Monday, April 02, 2007

Looking through Hubble

Friday was a day that many observational astronomers dread. It was the day that the time allocations on the Hubble Space Telescope were announced. Some of you may remember my writing about this proposal back in January. I submitted a proposal, and 12 hours later, Hubble's camera that I had asked to use quit working. Because so much of the time astronomers asked for used this camera, and because the deadline had just passed, NASA extended the deadline for a couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago, while I was learning about exploding white dwarfs, dozens of astronomers met in Washington, DC to choose which of the proposals would get time on the Hubble telescope. It was a tough job, as astronomers asked for over five times more time than was available. And this was after some large programs were knocked out because they required the now-defunct camera!

When so much time is requested, it is inevitable that perfectly good requests are denied. So, I felt absolutely ecstatic when I learned that I was granted Hubble time. For the first time ever. And I was worried that I was asking for a lot of time, which can hurt a proposal.

It may be 15 months before my images are taken, and I have to keep my fingers crossed that nothing else breaks before I get my data. On the good side, at the end of the next 15 months, astronauts should be up fixing the Hubble one last time.

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