Today was the first day on site for the summer service trip and also my first time at the observatory.
It seems that so much of my life revolves around the telescope. I spend five days a week working for it. I have visited at least 200 schools, showing pictures of the telescope to children and getting them to use it. I even have a picture of the telescope as my desktop background. Up until now though, it has only really existed in my mind as just that - a picture. It was incredibly surreal as we drove up to it and I was able to get out of the car and walk up to it. I'm really glad I've been able to come on this trip and I'm already finding it very rewarding.
I have always heard the stories of how difficult and unpredictable the Tenerife trips are but now I am experiencing it first hand. The hours are long. We set of after breakfast and got back in time for a late dinner at 10pm. There wasn't even time for lunch in between. Some nights we wont be coming back until the early hours of the morning. There won't be any time off or weekends. Very shortly after we arrived Dan found a number of worrying problems that we hadn't expected (as I understand is normal) and need urgent attention. It's clear there will be no shortage of work this trip.
For Chris and Dan who have been doing this regularly for almost a decade, this is almost run-of-the-mill but it's amazing to see the amount of work it takes to keep the telescope running and taking pictures for everyone (above and beyond the hard work we all put in on a daily basis).
I'm here on this trip partly to see how how everything works and partly for doing the odd jobs that always fall too low on the list of priorities to get done - things like putting together detailed documentation on all the hardware.
To keep track of our posts from this trip you can use this page