MagAO 2018A Day 9: The Universe

I don’t have much to say, so I figured I would title this “The Universe” as that covers anything I might be tempted to say. Actually, we were discussing Arthur C Clarke tonight, and Katie found this good quote from him, “I sometimes think that the universe is a machine designed for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers.” I hope I continue to be astonished. As I said in this interview for the DTM website — it’s a shame to lose a sense of curiosity.

Tonight is my last night, so it’s goodbye to LCO for at least a few months. Good luck to the rest of the MagAO users!

Here are some photos from dawn and sunset:

Dawn on Sunday. Note the conspicuous lack of clouds as soon as the Sun rose. But the dawn was a harbinger of empanadas at least.
Sunset on Sunday. Note that the sky is still clear. The dome was open early for some tests on the infrared camera.
The wild vizcacha of the hillside to the north of the Magellan Telescopes. He/She stayed still just long enough for a photo before hopping away. I like the stripe down his/her back.

The Universe makes us feel small, so that’s a link, perhaps tenuous to this song by one of my favorite singers, Suzanne Vega, called “Small Blue Thing.”

I hope someone strumming in her home studio counts as a cover:

MagAO 2018A Day 8: She blinded me with 73 clouds

Last night was my first night, and after I bragged about bringing the clear skies with me, the clouds rolled in. Nevertheless, we got some good data, if “good” can be defined as finding out a star is binary when I was hoping it would not be.

Note: It is possible to take 73 full frame coadds or cube images with Clio. Yes, 73. That’s tonight’s magic number, in case you’re entering the lottery.

This week has been exciting for the astronomical community, with the 2nd Gaia data release. We now know the distances to 1.3 billion stars, and some at fantastic precision. One of my favorite disk-hosting stars, HD 141569, was in the catalog of the Hipparcos mission with a parallax of 10.10 +/- 0.83 mas (that’s about 99 pc +/- 9 pc or 323 +/- 30 light years). The new parallax is 9.04 +/- 0.04 mas — yes, you read that correctly, a factor of more than 20 improvement in our knowledge of the distance (now 110.6 +/- 0.5 pc). There’s so much to do with the data for studying associations of young stars; it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Can I find a star that is 73 pc away you ask? Why, of course. There’s HD 89252 (actually 73.4 +/- 0.3 pc).

The fun here at Magellan is in studying individual stars’ environments in great detail, when the clouds stay away. I want to turn from clouds to science.

A cloudy sunset was followed by more clouds, some thinner clouds, and then more clouds.

I also want to educate Katie on 80s New Wave Pop:

And, yes, I read the rules, so here’s the cover.

MagAO 2018A Day 7: El cielo estaba nublado

I’m not sure what the sky looked like at sunset because I slept straight from dawn to dusk — I think I got 11 hours. Wow I was exhausted from the past week of coding and observing! I was kinda late to the telescope, I really mean to be there before sunset. Luckily our observer Alycia Weinberger is an old Clio pro. She logged in and got everything up and running — except it wasn’t working. The buttons on the gui were unresponsive. They tried killclio runclio twice. And about 5-10 minutes before I got up there (as I was hurriedly attiring myself in observing gear and then seeking a car) I was sent some urgent questions by Jared and Alycia wondering what else to try.

So I tear into the control room and take a look… and … Ok… it turns out…

It was the mouse.

For the past week the Clio observing station has been my work station, so to make myself comfortable I had switched the mouse buttons from right-handed to left-handed. So they were opt-clicking when they thought they were clicking. And they blamed it on Clio being unresponsive!

Um… so yeah. Sorry everyone. And let’s let Clio off the hook on this one. (And I guess that means I’m now solidly on a night schedule, time to set the alarm.)

Here is Alycia with everything working:

Alycia and Clio.
[Image description: Alycia smiling in front of the Clio observing station.]

Except for the clouds.

Top: Incorrect. Bottom: Correct. From a couple days ago.
[Image description: The telescopes on the mountain top, one picture with a cloudy evening and one clear.]

The staff keep us well stocked here.
[Image description: Top: Our mugs are washed and set out nicely. They say: “Keep calm and close the loop”. Bottom: The kitchenette with shelves of water, pop, tea, cereal, and fruit.]
Wildlife in the dome.
[Image description: A small lizard on the carpeted

Quote of the day: “I can’t believe we’re working in this.” –Laird, seeing the clouds at sunrise, while the AO loop is still locked.

Ok clouds, let’s make way (Vuli Ndlela:)

[Song/Image description: Vulindlela by Brenda Fassie, which means “Make way” and is about her son getting married, according to the internet.]

[Song/Image description: Cover of Vulindlela by Flaccida]

Vul’indlela wemamgobhozi (Open the gates, Miss Gossip)
He unyana wam (My baby boy)
Helele uyashada namhlanje (Is getting married today)
Vul’indlela wela ma ngiyabuza (Open the gates please)
Msuba nomona (Don’t be jealous)
Unyana wami uthathile (My son has had a good catch)
Bengingazi ngiyombon’umakoti (I never thought I’d see a daughter in law)
Unyana wam eh ujongile this time (My son has been accepted (woman said yes))
Makgadi fele usenzo s’cede (Help us finish the ceremony (you are welcome))
Uzemshadweni ngiyashadisa namhlanje (Come to the wedding, I’m taking my son to the altar today)
Bebesithi unyana wam lisoka (People said my son is (someone who doesn’t get women))
Bebesithi angeke ashade vul’indlela (People said he would never get married but open the gates)