2014A Day 30: Send Me On My Way

We’ve departed the mountain. Thanks for hosting our first full science run, LCO, and we’ll see you next time.

The PI with his bags
Our transport awaits
Our driver loads up the transport
Sunrise as we’re leaving
Goodbye to Clay and Baade
Saying goodbye to the observatory
The Pan American Highway

2014A Day 29: All Packed Up

We packed everything up and left the mountain, and now I’ve gotten enough sleep I’m finally awake enough to post some pictures for you.

The crew spent most of the day putting MegaCam on the telescope, which uses the F/5 they put on the day before. It’s a big job, being one of the biggest and heaviest instruments.

Victor and Francesco lift MegaCam up through the floor
MegaCam and Cartzilla. Cartzilla is so big and heavy they have to take down a post to fit it through the door, and it has to drive on tracks so it doesn’t fall through the floor.
The crew prepare M1 for MegaCam

Then they had some time to squeeze in taking Clio2 and the MagAO NAS off the telescope before supper.

Felix prepares to take Clio2 off the NAS
Felix, Juan, and the crew prepare to lift the NAS off the telescope. They worked very hard that day to get it all done before supper.
Jared secures the NAS on its cart

We parked them in the Aux.

The NAS parked in the Aux
Clio2 parked in the Aux

Earlier in the day, Laird and I accompanied the ASM down to the Clean room.

Baby Vizzy flopped out in the sun after being terrified out of his wits from the loud diesel Isuzu that brought the ASM down to the clean room

We had a final dinner, then packed up to leave.

Our last dinner — stuffed zucchinis and
Final sunset from the catwalk

Song of the day: Zumba version

Song of the day: Electric Slide version

2014A…28 Days Later: No Led in Our Zeppelin

Today Laird got up at 8am while Jared and I went to bed after our Last Star last night. Laird and the crew took down the ASM, then Laird and Jared de-cabled the NAS and I de-cabled Clio with their help. Here are some pictures:

Jared peering through the optics
Shutting down Clio.
Turning off the Clio pump in the scary loud pump room
The tunnel by the scary loud pump room.
Jared feeds the anaconda through to Laird, who catches it in the snake pit below
Laird in the snake pit. Left: the view from beneath the NAS. Right: The view through the hole from on the NAS platform.
Jared and Laird posing by the NAS
Jared shows us how he really feels
Povilas works on the M1 mirror.
Tonight’s dinner was delicious – stuffed tomatoes, sliced potatoes, and salmon with a cream/shrimp sauce
It was a rare 3-vizcacha day at the clean room today.

The song of the day is inspired by the film 28 Days Later. We hope when we get back to Tucson, it isn’t a post-apocalyptic wasteland with everyone crazy party-rocking and/or our loved ones turned into zombies. Still, should the need arise, we are ready to party rock.

Ready to party rock.

2014A Day 27: Last Star

We have observed our last target star of the 2014A run. It was another great night, with half arcsecond seeing almost the whole way.

Just after sunset from the catwalk.

We now have 2 days of packing and storing and inventory to do, and then we start the long journey home. Laird and Katie got started as soon as the dome closed.

Laird and Katie (behind him holding the light) started the Clio warm up this morning.

We have to spend some time saying goodbye to all of our friends. We won’t see them for 6 months!

A vizzy hanging out waiting for sunset

And we need to spend some time actually looking at the night sky, it’s so beautiful here.

Yuri Beletsky has once again supplied us with an amazing photo. He took this two nights ago while we were observing.

We spent a lot of time on this run trying to mitigate the effects of diffraction. So check out the wave nature of these guitar strings:

2014A Day 26: Factor of a Million

Only one more night to go — I think we’re going to make it! Tonight was fun in a crazy busy kind of way. We did about 20 targets total, most of them were faint Clio targets. Vanessa had left at the end of the previous night, so this kind of a night kept me really busy and missing her. Here is a picture of Jared and Vanessa and me at the end of last night right before Vanessa left to go back to Tucson:

Me, Jared, and Vanessa on Vanessa’s last night

Tonight we bagged about 20 targets and spanned a factor of a million in guide star brightness. And that’s without any optics changes — we just bin the pixels on the CCD and adjust the gain, and we can lock on zero-th to 16th magnitude guide stars!!

Here we are locked on one of the brightest stars we can do:

Two bright stars on Clio. This is just about the brightest guide star we can guide on.

And on one of the faintest stars we can do:

Here we are locked on a 15.5-th magnitude faint binary (the bright one at upper left). And see the star about 5 arcseconds away, it’s still pretty round! Wow. OK yes, we did have amazing ~0.5” seeing tonight — yay LCO!

We also got some amazing images with VisAO:

A bright star in z’ on VisAO. What an amazing dark hole around the star, which means the AO correction is working so well that it is clearing out all the scattered light up to its control radius!

And finally, we imaged yet another faint substellar companion — Pluto!

Pluto and Charon! Our observers tonight, Amanda Bosh of MIT and Stephen Levine of Lowell Observatory, needed to get some data for their on-going program, and we were all so excited to image a (dwarf?) planet and its moon tonight! We are locked on Pluto itself.

Here we are in the control room at the end of the night, wrapping up our calibrations and data. From left: me, Amanda, Stephen, and Jared. Photo by Amanda Bosh.
Jared taking VisAO data
Laird keeping the AO system under control
Gorgeous star trails over the Clay telescope, courtesy Amanda Bosh. The dotted line is a blinking airplane flying by. Simply gorgeous. Click for high-res.

Quote exchange of the day:
“Ok, open the AO thing.” – Jen.
“Ok, the AO thing is open.” – Laird.

Video of the day: Amanda Bosh’s video of the Baade (left) and Clay (right) telescopes going on-sky for the night. Really cool! Thanks, Amanda!

Song of the day: