MagAO-X 2022B Day 19: The sky makes us sad but at least there’s vizzies.

So the last two nights have followed the same pattern: decent seeing and good images until about midnight-1am, then seeing creeps up and up and up and blows past the top of the chart, and we all slump around the control room and lounge in a funk. But tonight there is an added bonus of a storm rolling in!

As I write this here is the current weather conditions:

Education break: “seeing” is how astronomers quantify how sharp or blurry a star image is. Basically if the seeing is 1 arcsecond, then a star’s image will span about 1 arcsecond on the sky. So a large seeing value means more smeared out images. MagAO-X really needs low seeing to function well – 1 arcsecond is difficult for us to work in. 2 arcseconds is unheard of!! Until the last few nights that is.

The best data we’ve gotten the last few days is VIZZIES!!!!!



With bonus tiny dust bath

More pics from today

Hoping in vain for a green flash

Some quotes:

You know your greed for empanadas is not one of your better qualities

Tomorrow is empanada Sunday after all

You know what they say. Dry hands at night astronomer’s delight.

Humidity bad.

Song O Day

MagAO-X 2022B Day 16: “Tonight’s blog content is going to be amazing”

Hello! It me, back on the mountain finally. As stated yesterday, I arrived finally yesterday afternoon (after high-fiving the departing Warren and Joseph at the La Serena airport through the window). I managed to stay up for sunset, then quickly went to bed after sleeping not a wink on the plane the night before. I slept all through the night and all through the day, finally rising for good at around 4pm. (note: this was partially on purpose so I could switch onto a night schedule, but my body did not object).

One thing that is super nice compared to our last run is that the nights are much shorter and we have a good amount of time after dinner before the sun sets around 9pm. Last run the sunset was basically during dinner, so we had no time to enjoy it before the work began.

We begun this evening with a vizzy hunt. We have yet to see any clean room vizzies, which is disappointing, but we can climb down a smidge from the telescope to a vizzy wonderland in the rocks below. Tonight was epic vizzy spotting, with a vizzy family and a little vizzy baby!

We love vizz
double vizz

Laird caught an awesome video of the vizzy family! We decided the one is the mom and the little one is her baby.

You’re welcome for the audio btw.

But the fun didn’t stop there. We went to see the dome opening, and the TO was kind enough to put on a little show for us!

Eden filmed the time-lapse videos, I put ’em together. If you watch closely you can spot a little Jialin below the telescope. Note to whom it may concern: she went slowly and carefully, she didn’t jump and bounce like it looks in the time-lapse!
Can you spy Jialin in the secondary
“Damn she thicc” – Anonymous

But the fun doesn’t stop there. After it got dark Jared and Laird took us to the spoooooky tunnel under the telescope:

MagAO’s old plumbing
Fan tunnel SPOOPY
Interferometry tunnel that never interferometried
Lookin’ at the cable wrap
Cable wrap
A feet pic?
Checking out how it floats and rotates
Suction cups used to grab and transport the primary mirror for recoating

“Avalon there is a statistically significant number of pictures with your eyes closed that exceed what it should be for random chance.”

And Laird visited an old friend:

The MagAO cooling pump is still alive with some air pressure, eternally hoping in vain for another chance to live out its purpose.

Last night we did a little surgery on VIS-X. It seems that manufacturers think that it’s mandatory to put a blinking or blaring LED on your tech. One of the science cameras in MagAO-X has a bright green LED on the back that shines right into VIS-X’s optics. It was giving ~700 counts just from the LED alone! Bad for science. So we activated VIS-X’s ghost mode:

Problem solved!

Now onto some science. Sebastiaan spent the first half with VIS-X, the integral field unit (IFU) spectrograph. He observed the huge and close giant star R Doradus. This guy is sooo big and soooo close that we are able to spatially resolve the star. That means that we can observe the surface of the star, instead of just a point source like pretty much every other star!

A spatially resolved R Dor. The full-width-half-maximum, which is the size of a typical point source on the image, is shown by the green circle. R Dor is so big!!
And there she is on VIS-X. Sebastiaan happy. “Damn she thicc” – anonymous
A close up of the VIS-X images. The red on the right is R Dor, the blue on the left is a hot B-type star taken earlier that is not resolved. You can clearly see the difference! In the background is a published paper of earlier R Dor observations; the red arrow is pointing to a star spot they observed. When we squint we can convince ourselves we see it too! Marked with the red arrow again.

Unfortunately the seeing is terrible tonight and the wind is HOWLING. Bad for science! Jialin and Laird took over around midnight, and we spent the next many hours fighting the seeing and getting terrible AO corrections.

But it wasn’t quite bad enough to foil VIS-X, our champion for the night. Sebastiaan hopped on and did another spatially-resolved star, Betelgeuse! He has now gotten 3 of the 4 spatially-resolved stars with VIS-X. Soon he’ll be first kid on the block to collect the whole set!

Look at all the science.

Despite our vizzy-blessed night, Jared once again banished our lucky vizz from the desktop. Hope that doesn’t bode ill for our observations.



But wait! There’s more! In a moment of triumph, Avalon got her much-labored-over low-order wavefront sensor closed and controlling 16 modes!! WOOO! She can now use past-tense in her phd applications and finish up her masters thesis.

Woozah it works!

Let’s end with some sunset telescope + Jupiter pics

Some quotes:

Damn she thicc

On several things tonight…

I had the flipaqc in again! It’s flipping me out!

