2014B Day 38: One More Night

We only have 1 more night of observing left. Can you believe it? And after all that, the last two nights are mine and Katie’s to do with as we please. We have a nice informal queue worked out between us. It goes something like: seeing 0.5″ or better, we do the impossible stuff, better than 0.7″ we do the hard stuff, and after that the stuff we won’t do any other time. Tonight was a just go for the impossible kind of night – half arcsecond seeing, no winds, and not a cloud in the sky.

Cerro Manqui delivered tonight. I think we deserved it.

I hope our favorite mountain peak has one more of those in store for us tonight. There’s plenty of impossible in the sky.

The ASB vizzy has been around a little more reliably the last week.
This Viscacha struck a nice pose for me on my way up tonight. I knew it would be good after this.

We’ll be in Tucson by the next time empanada Sunday comes around. I still had one leftover last night.

My last empanada for a while.

2014B Day 37: “Engineering Issues”

So it’s my time to write?

Last night for me on the mountain, and to date the finest AO shift. The team is smoothing the instrument quite a lot, and on my call I’d say the biggest issue was helping Laird when he had “engineering issues” with the washing machine (the shame!).
You guys still have a couple of nights, but I’d say every year you manage to resist these long runs a bit better (I still remember one of your first runs, crazy eyed, talking about La Serena like it was Havana or something). I guess the awesome AO data you get to grab helps.
Well, in any case we’ll miss you. It’s always nice when you observe with the same people for a while, and the observing process gets easier and runs smooth. Next time we’ll have the DIMM working, promise. Oh, in return of a “Loop is open..” ringtone!
Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.21.41 AM
I leave you with a xkcd that reminded me of AO somehow, and a full album. Have you heard of the annoying TO with the weird music taste? That’s me!

PS: Sweet Dreams (see what I did there?)

2014B Day 36: AO Team

Finally, after working for two years at Las Campanas, I could collaborate with the AO Team, which went as a rather smoothly work. Also the collaboration from Katie and Jared is amazing. They have been here for 36 days, and it appears just as if they had been a couple of weeks. What I’m trying to convey is the mood on the control room, their sense of humour, and the way they interact towards the VA’s using AO. The always strive to respond all the questions than may arise, and to solve the problems. Regardless that the VA’s have not read the AO manual…..
I look forward to work with them again, I could bring this next time wasabi….

2014B Day 35: Let It Go

This was our night:

Cars on the Pan-Am while we were closed.

We were closed for the first 7 or so hours of the night. I got some software maintenance done, and at one point I went out into the dome to see what was going on. I found Laird and Katie with their heads inside the instrument.

Uh oh, looks like something funny is going on up there
They were measuring stuff.

We finally got to open at about 3 am. In this GIF the red dot is us (Clay) and the blue dot is Baade. We opened at the same time and, it looks like we’re running away from the clouds.

This is what it looked like when we finally opened.

Because of the clouds we had to find very bright stars. When we pointed at Betelgeuse, Alberto (our Telescope Operator) turned to us and said “do you have a finding chart?”. That’s a joke — on faint stars you often have to work out which star of two or three is your target. As you can see, there was only one star in this case.

Betelguese melting the guider.
At sunrise, this was the sky. These kinds of clouds are hard to see in the dark … but they make AO observing hell.

Amazingly, the sky finally really started to clear at sunrise. After breakfast, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The next result is the only photometric image we took tonight.

Katie is pointing at the clear sky overhead at sunrise. The only clear sky all night.

Here you can see the result of all the moist (for here) air that blew over us tonight.

The aftermath of tonights weather is evident down on the valley floor

I guess I don’t really feel one with the wind and sky, but the past is in the past.

You also might see me cry.

2014B Day 34: The return of the PI

Tonight… MagAO and the Return of the PI:

We are happy to report that Laird arrived safely today. He ran the AO tonight, and gave Jared and I a break — it was nice to not have to worry about the loop! He made it all the way to sunrise. (Jared and I make it well past sunrise these days… or should I say nights). Laird seemed a bit surprised that Jared and I hadn’t broken more things, and of course he was pleased to see that we are still happy and healthy.

Laird also delivered some goods from home: coffee, and my new credit card after my old one was cancelled by my bank for fraudulent activity in Germany (???). Unfortunately, he apparently missed the other package — wasabi peas that Jared and I were really looking forward to enjoying. Jared loves giving Laird a hard time, so he grabbed this screen to prove that the package was delivered to the Close residence before Laird left on Thanksgiving:

You had 1 job…

However, at least the Close residence is still following the blog… hello!

Tonight started out fine, but unfortunately ended with some pretty thick clouds. Well, in clouds and mediocre seeing, we can still lock on a bright star — Theta1 Ori B — and do astrometry with the Trapezium cluster! Voila:

Clio images of Trapezium stars B, A, and E at M’ in the Narrow camera, nodded around to sample different parts of the chip. Something we can do through clouds and with mediocre seeing!

And now for the pretty pix:

Jared captured this cute picture of a bird on the wall by the dining hall

The Baade (left) and Clay at sunset

In anticipation of Laird’s arrival, we had eaten the last of Graeme’s wasabi peas yesterday… oh well… here is a beautiful music video to enjoy instead — a treat for the eyes, in Cape Town: