Emmets at Sunset

I have been using UKIRT for about a quarter of a century. Two things have changed. The first is that it works much better. UKIRT was always ground breaking and world leading, but now it is a kind of flawless machine as well. The second change is that the mountain is now heaving with tourists. Enterprising companies charge grockles two hundred bucks a shot for which they get a boneshaking ride, a nice warm coat, and the chance to shoot photos from the roof of the world. So we have to lock the door or folks wander in and bugger the dark runs.

My last night on this run saw a particularly large infestation. It was President’s Day so I guess there were lots of locals as well vacationers from Pittsburgh. (Can you imagine a holiday called “Prime Minister’s Day”?).  They were crawling all over the summit as twilight fell, and I remembered what they call tourists in Cornwall : Emmets. Cornish for ants.

Jack, Jack, and I were outside taking our own pix, and a few emmets were brave enough to speak to us. They turned out to be Welsh and were tickled to find out Jack was too. TSS Jack Ehle (not Welsh) invited them in and gave them a quick tour before they had to scuttle back to their emmet bus. They went away beaming. Well hell the government PAYS us to come here, so we should give something back to the peepul.

Lots more data. Happy days.

9 Responses to Emmets at Sunset

  1. Tom says:

    Millions of them this evening as well, so am not sure it was just President’s Day. A whole tour group had the cheek to grab my usual photo spot as well…

  2. Nick says:

    Maybe they have heard that UKIRT is shutting and there is a stampede to get photos with it.

  3. Michael Merrifield says:

    I hear that Porthemmet is very nice at this time of year.

  4. You get the crowd up on the ridge. Nobody bothers us around Keck, I can take an evening walk and watch the sunset with nobody around.

  5. mirmilant says:

    It always gives me a giggle when I look back up to the ridge from the JCMT and see the emmets (and from that distance they do look like ants!) all neatly lined up along it, lighting up the ridge like christmas lights as they take
    *flash* photography of the sunset….

    – Emmet (which I guess is what I would be called for short in Cornwall!)

  6. Bill Keel says:

    I did have to be impressed with one group of tourists who made it over to the IRTF, having gotten there with some tiny rental car that looked as if it might possibly have had 4 cylinders. It can be worse- an old scene from Mt. Hamilton at http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/telescopes/lickshadowsx.jpg shows what you get every night if you’re an easy drive from something more than 2 million people.

  7. strabo says:

    These “emmets” are the people from whom the taxman extracts money to pay your salaries.

  8. andyxl says:

    Strabo – quite right, as I believe I stressed at the end of the post. Although we can make fun, actually and seriously I think its very wonderful that people want to come and see what goes on, and share the view of the world that we have. Thats why we befriended some 🙂

  9. Duncan says:

    A former colleague in the bowels of the 1894 Building once met some emmets entering a Sacred Darkroom as he made egress from same. They were, they assured him, “just having a look.”

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