The dormitory rooms at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile cast a stout shadow over the desert fauna in the light of the early risen moon last February. This night’s moon is so bright, it prevents the Dark Energy Camera from looking at that part of the sky. On bright nights like these, we aim the telescope elsewhere, but still looking, still searching for supernovae and distant galaxies.
We start the night’s work early with an inter-continental tele-conference before dinner. After dinner, we prepare the software and telescope until sunset, when the hunt begins. Working through the night (and through a few pots of coffee and bags of cookies), we emerge a few hundred images closer to understanding dark energy and its effects on the celestial objects deep in the night sky. Just after sunrise, we hit the hay, but our minds often keep crunching numbers or sifting puzzles that arose during our observations, as the work from our night bleeds into our dreamscape.
Welcome to Hotel Tololo. We’ll turn the light off for you.
Written by: Det. B. Nord [FNAL]
Image by: Det. B. Nord