September, 2004....J. Dana Hrubes...updated September 30, 2004 , 0707 GMT

The American flag on the geodesic dome backlit by the rising sun on September 19th

September at the Pole - Sunrise

September at the South Pole brings Polies the first view of the sun since it set back in March and with it, the thoughts of returning to New Zealand. During early September the Pole entered civil twilight, when the sun is less than 6 degrees below the horizon. Unfortunately, we experienced almost nothing but windy weather and obscured skies from the August 1st through the middle of September, just before the sun appeared.     grey twilight        more grey twilight    windy dome and skylab             caterpillar in the wind     tent lit up at the geographic pole (photo by Harnett)  

Just before sunrise we got a break in the weather that lasted for over one week.     break in the weather       sun about to rise    dome entrance sunrise     rising sun      sun is rising      station sunrise from ARO     beer can in the sun         power plant exhaust       sunlit exhaust at -92 F      sunrise in the dark sector    

Once the sun came up, we could now see our surroundings after 6 months of darkness and see what I have been tripping over in the dark.    sastrugi(by K. Dupuy)      snow covered ARO deck    ARO deck with SETI telescope in background        balloon launch (J. Brumfiel)       dug out snow steps of my Cusp Lab back door       VLF shack front door drift    dome entrance dug out      buried  flags     buried flags to telescope                 vehicle line(photo by Chad Carpenter)        Russian Antonov aircraft (by Carpenter)          

At the end of the month of September, the weather deteriorated again and a storm blew in with high winds causing white out conditions.     white out   

    Panorama showing the Station, the dark sector, the Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO),
    the SETI telescope and the rising sun

    (scroll to the right to view the entire panorama)

This month I patiently waited for the weather to improve in order to do some delicate work on the SETI telescope. I needed to take apart the telescope up in the tower and remove the camera. To do this without damaging the electronic components, I had to erect a tent on the tower and heat the interior with a combustion heater. The wind finally subsided enough to erect the tent frame and tent just before sunrise      tent frame installed     tent canvas installed    web cam image of me working at the tower         I now had to wait for the temperature to rise above -80 F in order for a caterpillar tractor to bring a combustion heater over. We don't operate heavy machinery when it is colder than -80 F which is the majority of the winter.  I waited almost 10 days, then on September 27, the temperature was -80 F and the winds were only 12-15 knots.  I immediately had the combustion heater brought out to the telescope tower, heated the interior of the tent and completed the camera removal procedure in 8 hours. It is a good thing this was done, because the weather window only lasted about 12 hours. By the next day we were in the middle of a storm with winds reaching 35 mph.      SETI/AASTO telescope site with combustion heater        heater heating tent interior      working on telescope       telescope work      telescope with camera removed 

    Panorama showing ARO, the SETI telescope, skylab, the geodesic dome with the drifted-in
   entrance freshly plowed, the garages, the power plant, the new elevated station and the dark sector
    (scroll to the right to view the entire panorama)  

I gave my last science lecture of the season. The subject was rocket engineering, one of the professions I have worked in back in the States for decades. The other two lectures included a lecture on the research trips I made to the High Arctic and North Pole in the mid 1980's and a lecture on Space Weather, which is about upper atmospheric physics and solar-terrestrial interaction (most of my projects at the pole are in this area).       Rocket Lecture          Arctic Lecture          Space Weather Lecture   

We (the South Pole winter band, I am on drums) played for the sunrise party on September 18th.     the band       the band-2   

Panorama taken between the main station and the dark sector where the aircraft skiway will be prepared
    over the next 3 weeks in anticipation of the arrival of the first LC-130 aircraft at the end of October.
    The ice surface looks rather smooth because a storm with winds about 90 degrees from the normal direction
    filled in the sastrugi and surface waves...... the end of the month storm brought back all of those heavy
    drifts and sastrugi, making it very difficult to walk, once again.
    (scroll to the right to view the entire panorama)

NEXT MONTH:   First Aircraft since February Arrives!!!! ....
       A Real-Time Photo of South Pole Station as Seen from the ARO Building (live when satellite is up)

       A Comprehensive South Pole Web Site by Bill Spindler

     Winterover Web Pages (Bill Spindler's List)