Annular eclipse of the heart: L&L adventures reprised

I suspect all of our readers will be aware that last Saturday there was an eclipse event over the US. At 9:30 am Tucson Time was the peak of the annular eclipse, an eclipse where the moon is at the furthest point on its orbit, called apogee, so the disk of the moon is a smaller angular size on the sky than the sun (where normally they are essentially the same size) so it doesn’t block the whole disk and you can’t see the corona. Instead you get a “ring of fire” caused by the moon’s antumbra on the Earth’s surface.


Tucson was not in the area of max shadow, it only got about 80% coverage. So some XWCL members traveled to regions getting the full antumbra effect.

I met up with XWCL alum Lauren Schatz and UA OpSci grad Silvana Ovaitt. When Lauren was at XWCL she was my hiking and camping buddy, so we reunited for more L&L adventures by camping in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park!

We also went on a backcountry guided tour off the public access road and led by a local named Larry

Song of the day is Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden.

It’s giant! It’s magellan! And it’s a telescope! Coming to a Chile near you in [mumble mumble mumble]

The MagAO-X team is also fully engaged in preparing for the next big thing in telescopes, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). GMT is one of the ELTs (extremely large telescopes) being planned for the next generation of ground based science, along with the Thirty Meter Telescope and the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (yes, ELT is an ELT). GMT is currently being built near our MagAO-X home at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Our group is knee deep in planning for GMagAO-X, the extreme adaptive optics coronographic instrument for exoplanet science on the GMT.

So we made a big showing at the GMT Community Science Meeting this week in DC. These meetings are run every year with a rotating science focus, this year was our time to shine with the Exoplanets meeting. The idea is to get future GMT users together to talk about the exoplanet science they want to do with this powerful exciting new platform. Jared gave an invited talk about GMagAO-X, while Laird, Jay, Maggie, Eden, Sebastiaan, and I presented posters about our current and future science. MagAO-X collaborator, super star, and blog alum Alycia Weinberger was there as well. There was an opening reception Tuesday night, two full days of talks and posters, fancy pantsy meals provided (and open bar!!), ending with a half day wrap up on Friday. All in a super fancy hotel in the middle of DC. I had a great time, this was maybe the first time I’ve been to a conference where every talk was something I was interested in (my optics colleagues may have felt differently).

Pics for your viewing pleasure.

Posters! One of these things is not like the others…

Poster Pops! Little 1-min advertisements for your poster.

Our fearless leader gave a talk all about GMagAO-X

I’m writing this from home the day after the conference utterly exhausted! Tons of fun, tons of travel, and the open bar didn’t help things.

I’ll end with the super fancy conference group photo!

You didn’t know that that’s what DC looks like? You need to travel more.

The song of the day is Science Is Real by They Might Be Giants

Congrats Dr. Long!

Yesterday our very own Joseph Long ascended the hallowed steps of academia and become a PhD holder! The PhD defense at Steward begins with a 30 min public talk summarizing your thesis (summarize 5-6 years of work in 30 mins????), followed by a snake fight with just the committee, who then kick you out to decide your fate. Reception to follow in the venerated “Interaction Area” at Steward, the area in which we interact.

I am actually in California right now doing an internship at NASA Ames for the next 6 months. But Joseph is pretty much my best grad school friend and I have a lot of airline miles, so I hopped a quick flight for the festivities.

There’s the Catalinas in the window

The Public Talk

It was standing room only (not just because the only room he could reserve was too small…) as the audience sat in rapt attention for Giant Planets, Sirius, and Starlight Subtraction At Scale.

Not a Joseph joint without the fizzies
The plot every exoplanet talk is required by law to show.
Time to get Sirius
Joseph’s aesthetic and vital GUI interface for MagAO-X
Diffraction gif but make it cats.
A certain member of Joseph’s committee is well known for his love of orange Fanta at the telescope.

The Celebration

Of course he passed! While the OpSci grads get lovely sashes, a certain Steward postdoc-turned-faculty Kevin Hainline pioneered a slightly sillier tradition for Steward grads: an elaborate crown and cape featuring highlights of their research. If you follow this blog, you are well aware of the craftiness of some of our group members. So the troops were mobilized into action in true XWCL spirit (with heavy consultation with Kevin).

The cape is an astronomy fabric with gold letters (Avalon-printed) and plots from his papers with logos he made as well. The crown has a circus flair, and features bells on the ends, with a dumpster (I mean a MagAO-X with one too few doors on the top, oops) as the center feature. Around the base of the crown are hand-drawn (Eden-drawn) animals from the mission patches Joseph designed, each with their own crowns. Jialin also made some incredible art of Joseph, to be featured below.

The encrowning and encapening

The ‘fit

cork poppin’
Jared’s first astronomy PhD student. He’s had all OpSci grad before this.
Three generations! Laird was Jared’s advisor.
Ewan Douglas was also a committee member. The other two joined remotely.

Joseph’s ‘rents! Two Drs Long + Dr. Capt. Mrs. Marta L. Gwinn-Long (Ret.) M.D. M.P.H.

I didn’t really get any pictures of the food! Jay Keuny’s partner Mel made incredible focaccia bread, Jay made amazing pistachio macarons, Maggie brought a lovely pie, and Jialin brought fun Asian flavor chips!

Behind the scenes

The crown begins

Eden’s amazing crowned animals
The cape begins

Avalon’s amazing craft skills on the letters

Jialin’s Joseph-inspired art projects

Bonus crafts

Jialin made some incredible Joseph art:

Noodle Chef Joseph
Jester Joseph. Check out the pineapple and space cats lurking in the cards.

As a congrats gift, I made as Business Viscacha, or Businesscacha, or Biscacha. Behold Bizzy Biscacha:

He’s got some serious viscacha business to get to.

The briefcase opens and there are little letters in there 😀

Bizzy in his new home, attendin’ to business.

The Future

This summer Joseph is moving to New York City to begin a postdoc software fellowship at the Flatiron Institute. He’ll still be active with MagAO-X so keep an eye on this blog to follow his adventures.

The song of the day is HAPPY!

Day at the beach

So the fellowship I used to fund part of grad school has supplemental funding for an internship at a “non-academic institution” — basically not a university. I applied for it to fund a 6-month excursion to NASA Ames in San Jose to work with Dr Natasha Batalha on modeling exoplanet atmospheres for future reflected light imaging of exoplanets. I rolled out of town with 6 months of stuff and my dog this morning.

But I didn’t head straight there. So you see, my labrador Lani is every bit a labrador. The most important things in the world are water and the ball, especially water + the ball. So I took my desert dog to San Diego today to hit up their dog beach; I’m pretty certain she’s never seen waves or salt water. I haven’t been to San Diego since back in my Navy days in 2008 (I did also visit Coronado Island and peep for aircraft carriers in port). I’m just staying the night and then heading up to Big Sur area tomorrow, eventually reaching San Jose on Monday.

But you’re not here to listen to me blab, you’re here for the dog pics. So here you go, enjoy pics of my dog having her best day ever.

Unbridled joy at realizing where we were

She just kept running in and out of the waves:

Takes the waves like a boss:

The song of the day is 9 minutes of the Happy Dog Song:

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