora around. The photos you will see are the ones I submitted for our sitrep cover photo. We send a sitrep down to denver/nsf every week. Up til now Cully has been stealing the show with his awesome shots, hopefully a few of these will make it into the foray. Almost all of the photos I took turned out really good, I just love seeing the milky way in the photos. It seems so sci-fi.

This is Destination Alpha (DA), the main entrance into the station. You can also see the silhouette of DSL in the background.

This is shot from under the station looking towards DA.

I tried to get a full shot of the station from the southern side, but the darn exhaust from the power plant blurred and dulled the images too much. This was as far as I could go behind the station and not have the exhaust affect/effect (can never remember which is correct) the shot.

This is the ceremonial pole, with DSL in the background again, with a B&W version as well. Some of these shots look really cool in B&W

Same basic shot as above, just a little further back to show more of the actual pole, not just the sphere.

After I was satisfied with the station shots, I went inside let Krissie know I was going back out for more photos rather than stay and eat lunch. I decided to head towards the telescope. It seemed like a good idea since that's where the auroras were heading for one, and I really like the shots we have hanging on the walls with the scope and the auroras.

It was really just insane what the auroras were doing. This is heading towards the scope down the flagged path. DSL is in the center and the other red light to its left is the IceCube Laboratory(ICL)

Here's looking back on the station, I really love this photo. If only the milky way or an aurora would have been there, oh well.

I somehow forgot to take any spare batteries when I decided to take the long trek out to the telescope. And with that being said of course the dang battery I had froze up on me part way there. Granted I could have turned around and gone back to the station to get the spare batteries when I realized I had forgotten them, but I was worried I would miss the auroras over the telescope if I did that. So I had to wait inside the main building of DSL while I tried to defrost the one battery I had that was freezing. I decided keeping it down the front of my pants was probably the warmest spot on my person, which would warm the battery up quicker allowing me to go back outside as soon as possible. Let me tell you that was one cold battery! Erik was there so I chitty chatted with him a bit, had some hot apple cider and some graham crackers and then headed back out side to get the last few shots before the battery went ca put again.

This is DSL, I really wanted the scope to be pointed a bit more downward for my shots, but apparently their "science" is far more important than my photos!

This was shot with no external lighting and is well, very dark. I do like B&W version a bit more than the color, but whatev.

Thankfully I remembered to bring my headlamp with me and was able to use it to brighten up the shots with the scope. Now whether or not I was technically allowed to do this is unknown. I only thought about that after I got back to the station and looked at the photos thinking, hmm I hope that didn't screw anything up for them. I think I was safe since they are not actually looking for anything in the visible light spectrum. I'll have to ask Ross or Erik about it, and see if there were any "anomalies" that night with their data...

My headlamp has white leds and a normal light bulb with a red film covering it since we're supposed to just use red lights outside. This shot was taken with the red portion of my lamp.

And this was taken with the white, shh don't tell anyone. I only had it on the scope for a short period of time. I have another photo where the white light was on it the whole time, but this one just looks better imho(imho means in my humble opinion mom ;} ). The other one looks like a normal day light shot with a night background superimposed, kind of cool.

This photo I started with the white portion of the lamp and then used the red portion.

And the final photo for this long blog is one of ICL, a very distant ICL as the shot was taken from DSL. I wanted to get closer but my battery died not long after this photo. It would have been really cool to get some shots of the lab with that amazing aurora hovering over it. Oh well, lesson learned.

Now I hope these photos have helped to answer the question of why I wanted to be down here for the winter season :}

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pip's Jailhouse Jumpsuit

Per a request, Pip's prison getup:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pip's Imprisonment

Well here it is, the post explaining the absence of Pip. The story begins months ago. I walked into my office one day and found pip being assaulted in a non pg-13 manner by a larger insidious male penguin with a filthy smirk. I immediately rushed to his aid and thwarted his attacker. After a bit of consoling I was able to calm him down and get him to come out of hiding. Not but one day later the same attacker returned! I could not believe this rogue male penguin was stupid enough to try this again!

I again was able to remove the scoundrel from pip and again had to console the poor feller. Now while this had been going on some crazy woman obviously working with the rogue penguin claimed that what I was seeing was a legitimate business deal. And that she was a representative for the Flightless Birds Escort Service of Antarctica, saying that Pip requested this individual! Total lies I assure you. I know Pip, he would never stoop to such a level.

Now the next day I returned to find Pip safe and sound. Thank goodness. Unfortunately the attacker was found later that same day in multiple pieces. Someone had seemingly removed the poor fellers head. My guess is that this attacker was not only targeting pip, but others and one of his victims finally took a stand.

