I’m writing this from the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory again. Yep, I’ve managed to get myself back up here! This time I’m travelling as part of the grand prize that ICRAR awarded to the top member of theSkyNet as part of our first anniversary celebration. We celebrated a year of achievements on September 13th – it’s almost hard to believe how much we’ve managed to get done in only twelve months.
Since the beginning of theSkyNet we’d been promising a trip to the Murchison to see the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) as the grand prize. Our anniversary seemed like a good time to award it, and we were excited to take our winner – Kim Hawtin or vk5fj – up to the desert to see everything that’s been going on up there.
I was also not-so-secretly excited to be making my third trip to the MRO and to see the progress that has been made on the MWA and ASKAP since I was last there.
We set off from Perth bright and early yesterday morning, ready for the 8.5 hour car trip. Perhaps ready isn’t the right word, but there was definitely a good feeling in the car as we headed off on the trip.
We also brought theSkyNet team member and astronomer Tim Young along for the ride too. Conversation obviously centred on theSkyNet for the first little while, but started to branch off by the time we reached the outskirts of Perth.
The trip up to the MRO is about 600km tarmac and then a further 200km on dirt roads, peppered with small towns and different terrain the whole way.
After lunch, the time spent sitting trapped in a metal box started to take its toll on us all…
Many road trains (and real trains) later, we got to the end of the tarmac!
We then took the windy path from past Mullewa out to Boolardy Station where we spent the night.
We got in to Boolardy about 5pm, but instead of heading in and getting ready for dinner we ducked straight out to the MRO site to meet MWA engineer Brian and astronomer Martin so we could set up our camera for a timelapse of the night sky over the MWA. The timelapse isn’t quite ready yet, but here’s a little teaser of one of the images for you.
Hopefully we’ll be able to share the full thing in the next few days (we’re also going to take another one tonight.)
We’re about halfway through a fun filled day at site right now (it included getting to go inside an ASKAP dish!) More on that tomorrow.