MagAO-X 2022A Day 22: A Hole Thing

Today we got up early (3:00 P.M.) for a tour of the Giant Magellan Telescope construction site, arranged by our fearless leader.

We met with architect Francisco Figueroa at the site, who was happy to show us around—as soon as we put on vests, hard hats, gloves, safety glasses, a high-visibility safety vest, and safety-toe boots. (We had foolishly left ours on the other mountaintop, but fortunately they had a whole closet full of brand-new safety-toe boots.)

Thanks to The Covid-19 Situation and These Unprecedented Times (and their friends Supply Chain Disruption and Financial Constraints), work has been stopped for a couple of years. This meant that the main thing to see was a hole, soon(ish) to be filled with a concrete giant telescope pier.

It was windy as heck up there.

After another delicious dinner, we went up to the Magellan Clay telescope to begin operations. It was still pretty windy… and seeing wasn’t great… so we listened to Magellan sing in the wind.

Listen closely for its song.

Our observer this evening, Dr. Alycia Weinberger, is a good sport, and was happy to hang out on Zoom with us even though we couldn’t get locked on to her target just yet.

After a while, we did get back on target, and Jared experimented with ways to push MagAO-X in poor seeing conditions. We can’t reach our most demanding performance targets, but we were pleasantly surprised by our performance in these challenging conditions (in these unprecedented times).

Even though we did not get our 0.4″ seeing (who do we talk to about a refund?), we were able to have some fun. For example, we were served butts for our night lunch sandwiches. (Perhaps tomorrow we’ll have grilled eggplants and peaches for dessert.)

Graduate Student Logan Pearce overcome by emotion at the sight of the sandwich.

As I write this Alberto, our telescope operator, has just asked us if pointing into 30 MPH winds is okay. Veterans of MagAO will recall that suspending a complex instrument over the primary led to some paranoia over wind speeds. Fortunately, MagAO-X is in no danger of being blown off the telescope.

Carlos Culpeo couldn’t make it but at least he’s zooming in.

The P.I. made a great discovery tonight! He just discovered that we have an extra night of telescope time (going by the official schedule), totally overturning the previous scientific consensus on which day we’re moving our instrument off the telescope. Stay tuned for the Nature paper.

Song of the Day

A recent Tucson Sentinel music column highlighted new music by a Tucson local band named Annie Jump Cannon, which I felt compelled to check out.

If you’re not familiar, their namesake was the first person to figure out a sensible classification scheme for stellar spectra, at a time when women were not offered the same opportunities in science as men. (We still use her classification scheme today.)

The band, as far as I can tell, has no professional astronomers in it. (Phew.) In possibly related news, the song’s pretty good too.

“Strawberry Fiona” by Annie Jump Cannon