T.J., Alycia, and Kate left us yesterday. Vanessa was supposed to be here, but her flight was delayed. So, it was down to Laird, Katie, and Jared to carry on the MagAO mission tonight.
Our day started early. We had to get up before dinner to do some maintenance on our shell wind monitor. This is a little anemometer attached right at the edge of the secondary mirror to tell us if the winds get too high. One flaw with our current device is that it is battery powered and the batteries only last about 10 days. So the crew tipped the telescope over for us, and Laird and Katie climbed up to replace the batteries.
After that bit of periodic maintenance was taken care of, we headed back down the hill for our usual breakfast.
After that we headed right back up, and closed the loop. Our minimum number of planets detected tonight is 1 (100% confidence). The maximum number is 4, with a most likely value of 2. Stay tuned.
Tonight was a little bit more interesting than usual, since we got to enjoy a total lunar eclipse. We knew we were in for a special night when we saw the moon rise over the Andes on our walk up to the telescope after dinner
With only 3 of us to operate MagAO, Clio2, and VisAO, plus Ernan our telescope operator, we had to watch the eclipse in shifts, leaving one person inside the control room to come holler if something went wrong.
Laird worked hard to get some nice shots of the dark moon.
When the moon is full here, the mountain top is really really bright.
MagAO also obtained world-wide coverage of the eclipse. Well-planned, I say.
On our walk up at sunset, the Moon and Sun were 180 degrees apart in the sky. On our walk down at sunrise, they had nearly exactly swapped positions. Mornings here can be stunningly beautiful.
You might remember that this isn’t the first time we’ve observed an eclipse at LCO.
Here’s the song of the night: