2014A Day 10: 12 magnitudes of extinction

From yesterday – the telescope

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 Clay at sunset, from the vantage point of the wild viscachas

The night started out well, with Alfio successfully managing a difficult aquisition, and with the data coming down the pipeline looking just fine.

This picture is from yesterday, when we looked at the Trapezium to do some astrometric calibration. Pretty cool how you can see it on the acquisition camera huh?

However, around midnight the clouds thickened up, and the AO system couldn’t stay locked.

Clouds, clouds, and more clouds

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:

Panorama from East to West by the Aux at sunset

Top: To the West at sunset. Bottom: To the East at sunset.
A wild viscacha behind the Clay (as opposed to the “tame” ones that hang out at the clean room)
Mizz Vizz said hello to us on our way to dinner by the clean room

This is the song in my head when we are watching the photons on the wavefront sensor slowly diminish: