MagAO-X 2024Aa Day 11: Wanderer above the sea of fog

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (Viscacha Edition)” by Caspar David Friedrich and an AI

The day-to-day operation of an experimental extreme adaptive optics instrument, pushing all the boundaries at once, can feel like lurching from crisis to crisis. We need to get better airflow in the bowels of our electronics rack. We need to automate the fifty-three step alignment process. We need to debug this segmentation fault in our control software. We desperately need to do laundry, but we’re unwilling to sacrifice sleep or work time.

Today, a portentous wind blew all through dinner. Jialin and Laird got on right at sunset, and it looked for a minute like we’d have an okay night. predicted calm conditions. In fact, it’s continuing to predict calm conditions.


Yes, the wind line is going into the humidity plot.

We have to close the telescope for average wind speeds of 35 mph, and it’s gusting to 52 mph. Jialin is no longer allowed outside without a tether in case she blows away.

We tried to open the door to the outdoors but nature said “no. ❤️”

The conditions at Las Campanas will blow you away.

At times like these, the hard-working AOistas thank Mother Nature for delivering exceptionally bad conditions so that we can focus on what’s important: software development, esprit de corps, and blog #content.

We did take some data before we got shut down, though. And, who knows, maybe this will all just blow over. Meanwhile, Jared was not satisfied with the amount of wind and went to get some extra fans for our instrument. Armed with a couple of graduate students, he went to hunt in the storage building between telescopes.

Inside a box cryptically labeled VisAO (possibly some viscacha-themed instrument?) were some fans for cannibalization. This will hopefully help us even out temperatures in the electronics rack.

“Hello old friend”— Jared

2024-04-24 00:00 CLST

Sparkles “Eden” McEwen turned 25 today! We only use UTC for consistency in our instrument, but birthdays are celebrated in local time.

We’re happy you were born!

2024-04-24 01:27 CLST

Wind’s dying down! Finally!

Jared took some data down at the lodge while he was checking on his laundry. Seems like he got a bit of sky rotation.

If you visit the southern hemisphere you can see the Magellanic Telescopes, discovered by astronomers in 2001.

Tomorrow’s a half-night for me, so I’m taking advantage of my last full night to file my second and final blog post for 2024Aa. Until next time, enjoy some hair-metal revival from STARBENDERS.

Song of the Day

We can face the darkness, baby. It’s all in the way you play the game.



I know we’re not the first ones to use AI image generation, but its ability to capture South American animals has greatly improved since I last tried it out.

O B E Y (prompted by Sebastiaan)
The tail-less giant mountain viscacha has not been seen since the last ice age.
The ELBT (Extremely Large Banana Telescope) (prompted by Jay)