Monday, March 22, 2010

End of Day 4 in Alaska

Another busy day.  Began with an excellent lecture on volcanology of Alaska at the Geophysical Institute by Dr. Michael West.  If my professors in school had been as good as Dr. West I might have actually learned something about geology!

The lecture was followed by lunch; our group split into two and we went to separate restaurants before heading a few miles east to see some sled dogs ( and how they're raised.  Always fun to visit there--the dogs just love to run and can't wait to get hooked up to the sleds.

Afterwards we headed over to Ice Alaska to see the ice sculptures (  I enjoyed this year's show because it was relatively warm (in the 30s).  Last year I sat indoors and drank hot chocolate because it was bitterly cold.  I'm always amazed how people from all over the world can take clear blocks of ice and use everything from chain saws to scalpels to hair driers to create such intricate shapes.

This evening we ventured over to Creamer's Field ( where the local amateur astronomers had telescopes set up.  Caught up with a couple of friends--two from San Diego and one from Fairbanks.  Though everyone was prepared to view and photograph the aurora, we were totally skunked.  It made no appearance whatsoever; usually it shows up even modestly, but it's been pretty bleak this week.  Later this week the forecast doesn't look much better ( until next Saturday when it should improve just a bit.

Tomorrow is my first presentation about shooting the lights; hopefully tomorrow night we'll get something to photograph.  In the afternoon we'll be visiting the Pipeline and then the Poker Flat Research Range ( where they launch rockets into the aurora, followed by dinner and a talk at Mt. Aurora (  After dark we'll head over to Skiland ( for some late night viewing of a dark sky.  Photos to follow... IF I get some photos!

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