Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not a good month for telescopes

It's been a rough month for telescopes - at least the ones I've been associated with!

In early June, weather instrumentation atop the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, where I used to work, was struck by lightning.  Although many network connections at the telescope now use fiber optics, the weather instruments were still connected via copper cables, which gave the power surge from lightning a pathway into numerous other systems, so a lot of electronics got fried, and technicians are still working to fix everything.

Then, on the morning of July 2, as one of my fellow operators at the Subaru telescope was shutting things down, some sort of mechanical problem occurred with the prime-focus unit that holds our wide-field camera, resulting in power cables and coolant hoses breaking.  I've been told to expect a few weeks of downtime while the engineers sort through some things that the coolant dripped onto.

If there's a silver lining, it's that working normal days in the office will mean at least being home nights and weekends, which my family would appreciate!

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