2015B Day 11: Exposing the MagAO Team’s Lies

Regular readers of this blog have been hearing claims this entire run that the weather has been suboptimal and that the poor team has barely been able to take any data. I’m pretty sure this is just laziness on their part, because I’ve barely seen a cloud over the two nights I’ve been here:

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 3.14.37 AM

Beautiful weather at LCO
Beautiful weather at LCO

Tonight the seeing was great all night, the winds were low, and we got a lot of excellent data.

I don't know what they've all been complaining about!
I don’t know what they’ve all been complaining about: 0.3 mile-an-hour winds!

Maybe the universe just wants more M dwarfs to be observed! If you’re serving on a time allocation committee any time soon, keep this in mind.

Really, this has been a great run for us (well-timed to coincide with nice weather). Katie, Jared, and Amali were very helpful, as usual, with setting up the systems and keeping them running the whole time.

I did find something a little suspicious downstairs below the Clay control room:

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 3.15.38 AM

This seems like it would make transit photometry pretty easy, just spray a little on your instrument and get rid of all those pesky photons! Flux: removed.

Yesterday’s song was a Frozen/Passenger mashup, so we’re continuing the winter theme tonight with a song from the Decemberists.

2015A Day 16 Part II: Visited by Aliens

This is the end of our three-night run with MagAO. We’ve seen a little bit of everything this trip: our first night featured high winds, while the second night contained several hours of thick clouds. These things aren’t unexpected in Chile in late autumn, but what is unexpected is to be visited by aliens during an observing run! We’re pretty sure that happened tonight, and the all-sky cam caught them in action:

Red cam


The red dot shows where we were pointing, and the blue dot shows the Baade telescope. We had a visitor, and Baade was looking right at it! For some reason (definitely not because it was a moth on one of the filters), it only shows up on the red image and not the blue one. Our hypothesis is that it’s an alien spaceship visiting from a planet around a red M dwarf. We’ve been looking at these stars all week, so it’s only fair they come out and look at us.

Overall, this has been quite a run. We had the aforementioned weather and aliens, and yes, even the occasional MagAO software problem. However, the beauty of observing on a winter night is that even if you lose a third of the night to problems you still get 8 hours of data. Whenever any issues arose, Katie and Jared rose to the occasion, as did our TOs Mauricio and Alberto. With a team like this, there’s never any need to worry.

(Or, if you prefer Bollywood interpretations)

After a too-short time on the mountain (at least we got more than our share of empanadas) we’re headed back home tomorrow. Thanks to the full MagAO team for all the support this week, turning a possibly frustrating run into a successful one, despite the problems. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Nature paper on the close encounter!