There’s a lot going on at Halley at the moment, between longer work days and weeks, lots of recreational activities, new people on base and the final month or so of the Antarctica366 project and as a result this blog has suffered a bit of neglect.
In this article I’m trying to fix some of that, by giving you an update for September (October update in a few days) and lots of pictures!
As you may know, we’ve had the first sunrise of the season in August, so September brought even more daylight. It felt like it was all nicely balanced, with both solid amount of light as well as long nights, which was perfect – we’ve had the best of both worlds! Lots of cool sunrises and sunsets, as well as some aurora and milky way!
To keep the creative juices flowing, Stuart started the Halley Photo Club. The idea was we would meet on the weekend, discuss images from the week and choose a new theme for the following week, after which people would go off and try to take 3-4 images. We printed them all out and hung them on the wall for everyone to watch. There were quite a few people taking part in it, so it was good fun!
Some of the categories were:
- Abstract Modules
- Black and White
- Things you like
Record low atmospheric pressure
As it happened, we’ve beat the previous lowest ever recorded atmospheric pressure at Halley. The pressure dropped to 928 mbar on 9th September, a whole 2 mbar less than the record from 1994!
One thing we do celebrate well here are people’s birthday, and our Chef Vicky happened to have hers this month. We had a great party in the Upper Obs, with a Helium filled Met balloon, a few drinks and lots of laughs!
To give our Chef Vicky some time off, we all have to cook once in a while for the rest of the team. I’ve had two cook days in September and learned how to make curry (which I really liked), as well as kept practicing bread making. I’ve enjoyed both and I’m planning to keep this up when I get back home.
One of the great things at Halley (and generally in Antarctica) is the crystal clear air and the night skies. We have two telescopes on base, and one of them can be used with a digital camera to take pictures through.
I’ve decided to give it a go and attempt to take pictures of the Moon. The process involved taking the telescope outside for several hours to let it cool down to ambient temperature and for all materials to contract and get to their final shapes. After that I went outside again, this time with my camera, and attached it to the telescope using a special camera mount.
As it was really cold outside (in the region of -35° or so), I had trouble using the focusing knob in the telescope – it didn’t seem to quite catch the mechanism, and required a lot of fiddling to get it mostly right. Also, the display on the back of my camera, which I used in Live View to assist with framing and focusing, had much longer response time than normally due to low temperature, making focusing even more challenging. I did manage to get a few shots which I’m quite happy with for first attempt!
Preparing the station for aircraft arrival
We have also started preparations for the arrival of the first aircraft, due in some time in the middle of October.
One of the big jobs as part of the preparations, besides the usual scrubbing of the station, was to dig out some of the fuel drums. These are stored in several stacks of around 200 drums each, and throughout the winter get slowly buried in snow. We used an opportunity of a really good weather and in the course of a day managed to dig two stacks out!