MagAO-X 2024Ab Day 14: What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like puddles in a dome floor?
Or fester like astronomers on night schedules with nothing to do?
Does it stink like the Atacama desert in the rain?
Or crust and sugar over like flan in the LCO dining room fridge?
Maybe it just sags like Gabriele’s shoulders?
Or does it explode?

The rain has stopped and the clouds are gone but we are still closed. The humidity is still high, apparently high enough to keep the dome from drying. It’s still dripping, so the telescope cover is closed and MagAO-X is covered in plastic. It’s still Gabriele’s night so he’s struggling to hang on to hope.

But we can’t even go on the internal source to do some engineering, because the puddles have everything off.

MagAO-X wrapped up in plastic

Puddles on the Nasmyth
🙁

Laird is still decommissioning MagAO. He was up early enough to catch the remnants of the overnight snowstorm before it all melted an hour later:

Jared spent some time tonight dismantling his PhD project, the visible arm of MagAO, VisAO.

Eden sunset

Vizzy snuggles. Photo Credit: Laird

The best 15 mins of my day were when my friends made a birthday call. The only place I could find to go that wouldn’t disturb anyone and wasn’t icy wind was in the dome, which was all lit up cause of the water.


I know! It’s crazy, because my feet are so large, but i was never into swimming

Jared said VM to me again *cry face*

This spaghetti tastes so much better than glycol

“This isn’t a cheese focused story!
It’s merely cheese adjacent” *sad face*

It flagged every instance of ‘cloud’ as ‘butt’, but I couldn’t let it go to press that way…


The song of the day is for Gabriele:

MagAO-X 2024Ab Day 6: LCO above a sea of fog

Like that classic painting, LCO took on some majesty and wonder today as the valley filled with clouds to compliment the cloud-covered skies.

Which gave way to another great sunset

Which gave way to another set of sad astronomers. Jay was eager to hit his disk target right away, but clouds are opaque to dreams and starlight alike.

This run, since the nights are so long, we’ve broken them into shifts with shift turnover around 1am ish. It’s 1 am now and the first shift is done for the night, I’m going to bed. There are faint whispers of hope in the cloud trend, but I suspect it is futile. Trust not to hope, it has abandoned these lands.

The best 15 mins of my day I guess was sending the first draft of my dissertation (minus a chapter) to Jared. Oh and then I played Untitled Goose Game with Joseph for an hour.


The song of the day is Sad Songs by Elton John.

MagAO-X 2024Aa Day 20: A Day and a Halffert

Tonight was an oddball: we were off the telescope for another observer for the first half, then came up at 1:30 for the second half, which was solely Sebastiaan on VIS-X, our spectrograph. So we had half a Haffert night.

Various angles of Sebastiaan squinting at spectra

It also the last night of the run, so you know what that means: spending all day getting MagAO-X off the telescope and put away for the May run. Some of us slept for the first half of the night, including me. I went to bed after dinner and slept until 12:30am and it was glorious. At the end of night we will go up on the platform and de-cable the instrument. Then we head to bed and the morning crew, who went to bed around midnight or so, will get up and get ‘er off the platform with the LCO crew. We will join them again after lunch. Fortunately we don’t have to prepare for shipping this time and only have to button her down until May.

We ended up observing well into dawn so we got a late start on decable, the morning crew came up as we got started. Pics from decable crew:

And with that we retired to our room for a few hours while morning crew takes over.

And there is the 8am down-the-mountain transport picking up riders. That’ll be us tomorrow fam.

Anyway here is an assortment of pics for your viewing pleasure.

So milky. Credits to Sebastiaan (left) and Jialin (right)

Large and Small Magellenic (Milky?) Clouds, only visible from the southern hemisphere. Photo by Eden.

Keep a lookout for the upside-down Orion constellation to the left here. Proof the Earth is a sphere. Photo credit to Sebastiaan.

Eden got some incredible Carlos footage I felt wasn’t properly displayed here, so here’s some fox for you. (Not a true fox)

He is a look-don’t-touch friend.

Yesterday was April fools but on Day 19 we couldn’t get our act together to post something witty.

The day before was Easter Sunday. So here is a repost of the Easter Viz


The song of the day is Break It Down Again by Tears for Fears.

MagAO-X 2024Aa Day 12: Off the charts

If you’ve been around this blog a time or two you’ve probably heard our woes with respect to seeing — the measurement of just how twinkly the stars are. Twinkling is bad for science, and our instrument can’t operate well if the seeing is too high.

We started this run with some pretty good seeing! In fact, two nights ago was the first night for my program and the seeing was excellent! I was able to observe a lot of my targets and get great images. You might have seen that last night was less spectacular, and I’m sad to see tonight is no different.

Off the charts seeing
That’s 2.5 arcsec seeing, wind gusts of 35.

Before we closed for wind and more engineering, Jialin got to drive some and I took some maybe-useable data.

Driver’s ed

Some animals and nice shots from the day.

Some of Eden’s lovely telescope night shots

BUT WAIT! The night’s not over yet. Immediately after my time was up and I left the control room, seeing tanked just in time for Jay’s disk observations

The night ended strong with Jay riding out his target until sunrise.


Some of you may have clocked that I arrived a bit late to the mountain this time. Well here is the quick story time.

In May last year I had a foot surgery that through many ups and downs has still not fully healed today (that’s a story for another time). I haven’t been able to bear weight on my left foot since May, approximately 10 months of not using my foot. About three weeks ago I got the go ahead to start walking on it again, and I was slowly and carefully transitioning back to bearing weight. But even though I was mostly walking, I couldn’t walk long distances, so I decided to bring my knee scooter to get around the airports easily.

In Santiago customs I got selected for an extra security scan and as I was hauling my luggage around I lost balance and fell over the front of the scooter, which severely messed up my left first metatarsil bone (the main bone through your foot leading to each toe). I couldn’t put any weight even on my heel or move or touch or even put my croc shoe on my foot. So I decided to stay in La Serena and see a doctor to be sure it wasn’t broken. It wasn’t. But the long period of disuse makes it incredibly lucky that it wasn’t! I saw the dr again a few days later, then headed up on Thursday.

I’m doing a lot better now! Still not walking, I’ve got crutches now to get around the site. But definitely better. At this trajectory I might be able to walk some by the time we leave.

So that’s the story!


The song of the day is The Calamity Song by The Decemberists

2024Aa Packing Party

MagAO-X is up and off to the great mountain in the south! As we are approaching our next great observing run, this time in two parts: 2024Aa in March (14 nights) and 2024Ab in May (10 nights). We spent the week packing her up and buttoning her down, and today saw her stuffed into the shipping truck and waved goodbye.

Our mascot for this run is the Bubo Magellenicus, or the Lesser Horned Owl (of fluffybutt allsky cam fame)

Please enjoy this video and pics of the week’s events.

The song of the day is Yakety Sax