MagAO-X 2024Aa Day 15: Night of Data Reduction and Science Yields

Around sunset, two of our finest graduate student AO operators took time lapses of the dome opening. Jay covered the inside of the dome, providing us with a view of the primary mirror cover opening. Eden on the other hand, set her phone on the tripod outside the dome and managed to get a video of the telescope turning, louvers opening, and also DIMM opening. If you spotted the abnormal blockage of the telescope view in the beginning of the video, you have witnessed the little bird that delivered a surprised gift for Eden – its guano. Thank you for your sacrifice, Eden’s phone.

Little bird also enjoying the sunset… and we mourn the lost of the cleanliness of Eden’s phone.

And of course, the blog doesn’t quite feel complete without photos of viscachas.

The night started off with 3 hours of engineering lead by Sebastiaan and Jared, and there are no photo evidence of such event because a majority of us were too amused by the newest entertainment channel at Clay: the window into the supporting astronomer room. As the engineering block ends, the telescope is then handed over to the observers of the night, Logan and Jay. The seeing conditions were non-ideal, but they are still hopeful of their data.

Logan and Jay sharing their work and experiences on an outreach program remotely with Steward grad student.

The rest of us spent the night reducing some of the data we have obtained from the past few nights. We are all excited about the science yield in disk and substellar companion imaging. So keep your eye out for our papers on astro-ph and/or ADS!

Jared sharing his reduction of disk observations.
Laird sharing his reduction and results on a super secret project.
Logan and Sebastiaan overjoyed with their discovery of the Xoomies 1B!

And I am bring back a segment of the blog that I enjoy every much: quotes of the day! Enjoy the selected anonymous quotes.

“Oh, its so good to have Maggie back”

“Sebastiaan likes his cars like he likes his AO loop closing: operated at unsafe speeds”

“No. It’s not yellow. It’s just a golden hour butt.”

Song of the Day

For the song of the day, I, with the assistance of Eden, have selected a song that well fits with the weather of the night: wispy clouds.

MagAO-X 2024Aa Day 10: Scientists Reveal Shocking Secrets in Exclusive Interview – You Won’t Believe What They Confessed!

Clay and the moon, aka the massless particle in a RTBP, at sunset.

It’s the first double digit day of the 2024Aa run! As the master scheduler, tonight’s time is finely chopped up into four different blocks. Let’s hear what the MagAO-X scientists are doing for the night, and maybe ask them some fun questions. Ok, maybe they are just questions randomly popped into the minds of the deliriously tired interviewer and scientists.

Before we go to the main event, here are some animal spotting! Can you spot the 4 different viscachas and the guanaco?

iEFC on Sky Commission with Josh Liberman

What is iEFC and why is it so important?

Josh: iEFC is implicit electric field conjugation, a technique for removing quasi-static speckle and it allows us to reach higher contrast.

How did commissioning go?

Josh: We drove up at 3pm and performed calibrations. Everything went well, and we opted to skip dinner to finish calibration before sunset. The telescope dome opened after sunset viewing. When we returned to the control room, MagAO-X was in a state of extreme distress: the DM got really angry and the system was misaligned. Everything that could go wrong went wrong.

What were the immediate thoughts that went through your head when the system misaligned after dome opening?

Sebastiaan: God Damn it!

If you can befriend a fictional character who would it be?

Josh: Flat Stanley, he just gives off good vibes you know?

What is an insignificant petty gripe that makes you extremely angry?

Josh: When someone replies all to a group email.

YSES Survey Follow Up Observations with Sebatiaan Haffert

What is the YSES Survey and what observations are you doing?

Sebastiaan: YSES stands for the young suns exoplanet survey. I am doing a follow up of systems with confirmed companion. So far, 2/3 of my targets are successful.

Look at this binary!
Look at this binary!

How is it like being both an engineer and an observer?

Sebastiaan: I am not an engineer.

Logan: But you built an instrument!

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most tired, please rate how tired you are after working from 3pm to 6am?

Sebastiaan: A three, it kind of feels like dinner time.

Flying or invisibility?

Sebastiaan: How important is invisibility if you have to be naked?

If you were to be a traffic sign, what would it be?

Sebastiaan: The “Watch Out” sign with the deer on it.

If you could make an office rule that everyone had to follow for a day, what would it be?

Sebastiaan: Everyone should walk backwards

What is an insignificant petty gripe that makes you extremely angry?

Sebastiaan: When the toilet paper roll is put in backwards!

Pup Search Observations with Logan Pearce

What is the backstory of the name of the survey?