On flipping out the flip mirror

There’s nothing like a pack of wild dogs to ruin your day at the beach

There sure isn’t.

I should have watched Super Troopers between the last run and now so I’d be briefed up on my quotes.

On inside jokes on runs.

We had nubbins. Now we don’t even have subnubbins.

On the poor seeing and it’s effect on our observations.

Observing runs are fueled by coke.

For legal purposes this is clearly about coca cola.

“<slightly judgementally>How long do you want to be on this target Laird?</slightly judgementally>”

“It was your dumb idea to go to it Sebastiaan”

Difficult seeing makes for strained interpersonal relationships.

“Avalon don’t listen to this crap”

“Oh I have been, as they say, lost in the sauce.”

On the requirement of luck for impactful science.

I gotta go yell sh*t at Laird

On doing science.

Song o’ Day:

MagAO-X Takes Montréal: Meanwhile back home…

While the whole group is living up up north, those of us left behind in the sweltering heat and humidity of Tucson in July got a treat today:

Everyone safe and sound in the loading dock staging room. The big white box in the back is MagAO-X, the foreground is the electronics box, and the grey box is our control computer.

That’s right, that’s MagAO-X back home all safe and sound and looking none the worse for wear from her journey home from Chile! Delivery was kind enough to happen when literally everyone from the group is in Montreal or otherwise elsewhere, except moi and undergrad researcher Roz Roberts.

Your’s truly and Roz, dripping sweat

Folks it was a rough one. After about 30 mins of watching the crane and maneuvering the dollies in the 6 million degree heat and 5000% humidity (I measured), I was pretty wiped. And all we did was move it off the loading dock into the staging room. Unpacking comes next week, so stay tuned for the next update!

I attempted to replicate Joseph’s excellent video montages to middling success:

Apologies for the vertical video, I didn’t realize my error until it was too late. I will never apologize for hamster dance.

The real heroes in the sweltering heat while I take video.

Hope y’all are enjoying the cool Canadian weather.

The song of the day is Heat Waves by Glass Animals.

MagAO-X Across the Pond: Day 3

Where are days 1 & 2 you ask? Um we didn’t blog those. *Sheepish grin*

Your favorite MagAO-X team is living it up in Leiden, Netherlands this week at the Spirit of Lyot conference – a conference devoted to bringing exoplanet direct imaging science and instrument builders together to unite the tech with the science. I’ve had a great time so far! This is my first astronomy in-person conference post-pandemic, and it’s great that every talk and poster is directly related to science I am excited about. I’ve met so many people both known and unknown to me previously, and am feeling re-invigorated and re-inspired about the work I’m doing.

Today was the first MagAO-X-focused talk by Leiden’s own Dr. Sebastiaan Haffert. He talked about his integral field spectrograph addition to MagAO-X, VIS-X. Here are some action shots:

MagAO-X team member Olivier Guyon and MagAO-X team friend Kate Follette also graced us with exciting science talks today. Additionally, I have a poster at the conference, which you can see here, and Joseph Long also has a poster!

Tomorrow will be action packed with talks by audience favorite Dr. Jared Males, and surprise special guest Joseph Long with an exclusive set delivering Kevin Wagner’s talk who is home with a surprise special covid.

Stay tuned!

PS – Please forgive any typos as they gave us all 8 beer tokens each and only two days to spend them, and I am feeling the effects at the moment… Cheers!

In honor of all the friends new and old, the song of the day is I Have Friends from the hit TV show Crazy Ex Girlfriend:

MagAO-X 2022A Day 28: Pack it up Pack it in

After a grueling day yesterday we were all blessed with a full 12 hours of sleep last night. And it was long overdue, especially for our hard-charging PI and Post-Doc. So with a renewed spirit, everyone feeling much more themselves today, we joined the LCO crew in getting MagAO-X buttoned up and ready to ship back to Tucson.

And thank goodness for the crew! They are professionals and did most of the hard work and crane ops today.

Mauricio (black shirt) leads the LCO crew in getting the cling-wrapped and foil-wrapped MagAO-X up onto the shock mount for the trip back to AZ.

The two biggest items to get ready are MagAO-X and the electronics rack. Both are wrapped up and stuffed into giant white wooden boxes via crane for shipping.

Sebastiaan wrapping the electronics box in cling wrap. And wrapping… and wrapping… and wrapping………..

The electronics box all wrapped and lookin’ good.
Seriously the scariest part as the electronics box is lowered GENTLY onto its side.
EEEE the nerves!
PI Jared securing the lifting rings on top of the MagAO-X box.
Old shipping labels had to be replaced with new ones.
The front panel to the MagAO-X box is a beast!
A datalogger attached to the shock mount to record the forces the instrument experiences on its journey.

There is a third box to ship containing the operating computer (not pictured), and a whole bunch of stuff that lives down here full time and is not traveling to Tucson.

A clean cleanroom awaiting our return in November.

The vizzys were in excellent form today.

We ended well before dinner and enjoyed some rare down time before our last meal at LCO. And one more sunset to close us out.

Thanks to Joseph, Jared, and Laird for the pics in this post. Stay tuned for tomorrow as we journey back north.

I wanted the song of the day to be Jump Around by House of Pain (You know: “Pack it up pack it in, let me begin…”) but the copyright refused to let me embed. So here is “Pack Up” by Eliza Doolittle. And this song rocks y’all.