Today was our first official science night! The previous nights were engineering, but tonight we had a visiting astronomer here at the telescope, and he was calling the shots for his observations. He took logs while we helped him take data, and the operations went pretty smoothly.
The night started out well, with Alfio successfully managing a difficult aquisition, and with the data coming down the pipeline looking just fine.
However, around midnight the clouds thickened up, and the AO system couldn’t stay locked.
We kept trying brighter and brighter stars, eventually trying a 0-th magnitude star — the wavefront sensor would alternate between saturating counts on this bright star to not even seeing any photons from it at all — 12 mags of extinction! Sigh. So it was a disappointing night. At least we were able to get some testing of various modes and set-ups done, so that’s good. But we are really hoping for a better night tomorrow!
Time for the pretty pictures:
This is the song in my head when we are watching the photons on the wavefront sensor slowly diminish: