Thursday, December 2, 2010

Telescope Flashback

The weather has been cloudy and wet here for the last day or so. Last night at around 10 p.m. local time, I opened my front door, torch in hand to investigate a noise and was taken aback by the sight. The weather was foggy, with a fine drizzle, low cloud cover and the light from the torch reached out as a visible beam in the mist.

The sight reminded me intensely of walking from the accommodation lodge to the main dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope, hoping that the weather would lift to give us a clear sky. I note that the AAO has changed its name from "Anglo Australian Observatory" to "Australian Astronomical Observatory", reflecting the change in the funding paradigm for the observatory over the past few years.

I have mixed personal feelings about the AAT. I had some great times there in the control room taking data, walking the catwalks to check the weather, looking out over the Warrumbungle National Park. However, the last time I was there was cut short after I ended up at the local hospital ha
ving had what turned out to be a panic attack. Not long after this was the diagnosis that I had chronic issues with anxiety.

So standing and looking out my front door left me feeling intensely depressed, a mixture of disappointment, regret and mild anger, I think. Funny how that is where my mind went to. On the plus side, there was no visible cause of the noise. And the agapanthus are finally flowering.



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