Sorry, folks. A lot has been going on the past couple weeks and the internet has been really flakey so I haven't had a chance to write. But I'm back and I'm excited to say I GOT MAIL! Mail is great! I promised to mention those who sent me something in a post, so here we go:
I received a Michigan themed post card from Brianna Woell. (In case I haven't said it already I'm from Michigan and have always had a soft spot for it. It's a great place if you've never been there!). Brianna and I were in the University of Chicago Pep Band together. Thanks for the post card, Brianna! Expect one in the mail yourself!
Really Real Housewives of the UP. Ahh, Michigan...
My parents also sent me a package full of goodies. Holiday candies, an assortment of nuts (for whatever reason there aren't any nuts down here), some cookies, jerky, and chocolate magic shell (that stuff you put on ice cream that hardens after a few seconds). I've been sharing with the SPT folk and everyone is very thankful. Love you, Mom and Dad!
Goodies from the parents.
While we've been testing the camera on the ground, a lot of work has been going into the telescope itself. To shield our camera from stray light bouncing off the ground, which could confuse the signals we're looking for, enormous side shields are being installed. SPT used to have side shields, but early last season they were removed to install the guard ring around the primary mirror. So the side shields are going back on this year. They just happen to be bigger since they have to go around the guard ring now too.
A view of the station in the distance from the telescope.
The framework for the side shields starts going up.
Framework is complete.
Side shield panels being installed.
Finishing touches to the panels. The white structure on the ground next to our black outhouse (called Solar 1) is a solid lead counterweight that will be installed in the next couple days to help rebalance the telescope. Photo by Brad Benson.
Finally, about a week or so ago we did a sauna Pole run. After taking obligatory photos of everyone with the geographic pole we decided to run a few hundred feet over to the ceremonial pole since it was such a warm day (-17 F) with almost no wind. This was my first ceremonial pole sauna run. The ceremonial pole is about halfway across the station from the exit we normally use to come from the sauna, so we all just jogged over to the main entrance and walked all the way through the station in our bathing suits back to the sauna.
CMB scientists at the South Pole... in bathing suits. Photo by Liz George.
Reflections of me, Brad, and Tijmen in the ceremonial pole. Photo by Brad Benson.