Observatoire Haute Provence 2001

Return to the South of France for a week of observing

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Sunday, February 18th 2001

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Two years ago as an astronomy undergraduate, I'd spent ten days on a field trip to the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, learning what real astronomy was like. The finding of targets, the taking of observations, the drinking of coffee and the self-infliction of insomnia. I had loved it. And after my degree, I'd managed to get a toe in the door of this fun job with a PhD place. This year's batch of undergraduates needed a postgraduate to assist them in their observations, and I was on hand to provide it.

I was a bit nervous meeting the group as we got a train to Paris from Waterloo. In my year, our postgraduate assistant had not been popular, and was the butt of many jokes. I hoped I wouldn't suffer the same fate. But in Paris we had time enough to socialise over a coffee in a cafe near the Gare du Nord, and I felt that it wouldn't turn out that way. We got to the observatory after midnight, and it was great to be back.

The next morning I got up early, and went for a walk around the observatory site. I'd felt hugely nostalgic for my first trip here for a long time, and after leaving the first time I didn't expect ever to come back, so I was in a great mood. The skies were not clear, but I had a feeling that by the time we needed them to be, they would be.

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