Yesterday was such an awesome day! I came in for the first half of the day and spent a pretty relaxing morning doing some work. First, I finished the mask that I had started on the day before. Then, Dr. Vodacek emailed me back about my abstract; he gave me some really helpful pointers, saying that I needed to include more detail about the impact of fire in the Akagera savanna ecosystem and that I need to establish a period of time through which I will be working. I spent the remainder of my day reading articles about the park and its savanna ecosystem. I learned a lot, including that fires actually help to maintain biodiversity and to keep an ecosystem at its prime; I am going to read more in detail today about the actual ecology and biology that explains why fires are so vital to the ecosystem.
Later, at six o'clock, the interns, intern advisers, and the students in the graduate program boarded a bus to take to the Bristol Hills. After a quick stop for dinner, we ventured into the remote areas of woods, wilderness, and no cell signal (gasp). After about an hour bus drive, we climbed up a rocky path to the Mees observatory. The night was absolutely beautiful and the telescope's size and innovation was crazy! We arrived to the observatory when it was rather light out, so we used a smaller telescope to look at the moon. Then, a group of interns, myself included, explored a hiking trail in order to kill some time for nightfall to set in. Guided only by our smartphone flashlights and our supposedly good sense of direction, we actually did not get too lost and found our way back. By the time we returned, the rest of the group had made it to the top of the observatory and it was dark enough to begin to see some stars. I looked through the telescope a few times which was incredibly cool and unlike something I had ever done before. In addition, simply with the naked eye, we spotted a satellite traveling across the sky and we could see numerous stars as the night grew older. In the end, it was a really incredible trip because I had never been to such an observatory and have never really stargazed; and, it was also a great way to get to bond and spend time with all of the interns. All and all, a great day.