Friday, December 15, 2006

MULTIPLYING STARS

Carrying...

Drilling...




Unpacking...


Atlas...

Lita...

Jean & Simon


24 Spheres
We have had so many changes in our schedule. Last night was the first night that we had a complete night shift; it is when we put in the star Sirius. By the time we came back to the Crary Lab and finished with our emails we went to bed at 5:00. A.m. I awoke at 11:15 a.m. got up at Noon, and after doing my laundry for the first time (clean woolen socks is the best of luxuries) I was able to spend from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. finally doing some writing and straightening out the diaries.

I went and wrote in the Library. There is a panoramic view of all the mountain ranges over the sea ice and today the Royal Societies Mountain Range appeared from under the clouds for the first time, the beauty makes you want to cry, and also the history: I am sitting in the Library full of original manuscripts and rare books on Science and the Antarctic.

I feel like I am in a light house with a panoramic window looking straight South, at the gateway to the South, which lures me and has lured me since the day in 1978, when I was in the Tunisian desert going toward the Sahara, and here I am, almost twenty years later, almost reaching the uttermost Southern point on the planet.

To get to the South Pole we have to be extremely political. We were told we were a very popular group with the community, all this thanks to Simon and his charm, finesse and diplomacy. We need those good marks with the NSF, cross our fingers it will happen, Simon is working on it.

12.15.06 – 12.16.06 5:00 P.M. TO 5:00 A.M.

After dinner, the pisten bully is ready, loaded with Lionel and Jean and all the camera equipment. The three skidoos driven by Simon, I am in back of Sophie and two volunteers, Bill Josla and Julie go out to the site over the sea ice once more.

The road over the sea ice always makes my heart sing, I feel so free in this icy scape with the mountains encircling us, going full speed in the freezing weather to our site. The sea ice condition changes from moment to moment, and navigating the skidoo through the new condition is always a challenge and a triumph. Then there is the thrill of the flagged road straight ahead of me until the bend in the road and I gasp as Mt. Erebus suddenly appears.

Being in the middle of the circle of the horizon of the earth as we are at our site, everything changes as we move, the mountains move in back of certain landmarks, it is easy to get disoriented, and one always is. We arrive at our site around 8:00 p.m. and the magic of the light starts happening. I am anxiously anticipating seeing the star “Sirius” for the first time, since it feels like we gave birth to it the night before, it was so difficult putting it in, and like a new mother, I jump off the skidoo to look over my newborn only to discover that some huge tractor had laid deep tracks straight across our site. We had been so careful with footprints, now the snow was deeply scarred. We decide to move the center of the installation over to be away from this mark, which meant to remove Sirius, no easy task.

Jean forgot his tripod and we had to skidoo back to McMurdo to pick it up. We can only travel in two skidoos for safety, so I went back with him, enjoying every moment of this speed across the ice. The rest of the evening is spent putting in the next two sizes of spheres: the three 38”, and the four 30” each one a little cumbersome, but we have figured out a way of working as a team in an assembly line.

4 comments:

mike said...

Great project. So beautiful. And you look so happy! Interested in knowing how it was funded. How did you get there? Who paid for this - one patron, or many, or??

Dr.G said...

Lita, Simon and group,

We had a blizzard in Boulder but nothing looks as stunning as seeing Stellar Axis evolve on the icy desert floor!

The tracker intervention -- a Hollywood prank or government intervention?

Either way, what happens to the constellation when you have to move a planet?

Bright White Happiness,

M. A. from L. A.

Lita said...

mike,
thank you! The entire project was funded by the National Science Foundation, you can look at details by looking at our press release on this website. However, the fabrication of the spheres, and all the required documentation, photography, documentary film, art film and publication of book all has to be funded by us. We are selling the spheres, and have sold them, you can look at the details under patron/sponsors on the website. Many wonderful patrons have enabled us to go, they will be acknowledged on a new page in our website in the next few days. Without them we could not have made the spheres, nor been able to go! We still need on going additional funding, so check out the patron page! This is also phase I of a two part project, Phase II will be at the North Pole and will need funding from scratch. ANY help will help us continue this project and will be very appreciated.

Lita said...

Dear Dr. g,
It took about one week to find out who made those tracks, it turns out it was someone sent to check on our dead man talents, to make sure we had dead manned all the spheres in place, they apologized profusively, did not know that it mattered.....
no problem, we have no planets, only stars.....