Articles tagged with "sunrise"

New year on Cerro Carbón

New year on Cerro Carbón

I’d started 2014 with a trip up Cerro Carbón, and I did the same for 2015. I wouldn’t have minded climbing Manquehue instead or as well, but it was a hot summer’s day and these hills aren’t so much fun when it’s incredibly dry and hot. So I left the house early and was on the trail before sunrise. It was a little bit cloudy first thing, which made for a cooler start to the hike, and also created epic sunbeams over the Sierra de Ramón when the sun came up.

It was not as quiet as last year – there was someone camped at Mirador El Litre. But I still had the top to myself when I got there.


Transglobal journey

Transglobal journey

I hadn’t been to Asia since going to China in 2007, so I was excited to get the chance to go back when I found out there was a conference being held in Taiwan, all about the cosmic dust I do research into.

The only problem with the whole thing was that Taipei is almost exactly on the opposite side of the planet from Santiago where I live. So, the journey was going to be long. And it was made even longer by the travel agent I have to book work trips through having a fetish for Air France. No matter where I want to go in the world, they manage to find me flights that go via Paris, and this one was the same even if it meant taking the long way around the world.

So I set off on a journey that was 2,000 miles longer than it needed to be. But, well, I like plane journeys, and the thought of 28 hours in planes is not completely horrific to me. So I boarded the 14 hour flight to Paris in a pretty good mood. We crossed the Andes which is always amazing, we saw epic thunderstorms over Brazil, and as we approached Europe in the morning, the sun lit up the vapour trail which was pouring off the wing.


Tongariki dawn

Tongariki dawn

We got up at 5am one morning to go to Tongariki, the largest group of moai on the island. The sun rises behind the moai here so it’s a popular place to go at dawn. There were 8 or 10 carloads of people here along with us to see the sun come up.

For the first few days I’d been a bit underwhelmed with Easter Island. It didn’t seem to quite live up to its hype. But as time went by I was getting more and more enchanted with the place, and here at Tongariki came the mindblowing moment I’d been expecting. As the clouds began to light up with the approach of dawn, the silhouettes of the 15 massive statues looked incredible. I realised that this really was a spectacular and special place.


Last day

Last day

As my bus rumbled in through the suburbs of the capital I spotted a sign that said the temperature was 28°C. I spent my last day in the city enjoying the incredible heat wave. I walked out to Seltjarnarnes, the tip of the peninsula that Reykjavík sits on. I wanted to go right to the end, but it’s a nesting place for thousands of very aggressive birds. I suddenly found myself in a Hitchcockian nightmare and had to beat a hasty retreat as terns and gulls started swooping at me.

I could see Snæfell across the bay again. The snowy peak rose from the waters and stood out sharply against the deep blue sky. Once I was out of range of the bird attacks I looked across the bay and wondered when I was going to go there.

There was not much left to do. I went to the Hallgrímskirkja and went up its tower, but it was covered in hoardings and the views were poor. I sat by the Tjörn for a while and looked back on another incredible trip. I watched the sun dip below the horizon at 11.30pm. And in the morning I packed up and left.


Last dawn

Last dawn

At the end of our final night’s observing, the sea of clouds around the islands was blazing orange in the dawn light. It marked the end of a successful run, with only a couple of hours lost due to clouds. I grabbed a couple of hours sleep before our taxi arrived to take us back to sea level, and luckily this meant I was so tired I almost didn’t notice how carsick I felt as we twisted and turned back down.

The journey home was uneventful but long. We flew to Tenerife, then to Barcelona, then to London, and so we spent all day in airports. By the time we got back I felt pretty shattered. I didn’t know where I’d be travelling next, I hoped it would be somewhere exciting but I also hoped I’d get to stay at home for more than a week before I was off again.


Roque

Roque

The end of a night’s observing is always weird. You normally feel pretty tired, and after you’ve packed up in the control room you’re ready to crash. But then you walk outside and it’s a bright sunny day, and suddenly you’re not tired at all any more. It was pretty disorientating to then go back to the residencia, pull down the light-tight shutters and try to go to sleep.

After our second night’s observing, I decided to go up to the very top of the mountain to appreciate the views. The Kalima was blowing hard, and dust and gravel were whipping about. In the distance I could see Tenerife, poking up out of the sea of clouds that covered everything. I was the only person on the mountain top.


Sunrise

Sunrise

We finished observing each night as twilight began to light the sky. It always seemed like an incredibly long time from then until sunrise, and most mornings I didn’t stay up. After a long winter’s night at a telescope, only the most spectacular sunrise seems worth staying up for. But one morning, we got one. The sky was on fire, and a few of us went out to a small hill in the observatory grounds to watch.


Sunrises

Sunrises

At the end of our 12-hour endurance sessions at the telescope, the pre-dawn skies usually looked stunning. A couple of times I actually managed to stay awake to see the sun come up. One morning, all the surrounding valleys were filled with fog, which looked like a giant reservoir of milk flowing over the countryside.