Tahiti: Day 2

After a breakfast of a danish and mango juice, I finally drove without getting lost or taking a wrong turn. After getting to the geophysics lab, I took a more accurate elevation angle measurement ever fifteen degrees azimuthally. I focused on site 1 because we agreed that it had the best potential from yesterday. After plotting up what we had, I sent my findings to Jonathan to decide what actual coverage we'd get. After lunch, I typed up my blog about yesterday. I then drove back to the hotel to rest and get some dinner before returning to better characterize the darkness and evaluate the feasibility of using the location for the imager.

I went to get food after 6 and couldn't find anything new to eat except McDonalds. But it was not a disappointing visit; you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Tahiti? Royale with cheese. And it was delicious.

I drove back to the site where Dominique was waiting to let me into the lab. After my eyes acclimated to the darkness and the motion-sensor lighting turned off, I started recording my findings. The site was not as dark as it was yesterday as low foggy clouds had rolled in and enhanced the glow from the city below. Although disconcerting, I discussed this with Dominique who pointed out that when the clouds leave, it is extremely dark and the Milky Way is pronounced in the sky. This seemed reasonable considering yesterday had much higher clouds and it was extraordinarily dark. My concern shifted to other direct light sources. I first noted the air-filter system which glows red and illuminates the ground below. However, the antenna are between site 1 and this device, and it is below the field of view of the lens. Secondly there were some stray point sources from Moorea island and a window in a nearby house. These are stationary and not terribly bright so some tape could block out light from those directions. Thirdly, I needed to consider the airport. I saw two airplanes land at the airport during the night. Each had and extremely low elevation angle (less than 10 degrees) and passed mostly through trees as they headed from east to west to land. There is only one runway so I don't think that airplanes will be a problem for our system. The forth and final problem were cars. At 8PM, I counted 12 cars an hour. There were considerably fewer in the following hours. Above this site on a hill is a development which is about 50% completed now. The problem with the cars is that they change what they illuminate when they drive up/down the hill. Downhill cars have a much longer affect than the uphill cars. Still each illuminates various trees, fences, and roofs. Although the cars would be a problem, I was fairly certain that the site would be adequately dark for imaging. Pleased with my findings I headed to back to the hotel and to bed.