Well, we are almost home… we made it to the Dallas airport. When we left in early November, the election had just concluded and I was still eating Halloween candy. Thanksgiving has come and gone. And now that we are back in the US, we are hit with the usual full-blown American Christmas with music, ...
We’re off the mountain! Laird, Katie, Jared and TJ finished putting MagAO to bed yesterday, and made the journey down to La Serena. We spent one night there, and with Laird’s folks took some time off to celebrate.
We have a long overnight flight to Dallas ahead of us, but we’re almost home.
Some quotes ...
The last of the MagAO team left LCO today. So long and thanks for all the spatial resolution! Since we didn’t all overlap, here are the 3 group pictures we took that captured everyone who came on the commissioning run:
Hola, it’s Vizzy! I work hard to keep my fur fuzzed, so I was asked to do a special guest post on LCO style. MagAO has been immersed in the culture of LCO for a month, and they are a stylish bunch indeed. Here we go!
LCO is a pretty stylin’ place.
What with the jumpsuits,
clean room ...
This is my least favorite part: packing everthing up, getting organized, finding all of our lost allen wrenches, and taking a zip-tie inventory.
The ASM came off the telescope yesterday, and rode down the hill first thing this morning.
The last major operation was to unbolt and crane the NAS off the telescope.
Once the NAS came off, ...
When you bring an expensive, delicate instrument to an observatory, you want there to be people like Juan Gallardo who put their full attention and serious effort into the procedures and operations for mounting and dismounting your instrument. Yesterday evening, we all met in the library/conference room, and Juan briefed us on the procedure ...
After the dome closed at sunrise we shutdown VisAO, Clio2, and the ASM. Here are the big moments.
(Don’t get the wrong idea. We all actually love Clio – it just became the scapegoat for any and all problems that occurred in the last month.)
It is indeed time to go home.
Tonight is the last on-sky night for MagAO in 2012. Don’t panic. We’ll be back with a vengeance in Spring, 2013!
We began the night tonight by looking at a bright star that Runa chose for calibration. Upon further inspection, and much to our surprise, it turned out to be a heretofore unknown binary! We’re calling it “Runa’s ...
This is my first post…had to do it some time….
Tonight was divided up into two separate halves. In the first half of the night, we went back to some faint guide stars to both confirm that the AO could reliably lock on them, and to test out a few bugs on Clio.
The previous night, Clio ...
Well, we tried out our faint guide star modes tonight. We locked on a 14th magnitude guide star in bin 3, and a 16th magnitude guide star in bins 4 and 5! We were getting down to 90 milli-arc-second PSFs in K-band, where diffraction-limited is 70 mas, while correcting fewer than 100 modes.
Here at LCO, we spend a lot of time staring at the sky, and not just with our instruments! I’ve noticed, for example, that the Belt of Venus is quite prominent and beautiful at sunrise and sunset. For those of you who’ve never noticed it, the Belt of Venus is the pink band of light ...
The return of the Crow part II:
Edgar Allen Poe—
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…
…Only this, and nothing more:
The excerpt from the poem “The Raven” is brought to you by the Return of the Crow part II.
That is, we put the CRO ...
Things are always exciting here on the MagAO project. But nothing – not earthquakes, viscacha attacks, not even non-orthogonal basis sets – can keep us from doing what we came here to do. Now that we are on-sky, we are taking advantage of the *amazing* 0.5 arcsecond seeing common at LCO to take some nice ...
Tonight started with a hard to understand communications problem between our AO system and the telescope control system (TCS). It’s been working for days, but tonight we started having some messages get dropped. We have to keep the elevation of the telescope above a certain value to keep our delicate mirror safe, and this communications ...
Our ranks are thinning — Alan Uomoto left today and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Bye Alan! Thanks for all your help in getting us up and running!!
We are still engineering our many modes on sky and debugging telescope and instrument problems. One of our exciting new modes is Simultaneous Differential Imaging (SDI), ...
For all of the non-astronomers out there (hi dad!) who have been patiently wading through our blog because they love us, here is a very brief crash course on AO. We thought that this might help you to understand why what we’re doing here at MagAO is so exciting.
The first important concept is that, in ...
Today we were down 50% of our tenured professors and 50% of our Italians. Phil left yesterday and Simone and Enrico left this morning. Therefore, I was a little worried because their presence is definitely missed. Luckily, it was a good night anyway!
We weren’t socked in with high cirrus like we were yesterday, so we ...
The unofficial battle cry of the MagAO project over the last few days has been “More Cowbell!” as we try to get a high-order basis set that keeps our actuators happy.
