The MagAO project’s first on-sky results!

The MagAO project put together an instrument on a shoestring budget from borrowed parts, to observe one of Nature’s most beautiful spectacles:

Approaching sunset at LCO

The solar eclipse!

We built a pinhole camera using an obsolete cable bulkhead, an authentic piece of MagAO hardware.  We call it the MagAO Solar Eclipse Viewer.  You can see the cable bulkhead below, in this photo of the PI and Instrument Scientist who did all the planning, design, and prep work with the hardware.

Dr. Katie Morzinski, PI and Jared Males, Instrument Scientist

The instrument passed internal Feasibility (FDR)/Conceptual (CoDR), Preliminary (PDR), and Critical Design Reviews (CDR) this afternoon.  There was no Pre-Ship Review (PSR) because we hand-carried the instrument from the Aux building to the dining hall.  Integration and Testing (I&T) was completed in the afternoon at the Aux building by the PI and Instrument Scientist.

The commissioning and observing run began immediately after everyone finished eating a delicious dinner together in the LCO dining room.

Software and operations were provided by Tyson Hare.  He first upgraded the detector from a wall to a sheet of paper, and then commissioned the instrument outside…

Commissioning the MagAO Solar Eclipse Viewer

…then took it inside to the LCO dining room, where the curtains could be drawn to reduce the ambient “dome” light.

Optimization of the MagAO Solar Eclpse Viewer

Here is Tyson operating the MagAO Solar Eclipse Viewer detector:

Tyson Hare operating the detector

Laird Close operated the pinhole camera:

Dr. Laird Close, camera operator

We simulated the eclipse with a 100-peso coin, to test our optical design and alignment:

Simulation of the solar eclipse, on a shoestring budget

A lot of the LCO staff and other LCO observers joined in on the fun!

LCO enjoying the solar eclipse

Here we show the entire instrument and overlay the light path:

Light path of the MagAO Solar Eclipse Viewer

It was only a grazing or nibbler eclipse at LCO, and here are some of the best images we got:

Solar eclipse images
Eclipse through welding glasses

It was a lot of fun, and we hope you enjoyed the first on-sky results by the MagAO project!

The MagAO Solar Eclipse Viewer