'With the 1.9m we were looking at the spectra itself. Like looking at a prism, we used diffraction gratings where you could shift the light and look at different parts of the color spectrum - from there you can tell from what stars were made of and so forth. Just doing star gazing, especially if you look at Jupiter and Saturn, it blows your mind away. If you look at Jupiter it looks like a solar system on its own. The big mother planet with a few small moons around it, and from time to time you see one of the moons disappear. Then you look at Saturn with the nice rings around it, it looks like a sombrero - that is just unbelievable. My first three years I was working with other people, as I was undergoing training. From there on most of the time I was on my own. Sometimes for 14 hours in winter, just with a CD player, my night lunch and my coffee. Then it is up to you to make all the decisions. You just got to make sure you stay awake and alert. Otherwise you can screw up big time. I did fall asleep, but the thing is, if you feel you are tired it is best to close the dome, switch everything off and sit and sleep. If you leave things on and you fall asleep then you are in trouble.’
Francois van Wyk, Night Assistant and service observer, South African Astronomical Observatory, Sutherland.