2017A Day 18: Scary Spider

When you’re on an observing run, the word “spider” comes up fairly often–usually people are talking about the support structures of the secondary mirror. Tonight, “spider” had a different meaning because THERE WAS A HUGE FREAKING SPIDER IN THE BUILDING. Here is a picture showing just how big this thing was:

Version 2

By the way, can you guess which of the three walls is the floor or ceiling? You get bonus points if you said the top part with all the holes in it is the ceiling. So this thing was hanging out near the ceiling right outside the bathroom. I went downstairs around midnight, saw the spider, and immediately turned around. Everyone is afraid to use the lone bathroom in the building now. People are scared. There’s talk of rationing our food because we may not be able to leave.

Why not get rid of the spider, you ask? Gently nudge it away and outside? No, it’s big and scary, and hairy. Also, have you seen the movie Arachnophobia? You don’t mess with spiders this big. Oh, and as I write this, about 4 hours after we discovered the spider, it is still sitting there. Brooding. Plotting. Biding its time.

Up in the safety of the control room, I continued to make observations for my programs. Laird has been my AO operator, and this means we often get into ridiculous conversations. For example, yesterday we calculated how fast Santa Claus would have to travel to visit every household in the USA in one night (about the speed of an asteroid, apparently). I have also been berated with Laird’s usual statements like “I’ve never had a grad student/postdoc who thought you could just clean a refractive lens to get rid of ghosts.” I was also reminded what a “hi-archial” system is.

Despite the high humidity, observations are happening and good data are being taken (except when you accidentally set up VisAO to take 6000 darks during an exposure, and by you, I mean me).

I am going to once again bend the youtube song rules by linking to the trailer for “Arachnophobia.” A terrific movie that will make you afraid of spiders if you weren’t before, and if you were already, you’ll be even more terrified and fear even the tiniest ones for life. So yea, definitely see this if you haven’t.

 

 

2015B Day 15: Back to clouds

We had a solid run of 2 nights with good weather and incredible seeing. Sadly, that run is over. Tonight the clouds came rolling in around midnight and didn’t let up. Before they came in, the wind picked up and forced us to point at a very southern star.

While we were taking data, we noticed that the Clio PSF was elongated on one side of the chip but perfectly round on the other. To troubleshoot this issue, Katie and I decided to mess with Clio’s knobs (for instrument folks: move the camera lens around). We were trying to see if changing some alignment might fix the elongation. Here’s what we found:

20151202_CameraLensAtMinus1400

These images were taken with the star at different positions on the detector and the camera lens adjusted to a new value. When we put the camera lens back to its nominal value, here’s what we found:

20151202_CameraLensAtZero

On the whole, the images are pretty similar. And more troubling, the overall PSF shape didn’t really change, which means the camera lens wasn’t responsible for the weird elongation. More problem solving to do later!

Since I am a LEGEND (A. Vaz, Nov. 29, 2015), I am going to forego the song requirement and bring back quotes. Here’s a little convo we had when the wind started to pick up:

“T.J. will point the telescope straight into the wind if you don’t watch him.” –Jared

“It’s true, I will.”–me

Goodnight/morning everyone.



Edit by the blog administrators:
TJ doesn’t want to play our game, so here is a video of him — the game will resume tomorrow:

2015A Day 31: All by myself no more

Hello everyone, this is the last night of my run, so it seemed appropriate to do the blog tonight.

I’ve been here for the past 6 nights. As you might have noticed, the weather (clouds, wind) has not been favorable during this time. Nonetheless, we managed to get about 2+ nights of good data. I can’t really complain anyway, having spent a lot of time at the LBT and MMT *not* observing due to weather.

During the past week, we made some cool new discoveries, imaged some interesting targets, and stared at the wind monitor. The highlight for me was actually last night. Sure, it was good to get data for most of the night, but I managed to fulfill my promise to Jared and KT by operating all three instruments by myself simultaneously. There’s no photo of this, because people would get mad if they knew I was operating Clio with my right hand, VisAO with my left, and the AO with my feet. Just kidding, Laird. Also, it would have been really hard to take a selfie, so you’ll just have to believe me.

Here is a photo from tonight, showing an actually pretty full control room. We have new arrivals Alycia and Amanda, who will be sharing the next 6 nights. Hopefully the weather cooperates for them.

controlroom

Quotes:

“She’ll probably be like ‘You’re stuck? Fine with me!”–Alberto, guessing how my wife would react if I ended up getting stuck on the mountain (this all stems from the internet being down for a few hours earlier tonight).

I’m new to this song-posting thing. But the theme from the past few nights has been me pretty much by myself (not quite, because Jared and/or KT were usually also with me. But still).

Edit by the Blog Administrators to comply with The 2015A Blog Rules: