Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #TheLastStargazers

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Will you read #TheLastStargazers to us, Moose? This seems like the perfect time for true stories of observatory mishaps & adventures.

Congrats to @emsque on her shiny new book! Plush moose holding a hardb...
I have pretty much no attention span Because Pandemic.

#TheLastStargazers is written as a book with proper chapters and everything, but it’s easy to pick up, read a section, set down, & come back later.

And it’s not doom. I need not-doom.
Even better? It’s cheerful nonfic.
I’m sorry, Moose, but I don’t think our home is going to start raining kittens.

But we can read about it happening in a telescope observatory again? #TheLastStargazers Image
Read 3 tweets
I'm late to tweet today so please accept this bonus story: The Telescope That Fell Down

For this we head to Green Bank Observatory, in the US National Radio Quiet Zone in West Virginia.

In 1988 it was home to the 300 Foot radio telescope.

Isn’t it gorgeous? and TALL?...
The Radio Quiet Zone is a fascinating place, with strict restrictions on tech use to minimize radio noise.

In a 20mi radius around the observatory, Wi-Fi, cell phones, and microwaves are banned. Vehicles even run on diesel to prefer interference from gas-engine ignition sparks.
(there’s a great mini-story from this observatory about one particular astronomer who drove a clunky old car that always showed up as interference in the telescope data, to the point where they could tell when he was arriving at the site)
Read 19 tweets
Exactly #40YearsAgo Doug Geisler was asleep atop Manastash Ridge Observatory. An astronomy grad student, he’d just logged his first excellent night at the telescope for his PhD thesis.

He was the only person on the summit, ~90 miles from #MountStHelens...

Around this time #40YearsAgo Doug woke up briefly at Manastash Ridge, convinced he’d heard a low boom or distant rumble.

Tired after a night of observing billion-year-old stars, he went back to sleep.

Years later, he told me he dreamed about the end of the world. #MSH40
(it’s hard to say exactly what he heard - it could have been the initial 26 megaton blast or the deafening secondary explosion from the volcano’s superheated material instantly vaporizing nearby bodies of water into steam)

Anyway, back to sleep for the tired astronomer...
Read 17 tweets
"Hours lost: 6. Reason: Volcano"

Doug Geisler's telescope log from 39y ago today - he was the sole person at Manastash Ridge Observatory when Mt. St. Helens erupted!

I interviewed Doug earlier this year for #TheLastStargazers and got to hear the full tale...
On the night of May 17th 1980 Doug was the only person on the mountain (not uncommon at MRO) and was actually taking his very first night of data for his PhD thesis, starting what was SUPPOSED to be a five-night observing run...
After a beautiful night of observing, he went to bed at about 4am (at this time of year it's getting light out pretty early in the PNW!) and was asleep when the actual eruption happened at 8:32 AM.
Read 11 tweets
OMG a bunch of us just put an eyepiece on the @LCOAstro Swope 1-meter telescope & POINTED IT AT ETA CARINA.

You could see the structure! The bipolar lobes!! THE STAR WAS BRIGHT RED BECAUSE OF THE DUST!!! AAAAAHHHH 🤩🌟🎉

...I should explain why I’m screaming. #TheLastStargazers
When I interview people for this book I always ask what they think a common misconception might be about what professional astronomers do.

By far the most common answer is "people think we still look through eyepieces. We don't anymore."

This is 99% true...
These days we point and focus telescopes using computers and gather our data using what are essentially extremely complex digital cameras. Many of the best telescopes in the world don't even HAVE eyepieces.
Read 15 tweets

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