Thursday, April 30, 2009

Staying awake

If there's one part of my life where I can feel the effects of time on me, it is on observing runs. When I started observing just 15 years ago, staying up through the night was pretty easy, even on the long winter nights. That's a useful skill for an observational astronomer.

But as time has gone on, I find it harder and harder to stay awake all night. On this observing run, from twilight to twilight is only a smidge over nine hours, and yet I'm struggling to make it through the night. I've had more than my share of caffeine, done some calisthenics, and even rehearsed some music for a vocal concert I'm part of this weekend. Yet I can barely stay awake.

Thankfully, the telescope keeps tracking the sky and the camera keeps taking pictures with minimal input from me. Tonight has been one of the best nights of this observing run (which isn't saying much, since I've had only one other clear night in the week I've been up here), and I've been able to get good data in spite of my sleep-deprived state.

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