On Sunday, Ana, Brett, Owen, Gustavo, Cesar, and I finally made our way to la feria, a farmers’ market close to el recinto. We got separated at one point, but Brett and I were about a head taller than most of the Chileans there, which made finding each other really easy. We stocked up on all sorts of produce for the house: lemons, limes, plums, green peppers, red peppers, spinach, parsley, honey dew melon, tomatoes, and eggs. We had already bought the honey dew melon but the vendor insisted I have some for the road and cut an extra slice for me to snack on and it was delicious. One interesting difference from the US is that eggs (and milk, for that matter) are not kept refrigerated at stores here. I haven’t dropped dead yet, so I can’t complain!

On Monday, I went to my first Staff Tea (a standing time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays where anyone on staff can get together and chat). We met a few more people and our discussion was about a new radio telescope project, SKA, and the possibilities of building it in either Australia or South Africa. After tea, Nicole brought me to her office and gave me some very helpful pointers for reducing my current data set. That afternoon, David led our first IRAF session and went over some of the basic workings of CCDs.

Yesterday, I had some more help from Nicole and made a lot of progress with my data. I’ve been keeping that momentum going today and so far everything has been running smoothly. To reduce the data, countless settings in files all over the computer all need to be set just right, but thanks to Petri in IT and especially Nicole, I’m in good shape today.

Today started with Staff Tea, where discussion was focused on MCAO. To put it in as basic terms as possible, it’s an idea for a way to compensate for interference with the atmosphere by shooting five lasers into the sky and observing how they appear to fluctuate. Those observations would allow observers to correct for any interference. Google it for more information, or just take a look at one laser and imagine how awesome five would be.

Our student seminar this afternoon was given by Malcolm Smith, previous director of CTIO. He has done an impressive amount of work on light pollution and shared a lot of it with us today, which was fascinating.

I’ve had a few people back in the states ask me about sending pictures from the research I’m doing. Unfortunately today’s work isn’t too exciting to look at:

Also, today is Australia Day! Naturally, celebration with Belinda and Steven is in order. Steven told me Australia is 13 hours ahead of us with the time change, so they decided last night would be a more appropriate time. They had a barbecue at casa 17 last night, which was a nice chance for us to meet other residents from el recinto.

So, that’s where I’m at for now. I have one more exciting piece of news, but I’ll let you wait in suspense and save it for a post tomorrow.

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