Well our search for the northern lights along the coast of Norway has come to an end and while we were disappointed about not seeing the lights, some lucky fellow passengers did see the lights!
We have already described in previous blog posts about how our one scheduled night of dark sky, at a remove observing site and searching for the northern lights resulted only in disappointment in that we did not get to see the lights. The clouds were just too thick. Well, we were grousing about this and commiserating with other guests at breakfast one morning, it turned out that the people at the adjacent table had some very good luck and got some great images.
Many of us had signed up for the same remote site observing session, but unbeknownst to us, we had signed up for or been put in a group that was only going to be out for four hours. So by 10:00 PM it was time for our group to come back to the ship and no one had seen stars and had just barely seen a little glow of the moon through the clouds, little alone the northern lights.
But One Lucky Guy, Larry, was in a group that was not scheduled to come back to the ship until many hours later. It turned out that Larry's group had to wait many more hours, but just as the session was ended the lights were able to poke through the clouds. Check out his 30 second, DSLR image below. Wow, that is a great picture! Sorry that we missed it, but thanks for sharing, Larry!
|Wow, some passengers on the Viking Sky (not us) saw the northern lights (Source: Larry Lorimar)|
Just in case you are wondering what the rest of us were able to see in our early night observing session, check out another of Larry's photos taken at that time. You can see the warming tents at the observing site and the overcast skies and the moon just able show up as a ball of light through the clouds.
|Most of the evening search for the northern lights was very cloudy (Source: Larry Lorimar)|
So, it was nice to hear that at least a few people were able to see the northern lights. But our scheduled time had come and gone and we still waited anxiously, during the next couple of days and nights, with the TV tuned to the bridge crew for any announcement that the lights were visible, but no announcement came.
So with our observing time done, we can move on to a separate topic. While we were packing our bags and getting ready to leave the Viking Sky, I received a note from Coursera regarding a new free internet course on "The Changing Arctic". Wow, just what I was looking for and the course just started. You can take it at your own pace if you choose and I plan to sign up as soon as we get back to the observatory. It could be fun learning more about the Arctic.
|Hey, this free internet course on "The Changing Arctic looks interesting (Source: www.coursera.org)|
You can check out the details of the Coursera course, "The Changing Arctic" at:
|The south pole has lights too! (Source: biggeekdad.com/2019/02/beautiful-southern-lights/)|
|Resident Astronomer Peggy poses with iconic Bergen houses in the background (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
You may also remember that in our post of February 16 (which you can use the search box on the website main page, if you don't recall), when we showed a picture of an object, seen off the beam of the ship, that surely looked like a submarine moving through the water on the surface. Well, on closer inspection with a little more magnification it turned out, we still believe, to be just some rocks that poked through the sea surface and had some little structure built on top to serve as a navigational beacon to keep ships away.
Ok, but now in Bergen harbor, what do we spy as we look out of our stateroom? Yep, there is indeed a submarine docked at the pier. Hmm, I wonder if underwater cruising will become the new big thing or will it just be for those who signed up for the Navy?
|Now, that actually is a submarine in Bergen harbor (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
So, our cruise is coming to an end, but we probably should spend a little time on astrophysics? Not! I have really started to appreciate the discussion of two photon absorption (TPA) because it provides a good example of how the Hamiltonian and Schrodinger equation can actually be used to solved for some transition rates. I never really understood or appreciated the value of the Schrodinger equation, other than something to boggle our students' minds about how hard it was to solve in most instances, but here was a good example. The 2008 paper by Perez-Arjona, Valcarcel and Roldan (see arXiv:0402155), reads more like a tutorial and seems at the level that I can work my way through it. There is not anything particularly significant about the results of the paper, but if you are like me and want to find a good tutorial on using the Schrodinger equation, this is a pretty good example. Time will tell, but let's discuss this topic later.
Anyway, let's not go down that path now but reminisce about some of the good times opportunities aboard the ship in addition to the exciting places we visited. The food and available food choices are first rate and yet, I managed to gain just 2.5 pounds without feeling deprived at all. The martinis were excellent and the freely available wines for lunch and dinner agreed very well with my taste buds. But it occurs to me that we had not previously mentioned some of the entertainment available on the ship. So let us end this post with just three images of fun places including the Star Theatre for big production musicals and such, and for quieter moments of reflection or reading you can always enjoy the music in the Atrium or in the Explorers' Lounge. Ok, ok, the music is there many hours during the cruise, but did I mention that martinis are available in all of those locations! Hmm, we had exciting locations, travel, entertainment, educational and enrichment lectures, fun travelers, and did I mention martinis!
|Enjoying the show in the Star Theatre aboard the Viking Sky (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
The Atrium on Deck 1 was always a calm place to relax and read a book or have a conversation and listen to some great music.
|Enjoying piano by Aleksandra in the Atrium aboard the Viking Sky (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
For great ocean views and great bar and great quiet music, the Explorers' Lounge on Deck 7, with its panoramic window views, was always a fun place to hang out. There are always a few spare minutes between being out on shore excursions or eating to relax here rather than just sit in your cabin.
|Enjoying Michael's vocals and guitar in the Explorers Lounge aboard the Viking Sky (Source: Palmia Observatory)|