Keck in Motion

Keck Observatory operates two ten-meter telescopes atop the summit of Mauna Kea Hawai’i. Keeping those telescopes on-sky every night is the summit crew of the Operations Department. This video is dedicated to the guys of the Keck daycrew who make it possible.

The video is a combination of two techniques. Many scenes were filmed as standard video then accelerated during editing to allow the motion to become clear. Examples of this are scenes of telescopes slewing and the interferometer delay lines moving.

Slower subjects, such as clouds or the stars moving across the sky, were photographed as time lapse. Here a large number of still images were taken. These are then processed and converted to video using Photoshop CS5 before loading into the video editing software, Adobe Premiere Elements. To construct the time lapse sequences sometimes required thousands of separate images, quickly filling memory cards and exhausting batteries. After dark it is long exposure time lapse that is used, with individual exposures often 15 seconds to one minute long.

Many of the nighttime scenes are lit by moonlight, this allowed good exposures while still capturing the telescopes with stars overhead. A moonlit exposure of 30 to 60seconds can often appear as if taken during the day, with the odd effect of having stars in a blue sky.

A number of cameras were used in capturing the imagery… A Canon G11, Canon 20Da, Canon 40D, Canon 60D and Canon 5D MkII were used for various scenes. This often involved cameras setup on tripods while programmed to take exposures for hours at a time.

I must give credit to many folks who helped get the shots… Giving suggestions, driving the telescope, avoiding extension cords, and generally putting up with cameras deployed to odd locations. Three scenes were photographed by fellow Keck engineer and photographer, Mark Devenot, specifically the optic handling scenes. Mark also made a number of useful suggestions that resulted in other scenes and improvements to the video.

Scene Guide…

0:00 Liz Chock performing her usual software magic from her office at headquarters, Canon 60D

0:12 The background is an ethernet switch in the Keck 2 computer room. The insets are a VXWorks boot script, the power light for the Keck 2 drive system, and the Keck 1 HBS oil pressure gauges coming up to operational pressure, Canon 60D

0:17 The Keck 2 telescope slewing 180

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