2014B Day 35: Let It Go

This was our night:

Cars on the Pan-Am while we were closed.

We were closed for the first 7 or so hours of the night. I got some software maintenance done, and at one point I went out into the dome to see what was going on. I found Laird and Katie with their heads inside the instrument.

Uh oh, looks like something funny is going on up there
They were measuring stuff.

We finally got to open at about 3 am. In this GIF the red dot is us (Clay) and the blue dot is Baade. We opened at the same time and, it looks like we’re running away from the clouds.

This is what it looked like when we finally opened.

Because of the clouds we had to find very bright stars. When we pointed at Betelgeuse, Alberto (our Telescope Operator) turned to us and said “do you have a finding chart?”. That’s a joke — on faint stars you often have to work out which star of two or three is your target. As you can see, there was only one star in this case.

Betelguese melting the guider.
At sunrise, this was the sky. These kinds of clouds are hard to see in the dark … but they make AO observing hell.

Amazingly, the sky finally really started to clear at sunrise. After breakfast, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The next result is the only photometric image we took tonight.

Katie is pointing at the clear sky overhead at sunrise. The only clear sky all night.

Here you can see the result of all the moist (for here) air that blew over us tonight.

The aftermath of tonights weather is evident down on the valley floor

I guess I don’t really feel one with the wind and sky, but the past is in the past.

You also might see me cry.

2014B Day 34: The return of the PI

Tonight… MagAO and the Return of the PI:

We are happy to report that Laird arrived safely today. He ran the AO tonight, and gave Jared and I a break — it was nice to not have to worry about the loop! He made it all the way to sunrise. (Jared and I make it well past sunrise these days… or should I say nights). Laird seemed a bit surprised that Jared and I hadn’t broken more things, and of course he was pleased to see that we are still happy and healthy.

Laird also delivered some goods from home: coffee, and my new credit card after my old one was cancelled by my bank for fraudulent activity in Germany (???). Unfortunately, he apparently missed the other package — wasabi peas that Jared and I were really looking forward to enjoying. Jared loves giving Laird a hard time, so he grabbed this screen to prove that the package was delivered to the Close residence before Laird left on Thanksgiving:

You had 1 job…

However, at least the Close residence is still following the blog… hello!

Tonight started out fine, but unfortunately ended with some pretty thick clouds. Well, in clouds and mediocre seeing, we can still lock on a bright star — Theta1 Ori B — and do astrometry with the Trapezium cluster! Voila:

Clio images of Trapezium stars B, A, and E at M’ in the Narrow camera, nodded around to sample different parts of the chip. Something we can do through clouds and with mediocre seeing!

And now for the pretty pix:

Jared captured this cute picture of a bird on the wall by the dining hall

The Baade (left) and Clay at sunset

In anticipation of Laird’s arrival, we had eaten the last of Graeme’s wasabi peas yesterday… oh well… here is a beautiful music video to enjoy instead — a treat for the eyes, in Cape Town:

2014B Day 33: Thankful for all we get


It’s been my first time observing at Magellan and I hope it isn’t my last! Everyone here at Las Campanas have been great, especially Katie and Jared, thank you guys for all of your help and company through the night shifts 🙂

Open for business
Open for business

This was possibly the closest to America that I’ve been for a Thanksgiving, I’m not sure I got the full experience but I did get to join Katie for her thanksgiving dinner (traditional fish dish of course… – see pic below) and pop in on Jared’s meal with all his family (via Skype).

Katie's thanksgiving dinner
Katie’s thanksgiving dinner

I have been especially thankful for the great seeing we’ve had tonight, getting down to <0.34″, but less thankful for the peppering of clouds now and then. I ran out to get a pic of MagAO and Clay in action during one of the observations, see below. The passing clouds can be seen as gaps in the star trails (or maybe a hopping Vizcacha).

Clay hard at work
Clay hard at work

We tried to push the magnitude limit again tonight aiming at a couple of faint Brown Dwarfs but sadly i=17 is just too much. We had fun trying though!

MagAO’s mascots have been spotted around the dome too 🙂 they can be hard to find though!

Spot the vizcacha

Happy thanksgiving everyone!