2014A Day 20: Spares and backups

Vanessa arrived safely today after boarding 6 planes (but only traveling on 3) to get here. We are happy to see her! She is helping with Clio2 engineering as well as AO operations. We also had 2 of our observers arrive today; their run is in a couple days but they wanted to get up to speed on the system. Unfortunately, we couldn’t show them much at the start of the night, because while closing the loop on the first star, we had a hardware failure that got us pretty worried for a few hours. The ethernet module on our slope computer failed. Luckily, we had a spare, and Jared and Laird put it together without any help from our Italian friends who were all sound asleep in Tuscany.

Two photos of the spare BCU 39 slope computer
The failed ethernet module (top) was swapped out for the spare (bottom)

After they got that fixed (in the mean time, Vanessa and I were working on the CLio computer backup), we got on sky. We had amazing seeing tonight.

I know there’s a reason we picked this site.

And we got some amazing data.

A bright star behind the coronagraph on VisAO at i’ (770 nm) with very high Strehl

We also took some spectral-differential imaging (SDI) data with the Wollaston beamsplitter in to divide the light into the narrow-band and continuum beams. Here is Laird inserting the Wollaston, which he has to go up to the instrument in the telescope to do:

Here is Laird inserting the Wollaston by feel and sound

It was a beautiful night.

The ASM by moonlight.  Photo courtesy Prof. Laird M. Close.
The Clay telescope by moonlight.  Photo courtesy Prof. Laird M. Close.

We’re all quite tired.

The P.I. with his Fanta

But seeing Raphael and Pele dance it up on Xai //na gomasen is quite energizing!

And you can see their dancing much better in this video, I love the Namibian dance style!