Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Aurora #1

2009 Winter-Over Crew - South Pole, Antarctica
I was in charge of putting together the station winter-over crew photo for 2009.  This was one of my favorites because I really nailed the exposure with the right number of headlamps and flashlights reflecting off the snow covered station.  That's me in the bottom left corner.
The Moon and Aurora above the South Pole Stations.
  The Moon, aurora and stations from my work out at ARO.  The Atmospheric Research Observatory is located a quarter mile out in the "Clean Air Sector." 
Aurora above the Old Dome Station during its last winter before demolition.
I still got to see some pretty impressive aurora even though we were near the minimum of the solar cycle in 2009. One of my favorite photographic targets was that of the Old Dome Station.  The geodesic dome housed our frozen food storage for the year.  Every two weeks a group of volunteers would head out in to the frozen aisles and gather the request from our amazing chefs.
Aurora and the Milky Way above the Atmospheric Research Observatory
 I really enjoyed working at the Atmospheric Research Observatory.  With it placed a quarter mile away from the station I had plenty of time for my eyes to dark-adapt for aurora and star gazing.
Meteor and Aurora above MAPO and the South Pole Telescope.

One weekend I decided to hike out to the South Pole Telescope in order to get some photos during a calibration period when the telescope remains motionless.  On the way out to the telescope I decided to pause for one photo of the MAPO building and got lucky with a meteor streaking through the Milky Way.
 Aurora above a Scott Tent and the South Pole.
  I never actually ended up doing it, but a half dozen of the crew ended up spending a night camping out in the Scott Tent set up next to the South Pole marker while it was -80F.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

South Pole Star Trails

Southern Celestial Pole above the Elevated Station at the South Pole
  With temperatures staying low, "April showers" have been full blown blizzards here in Boulder, Colorado.  When not skinning up the trails outside to do a little skiing, I have been staying indoors working on photos.  Here are a selection of my favorite "Star Trails" pictures I took while wintering over at the South Pole in 2009.  All of these are single images which I would do by putting the camera on 'bulb' setting and leaving it outside for 15 minutes or until the battery got too cold that chemistry stopped.  Thankfully the camera seems to always save the last picture BEFORE going kaput...
The 10 meter South Pole Telescope and Ice Cube Lab in the background.
  The South Pole Telescope was finally up in full operation during my winter scanning the entire sky mapping the Microwave Background Radiation.  This is the even temperature seen from the formation of the Universe and they would find giant galaxy clusters putting shadows on that background glow.  This was from one of their monthly calibration periods when the telescope would actually stay still long enough for a photo.  The rest of the time it constantly scanned back and forth.  Ice Cube Lab in the background (the red light) collected all of the data from the Neutrino detector grid drilled deep in to the ice.  The "cube" of neutrino detectors are buried 1 to 1.5 miles below the surface of the ice.
The Atmospheric Research Observatory and Milky Way at the South Pole.
  ARO, or the Atmospheric Research Observatory was where I spent most of my time running instruments.  The building is placed a quarter mile out in the "Clean Air Sector" in order to measure away from the exhaust and chemicals of the station operation.  Nearly all of the winds at the South Pole come from the same direction because of adiabatic cooling at the top of the ice sheet running down toward the coast.  This site definitely measures some of the "Cleanest Air on Earth."
The green LIDAR laser fires in to the celestial pole from the Atmospheric Research Observatory.
  The giant green laser on the roof of ARO.
The Elevated Station at the South Pole, Antarctica
  The giant, monstrous Elevated Station.  It's pretty amazing to live in but unless you have a regular reason to go outside, you can easily forget where you are on the planet.  Notice the two small Iridium Satellite flares going through the Milky Way.  They come through every ten to fifteen minutes and since the Earth has rotated beneath their path, they offset in the long exposure.
Aurora above a huge snow drift above the mechanical arch.  Elevated and Dome Stations in the background.
ARO at work

  And one of my favorites of me checking out the instruments while the LIDAR does a calibration.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Old Dome Station

  I recently reformatted my computer and began pulling in and re-organizing my giant catalogues of photos.  I started going over the pictures from when I wintered over at the South Pole and especially those of the Old Dome Station.  Construction of the giant Elevated Station was completed during my year at the Pole while the Dome was used for food storage.  The following summer the National Science Foundation and Raytheon Polar decided to finally demolish it.  I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to photograph this historic and iconic building during its last winter.  
Me in front of the Dome and Elevated Station at the South Pole
Aurora and star trails above the Dome
The Dome sits quietly beneath the southern stars
The Moon and a hint of sunrise on the horizon
The Last Full Moon above the Old Dome Station
Full Moon above the South Pole
Dawn at the South Pole.  
Sunrise at the South Pole