Team Observing for Two Weeks
Hi to all from the IAC80 telescope on the island of Tenerife, hidden away on the Canary Islands. Last month, one of my friends, Katrien, was here and she told you a little about observing stars that pulsate. We are also observing pulsating stars but for 14 nights! That’s a lot of nights, so we divided the work among three of us. Angela (pictured above, on the right) was observing at the beginning, then Elena (in the middle) spent the last week up here. I (on the left) spent only about four nights here, but I was “on call” for the 14 nights from the town of La Laguna, which is about 1 hour away.
We are measuring stellar pulsations for a group of 12 stars in a cluster. This means that all of the stars were born at a similar time and they are all part of the same family. In fact, we already know the age of the cluster: about 500 million years! Our observations are being measured through different filters. Think about when you see a rainbow, the light splits into many colors. Well, we are measuring the light of the pulsating stars through blue and green filters. This helps us form a picture of what the pulsation looks like on the surface of the star. The Kepler satellite observes in white light (all of the colors of the rainbow together), so the surface information is not available. Kepler does provide the pulsation periods of all of the stars, and this is crucial information to help us analyze our observations.
Our observing run is finishing tomorrow 27 July 2010, and then we will merge our data with observations from other telescopes around the world. It will be very exciting to see all of the results together. Wishing you clear skies!
Postcards from the Observatory