MagAO-X 2023A Day 22: Above and beyond

This evening Dr. Matías Díaz, a support astronomer here at Las Campanas Observatory, helped us take a next-level team photo.

Thanks for taking the video with your drone, Matías!

Of course, we have more people in our group than pictured, and by the time we visit again in 2024A (!) we’ll probably have even more new members. By then I will have decamped for the Flatiron Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York, but it’s famously hard to see stars there. Maybe they’ll invite me back.

It’s our last night on sky, which is always bittersweet. Tomorrow’s a long day of removing from the telescope. So, what have we got to show for the past 22 days?

  • 14 terabytes of high-contrast astronomical data (and counting)
  • a new observing mode that keeps light where it should be, allowing us to pass these savings on to the consumer (shout-out to Ms. Lowfs)
  • a handle on our induced DM ✨sparkles✨, which will let us unravel the profound mysteries of pyramids (thanks Eden McSparkles)
  • a lot of improvements to VIS-X (gaan met de banaan, Dr. Haffert)
  • one new extreme-AO-fed instrument (shout-out to Noah & the Ex-Kids, opening for Weezer on tour this summer)

We’re about to commission our knife-edge coronagraph, but this blog post can’t wait. It’s time for the prospective students to choose their Ph.D. institutions, and we must put our best foot (feet?) forward.

Song of the Day

“Anemone” by Brian Jonestown Massacre

I went to a liberal arts college, which makes some people assume I didn’t study physics or something. In fact, astronomy is one of the quadrivium of artes liberales, and my college had a Department of Mathematics and Astronomy before it had a physics one. It’s physics now, though. So there.

Still, a smaller student body and more flexibility in courses of study meant some interesting cross-pollination between departments. One of my classmates in Advanced Intro Astronomy was named Maurissa, and she was actually a music major. She took astronomy with us, but she also had a band, did stuff with electronics, and was in a Balinese gamelan ensemble. Anyway, she was the one who introduced me to Brian Jonestown Massacre, the above psych-rock band with good vibes.

Bonus Song of the Evening

Sometimes you don’t need something musically interesting, and swoopy synths suffice. Anyway, the blog title reminded me, and after all—we are almost home.

“Almost Home” by Above & Beyond and Justine Suissa