Antarctica: May 2012


The sky has cleared up, and the auroras continue to shine. This is close to what the sky looks like to the naked eye, although it's a little dimmer in real life.

But crank up the exposure time, and all the colors come through. The red glow on the telescope is the light reflected from my headlamp, a single red LED.

The lights in the sky are constantly shifting in color and shape.

A view of our snow-covered roof, looking back toward the station, where a few red lights mark home.

The glow of the Milky Way is truly beautiful sight.

The dark road back home, illuminated by my headlamp. I finally started using it because I got tired of tripping over unseen drifts.

SPT and the night sky. There are an incredible number of moving objects up there. I think this particular streak is a satellite, but I also saw a shooting star as I was standing outside.


The moon came up last night, and the illumination of the landscape is amazing.

SPT backlit by the moon, with a faint aurora in the sky.

DSL and SPT cast a very long and very faint moon shadow.

A beautifully clear day outside, with so many stars.

In the distance, a human with a red headlamp approaches from the Icecube lab.

The auroras flared up again late in the morning.

A long green streak stretching across the sky, punctuated by faint wisps of clouds.

Staring into an aurora whirlpool.

Watching the shifting patterns never gets old.

Green fire flickering above.

And now for something completely different. Dean Read, Der Amerikanische Rebell.


Another Monday night chemistry experiment in the quiet reading room.

Penicillin, trial #1. Better than I expected, given the odd ingredients.

Another Monday night product: stirling engine! It worked without any tweaking after assembly!


The moon's at about its highest elevation now, and although the weather hasn't been great for the past few days, the blowing ice crystals do create spectacular moon halos.

Enjoying the moonlight from the second floor observation deck, dashing inside every few minutes to escape from the high winds.


The MET folks tell us that today is the "calm before the tempest." The sky cleared, the wind died down, and we were blessed with a gorgeous light show.

Every time I stepped outside, I wondered why I was subjecting myself to the painful cold yet again...and then forgot about my numb fingers as soon as I looked up.

SPT and the southern cross.

There was a brief period when the light intensified and a little purple was visible.

The moon is on its way back down. As much as I enjoy the illumination of the landscape, I'm looking forward to the darkness again.

A green swirl hovering ominously above ICL.

Moonlit windows on the back side of DSL.

Me and my telescopes, old and new.

And finally, some animated gifs of the sky and the telescope. The photos were taken about 5 seconds apart (and SPT's maximum slew speed in az is about 2 degrees per second).


Oh yes, it only gets better every day. As Marcus said, "She's got ribbons in her hair." I was lucky to be able to watch the sky light up over ICL, safely sheltered from the wind while standing on the deck of DSL. My camera only captures the tip of the iceberg; the whole sky looked like this. (The animated gif shows three-second exposures taken immediately after each other. This thing was moving like a fiend.)

What better way to celebrate Safety Stand-down Saturday than a party at the sugar shack? This little warming shed is a short walk from the station and a great place to escape and hide.

A handful of Polies clustered around the cozy wood stove. Thanks to Spencer and Jerry for warming up the place ahead of time!

Unlike every other building on station, this one has the luxury of an uncovered window so we can watch the moon and auroras from a comfortably warm environment.

Spencer is manning the stove and cooking hotdogs for all of us. As he says, never invite the galley crew to a party. Because they get it done right.

The hungry crowd, waiting for the hotdogs to finish cooking.

Food's ready! The shelf in the back of the shack has all sorts of other snacks and goodies.

Kris and his plate of food. The stereo takes about an hour to warm up before it'll start playing anything.

Graffiti from years past decorates the walls, in addition to paintings from Mel.

Jerry, Kasia, and the glow of the wood fire.

Spencer is preparing yet another batch of hotdogs.

The sugar shack even has a visitor's log, although the entries are pretty sparse. There are a few from this winter that describe the revival of the shack (it's been sitting idle for a few years) and the first fire in the stove.

Shut the door! A frequently yelled phrase throughout the evening...

Mel, Jerry, and Kasia, looking happy and warm.

Kris and the glow of the stove, trying to keep warm while the door of the shack is open.

The shack gets very foggy very quickly when the door is open.

The fire's dying down, so Spencer's adding more wood to the stove.

Thanks to Jerry for cutting the wood with a hatchet that's as blunt as...another piece of wood.

Spencer's having fun with the flashlight.

Next up: quesadillas!

Cooking with a flashlight and two chunks of wood.

Jerry's ready for some food!

A pile of steaming hot quesadillas and hotdogs are ready to go.

It's Sven's birthday, and he finally made it out to join the party!

...and he's soon joined by Carlos.

A successful evening at the sugar shack, thanks to our fabulous hosts.

Post-party in the greenhouse!

Sven is assembling a kinder egg toy.




Secret Sunday snacks, thanks to Sue! The creatures of the night are very excited.

And a Sunday singularity: chocolate AND vanilla ice cream in the freezer! Once-in-a-lifetime cosmological concordance!


It's the last Friday of the month, and it's time for another farmer's market at the greenhouse! Here's this month's table of tasty, locally grown noms.

A few cute little hibiscus blossoms from the greenhouse.

Joselyn used the hisbiscus flowers to make this lovely red tea, and a bit of mint and lemon balm make the finishing touch.

Doctor Dale and the table of goodies.

We also have fresh cucumber slices on the window sill.

A decent sized crowd showed up to munch on all the veggies.

My favorite item: mango salsa with bell peppers and cilantro.

A sampler plate of delicious things. Jase's amazing bread with goat cheese and chive spread and cucumber slices, chard stems and bell pepper slices with olive/chard/basil pesto, a wee tomato, and a heap of mango salsa. Yum!

Joselyn and the baby tomato harvest.

Time to wander around and geek out over the plants. The sight of these giant mutant hibiscus flowers never ceases to entertain.

The cucumber plants are amazingly happy.

And one of the best sights: the strawberry patch! Quite a few fruits are starting to form now.

A cluster of happy looking green tomatoes.

Another one of my favorite spots: the cilantro corner.

Little baby plants starting to sprout (including even more cilantro!)...

The greenhouse sign from a few years ago, nestled in a corner among the leafy green.

The basil plants are very large and doing very well.

Trays of leafy salad greens.

Holy crap, an eggplant! With a flower petal skirt!

A goofy looking spikey cucumber. This variety has an interesting spicy taste.

A silly looking splat of a baby cucumber at the base of the vine.


Another late night kitchen gathering, featuring vast quantities of kolaches.

Sue is cranking out these spheres of deliciousness.

The finished products!

Steffen is also hard at work.


The first strawberries in the greenhouse have ripened, and it's time to harvest them!

Geeking out in the greenhouse while waiting for other strawberry fans to arrive... The chile peppers are plentiful and happy.

One of the sunflowers has opened up!

More tiny tomatoes have turned orange.

A globe basil plant that looks like a poofy chia pet.

Robert is also avidly photodocumenting the first winter strawberries.

Quite a few ripe berries are dangling below the tray.

Joselyn and the first berry harvest!

The first two berries plucked from the strawberry patch. They're almost too precious to eat.

I'm not the only one admiring the strawberries.

Taking a moment to savor the smell of the strawberries...

...before finally caving in and eating them.

We each got one strawberry, and it was truly sublime. :-)


It's time to vote on the design for next year's Pole marker, and the entries are in...

Click here for June photos and adventures...

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