F0r the last several months I have been cast in to a role that is more involved with the nightly operation of the telescope (that's why the number of blog posts have dropped dramatically) and today I had my first opportunity to shovel snow off of the top of the dome. I was able to bring a camera with me and can share some pics of from the experience.
The basic problem is this. If you open the dome with snow on the top, snow will fall in on the telescope and instrumentation. So a small crew, each secured with a safety harness, is sent up to remove the snow from the dome slit.
Here is a view of the top of the dome before any work was begun:
Here is a view of the work as it was nearing completion:
Notice that there is still quite a bit of snow on the dome, but the area that poses the greatest potential risk to the telescope has been pretty much cleared.
Here I am on top of the world:
Joining me on this quest was Greg:
Trust me, 135-feet would be a long way to fall, so having the safety harness secured is very important.
It is important to tune out the view, because it is so amazing, but I did manage to snap a few quick shots:
The photo above is looking roughly southward. You can see the little dome of the 18-inch Schmidt (center) and the much bigger (but much farther away) dome for the 60-inch telescope (right). You can also see the snow-filled Mendenhall Valley and the Crestline/Birch Hill ridge of Palomar Mountain (behind the 60-inch telescope at right).
This view is looking toward High Point. If you click to embiggen the photo you can easily see the High Point lookout tower. In the center is the dome of the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope. To the left is the observatory's 1,000,000-gallon water tank and the water tower.
Finally, check out this short video that I took of the view:
At Palomar Observatory every day is an adventure.