Race Across Antarctica

Race across Antarctica is a little competition that BAS is running, with teams from the bases and staff back in Cambridge competing. Over 10 weeks, teams of up to 6 people can attempt to cycle, run, walk, swim (yeah, we’ll not be doing much of that at Halley), ski or row along three different course: a 6,000km route across the continent from hope Bay to Cape Adare, a 12,000km “grand tour” route that takes in many of the research stations or a 2,840km route that follows Scott’s Terra Nova expedition from Cape Evans to the Pole and back again.

This year there are 26 teams and 140 people with 16 going for the 6,000km, 8 going for the 2,840 and 2 teams going for the full 12,000km. We, the hardcore boys at Halley, are going for the full monty and doing the 12,000. I’m the team captain and I’m hoping to lead Halley to a storming victory. To complete the distance in the 10 week time each team member needs to cover around 30k a day, a few days into the competition and we are flying with various team members racking up 70k a day. It’s a fairly gruelling schedule and time is now valuable, as we come up to mid-winter we are all trying to get our midwinter gifts made (more on that later), spend time on the race and do our actual jobs. Learning the guitar has taken a bit of a back seat for me amongst other things but it will be worth it when team Halley- the team name is actually “The Night’s Watch” (Yup, Game of Thrones reference – men, all alone in the icy wilderness) reigns victorious.

 

I’ll post some updates about our teams performance as we go.

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AURORA!!!!!

Late last night I went a wandering outside again, noticing the sky was clear and the stars were bright. I went for a short walk not to far from the base to have a look upwards. I’d been stood outside for a short while, letting my eyes adjust to the night and I saw a few shooting stars and a few satelites. Then, slowly the Milky Way became more and more visible and then, looking to the south, I saw a big shadow on the horizon with a slightly green strip above it. As I watched it became clearer and clearer and YES- it was aurora time! Yay! I got on the radio and told the other folk on base, set my tripod up and took some shots.

Aurora over halley, Antarctica

The first one wasn’t in too good a position but that is my first real atempt at taking a picture of the southern lights, I then went behind the base to try and get Halley VI in the foreground and managed to get some pretty good photos of the sky, with the milky way and the Auroa Australis!
If you look carefully on a few of the pictures you can see satelites amongst the stars- faint lines of light, because of long exposures with the camera.

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

Aurora over Halley, Antarctica

I was pretty chuffed with my first attempt. My house and it’s garden aren pretty impressive sometimes.

Some other stuff

To illustrate my point about the Aurora activity/cloud correlation there is this picture.

aurora foggy base

When the Sun’s having a full on wobbler the visibility here is always pretty much bugger all, when it clears up then the Sun has a little break from sending stuff our way that will turn the sky green and purple. Still, it will be permanent night-time soon and I’ll have more chances of seeing the sky go nuts.

Also like to add this picture for my Mum, who told me yesterday that she couldn’t tell what I was on about with the photo from a few posts back showing the Southern Cross constellation. Here it is a bit clearer, with the four bright stars in the centre showing an upside down crucifix. Hope that’s better for you Ma.

Southern Cross

More Night Sky Stuff

Few more pictures of night-time Halley. Perfect conditions for Aurora spotting are proving annoyingly rare. The Sun seems to be intent on going nuts only when we are shrouded in clouds. Get a good clear night and the Sun will be having a rest from making the sky turn purple and green. Also this week we have had a bright moon washing out the sky even when it is clear so it’s been difficult to take pictures of the stars. Still, managed to get a picture of a shooting star and some pics of the Magellenic clouds- our close galactic neighbours. Got a nice MoonDog too.

The shooting star is at the top of the picture of the base, it’s a bit rubbish but there should be a lot more in the sky from now on with the Lyrid meteor shower getting going. Lyrid Meteor Shower

shooting star over Halley

MoonDog antarctica

Magellenic Clouds Antarctica

Scott et Amundsen. Ollivier Roy

I get quite a few people getting in touch with me through this blog, some who have been South, some who want to and some who just want to say hello. Last week a French singer/songwriter got in touch who had written a song about Scott and Amundsens race to the pole. It’s nice when people send you pictures or music. This is especially nice when it’s something about Antarctic history.

The link to Olliviers site and his song is below. It’s a French site (which is also nice as I’m trying to learn French whilst I’m down here) so for those of you that don’t parlez francais you can listen to the song at the bottom of the page.

Ollivier Roy – Scott et Amundsen

I’ve passed the song around base and sent it along to other bases in Antarctica.

Cheers Ollivier!

The Blood Moon! Or lunar eclipse if you like…

Still getting myself outside, still not getting better with the camera (plenty of time though) and still swearing and windmilling my arms around in a vain attempt at keeping my hands warm. And, still loads of interesting stuff in the sky to point the camera at. This mornings treat was a total lunar eclipse, with the Earth directly between the Sun and the Moon. Now I know a lot of you people back in the UK will not have been able to see this one so, in the spirit of giving, I selflessly went out and took lots of pictures for you in the freezing cold. Actually, despite it being around minus thirty degrees it was really pretty nice out this morning. Everything is relative I suppose and for the past four or five days it’s been ridiculously windy and snowy outside – where poking your head out of the front door is asking for trouble and all travel off base or even just outdoors is cancelled. So today, with a five knot wind, no chunks of ice flying sideways and a nice clear sky, was really none too bad at all. The important bit, the thing that I’d been hoping for (and I’m hoping for every night recently) was “A nice clear sky”. This morning the sky was indeed clear. And hanging in that clear old sky to the South west at around half past six this morning was this fella:

 

Blood Moon or Lunar eclipse in Antarctica

Soon to change into this:

Blood Moon or Lunar Eclipse in Antarctica

So, that was pretty cool. You can see why a fair bit of superstition has arisen about eclipses like this. The Moon does look a bit freaky!

 

Here’s some more piccies, that cheeky little chap bottom left of the moon is Mars.

Blood Moon or Lunar Eclipse in Antarctica

Blood Moon or Lunar Eclipse in Antarctica

Blood Moon or Lunar Eclipse in Antarctica

Blood Moon or Lunar Eclipse in Antarctica

Blood Moon or Lunar Eclipse in Antarctica

 

Next up will be the Aurora Australis! (Hopefully)