AAO Newsletter October 1996 - Page 17

the retractor problem solved and most of the software delinquencies sorted. It is placed on the telescope with great aplomb and confidence now and it is so big, that it draws quite a crowd in the Visitors' Gallery when it happens.

2dF has also been the subject of great media interest, both in the newspapers and TV, with its last appearance on one of the premier science programmes.

The weather, from an astronomical point of view, has been awful, although the farming types are hard put to keep smiles off their faces. We have had snow, rain, snow, more rain, snow, hail and even more rain so that even though there was not a lot of observing done the observatory looks good at the moment surrounded by green grass and trees that are joyfully sending out new red shoots and exploding into their season's growth.

It is that time of year when life is surging and koalas are on the move looking for a mate. Tourists are horrified that these small cuddly creatures, whom they expect to give a gentle squeak, actually sound like a pig up a tree using a machine gun! I still treasure the memory of the koala in a tree near the ANU 2.3m High Technology Telescope, sound asleep with its legs crossed.

Its being a good season, we will probably have insect plagues to worry us - the innocuous ladybird is the chief culprit and stories are apocryphal of dome-loads of these pretty insects being shovelled out doorways, blown off mirrors, vacuumed out of telescope drives, sucked out of water tanks and scraped out of underwear. Then there are butterflies, mosquitoes, more ladybirds, plague grasshoppers, more ladybirds still, the odd cockroach (but not at the AAO of course), hairy Huntsman spiders and as summer progresses, the odd snake (or Joe Blake in rhyming slang).

So life is not isolated here on the mountain top. Being high (well, highish) we seem to catch whatever is borne on the prevailing wind before anyone else and it is a time when technicians develop big muscles, for using shovels.

We have not had a great many visitors either in this quarter no doubt they were stuck in a snowdrift somewhere or flood-bound but some who did make it with the aid of snow shoes or snorkels were Ernie Page, the state Minister of Local Government and his Director, Gary Paine. In a dry spell nine Japanese amateur astronomers also made it and evinced a great deal of interest. Professor Peter Kroll of Sonneberg Observatory in Germany was also shown around—he intends to install a fully automatic CCD-based sky patrol telescope at Siding Spring.

Let us hope that at the end of next quarter we will be able to discuss the red shift successes of 2dF and anticipatory expectations for IRIS2.

Rhonda Martin

Library News

In September the library had the pleasure of a visit by Uta Grothkopf from the ESO Library. Uta's was a flying visit, tucked in among visits to places such as Uluru in Central Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. Christine van der Leeuw from CSIRO Radiophysics and Robyn Shobbrook joined us for afternoon tea and much discussion of library and non-library matters.

A varied collection of new books can be found as usual on the display shelves.

Sandra Ricketts (E-mail: LIB)

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