March, 2008....J. Dana Hrubes...updated March 31, 2008 , 1020 GMT

south pole sunset 
Sunset at the Geographic South Pole

March is a month of anticipation of the upcoming dark, cold, winter along with the excitement of watching the sun set and disappear for 6 months.  watching the last of the sun    Most of the sunset this year was obscured by clouds near the horizon, but there were a few breaks in the weather.               photo of the dark sector with the telescopes and flags in the sun and the shadow of the station, a kilometer away, almost reaching the area (by keith vanderlinde)        new station sunset     new station   flag sunset    flags and station    sunset pole shot     ice cube neutrino laboratory   ice cube drilling camp (closed for winter)     South Pole Telescope sunset    flag line to the dark sector at sunset     after sunset-station twilight  
station sunset
The elevated station, the dome and skylab silhouetted by the setting sun

On the 21st of March, we had the traditional formal sunset dinner. It was a beautiful dinner put on by the galley staff and volunteers.   dinner setup    the chefs    steak and lobster   salmon    dessert      dinner    

Since the weather has been getting colder, -80's F (-60's C) we are getting a little frostier now on our way to the dark sector. We walk about 4 miles a day to and from the telescope.
frosted face
frosted face at -80 F

Here are some more frosty photos:    frosty-2        frosty-3     breath at -80 F     frosted at telescope

Keith and I put on an open house tour of the South Pole Telescope, so all of the station  could see and understand some of the science they are supporting. (photos by M. Rehm)      open house-1      open house-2      open house-3      open house-4   what is everyone looking at?    

Along with the job of working on the telescope and station science leader work comes station duties. One such duty is working as a dishwasher for 10 hours every two months.    dish duty       This is in addition to regular station cleanup work we have several times a week and other volunteering around station.  My telescope partner, Keith, also had dish duty one day     astrophysicist's cleaning duty      

The South Pole Telescope has been receding into the darkness at the end of March.    full moon at SPT     SPT-after sunset-1     SPT after sunset-2    SPT after sunset-3        SPT after sunset-4      

Earler in the month while the sun was still up, there was an ice sculpture at South Pole Telescope:    ice sculpture -1     ice sculpture-2    ice sculpture-3      

Keith and I were troubleshooting some issues with the telescope in March      listening to one of the azimuth servo drive trains    

We had a few days where we saw yukimarimos on the ice. I have seen these before, but only when it is dark. This is the first time that it was light enough outside to actually see them form, so I figured out where they come from. When the temperature drops rapidly here (at least 20 F or so), we get some condensation of the little moisture there is in the air which drops out and forms hoar frost, a fluffy coating of frost, on the surface of the ice. If the winds are right (between about 4 and 8 kts) the winds start creating and blowing small fluffy balls of snow which grow in size as they tumble across the Antarctic plateau, much like when a child makes a snowball. The only difference is that these small snow balls are so fluffy that they will disintegrate easily if you touch them.  holding a yukimarimo      I managed to get some high-definition video of them forming.

There is an article about yukimarimos in Nature  

April: the first visible aurora, stars and DARKNESS!

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)