SXR208: Observing the Universe, an Astronomy Residential, Mallorca - 19th-26th September 2009

Nosher - as part of an ongoing degree in physics - signs up for a week-long residential course, doing Astronomy at the Observatorio Astronómio de Mallorca, up in the hills near the small town of Costitx. It's not exactly a holiday, as the course starts at 16:30 when the coach arrives to pick us up, and finishes at about 05:30 - 13 hour days, which don't leave a lot of time for anything else apart from sleep. It's good fun though, despite the 'variable' weather, and there's even some added frisson given by the challenging conditions and the need to swing 12' Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain scopes on target with only a few minutes between clouds.

On the first night, we arrive at the observatory and scope out meteorites
Part of the observatory
A short 10-minute sky shot over the planetarium - the Milky Way is quite clear on the left, like a trail of smoke
Students do a spot of stargazing, and scope out their planispheres in torchlight
Another short shot of the planetarium and sky, and an aeroplane track on its way in to Palma airport - Jupiter is a the very bright trail, left
The planetarium thingy
Sunset-lit stormclouds on the horizon
A nice sunset
Inside the computer lab
Inside an observation dome
Sitting around reading up on projects
Nosher's group check planispheres
Lights on the very wet motorway through the coach windscreen
Reflected car in the window of the coach on the way to Costitx
Analysing data in the lab
Some of the observing domes
Midnight snack in the canteen
Nice 30-minute shot towards Polaris, which some torch trails in the foreground
Another light trail on the motorway from Costitx
Kids play in the street in Costitx
Group photo outside the planetarium: Nosher is third in from the right
The group mills around after the photo session
Tutorial in the planetarium
1.5 hour star trail pointing towards Polaris - the different colours of star stand out nicely
Hotel balconies
A much-needed beer (the first after a whole week) at the hotel, following the end of the course