Greetings from LBTI AO!

UA’s fall semester is done and the campus is nice and quiet. This means… time for an LBTI run!

I’m posting from the LBTI AO remote room in Steward Observatory. I’m helping out with driving the first shift AO for 3 nights. LBTI has two eyeballs (to use Amali’s terminology), so it requires 1 AO operator per eyeball. Tonight, I’m on SX (left eyeball).

Yesterday was the first night of the run and we were closed out due to nasty humidity. The best value last night was 99.8%. There was rain over the weekend and the clouds didn’t clear out until today.

Tonight is the second night of the run and it’s been going pretty well (so far)! I’m pretty rusty with the AO, so Amali has been bringing me back to speed. Amali made a really awesome cheat sheet for AO operations, and it’s been extremely helpful. Data collecting began at 6:30 PM. It’s been a smooth run so far with seeing below 1″ and very few problems. Hopefully this sets the tone for the rest of the run.

Clear skies ready for tonight!

The best part of observing is in the snacking. We have some fringe cookies as a good luck charm for getting null fringes. We also have these really good star sandwich cookies, just like how LBTI works!

Holiday cookies are best cookies.

We also saw something strange on the all sky cam!

CIA UFO sighting?

Anyways, a Christmas post is not complete without showing MagAO-X’s festive cheer! We have Christmas stockings pinned up on the board in front of the MagAO-X PI’s office. Isn’t it super cute???

Next year, we’ll have a fireplace, too.

And of course, a quote for tonight:
Phil: What’s going to happen to the observation run when the fringe cookies are gone?

Good luck LBTI on the rest of your run! Have a very merry christmas, everyone! Until the next blog post. 🙂

2017B Day 11: MagAO Team Takes a Field Trip!

Before dinner today, Jared, Laird, Alycia, and I visited the GMT site (thanks Dave!). I had been looking at GMT’s two weather towers in the distance from the LCO lodge since I arrived last week, so I’m glad the tour request went through. The site is still under construction, and it’s pretty much filled with rocks, construction equipment, two towers, and trailers.

Me and the GMT, feat. Magellan

As you readers may already know, “las campanas” translates to “the bells” in English. The reason for this is because the rocks here have a particular structure such that they make a bell-like sound when struck with a regular rock. The GMT site has many of these rocks present, even with the site cleared out. They did keep one rock for visitors to play with!

La campana piedra de GMT

Giddy with glee, Alycia, Laird, and I went on complete exploration mode to find una campana de piedra. We managed to find small ones to keep. When we were leaving the main site, we stopped on the side for more exploring. Laird… well, Laird went all out and hauled a large stone.

Laird and his prized rock in Dave’s trunk
Laird’s dedication for his newfound treasure

Upon arrival back to LCO, Laird unloaded his new pet rock. He claims he’ll keep it by Jared’s hotel door and bang it in the mornings to wake Jared up. It makes me wonder if that’s a better sound to wake up to than the extremely noisy burros. Alycia claims that her campana de piedra will bless her with a night of excellent seeing.

I’ve been learning a lot these past 3 nights driving the AO. Katie, Laird, and Jared have been super patient with teaching and helping me through the whole task, even when I forget sequences and do the wrong thing. Shoutout to Alycia for her patience while I fumble around trying to reclose the loop and dealing with a ripped shell. However! Tonight looks super promising with clear skies, low wind, and seeing at one point dipped down to 0.6″!

The skies are clear and Clay is ready to stare into the abyss

Tonight has been going so well that I managed to get an awesome PSF on VisAO while driving the AO! (Michael, if you see this, can this get me an A in OPTI 528? kthx)

Look at my pretty, round PSF!

The winds were pretty insane yesterday that I was pretty amazed at how the ASM stayed in place. The idea alone for structural engineering astounds me. I have been listening to a lot of Broadway tunes while I have been working on the Fresnel propagation analysis for MagAO-X. So, after the howling winds of yesterday, this was the song that came to mind for me:

There wasn’t a quote yesterday, so I’ll include it now:
Jared: You can even choose the jewelry!

Today’s Quote:
Laird: The way these rocks work is like magic!
Dave: Yes but with science!

EDIT: Look who came back for a visit!

It’s our dear owl friend!