Logan: the first White Dwarf-Main Sequence binary ever “made” was Sirius A and B. Sirius A, the main sequence star was known as the dog star. So Sirius B, the smaller companion was nicked name the pup. Now I am looking for more pups!

Logan and her new discovered pup!

Pup Search and Xoomies (Logan’s project on fetching companions to accelerating stars in Scorpius Centaurus Star Forming Region with MagAO-X) are all related to dogs, will your next project named similarly?

Logan: Man, it takes so much time to come up with names. We (Sebastiaan and I) spent all of the astrobiology conference coming up with the Xoomies names.

Sebastiaan: Mine will be about a stroop waffle. I don’t know what it will be about, but I already have the logo made.

Flying or invisibility?

Logan: Hands down flying! I don’t get those who chooses invisibility…

If you were to be a traffic sign, what would it be?

Logan: Parking signs with a bunch of confusing texts.

What is an insignificant petty gripe that makes you extremely angry?

Logan: Double doors with one side locked. WHY DON’T THEY UNLOCK BOTH DOORS?????

Debris Disk Imaging with Jaylycia Kuenberger

What kind of objects are you observing tonight and what are you trying to get out of your observations?

Jaylycia: I am observing circumstellar disks, which are rings of dusty materials encircling its host star. I look at disks at all stages of extrasolar system formation. But this particular target tonight is a debris disk and I am just trying to get an image of the disk to characterize it.

Disks are generally thought to be difficult, what are your thought about that?

Jaylycia: Yes, they are more difficult than point sources, but they look cooler! They are very faint and they are easily removed during image processing, by accident.

How does it feel to be an AO operator and an observer at the same time?

Jaylycia: I don’t.

Who came up with your new name?

Jaylycia: Maggie-OX did. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.

If you were to be a traffic sign, what would it be?

Jaylycia: NO PARKING! I DoN’T KnOw!

As a former pastry chef, which dessert do you think best describes you?

Jaylycia: A hefty cream puff with vanilla custard filling.

Song of the Day

Hmmm… What would be a more fitting music than the BBC News Intro music for an interview?

Well, thanks for tuning into the special program of today!

Code/Astro Day 1-2.5: Code, Code & Deep Dish Pizza

Both the non-Ph.D.ed KLIPers convened at O’Hare and ready to create a catalog of non-binary stars for the next MagAO-X run, we enjoyed the mild (relative to Tucson) sunshine on the Northwestern Campus. We spotted a nice garden with some cool spiders and Northwestern viscacha enjoying its nutritious meal.

Ready to explore the campus while it’s sunny!

We visited the old astronomy building on Northwestern Campus, which is also the site for the Dearborn Observatory completed in 1888. The 18.5″ refractor inside the dome as well as the entire building was closed to visitors during our visit on Sunday.

According to Wikipedia, this telescope was used to discover Sirius B!

In addition to the OG KLIPers or KLIPistas of MagAO-X, Gemma Gonzalez-Tora from ESO joined the team. We have made a decent amount of progress on making a code to find single stars within a given coordinate. Stay tuned for Jay’s post later this week to see our final product!

Cheers to our amazing team and congrats to Gemma on obtaining her Ph.D.!

We also spotted the third MagAO-X team member on Zoom! Hello Eden!

Oh yes, the title can very deceiving, but the rest of the post contains only Jialin’s review of the Chicago/Evanston food. Chicago deep dish is of course a must try for first timers. Jay and I stopped by the famous Labriola on our half-day off for a 12 inch Danny’s Special Deep Dish Pizza, which contained Russo Sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, and onion in addition to lots of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. (And half the pie is about to head back to Tucson!)

Look at that cheese pull! Thanks Jay for insisting on trying this place!

The Chicago Style hot dog is on par with the Sonora Dog, with fresh tomato and a good thick slice of dill pickle!

Portillo’s Chicago Style Hot Dog: Beware of the hidden picked peppers, they can really burn!

If you can’t wait until SPIE 2024 in Japan to try the famous Omurice or Japanese omelette rice, you can find a pretty good substitute in downtown Chicago. (Don’t bother getting the ramen, you can find better ones in Tucson, shhhhhh….)

We ordered the curry sauce instead of the more traditional option.

And I won’t be myself if I don’t recommend a good boba or bubble tea place.

Yes, this is indeed the third boba I’ve had since arriving and there will be more…

Song of the Day(s):

I wanted to catch a musical in Chicago Broadway during my time here, but unfortunately, July is the month of nothingness. Thus, I feel inclined to share one of the most famous numbers from the musical Chicago!

