MagAO-X 2022A Day 30: The Secret Behind MagAO-X Cool Kid Attire

I can thankfully say that all of our LCO-going MagAO-X team members are back to their respective USA locations! I would say Tucson but Logan had to pick up her dog and car in Texas. Speaking of doggos, I know everyone was happy to see their loving furry roommates upon their arrival.

Alexander the Great a bit skeptical that he is willing to forgive roommate Joseph Long for his extended absence.
Lani inspecting that ball thrower Logan Pearce has returned with all previous ball throwing capabilities still in tact.

As per the remainder of the team’s travels after yesterday’s post, it looks like the plane’s headrest flight tracking system was not fully functioning – but luckily it seems that the captains were aware of their final destination.

Maybe someday we will have to stop by f-square to check out the local architecture and scenery.
Tucuman, home of the Tucumanians.

Now as per the title promises, I will outline the secrets behind the creation of MagAO-X attire for cool kids!

Some background: As we were in the midst of planning for the 2022A run, it became clear that the team would need some matching gear for the mountain. Having a background in shirt/sweatshirt production using my Cameo 4, I offered up my services to create hoodies for the team. However, the majority of my background in clothing designs is with heat-adhesive vinyl made for fabrics, whereas we were hoping for a more organic/distressed look for our team hoodies.

An example design from previous crafting. Black crew neck with white and sparkly blue heat-adhesive vinyl made for a friend who loves to spend time at her cabin in Big Lake, AK.

After brainstorming ideas with co-conspirator and long time MagAO-X digital designer Joseph Long, we decided that it would be worth a shot to do a test fabrication with a stencil + bleaching method. This would entail printing the MagAO-X logo in two sizes (small for front and large for back) on normal adhesive vinyl with the Cameo, which is normally used for adhering on smooth surfaces like metal/glass.

A (somewhat dirty) coffee cup being refilled by my trusty Keurig shown here to offer a glimpse of the versatility in crafting abilities that come with owning a Cameo. This is gold adhesive vinyl on a small tumbler, inspired by my late pups Ginger and Duke. A gold star for you if you can guess their breed!

Now to elaborate on the steps taken to create our team hoodies!

Step 1. Cameo design software Silhouette intakes the design as a binary png or jpeg and recognizes the edges to create the cut design file.
Step 2: Cameo cuts the design out of a flat piece of adhesive vinyl mounted on a sticky board for stabilization. I’m not sure my neighbors love my crafting hobby…
Step 3: The letters of MagAO-X are pulled from the sheet of cut vinyl and the stencil is transferred to the hoodie with transfer paper (grid like layer seen being pulled off). This is how I was able to get the vinyl to act like a stencil; normally I would use heat-adhesive vinyl and pull off everything but the MagAO-X letters, transfer to the fabric, and then immediately press it with a hot iron so it would adhere to the shirt.
An image showing the MagAO-X pulled design as it sits still on the page of vinyl that was sent in to the Cameo. Also imaged are some tools used for this process as well as my bottle of bleach and safety gloves used in the next step. Note that the vinyl here is black only because it was used on a different test subject than what is shown in step 2 and 3.
Step 4: A bleached soaked cotton ball is used to dab within the lines of the stencil. This shows a test hoodie after a few rounds of bleaching – as you can see the process doesn’t provide a perfectly even application and requires several rounds to bleach out all of the fabric dye within the stencil. A piece of cardboard is placed inside the hoodie to ensure the other side is safe from the bleach. Once enough rounds have been applied, pull off the sticky stencil!
Step 5. Fail a few times (:
Step 6: Try, try, try again! Also find out that a fleece hoodie is more likely to survive a bleaching process, so decide to go forward with that test subject. No major loss for the team in that decision as fleece makes for much better mountain wear.
Step 7: Finally calibrate the bleaching process enough to produce several hoodies for your awesome research team and kindly ask your mom to model one for you.

Now you are all pros at the Cameo stencil+bleach process! And now for the best part…

Step 8: Get to experience the joy (and warmth) the hoodies provide for your team while visiting the Las Campanas Observatory!

Thank you dearest blog readers for sticking with me through the step-by-step process needed for MagAO-X cool kid attire fabrication. As I arrived back in Tucson a few weeks before the others, I have continued to wear my hoodie to stay in the LCO spirit – and I hope others may do the same for those soon to be sparse moments of chilliness here in Tucson! As I believe these hoodies will return for future trips, I bid farewell for now and look forward to their use in many telescope runs to come!

Song of the day: Seasons in The Sun by Terry Jacks. This song has always reminded me of a farewell, so seems fitting to round off the tales of 2022A international travels of our LCO-going teammates!

MagAO-X 2022A Day 14: Continuums, Companions, and Culpeo-Encounters

The XWCL had a rather successful day up here on the mountain, even considering the Covid-mandated limit of 4 people in the control room (including the telescope operators). The team adapted and built a mega-desk ‘junior’ in the kitchen/lounge area of the telescope, wherein the remaining members of the group could stay well connected to those in the control room.

Mega-desk Jr. seen with a target image and supported by some light reading.

Throughout the night the team successfully closed the loop on several targets and saved quite a bit of data!

