It's been a busy month here at pole. We finally got the summer people out of our hair and it was time to get down to business, getting things done before it gets dark and too cold. The cargo people were busy putting all the vessel cargo into its appropriate spot for the winter. There was all the station closing tasking too.
Several of my experiments are dormant in the summer so I've been turning them on. I found a lot of general lab maintenence that needed to be done, so I've been pretty busy lately.
The sunset was pretty amazing. Its hard to pin down the actual event-- the sun sets, but then images of it continue to appear at various heights above the horizon due to the earth's atmosphere acting like a lens. There were several visible "sun"sets, but the actual event was obscured by heavy cloud cover. A party was held in the new station on one evening.
What was even better than the sunset is all the amazing sunset colors in the sky--both before and after the sunset. There is still a little section of the horizon showing blues and pinks, and it is almost three weeks since sunset. It seemed quite light out for a while, and then late last week it got dark in a hurry. The skies have been quite clear lately and we've all been excitedly watching as each new star appears in the sky. The Southern Cross is very clear now. I can tell the night sky is going to be totally amazing when its really dark-- more stars than this city kid has ever seen! There are two bright, colorful objects that I think are planets--I need to ask one of the astronomers. One of them is orange, and looks like the brightest star I've ever seen. The other one also looks like a very bright star, but seems to change colors--green and red and white.
The moon came up Monday the 9th, a full moon. I got up and came out of my tat and actually let out a yelp I was so startled by the moon!! For a second I thought it was the sun. I took a couple pictures, although they didn't turn out that well. They're on my website.
A few people claimed to have seen aurorae, then today someone made an all-call that there was an aurora, so I went outside. At first I didn't think I saw it, but then I realized what looked like a whispy cloud was really a faint aurora! It was a bit underwhelming, especially after spending all summer looking at some beautiful aurora shots hung up in the galley, but I know they'll get better as it gets darker. This is supposed to be a fantastic year for them--magnetic and solar activity is very high!
The water usage in the dome is unlimited in the winter--it comes directly from the main water well on station. Water for the tats and the el dorm comes from a small snow melter outside Chades, the tat bathroom. Jake, one of the equipment operators, drives a large pile of snow over every 4 days or so. The pile is much larger than the melter, and if we did fill the melter all the way it wouldn't be able to provide enough heat to melt all the snow. Instead, we all throw in a couple shovelfuls of snow every time we pass by--that way there is a more even, constant flow of snow into the melter, and the whole system is much more efficient. Because I prefer the shower in Chades I am still restricted to two two minute showers a week, but it really doesn't seem that bad. I wouldn't want to shower much more than that-- my skin is dry enough down here already!
The first Saturday of every month is a holiday--its nice having a two day weekend. Of course the cooks also get the day off. So, last Saturday Meghan and I made calzones for the station. We made about 20 special order individual ones and then 4 large ones for everyone else. It was a lot of fun, and they came out really well! We got a huge amount of apples right at station close, and they aren't keeping very well--most of them are mushy and some are rotten inside. Instead of letting them all go to waste I've decided to make some apple muffins and apple bread this weekend. It should be fun (I love baking!) and its also nice to have fresh food on Sunday, instead of just the leftover fridge.
copyright 2001 Andrea Grant
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