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STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT

One of the best parts of being at sea is the lack of light pollution. Tonight a few of us went out on the front deck to look at the stars, and what a sight!

It was a beautiful day today! The seas had calmed and the sun was out. Even the fur seals were enjoying a bit of sunbathing, which made for a troublesome afternoon of seismic data collection (the air guns must be shutdown anytime a mammals is sighted within 100-400m of the ship). Luckily they disappeared right before nautical twilight, and we were able to shoot seismic through the night.

Tonight’s watch has been uneventful as we watch the seismic data come in. The data are clean and structures are visible, and there have not been any missed shots. For a bit of a break, we decided to go look at the stars. It really is stunning. The Milky Way is directly overhead, the stars are bright, we were even able to see lighthouses onshore, which is only about 45km away. There appeared to be some light pollution to the east, which we assumed was from the moon, but we could see it yet. As we walked to the other side of the ship – THERE IT WAS! – a half moon rising above the horizon. We had caught it just in time!!! It was a bright orange color and absolutely breathtaking. It is nights like this that make the rough days at sea worth every moment.

It is so easy to take these opportunities for granted, but I regularly feel grateful and lucky to do what I do and see what I see. I never, ever imagined myself on a ship in the southern ocean, heck, I never imagined I would travel to New Zealand, Australia maybe if I was lucky, but never New Zealand (this is my 5th trip in as many years). But here I am. No matter how challenging life can be at times (at home or at sea), it is all worth it on nights like tonight.

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