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!!!!!
BABY VIZZIES by Eden
VIZZIE SNACK TIME by me
More pics from today
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.
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!
Laird caught an awesome video of the vizzy family! We decided the one is the mom and the little one is her baby.
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!
But the fun doesn’t stop there. After it got dark Jared and Laird took us to the spoooooky tunnel under the telescope:
“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:
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:
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!
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!
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.
Let’s end with some sunset telescope + Jupiter pics
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.