MagAO-X gets sporty

As originally reported on the Steward Observatory website, and archived here for posterity:

On Jan 17, NBA Hall of Famer, one of “50 Greatest Players in NBA History,” and iconic Deadhead Bill Walton came to town to be the color commentator for the UA-Oregon men’s basketball game. Whenever Walton is a commentator ESPN has a 2-minute feature called “Walton’s World.” In this episode, Bill visited the MagAO-X lab at Steward!

Taking delivery of the MagAO-X vAPP coronagraph

On September 17, 2018, we got our first look at the MagAO-X vAPP (that’s “vector apodizing phase plate”) coronagraph optic. Kelsey Miller had been working with the phase pattern for a long time, but there’s something special about holding it with your own hands. Or, at any rate, watching the P.I. hold it with his own hands.

Jared and Kelsey pose with an image taken through the vAPP coronagraph.
The vAPP slotted right into Kelsey’s coronagraph testbed, and we got the predicted pattern on our camera! Fourier optics works.

MagAO 2018A Day 17: The Wrong End of a Telescope

Proto3 has been detached from MagAO, and now MagAO is fully put away. Since this (northern hemisphere) fall will extremely busy with work on MagAO-X, it’ll be a whole year before we’re back here.

My check list for today:

  • Switch back to a day schedule all in one go
  • Take the last final exam for my first year of graduate school
  • Remove a 1000+ lb piece of scientific equipment from the top of a three-story tall machine

I’m happy to report that I accomplished all three, though it may be more accurate to say that I was a minor contributor to the last task. It takes a whole crew to remove the adaptive secondary mirror from the Magellan Clay telescope, and my main contribution was to help Laird keep all the various power, data, and coolant lines from getting away during the disconnect process. (Pink zip ties are the astronomer’s best friend.)

Since I was not operating a crane or lifting 80 lb load spreader bars by hand, I was able to document the process. Enjoy!

It's fun to stay at the Ell Cee Oh, yay!
The author, looking like a member of The Village People, prior to ASM decabling.

I felt like one of the monkeys my sister studies, climbing up there.
To swap secondary mirrors, the telescope points parallel to the ground. There’s a crane that rotates as part of the dome which can very gently lift the ASM out and transfer it to a storage cart while the static secondary is in place.

Tomorrow, we leave LCO for La Serena (and Santiago and Dallas and Tucson, hopefully without issue). We’ll be back next year!


Last, but not least, here’s a song of the day about looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

(Lucius – Turn it Around)

And here’s a cover version I dug up by someone with cool hair:

(Kaela Sinclair – Turn it Around (Lucius cover))