**Christmas Eve at South Pole: **

    Temperature: - 28.5 C, -18.5 F Windchill: - 36.6 C, -35.2 F Wind: 2 knts Weather: Clear and sunny

    For many scientists it was a normal work day until the Christmas gala dinner which was held in three different seatings.   I knew we needed to get up early to start the Monday Stratospheric balloon flight. The kitchen, in the meantime was getting ready for the afternoon gala dinner:

    Christmas spirit was evident everywhere! The Dining hall assistants always wore Santa hats.

    Amy was already at the BIF at 8:30 am and at 9:30 am she was ready to launch the stratospheric Xmas balloon.

    Amy ready to Launch Amy is in front of the BIF, ready to launch the stratospheric balloon.*

    Amy letting go Amy is letting go of the balloon.*

    Xmas Balloon in the air The Xams Balloon is in the air. It was a perfect day to fly a balloon.  

    Xmas Ozonesonde Preparations While the balloon was flying, we prepared more ozonesondes for future flights. I am turning off the UV switch that is required for one of the preparation steps: alternating the conditioning of the ozonesonde with ozone and without ozone.*

    The balloon is in the stratosphere. Once it reached 35 km it "floated” and did not burst. We had to wait an hour.  *

    Using time to answer students’ cards I am using the time while the balloon is "floating” to answer students’ cards.*

    The weather balloon In the meantime, Katie flew her weather balloon. She has to do it twice a day to help to predict the weather.*

    After Lunch, work had to be completed at ARO:

    Monday is the data down-load day Monday is the data down-load day, even on xmas ever! Amy is loading down the data from several computers. The file can than be accessed from Boulder.*

    Dobson readings are done 2 - 3 times a day Elke is reading the Dobson for total OzoneOzone is a molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone occurs naturally in the stratosphere and provides a protective layer shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the troposphere (the lower layer of the atmosphere up to approximately 15 km above the earth's surface), it is a chemical oxidant, a greenhouse gas, and a major component of photochemical smog.. This instrument is using the direct sun light.  We have one window open and the sun hits a mirror that directs the rays to the Dobson machine. We take readings at different wave-length. One absorbs O3, the other does not. The instrument calculates the difference and will give us the total amount of ozone at that particular point. It was not so easy to do, because many steps are involved that require concentration.*

    Many other scientists were working as well:

    Digging for an instrument Ethan is digging for an instrument for the seismologists near ARO. Ethan will also winter-over.*

    Trouble with the instruments "Bah hambah”, Andy says and is trying to help Irfa,  an Aurora Scientist with the instruments.*

    Then it was time to go back to the station and to get ready for the Christmas party. We stopped at the sign that was set up for tomorrows "race around the world”

    Sign preparations for the race around the world Elke and Lillian are standing in front of the sign that will tell all which way to go. All form of transportation will be allowed!*

    I had time to go to the gym and took my second shower since I arrived. What a treat! Amy, Andy and I were listed to go to the third dinner seating starting at 6:30 with appetizers outside the dining hall.

    Ready for the xmas dinner Amy, Jill, and Elke are enjoying the gathering. A formal dress-coat was suggested. It was nice seeing all  being dressed up!*

    Music entertainment. Several station members were playing music for us at different times during the pre-dinner-party.*

    Christmas Dinner The dining hall was darkened. The tables were beautifully set with white table cloth and candle light. The food and the desert were just amazing!*

    Wine Stewards are ready to serve It was a very popular job to be a wine Stuart.*

    **Merry Christmas ** We all are wishing you a Merry Christmas.

    More presents for Elke Find out which additional presents I received from Amy!*

    Merry Christmas!! Tomorrow the race around the world!