MagAO-X 2023A Day 20: Extreme Anarchic Observers (ExAO)

Obligatory aesthetic image of the sky/telescope as the 1st image of my blog posts 🙂

Recently, a tragic event occurred on the mountain and I am here to tell the tale of the “Empocalypse.” It all began with a hungry astronomer who walked into the kitchen, ready to heat up the favorite meal of the crowd… Upon opening up the fridge that was supposed to be filled with a mound of carefully wrapped empanadas, the astronomer discovered a fridge devoid of empanadas. As the news went around the telescope, the cries of the grieving observers filled the rooms. The empanadas are one of the few things that hold value within the MagAO-X group while we are at LCO, and their sudden disappearance almost started a riot. The dissatisfaction has been reported to telescope officials and hopefully, it will be taken seriously. On the brighter side of things, since the calamity, the snack selection has increased, one of which being a miniature version of the hangry astronomer’s favorite.

Mini Tritons and its #1 fanatic

On the contrary, we have been treated well on the science side, some might even say spoiled. The seeing read by Dimm dropped below 0.3″, which is a rare occurrence. The TO even called his buddy over to witness such an event. Just when we thought the night would continue to have spectacular seeing and a smooth sail, the seeing doubled by midnight. However, great spectral data were still taken with VIS-X.


Per the title of the blog post, I feel obligated to continue to share other moments of this run that embodies similar energy. Well, truth be told, I am feeling like an ExAO, thus, I am writing a blog post full of content that is deserving of some love and attention (according to me, BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

We have our second special visitor in the telescope. This bird scared me more than the occasional “Chicken Nugget.” In addition to almost giving me a heart attack, it brought a special gift of bird dropping. It was our unsung hero, Jay, who cleaned up after the surprise visitor.


As we are nearing the end of this observing run, it would not be proper to think the kids can still be considered “normal.” Ok, maybe I should only speak for myself, but I do have some evidence of abnormal behaviors.

Regular Animal Spotting

First time seeing a fox!
Burrows stopping at the stop sign

Song of the Day

During my last visit here in December, my music app of choice sent me a recap of my 2022 music journey. My top album was “Bad Mode” by Japanese Artist Hikaru Utada and its title track is my chosen song of the day. I first discovered them a decade ago through my older cousin’s iPod playlist, and ever since, their songs have been on my playlist. As they have risen to fame and become less active way before I was a fan, I have not been able to catch their live performance. It is, however, on my bucket list to be at their live performance at least once.

MagAO-X 2023A Day 14: A “Typical” Night at LCO

Clay with dome opened captured by Jared

Day 14 of this observing run marked my first full night and the first full MaxProtoPlanetS night. Despite having a few bumps, it was overall a 0.5″ seeing kind of night! This allowed us to take great data on a target without ADC tracking and driving the telescope to below 30 degrees, which I believe is the first in MagAO-X history.

I still can’t believe this is considered a typical night…
With the telescope pointing so low, Clay’s primary mirror can be really well seen from the dome floor

There were lots of interesting conversations going on in the control room. Jared shared a sailor story beginning with the mandatory opening phrase of “so, there I was”, slightly interrupting the “Would you rather” game that was happening among the junior graduate students. Here are a few prompts that I overheard thought were interesting:

  • No elbows or knees
  • Cold spaghetti or the smell of cold spaghetti
  • Receding or preceding hairline

When doing the customary “blinking” technique to see the small differences between two wavelengths in the data, the exoplanet imaginers and instrument builders in the control room turned into a group of paleontologists amazed by the recovery of a dinosaur skull.

“I might have been staring at this for too long… but it looks a lot like a dinosaur to me”

Happy International Women’s Day!

Selfie from the strong, independent, and intelligent gals on the mountains 😉

As a celebration of International Women’s Day, the chefs surprised us with a decadent chocolate cake for dinner. A big shout-out to all the women (and girls) of the MagAO-X team, guest observers, and telescope operators!

Special treat for their “favorites” prepared by the chefs.
“Dessert for MEN,” said Joseph, as he enjoyed his second plate of mashed potatoes.

Song of the Day

Song of the Day was a tough choice as there were so many great songs that are great representations of female empowerment. I have chosen the one that is considered one of the “fiercest female anthems” in the 2010s. Now comes the awkward part of me attempting to explain how I came to know this song. Truth be told, I do not recall when, where, how, and why. Whenever I think about the celebration of female strength and beauty, this first song pops up in my head.

One of the earliest memory I associate this song with is my schoolyard with the radio often blasting the hit songs. So I guess I know this song from the radio?