MagAO-X 2020A Stay At Home Day -1: The Run That Never Was & A Study In Jolene

Since most of the MagAO-X team resides in Tucson, home of the University of Arizona and Steward Observatory, we are about to come under a stay-at-home policy starting tomorrow, 3/31, at 5 pm MST. This removes all doubt: there will be no MagAO-X run in 2020A. We are on the telescope schedule for May 3-10; to make this, we need to ship next week. And despite all the hard work we’ve put in since returning from our last run, we have a metric sh&*%t ton of work to do before we can be ready to ship. Because we have all been working from home out of prudence for the last couple of weeks, and now we are working from home under orders, there is no way we’ll get it done. Further complications include: LCO is shutdown until 27 April at the earliest; political unrest has started up again and is expected to increase; and we couldn’t fly to Santiago even if the ExAO system made it. Granted there is a lot of time between now and May 3rd, but our decision horizon is much shorter given the vagaries of international cargo shipping in the best of times. [note for completeness: that we do have a poorly developed backup plan to drive ourselves in a U-Haul. A ferry is involved.]

To say it clearly: MagAO-X 2020A is canceled.

We are now planning a late 2020B run, Nov or Dec. So start your telescope proposals.

So here’s the thing. Astronomy is not currently urgent. We astronomers/astrophysicists/optical-scientists don’t have a lot to add to the current goings on. But, (1): we shouldn’t let that cause us to relax. Apropos:

Astronomy can be urgent . . .

And (2): astronomy is still important. As a for instance: we are now all likely paying close attention to how dependent we are on the transportation of resources from point A to B. Now just consider how much of a role GPS plays in this. Sure, that’s based on 400 to 100 year old Astronomy — but it is a key example of what Astronomizing produces. It’s also an excellent illustration of the acute differences between urgent and important. Which are sometimes the same, but often not.

Now to the point: this is the first post of our 2020A stay-at-home blog series. The rules are as usual: the title must start as this post’s does, and there must be a song of the day. I’m expecting the grad students to self organize from here on out, with the option to recruit faculty, post-docs (at any institution), etc., to help share the load. We’re all in this together, and this run will last as long as it takes.

Back in the bad old days of the Long Runs, Alan Uomoto once remarked about our blog “The videos are a nice touch … although I admit I wasn’t able to tease out the blogger’s mental state as readily as I thought I might.” Let’s see what he can do with this.

When Dolly Parton sings her famous song “Jolene”, it sounds almost gleeful, despite the lyrics. To wit:

Basically, Dolly wins in the end and you can tell. Now Miley (Dolly’s goddaughter) delivers it in a more moving tone, sad, but not hopeless:

You don’t really know how it ends though. Any case, this is all really just an excuse to post some rock. If you’ve read this post on this blog for this long, it’s a solid chance that you’re a nerd. So you might claim to not know who the White Stripes are, but you are probably wrong. Just listen to the first 5 seconds of this and get back to me. (come on . . . that’s likely the most recognizable guitar riff of the last 30 years)

The ‘Stripes version of Jolene is completely different.

Jack White’s version is that of a woman who has already lost. And it rocks (yeah).

But wait! Shouldn’t we be giving a message of hope, not despair? In these trying times? Well . . . actually. The thing you should notice most about the White Stripes is how there are 2 microphones. And when the shit hits the fan, Jack always turns and he and Meg rock through it together. It’s an awesome performance style, and it’s what we all need to do.

Appendix: I struggled with which version to post, and ended up with my overall favorite performance. This next one falls under our we have standards mantra, in that I think it’s the best guitar performance of the three:

And this one is the classic. It’s the most heartfelt vocal performance:

Ok grad students. I know how much free time you have on your hands. Don’t let me down.

MagAO-X 2019B Day 13: It Works!

Well that was exciting.

The last three of us are on our way back to Tucson. We love being at LCO, but after spending most of two months there it’s a great feeling to be going home.

In case you missed it, MagAO-X works! We can close the loop on sky with real starlight propagating through real turbulence. Laird, Olivier, and I first started developing the concept of MagAO-X in early 2015, and many people have contributed along the way. I’d like to especially acknowledge the awesome contributions of the “army of grad students” [not my words] that really made MagAO-X come together over the last 4 years. Great job team.

We are all super thrilled to finally see our hard work pay off. Here’s to many more successful MagAO-X runs at LCO!

To my knowledge the tradition has not yet been upheld on this run. So here it is.

Hi Mom.

Our driver made sure to point out the locals on the way down.

Owl sighting

La Serena looks, to us passers-though, like it’s more or less normal. That may not be 100% true, but it’s nice to see some familiar characters.

The street performers are back.

Way back in 2012 an intrepid, fresh-faced crew of AOistas stopped at the SCL Holiday Inn for Pisco Sours after a long run at LCO. Laird, Alex, and I recreated that photo at the very same table. A few things have changed (though I still have never seen a pirate mine).

A tradition too

The big caveat is that the run isn’t quite over, at least not for me. MagAO-X itself isn’t on the way yet, but will be following us in the next week or so. I won’t be able to completely relax until it’s safely back the in lab at Steward Observatory. Hopefully fewer delays than the trip down, and we’ll be back to work after the New Year.

MagAO-X 2019B Day 0: Thanksgiving Arrival

Maggie, Joseph, Alex, Kyle, Laird, and Jared arrived at LCO today to prepare MagAO-X for our first time on-sky.  We missed thanksgiving with our non-LCO families, but the chefs made us turkey so we got a good holiday meal (thanks guys!).

We’ve already started MagAO-X back up and are making a bunch of last minute tweaks to get it ready.

Our cleanroom friend couldn’t quite believe were are back so soon!

MagAO-X 2019B Blog Rules:

  1. There will be at least one blog post each day
  2. The blog post of the day will have a song of the day

The song of the day is The Thanksgiving Song by Adam Sandler

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 12: Traditions

It’s an old MagAO tradition to take selfies for our moms in the mirror that gets you around the bend at the summit.  Long story, but it’s also tradition for it to be poop covered unless Alan is here.

Hi Mom!

The Andes watching the sunset behind me.

Tonight’s song is “I miss the misery” by Halestorm. Since the casual reader of this blog hasn’t signed up for Lizzy Hale with the power on, here’s a “subdued” version of it:

And here’s the knob-at-11 version:

Also, the block editor in WP needs to die.

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 11: These Kids Can Ball

In the gym today I noticed a bunch of new trophies. Check it out:

the trophy case

First place in futbol

And Tennis.

The full futbol

This is the clearly the best observatory.

These guys agree:

And they liked the weather today

As you can tell, the winds were below 20.

I missed the sunset, but came out of the cleanroom in time to catch this:

The post sunset.

Today’s song is Miley Cyrus’s version of Jolene (the Backyard Sessions one).