2015A Day 16 Part II: Visited by Aliens

This is the end of our three-night run with MagAO. We’ve seen a little bit of everything this trip: our first night featured high winds, while the second night contained several hours of thick clouds. These things aren’t unexpected in Chile in late autumn, but what is unexpected is to be visited by aliens during an observing run! We’re pretty sure that happened tonight, and the all-sky cam caught them in action:

Red cam


The red dot shows where we were pointing, and the blue dot shows the Baade telescope. We had a visitor, and Baade was looking right at it! For some reason (definitely not because it was a moth on one of the filters), it only shows up on the red image and not the blue one. Our hypothesis is that it’s an alien spaceship visiting from a planet around a red M dwarf. We’ve been looking at these stars all week, so it’s only fair they come out and look at us.

Overall, this has been quite a run. We had the aforementioned weather and aliens, and yes, even the occasional MagAO software problem. However, the beauty of observing on a winter night is that even if you lose a third of the night to problems you still get 8 hours of data. Whenever any issues arose, Katie and Jared rose to the occasion, as did our TOs Mauricio and Alberto. With a team like this, there’s never any need to worry.

(Or, if you prefer Bollywood interpretations)

After a too-short time on the mountain (at least we got more than our share of empanadas) we’re headed back home tomorrow. Thanks to the full MagAO team for all the support this week, turning a possibly frustrating run into a successful one, despite the problems. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Nature paper on the close encounter!