To get the truly amazing image quality that our system is capable of, we need to find a set of shapes for our mirror that ...
Today we worked more on interaction matrices and calibrations during the day.
In the evening, Phil and T.J. spent some time optimizing and testing Clio. Clio got to move to the big computer in the Clay control room for the first time (instead of running it off Phil’s laptop). Here are some pictures of the big ...
And it won’t stop us tonight either! Rest assured that our PI had the foresight to keep the CRO on today, so MagAO commissioning continues unabated.
Look how short that post was!
Greetings MagAO blog followers! Tonight, I’m giving Jared and Katie a well-deserved night off from the blogosphere. Don’t worry – they’re still hard at work on the system, and continuing to collect pithy quotes and hilarious anecdotes for your entertainment.
I’ll start with a recap of yesterday, since I neglected to send the “good pictures” to ...
After 13 straight days of nearly perfect cloudless photometric conditions, we woke up to this today.
So, of course, we decided to go on sky for the first time.
We haven’t completed all of our internal calibrations, but going on sky will let us see if they are valid so that we can complete them ...
Before we tell you our big results for the night… let’s look at some happenings up and down the mountain!
Here are Enrico and Alfio waiting for a ride up to the telescope:
Armando departed on Saturday, and now Derek and Marco have also gone down the mountain.
Derek saw a horse on his way down the mountain. ...
We passed a big milestone today with the ASM working in closed loop with 400 modes at 1 kHz (the most complex AO mode)! This 400 mode interaction matrix has been made possible by the excellent trouble shooting from our friends at Arcetri Observatory, Simone, Enrico, Alfio, Armando and Marco!
It was such an exciting event ...
Sorry for the tardiness of this post. The internet was down on the mountain when the night shift went to bed this morning. The day was a struggle, but we finally got at least something working, and then did some testing through the night.
The issue was a feature in our pupil which Simone ...
Here’s a riddle for all you AO fans out there:
What aberration can be sensed but not corrected?
Usually an AO system has the opposite problem: There are aberrations you can correct but not measure. And of course, there are all sorts of aberrations you can neither measure nor correct, like the very highest spatial frequencies. ...
Our CRO is a very fast f/1 optic, and our ASM makes an f/16 beam. So motions of the CRO are amplified by a factor of 16 in our focal planes. We can see this on the VisAO CCD47 as a dancing image due to small mechanical vibrations of the telescope.
The MagAO project is adding ...
Today we are going to explore the MagAO pupils and their corresponding transforms in the image plane, courtesy of Fourier optics.
So let’s have a look at the pupil. Here is a photo of the ASM, taken with a digital camera. This was from before Clio was mounted, so that we just stood on the Nasmyth ...
Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for clear skies, low winds, and contactless continuous facesheets.
We are employing fine Italian craftsmanship to obtain the interaction matrices for our AO system, using the “penina” internal light source (an artifical star) and the CRO retro-reflector. These are crucial calibrations for the feedback loop to create the desired shapes on ...
Alan Uomoto has been teaching us about the power supply at LCO. Rather than calling it clean and dirty, the actual difference between the different circuitry is whether they go direct (white outlets) or through an un-interuptable power supply (UPS) (orange outlets). Alan, this one’s for you!
(And — despite how it looks from the outlets ...
Today was a busy day, and we began splitting MagAO’ers into day and night crew. See Derek’s awesome post for the bulk of the day’s tasks: aligning the CRO and ASM.
The next major happening was mounting Clio to the NAS. Even though we didn’t play the theme from Top Gun as we did it (sorry ...
Okaayyy!!! Allora. The day began with some avocado slices, dos scrambled huevos, a bowl of oatmeal, two slices of cheese, two slices of breakfast cake, two glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice (delicious!), and a cafe con leche. The food at LCO is very good and below are more pictures, for our respective mothers:
After breakfast, ...
Today was the first day with all the big guns:
We shimmed the ASM to put it in the middle of the range for collimation and focus.
Alfio and Jared tested the Bayside stages for collisions with the telescope — all clear.
Phil has been checking Clio out in the clean room, testing the motors, homing, and taking ...
Our crew is getting kind of big. Todays new arrivals were: Phil Hinz, Simone Esposito, and Enrico Pinna.
This morning we finished balancing the telescope, and collimated it. We also installed our new wind meter directly under the ASM.
To prepare for moving the NAS, we officially took over the Clay control room.
The big task after lunch ...
Today was almost a terrifying, cutting-into-the-ASM kind of day… but a bit of organizing and sparing saved the day! See Marco’s lively post for the gory details — but we can now talk to the ASM from the control computer!!! 🙂
What happened was we thought we didn’t have the right connector to repair the damaged ...