Dr. Laird Close investigated a 6.7 mag young star with a protoplanetary disk, taking 93k frames in H-alpha and continuum in MagAO-X’s SDI mode with the 2 EMCCD cameras running at once. This observation was done over 2.5 hours running with 900 modes corrected at 2KHz in 0.6′ seeing and 1.5-1.3 airmasses.

Images of the young star in H-alpha (0.65 microns) and Continuum (0.668 microns). Shown here is the average of the best 10% of the images taken over the 2.5 hour integration.

These images are nearly diffraction limited with a 24 mas FWHM. Taking the differences between these images after a full pipeline reduction will reveal any H-alpha emitting objects – like protoplanets! To quote the astronomer himself, ‘Tonight was a good night for MagAO-X, it really proved it’s mettle!’ – Dr. Close

Along with this, Dr. Sebastiaan Haffert took a look at PZ Tel B – a low mass (in between 30 and 70 times the mass of Jupiter) brown dwarf companion orbiting its primary star PZ Tel A in the constellation Telescopium. The two have an angular separation of about 0.33 arcseconds, meaning they are separated by roughly 18 AUs. After some investigation, I discovered our very own Dr. Jared Males (though not yet a Dr. at the time) and Dr. Laird Close were on the team who discovered PZ Tel B at the 8m Gemini-South Telescope here in Chile in 2010!

Mega-desk Jr. Serving the team well by displaying some MagAO-X action during coronagraph alignment for PZ Tel B.

To view the brown dwarf companion, a Lyot coronagraph was aligned with the primary star. Once alignment of the pupil plane, occulting focal plane mask, and Lyot-plane stop were complete, the companion appeared immediately in the z-band!

PZ Tel B seen encircled in the lower right corner of this plot after occulting the primary star. For reference, the distance from the center of the primary star to PZ Tel B is about the distance from our Sun to Uranus!

In other fun companion news – Logan and I got very close to this run’s mascot Carlos Culpeo. I am certain he was hopeful that I had a snack for him, but unfortunately I did not have any left-overs from dinner to offer.

Mr. Culpeo interested in potential dinner-offerings. Imaged moments before deciding humans were indeed scary no matter what food they may have in their hand, and taking off into the sunset. The lovely twin Magellan Telescopes seen in the background!
Logan buttering up the culpeo-companion, though unfortunately also did not have an dinner to share with Carlos Culpeo!

As it was a good day for the team and MagAO-X, so the song of the day shall reflect these good feelings as the sun rises, and we settle!

Song of the day: Walking On a Dream by Empire of the Sun.

MagAO-X 2022A Day 10: The Last Bubble

Yesterday Logan and I arrived here to LCO just after sunset to a group of familiar and friendly faces. The lengthy travel day (well, 27 hour day if you came from Tucson like me) was as enjoyable as one could argue for, especially considering the potential hiccups that can come with international travel in Covid times! That is not to say that our PI and several members of the team went anywhere short of great lengths to prepare us all properly and give Logan and I handy tips as we were the third and final group to arrive.

Logan’s view of the sunrise coming into SCL
My view of sunrise from the opposing side of the plane. Luckily we both had rows to ourself for proper plane-nap sprawling
Logan and I’s selfie with the legendary Holiday Inn between the international and domestic terminals at SCL. Cappuccinos followed promptly – don’t let our exuberant glows fool you from the tiredness!
Our 2022A mascot Carlos Culpeo greeted Logan and I at the guard station at the bottom of the mountain – a welcome taken gladly after many long hours of travel!

As Logan and I are the last to bubble within our XWCL group for 2022A, we have spent the day mostly in our rooms working on creating a list of photometric reference targets for when we are on sky. To be more accurate – my involvement was mostly Logan teaching me about handy packages in python & online data bases that would have made my early undergrad ASTR courses at Steward a lot less painful, but that isn’t the point of learning astronomical coordinate systems is it!

Our first arrivers (Jared, Joseph, and Sebastiaan) got to experience their 4th covid test of the trip today, all of these being the brain-tickling kind.

Titled ‘A Man Sick of Pandemic’ with credits to Joseph Long. All I have to say about this one is how impressed I am with the maintained level of calmness. My nose is not a fan of the swabbing, and have failed to refrain from half coughing/sneezing during the test as of yet. I am glad my photo during this procedure is not present in the blog – as I am sure I look a lot scarier than this!

We are all subject to weekly testing here at LCO, but feels like a small price to pay for the experiences that come with it. As you may have read in Justin’s blog from Day 8, I am a member of the LCO first-timers club. As this is my first time at any active-research telescope, I feel incredibly fortunate to be on this trip with a group of incredibly intelligent and hard-working people! I saw the milky way (via the naked eye) for the very first time last night, and Logan was able to point out the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds to me. What an experience! I am eager to burst this bubble (by following protocol of course) and embark on what I know will be a very exciting and special learning experience.

My very first image taken of the Magellan Telescopes. Justin and Laird were there to experience the glory of the post sunset landscape and made the image!

Here is the song of the day – Starlight by Muse. This is inspired by it both being one of my favorites and that it seems rather fitting. I hope you enjoyed my first shot at blogging!