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October 29, 2004

Full Moon Over Antarctica

Amazing. Amazing to start the season with a night flight to Erebus. Particularly nice this time of year, since the late night sun still dips low enough in the sky to cast soft sunset pinks and corals.

[On our way. Photo: Jim]

Jim and I were scheduled for a 10 PM night flight which was delayed to about 11. I had headed home at a bit after 3 to nap, and slept solid from 3 to almost 6. I hung out with my roommates and friends learning to knit, and then headed down to the lab to get ready. Jim and I donned our standard ECW with some bonuses: Our own gloves and brand new, first-time-worn yellow Koflach plastic boots. We grabbed cameras and our GPS equipment and tools and headed down to the helo hanger.

The helicopter wasn't in yet, so we made ourselves comfortable in the passenger terminal (a small room with a couple benches against the wall and a desk and chair and radio for comms and a scale and a wall of helmets) and waited it out. We could hear the helicopter's approach, so knew when to pack on the layers again and took our gear out to the helo.

Our first flight of the season.

[Sunset in the plume. Photo: Jim]

The first stop was Abbott Peak, where we had left a GPS receiver running over the winter. The data were not radioed back to the McMurdo computer, so we had no idea how well the equipment had run, or even if it was still there--twice GPS antennas have been stripped from their mounts in the winter wind at this spot.

[Jim at work.]

[Me at Abbott Peak, taking down the GPS antenna. I look cross-eyed, but really my left pupil just gets lost in the fur of my coat. Photo: Jim]

The antenna was still there, and not only that, but the receiver was still powered up, was still tracking satellites, and was still collecting data. Good news. We pulled the receiver and antenna and headed off to Cones.

[I'm trying to show the ice on my balaklava. Such a small amount of ice, too, compared with what was to come... Photo: Jim]

[My boss, Jim.]

Our task at Cones was a bit more involved, and the air was cold. It's always cold up there, and fortunately there was no significant wind, but still the temperature was -32 degrees C, which is certainly enough to chill a person. Unfortunately, Jim and my task involved being stationary, working with wires and cables and such, which makes staying warm even more difficult. Several times, we each stopped to swing our legs and/or walk around. The good news for me is that my hands stayed warm. The bad news for both of us is that our toes were not warm enough, and we ended the evening with painful who-the-heck-slammed-my-foot-with-a-sledgehammer-and-why rewarming processes.

While we worked, the helicopter pilot and mechanic explored.

[Jim and volcano.]

[Our transport.]

[Me at work. Photo: Jim]

[Yikes! That's me again. Looking like some weird Antarctic Animal. Ice galore on my balaklava (except for where my breath comes through), eyelashes, and -- my favorite -- eyebrows. Photo: Jim]

[Full moon over Antarctica. The shadow is that of Mt. Erebus. Photo: Jim]

Posted by beth at October 29, 2004 11:08 PM


thank you both for remembering your cameras! wow! and brrrrrr!

Posted by: wilma - mother of beth at October 30, 2004 12:32 AM

Cool photos! Like the moon shot!! Well, actually all of your photos are great!! Keep them coming. We had great views of the lunar eclipse from our area of CA. last Wednesday night.....despite clouds. Keep those toes warm!! Muriel

Posted by: Muriel Haupt at October 30, 2004 1:10 AM

Awesome pictures and great report. Careful with the feet!

Posted by: Tom Harpel at October 30, 2004 1:16 AM

WOW! Great pictures Beth. Please keep them coming. We missed the eclipse wednesday due to clouds, but the moonrise last night was Oh-so-great. Full moon and blood red. I have seen this before. Don't know the reason. Will have to look that up. Love, Aunt Pat

Posted by: Pat at October 30, 2004 2:36 AM

Thank you for taking the time to post these photos of your day. I could not even imagine someone at work in your location. Your descriptions and images are a wonderful education to me.

Posted by: treva at October 30, 2004 4:53 AM

Wow! wonderful pictures and great commentary. So nice to hear what's going on with you in the Antartic. Sounds and looks so cold!!! Thanks again for the great view we really appreciate your sharing with us!!!! Love, Jim's mom

Posted by: Janet Greenberg at October 31, 2004 2:05 PM

breathtaking images. so grateful for this blog.

Posted by: erik at October 31, 2004 6:30 PM

Hi, Beth! You hard ass chic! I can't believe the ice on that balaclava. So, glad to see that things are going so well. We miss you!!! xoxo

Posted by: Barbara Robbins at November 1, 2004 12:24 AM

Hey the guys really liked the pictures.. great job. does your yahoo email address work.. ?? I need to email you something.. and I need your mailing address the guys have something for ya

the guys at the lucky 13th house

Posted by: Fire man ROb at November 2, 2004 4:04 AM