Oh Man! Armando and I waked up having in mind to put the hands into the ASM…. what a mess!!! So GO! light breakfast with only one egg , yogurt, cheese, ham and orange juice (for me) and double ham and cheese sandwich with tea (for armando) in order to be reactive to the ASM ...
Alfio’s here! Despite the flu and flight delays, the captain of our software team made it to Las Campanas. Now we just have to get our system ready for him to operate.
We started the day with a plan, and got most of the way through it, but there was a snag (maybe literally). The main ...
Today we moved all the electronics in their final place with AO workstation.
After that we started testing the electronics simply switching on everything without the ASM connected in order to see if everything works or not and…
AAAAARRRGHHHH: one power supply seems not work. A strange noise like “clic-clic” at few Hertz appeared and in the ...
Today we installed the Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM), a critical and exciting event! This is our 1.6 mm thick 85 cm wide fragile thin shell that was transported to the summit yesterday. It is now hanging up high above the primary mirror in the dome of the Magellan Clay telescope.
We woke up this morning to ...
Today we moved our Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM), including our 1.6 mm thick 85 cm wide fragile thin shell, up to the aux building between the telescopes. Needless to say, it was an exciting time.
Here’s a video of the cart being pushed and pulled onto the truck:
Other stuff got done today too.
Alan and Tyson ...
Armando Riccardi is here. That means it is all going to be fine. Seriously – stop worrying.
O.k. Maybe worry a little. We had a 6.2 magnitude earthquake today, almost right under us. That’s telescope shaking, rock slide causing, all work stopping strong. Strong enough that Armando abandoned the ...
The MagAO project put together an instrument on a shoestring budget from borrowed parts, to observe one of Nature’s most beautiful spectacles:
The solar eclipse!
We built a pinhole camera using an obsolete cable bulkhead, an authentic piece of MagAO hardware. We call it the MagAO Solar Eclipse Viewer. You can see the cable bulkhead below, in ...
We had an exciting day on the MagAO project here at Las Campanas Observatory. There were bugs, birds, left-handed translations, a handoff, some solidified N2, and the sun got a little fainter too.
Today was the crew changeover. See Katies’s post about how the next Turno was shown the workings of Clio’s dewar and LN2 ...
Tuesdays are when LCO staff swap shifts. A meeting is held with all technical staff, who share information in order for the handover to go smoothly. This afternoon, the instrument staff who are keeping Clio cool met to show each other how it works.
Alan, Jared, and Katie arrived today as the first of the MagAO commissioning team. We stopped at El Pino before heading up to the mountain. Here are Jared and Alan with the eponymous tree:
La Serena is a beautiful beach town, and we couldn’t decide whether it reminds us of San Diego, Santa Cruz, or San ...
Manny and Richard are on their way home. Clio2 survived shipping, and is ready for MagAO to send it some flat wavefronts.
The last thing the guys did was train the LCO staff on how to keep Clio cold.
The next MagAO detachment leaves Tucson today. We’re on our way.
After shipping, unpacking, and verifying that everything still works, the last step was for Manny and Richard to cool Clio2 down. Then they took some pictures.
Since it works in the IR, basically detecting the heat of planets and brown dwarfs, Clio2 is kept very cold. This is because a blackbody at room-temperature emits most ...
With some help from Shannon Close, the Magellan AO project now has an official logo. Without further ado:
Richard caught a glimpse of the grumpy old man, one of the two Viscachas who live over the clean room. When last we saw them, they had just been caught breaking and entering the ASB to steal bananas, and the last update I got was “the problem has been dealt with”. I was ...
The invasion of LCO has begun. A scouting party consisting of Manny Montoya and Richard Sosa arrived this weekend and began unpacking the Clio2 infrared camera. Here is their report:
Day 1: “Clio was unpacked yesterday morning and we confirmed that nothing was damaged in shipping. Clio was put on the vacuum pump ...
Clio has arrived! The shipment containing the boxes for the instrument, ring, and rack was delivered to the cleanroom unpacking area at LCO earlier today:
Our IR science camera, Clio, has arrived in Chile and is in transit to LCO. Here’s a pic from last month in Arizona:
Stay tuned – more updates about Clio coming soon.
Preparations continue for the invasion of LCO. When we’re not sitting around arguing about clouds and chemistry in an exoplanet atmosphere, we’re discussing how to replace a relief valve without draining our cooling system. Some of this week’s worries included: how are we going to get all of this data home?
We also have to start ...