Open! sez a me …


Most of the times I’ve been to Siding Spring Mountain the weather has been too bad to open the telescope … and even when it *is* open it’s dark so you don’t actually see a lot.  But, when I went back at the end of last week to pick up the manservant I arrived to see the slit open:

And, as you can see,  it is broad daylight.  There is a telescope in there…..

There was an infra-red study of Venus going on which does not require darkness – the sky was so bright though we could barely make out Venus with the naked eye.

We walked around the interior walk careful to not get squashed by anything moving ….  and there are lots of moving sections inside a telescope dome.

…. a bit of scientific humour: Gascoigne was the commissioning astronomer on the AAT – it was his job to get the telescope built and then sign it over to the Observatory. Gascoigne fell 6 metres off the walk during the period the telescope was transitioning from engineering to science operation. The rail was installed the next day.   It’s a bit hard to tell from the photo but the sign is on the railing and the bottom of the dome is way down there…  

Sidney Charles Bartholomew (Ben) Gascoigne (1915-2010)  had gone out one of the four doors onto the outside catwalk somewhere near the control room. He closed the outer door and walked around the catwalk.  He re-entered the dome through what he thought was the same door and avoided switching on his torch  because he knew someone was exposing a red sensitive plate. But, he was 90 degrees off in azimuth ( yes, I had to look that up) and in the dark, he opened the nearest gate in the railing of the interior catwalk and stepped out into nothing.  He was found unconscious between some steel beams on the dome floor.   He survived with only some damage to his arm and was said to be quite proud of the pin inserted in his elbow.

We walked out onto the outer catwalk – something that I’m not keen on as I don’t like being able to see through the metal grating all the way down….. 

The view and sunset over the Warrumbungles was beautiful 

I’m sorry that I am behind in responding to comments and to visiting your blogs.   I head back to the United States Saturday and back to work on Monday – I will work on catching up with everyone once I’m back on my own computer!


26 responses

  1. Fabulous views. So much technical machinery to manuever the lenses. It’s very interesting. I really need to find a cool night coming up and break out the telescope again. It’s been sitting all summer long. Such serenity amongst the stars.

  2. I´m missing you and your posts at home…but this one- the telescope is so impressing-I like this things you know….have a good flight back to your country Emjay.

  3. OMGosh, don’t worry about catching up and responding. You should be spending every minute with your family while you can. I’m so happy you got to be with them.

    I couldn’t help but think about your accidents when I read about the guy stepping out into nothingness. Gaaaaaah….how scary. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt bad.

    Beautiful photos!!

  4. Thanks for, once again, offering an insider’s view of a big observatory. The story of “Gascoigne’s Leap” was a gem… and I’m delighted it had a happy ending! I guess you’ll be home when you read this so I hope your travel was pleasant and that readjusting to local time isn’t a hardship. — JG

  5. I’m wondering how I could mount one of those telescopes onto my Nikon. Think I should try e-bay? Maybe I should just try to get an adaptor…But seriously, have you seen the quality of the images they are achieving nowdays? People like your astro-dweeb are really making some awesome progress.

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