I’ve been here for about 2 weeks now; it’s funny how easy it is, despite walking back and forth to the telescope several times each day, to forget where you are. Sure, it’s very cold outside, and we have to bundle up for our walk… but we’re here, only yards away from the very axis around which the world turns. Right in the middle of Antarctica, high on the polar plateau, at “the pole”.
Just to prove it (as well as pictures can), here are two photos. The first is me at the “real pole”, the second is a view of our telescope far in the background with the pole marker in the foreground.
The third picture is of me at the “ceremonial pole”, with the barbershop-looking pole and flags from a variety of nations. I think the ceremonial pole is only there for historical reasons; the real geographic pole used to be farther away from the dome, so a ceremonial pole was set up for “daytripper” photo opportunities, so they wouldn’t have to walk all the way from the plane to the real pole. Now, with the new station and the movement of the ice sheet on which we sit over the past few decades (at about 30feet per year), the ceremonial and “real” poles are only a couple hundred feet apart!
But who can argue with tradition? Not me, hence the two photos.