2014A Day 19: The Shadows Of The Night

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.

Laird and Katie replacing the batteries on the wind monitor.

After that bit of periodic maintenance was taken care of, we headed back down the hill for our usual breakfast.

We have a nice steak dinner just about every evening — for 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.

How the AO system looks when it’s running well.

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

The moon looked almost shy.
Let the show begin!

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.

The eclipse as seen from just outside the Clay control room.
Laird might have had too much caffeine before taking this shot. He might also be over-driving tip and tilt.

When the moon is full here, the mountain top is really really bright.

Clay, containing the MagAO system, by the partially eclipsed light of the moon.

MagAO also obtained world-wide coverage of the eclipse. Well-planned, I say.

The departing members of the MagAO team saw the eclipse from the Miami airport this morning.

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.

The moon, now opposite the sunrise. Free MagAO sticker to the first person who emails me the name of the pink band on the horizon (hint, the answer is in a blog post from last April).

You might remember that this isn’t the first time we’ve observed an eclipse at LCO.

Here’s the song of the night: