MagAO-X 2022A Day 17: Coronagraphic Burrito

It finally feels like we’re starting to settle in here. We have begun doing hours-long observations of science targets for observers, and that means we can actually take a breath, catch up on email, and bond with our friends at LCO.

While having our dinner we were graced by our friend the Burro who likes pets.

Hi there, I could use a pet.

Sebastiaan had to negotiate passage to dinner.

There is a price for passage.

And Logan got her first nose scritches in.


Sebastiaan then had to pay the toll to get by.

Sebastiaan tests the ear-face boundary condition

And Avalon made friends too.

This was Avalon’s last night at LCO (for this run, anyway). Safe travels and thanks for all the help!

Our telescope operator Hernán Nuñez ( a hero of MagAO runs past ) told us that he thinks these guys have basically been abandon up here for a couple of years. This one, at least, clearly trusts and even likes humans, so it doesn’t seem like they’ve been wild their whole lives. Our friend might be a little lonely.

After our fun dinner party with the Burro, I walked up to the telescope for the first time since we went on sky. On the way up I saw our friend Povilas — It’s great catching up with old friends after such a long absence.

The road to the Clay. That’s Povilas coming down the hill.

The night started with some VIS-X work by Sebastiaan.

Where’s Sebastiaan? He’s in this photo working on MagAO-X.

Logan gave a tour to some friends.

We started work on a nice bright star, part of Logan’s program. This was a great chance to put our high-speed low-drag coronagraphic mode to work. In the below image you can see the usual MagAO-X control panels. The lower right desktop shows the simultaneous images with a coronagraph disk occulting the star so we can look for companions. The 4 spots forming a cross are made by our deformable mirror as fiducials for alignment and photometry. The right-most image is our “low order wavefront sensor” camera, which is imaging light reflected from the coronagraph mask (the thing making the dark spot in the center of the other two images). We use that light to keep the spot centered at high speed (in this case 600 Hz). Fully understanding and optimizing this mode of observing is the key to my main science goal for MagAO-X, so it’s really exciting to see us getting started on it with a real star.

need more monitors

Here’s a close up view. Here the “satellite speckles” have green lines drawn between them, and the coronagraph is centered on the cross.

Exercise for the student: where does each speckle in this image come from?

While we worked inside on our tiny little field of view, the great big outside sky was putting on quite a show:

The moon over Clay as we tracked one of Laird’s targets
5 planets in one view

In the desert. A horse with no name. I can still remember my name. But the day of the week is already gone.