Observing Saturn

Amazing experience! With my student Jorge Lillo, I have been observing Saturn with the 2.2m telescope and Astralux, a lucky imaging camara capable of delivering images with resolution almost similar to those of the Hubble Space Telescope. If you do not beleive, have a look…

The results of the effort…

If months ago (sorry for not being able to write more often: work, trips, vacations…) I wrote about writing proposals and the efort it implied, now I am collecting the benefits: the observing time.

I applied and obtained a fair amount of hours in service mode with the new and shine Spanish 10 m telescope GTC. I submitted the Observing Blocks (the instructions about how to observe) yesterday and since the proposal was approved with a good ranking, the data will be collected during the incoming months

And I am now at the William Herschel Telescope, observing very young objects we discover using the Spitzer Space Telescope. They are heavily embedded by material and they seem to be pulsating, but we do not know what they really are. So we are taking infrared spectra in order to be able to classify them and to have an idea about what is going on.

I have to confess I am quite tired, but fortunately most of the work is being done by my student Pablo. In any case, it is going to be a long night…


Submitting proposals: is it worth the effort?

Astronomy, like any other science, works under the system of peer-review. It means that nothing is published in a prestigious journal without having the external examination of at least one specialist in the field, a person who is not connected directly with the research described in the paper. The same system is valid for the observing proposals. Most observatories (at least the important ones) have a panel of experts which read all the submitted proposals and grade them, granting time to the best and feasible ideas. See Franck Marchis’ description about how it works with the European Southern Observatory. The goal is to try to remove subjectivity (difficult, since we are humans) and to make the best out of the available observing time.

So, now to the question formulated in the title…

At least in this occasion I have been lucky, or very good, or the Olympic gods have smiled at my team. In the same day we have received the answer from Calar Alto, La Palma (both in Spain) and Subaru (Hawaii, USA) and we have received a fair amount of nights in this telescopes, including the newest and hopefully most powerful in the optical and near-IR from the ground: the Spanish 10, GTC.
I guess next Fall I will be busy observing…

Yes, it has been worth it.