I returned to my office the next day to then find Pip imprisoned! I could not believe my eyes. Where was the trial? Why wasn't I called upon as a witness?? I was later informed that Pip was not tried for the murder, but actually tried as an accomplice to the murder; and apparently I was the one who would be charged for murder! Apparently the only reason i wasn't thrown in my own prison was because they couldn't create one large enough for me. Absolute lies, there was no evidence to prove this, only circumstantial surmising from the prosecution!

Here is where Pip has been living the past 5 months. a travesty I tell you!

you can see he is on 24 hour watch by an armed guard. This prison is so ruthless that they even have another inmate guarding him. This is inmate 18, i don't trust him with those crossbows. He has already made multiple threats on Pip's life.

Unfortunately I have not been able to get Pip acquitted of the charges. So there he waits in his black and white jumpsuit, wrongfully imprisoned until I can figure out how to get him out of there...

But wait who is this? Possibly some friends. Possibly devising a plot to rescue Pip from his terrible nightmare? Only time will tell, only time will tell...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Interim Post

I'm not quite ready for the Pip post yet, but had to throw these photos up. We took our midwinter group shots today minus a few folks who didn't feel like showing up...

It was pretty cold outside as usual and i somehow forgot to take my gator, holy cow my face was cold.

The photos were taken by Patrick Cullis (Cully), using Tripp's fancy new 5D Mark II body and his own lens. They turned out amazing. Thanks Cully!

Outside the dome, with the station in the background. Notice a shooting star in the sky as well. This photo is just awesome it really ticks me off that it was too much to ask for everyone to come out and be in the photo because we're not going to be able to use these, or so I assume. Leave it to the few to ruin it for the many...

And this is inside the dome.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More Night Photos!

So I've been working on the night shots and have finally figured out what was causing my problems. The problem turned out to be that I had the lens set to a focus beyond infinity. Yeah, think about that one for a bit. When I moved the focus back a bit to sit on the exact line of infinity then it worked. Go figure...

So here are some photos that were slightly out of focus prior to figuring out my little problem.

This is standing on the main deck where we have a red light out. very blurry.

I picture the sexy devil in the photo saying, "Heya baby, come here often?" mainly because of the picture following it that I sent out in an email reminder for timecards (there's a cat theme in timecard reminders that was started last winter and as much as i wanted to kill it, many folks protested so i keep it going).

Here's the cat I'm referring to:

I found a nice little surprise when I got back in that night, I caught what seems to be a satellite going across the sky. I was very disappointed that the pictures were so blurry, but they're still kind of cool.

The next four images were all taken one after another, and luckily I got something in the sky, satellite or alien spacecraft??

Picture me roaring in the following photo, cause well I did.

Here are a few more semi blurry photos of the station:

I don't know why, but every night photo I've taken has been when the moon was up and full so there are very few stars. I'm going to try and get some star shots next week or so. One of the DSL guys sent out an email with plots of the moon's position in the sky while we're here.

You can see the exhaust from the power plant in the right.

Now once I finally figured out that I was bending the laws of physics and trying to shoot beyond infinity I was able to correct and get some decent photos for once.

Ohh look at this sexy beast sporting the latest in ECW trends!

Oh look it's daytime...I was having fun playing with the settings, and exposure times. I really like the blues in the sky, quite purdy imho.

And here we have another shot of the station with the moon, shocking. This one does have the dome in it though. Might as well absorb all the dome inclusive photos while you can, they have planned to remove it this coming summer...

A shot with the pole

A couple of days ago we had a SAR(search and rescue) drill, where Krissie and I played the role as the victims. The scenario was that her and I left in the morning to go do snowstakes and never came back. The scenario would continue with Krissie leaving early as she was cold, while I finished the stakes only she never made it to the station and when I returned I got lost. One of the steps during a search and rescue is to pull all the window covers and turn all the lights on so that if someone is lost out somewhere they would more than likely see the lights from the station. This was the only time we had the covers off since it started getting dark, and will be the last time we have them off unless something real were to happen. Knowing this, as soon as the drill was completed I grabbed the camera and went outside to grab some very rare shots.

And here they are:

You can see a couple of people silhouetted in the windows on the left.

Man I wish the moon wasn't out, this would have been so cool with a star filled sky.

Oh there's a star!

I tried to get the dome in this but, whatevs

There's Jude, one of the docs on station grabbing photos too.

It really looked awesome seeing all the lights on through the windows. I'm glad I got these photos when I did, they shored the station up shortly after.

I think that's long enough for today, stayed tuned for the next blog regarding Pip's wrongful imprisonment!