Remember to Check Cloud Coverage

by Vicki M.

Waking up at 4:30 in the morning is never a good idea. Even more so when you’re as sleep deprived as we are here at SSP. However, my friends and I decided that we should wake up early to look at the planets on the ecliptic and watch the sunrise before we went to morning lectures.

It was not our brightest idea. 

First off, the goal was to head to bed by 10 pm the night before, but we did not end up sleeping until around 2 am. We lost track of time while working ahead on our psets. The two hour nap before we headed out to watch the sunrise was not enough to make sure we didn’t completely pass out before we could watch the sun rise. We decided that caffeine was the only solution, a very common conclusion here at SSP (the Summer Sleep Program). I ended up making around 6 cups of coffee with some hot water and instant coffee powder I brought. It thankfully kept us up throughout morning lectures. 

Secondly, we forgot to check the cloud coverage the night before. A rookie mistake. We’ve already gotten used to checking cloud coverage before our observation shifts at the telescope, since the clouds would prevent us from taking clear pictures of our asteroid. However, we did not have the forethought to check before we decided to go watch the sunrise. Luckily, we were still able to see some of the planets, just not all of them lined up on the ecliptic like we had hoped.

The two bright spots in the image above are Mars (on the left) and Jupiter (on the right). We knew they were planets not stars since stars twinkle in the night sky due to the bending of the light in our atmosphere (a fact we learned the day before!).

This is one of our better images of the sunrise, since there were too many clouds to properly see the sunrise.

We also realized that we planned our time out badly. After watching the sunrise, it was only 7:45 and morning lectures started at 9:00. With the hour of free time we had, we decided to head over to Carolina Coffee Shop for brunch. I would attach a picture of the Belgian Waffles my friend Ria and I shared, but we ate them before we remembered to take a picture…

Afterwards, our usual busy SSP day started with lectures until 4:30 pm and workshop after dinner until 1 am. Despite this busy schedule, I’ve had a lot of fun at SSP. SSP has been so much more than what I expected. On top of learning to predict the location of our asteroid with python, calculating the energy lost in nuclear fusion, and applying matrices and vectors to 3D rotations, I’ve made memories that I’ll treasure for a lifetime. 

About Me:

Hello! My name is Vicki and I’m a rising senior at Troy High School in Troy, MI. I enjoy painting, fencing, watching Chinese dramas, and folding origami in my free time. At SSP, you will probably find me in the computer lab, the lounge in the dorms, or just wandering around campus.