MagAO-X 2022B Day 25: The Journey to Ruby Tuesdays

Today the rest of the MagAO-X crew left LCO to return to our respective destinations!

Slightly sleep deprived and ready for 30+ hours of travel

Eden, Jared, and I got to visit the La Recova Market down in La Serena on our way out, where we found lots of fun Chilean items.

Alpaca memorabilia galore

We are now waiting for our flights back to the states, enjoying some Ruby Tuesdays.

Lemonades all around

We are excited to get home, as it has been a long few weeks for all of us! Look forward to an upcoming blog regarding Las Campanas cuisine, and until then – I provide the song of the day.


MagAO-X 2022B Day 22: The Last Loop for 2022

Tonight marks the end of our time on sky for the 2022B run. Though we have had a bit of a rough week of seeing, humidity, etc., tonight we scored some decent conditions and got to do some of the science we’ve all been eager to do.

Logan is hunting for white dwarfs, and may have found/confirmed a few ‘little guys’ tonight!
Someone’s being followed by a moon shadow…

Eden and Alycia got to visit the 100″ down the hill from the Magellans this afternoon. I would have gone with them but had a final to study for!

The 100″ Irenee du Pont Telescope

Jared also made friends with a LCO resident.

And Carla has returned with more astronomer snacks!

I can confirm both are quite tasty.

We forgot to take a group photo at the beginning of the night, and failed to all be located in the same place at once this morning – so we will take a victory photo for you viewers in the near future.

I had to do it, the song of the day:

MagAO-X 2022B Day 17: An Excellent Day for Atmosphere Watching

Tonight we experienced seeing values that made certain lab members say “Oh lord!”, or “I thought we were taking darks”.

Seeing is -quite literally- off the charts

Unfortunately for tonight’s observers, we had to close the telescope early. Not only was seeing making it quite impossible to produce any useful data, but the TO went outside at about 4am and noticed condensation on the sides of the building.

Nonetheless, the night was not a waste as we got to squeeze in a bit of Engineering and were able to use our lab source to continue testing after the dome had closed. Dr. Sebastiaan Haffert and I have been working on a knife edge Lyot coronagraph (inspired by him and fabricated by me), and we got to take our first on-sky data with this earlier in the night. Not only was it exciting to see my handy work in action, but I even got to close a tip/tilt control loop on the reflected psf!

Etched, coated, and lithography doted!

Before the night began, we got to enjoy our last sunset with SO PhD student Jailin (she heads back to the States this morning) and our first sunset with Dr. Alycia Weinberger.

Always candid!
I swear there was actually a green flash this time…

Shortly after sundown, P.I. Dr. Males was able to capture a pretty cool shot of the Clay primary as it was aiming low on the horizon.

Those stars are a reflection off of the 6.5m primary mirror. The telescope isn’t usually pointed so low as to where you can capture a viewing like this.

Thank you for reading my short and sweet update. We leave you, as always, with the song of the day!

MagAO-X 2022B Day 8: Our Last Day Without MagAO-X

MagAO-X is coming to LCO! We received news late last night that the trucker strike that has left our team on the mountain with no instrument has come to a conclusion. MagAO-X is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning/early afternoon wherein our team will be eager to greet it and start preparing for out first night on sky (Dec. 2).

In other news, non-bubbled members of the team enjoyed sorting pants and watching the USA vs. Iran match of the World Cup in the lodge.

You can’t have the blues in blue-jeans!
Go team USA!

Eden, Jialin and I tried to escape bubble mode early this morning, accidentally making our way to the medical tent for bubble-ending covid tests a day too early. Upon realizing the medical tent wasn’t open and checking the informational email after we made it to the bottom of the hill, we chalked the experience up to a good way to get the blood moving before returning to our rooms to continue on our coursework expeditions. We did however return to the great outdoors for another walk after lunch, this time visiting the Magellan telescopes.

Jialin’s first encounter with a 3m+ sized telescope.

Per tradition the team met up outside of the dorms for sunset, tonight’s being accompanied by some lovely cloud formations.

There are more mountains out there somewhere.
True candids are the best candids.

And last but certainly not least, Dr. Laird Close spotted our cleanroom Vizzy this afternoon!

MagAO-X must certainly be on its way now!

To end my first blog post of the trip, I leave you with the song of the day.

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!