MagAO-X 2022A Day 30: The Secret Behind MagAO-X Cool Kid Attire

I can thankfully say that all of our LCO-going MagAO-X team members are back to their respective USA locations! I would say Tucson but Logan had to pick up her dog and car in Texas. Speaking of doggos, I know everyone was happy to see their loving furry roommates upon their arrival.

Alexander the Great a bit skeptical that he is willing to forgive roommate Joseph Long for his extended absence.
Lani inspecting that ball thrower Logan Pearce has returned with all previous ball throwing capabilities still in tact.

As per the remainder of the team’s travels after yesterday’s post, it looks like the plane’s headrest flight tracking system was not fully functioning – but luckily it seems that the captains were aware of their final destination.

Maybe someday we will have to stop by f-square to check out the local architecture and scenery.
Tucuman, home of the Tucumanians.

Now as per the title promises, I will outline the secrets behind the creation of MagAO-X attire for cool kids!

Some background: As we were in the midst of planning for the 2022A run, it became clear that the team would need some matching gear for the mountain. Having a background in shirt/sweatshirt production using my Cameo 4, I offered up my services to create hoodies for the team. However, the majority of my background in clothing designs is with heat-adhesive vinyl made for fabrics, whereas we were hoping for a more organic/distressed look for our team hoodies.

An example design from previous crafting. Black crew neck with white and sparkly blue heat-adhesive vinyl made for a friend who loves to spend time at her cabin in Big Lake, AK.

After brainstorming ideas with co-conspirator and long time MagAO-X digital designer Joseph Long, we decided that it would be worth a shot to do a test fabrication with a stencil + bleaching method. This would entail printing the MagAO-X logo in two sizes (small for front and large for back) on normal adhesive vinyl with the Cameo, which is normally used for adhering on smooth surfaces like metal/glass.

A (somewhat dirty) coffee cup being refilled by my trusty Keurig shown here to offer a glimpse of the versatility in crafting abilities that come with owning a Cameo. This is gold adhesive vinyl on a small tumbler, inspired by my late pups Ginger and Duke. A gold star for you if you can guess their breed!

Now to elaborate on the steps taken to create our team hoodies!

Step 1. Cameo design software Silhouette intakes the design as a binary png or jpeg and recognizes the edges to create the cut design file.
Step 2: Cameo cuts the design out of a flat piece of adhesive vinyl mounted on a sticky board for stabilization. I’m not sure my neighbors love my crafting hobby…
Step 3: The letters of MagAO-X are pulled from the sheet of cut vinyl and the stencil is transferred to the hoodie with transfer paper (grid like layer seen being pulled off). This is how I was able to get the vinyl to act like a stencil; normally I would use heat-adhesive vinyl and pull off everything but the MagAO-X letters, transfer to the fabric, and then immediately press it with a hot iron so it would adhere to the shirt.
An image showing the MagAO-X pulled design as it sits still on the page of vinyl that was sent in to the Cameo. Also imaged are some tools used for this process as well as my bottle of bleach and safety gloves used in the next step. Note that the vinyl here is black only because it was used on a different test subject than what is shown in step 2 and 3.
Step 4: A bleached soaked cotton ball is used to dab within the lines of the stencil. This shows a test hoodie after a few rounds of bleaching – as you can see the process doesn’t provide a perfectly even application and requires several rounds to bleach out all of the fabric dye within the stencil. A piece of cardboard is placed inside the hoodie to ensure the other side is safe from the bleach. Once enough rounds have been applied, pull off the sticky stencil!
Step 5. Fail a few times (:
Step 6: Try, try, try again! Also find out that a fleece hoodie is more likely to survive a bleaching process, so decide to go forward with that test subject. No major loss for the team in that decision as fleece makes for much better mountain wear.
Step 7: Finally calibrate the bleaching process enough to produce several hoodies for your awesome research team and kindly ask your mom to model one for you.

Now you are all pros at the Cameo stencil+bleach process! And now for the best part…

Step 8: Get to experience the joy (and warmth) the hoodies provide for your team while visiting the Las Campanas Observatory!

Thank you dearest blog readers for sticking with me through the step-by-step process needed for MagAO-X cool kid attire fabrication. As I arrived back in Tucson a few weeks before the others, I have continued to wear my hoodie to stay in the LCO spirit – and I hope others may do the same for those soon to be sparse moments of chilliness here in Tucson! As I believe these hoodies will return for future trips, I bid farewell for now and look forward to their use in many telescope runs to come!

Song of the day: Seasons in The Sun by Terry Jacks. This song has always reminded me of a farewell, so seems fitting to round off the tales of 2022A international travels of our LCO-going teammates!

MagAO-X 2022A Day 29: Non-Working Title

We did it, folks. We made it the full 29 days. (Maybe there will be a blog post from Atlanta for Day 30, maybe not. Depends how tired we are.) Jared had the presence of mind to take a group shot on our transport down from Las Campanas to the airport.

The covid clinic we visted along the way (fortunately not pictured) was demystified by Justin’s blog post. The most difficult part was waiting for them to fix their printer issues.

At the airport, we saw an interesting macaroni-penguin-liveried plane. And we ordered the traditional papas fritas and Kunstmann Torobayo (on tap no less).

Then we left Laird in La Serena.

(Not really; he was on the next flight out.)

Once in Santiago’s airport we traveled, Lairdless, in search of food and drink. We ended up at notable South American eatery “Ruby Tuesday,” where we finally got Logan a pisco sour. (Due to Las Campanas Observatory’s status as a dry site, there wasn’t a chance previously.)

I dunno, this stuff could catch on. Maybe they’ll expand their franchise to the US!

We’re all about ready to collapse into our assigned seats now.

However, the blog must go on, so I leave you with your…

Song of the Day

The song of the day is “Say Goodbye” by Papas Fritas.

MagAO-X 2022A Day 28: Pack it up Pack it in

After a grueling day yesterday we were all blessed with a full 12 hours of sleep last night. And it was long overdue, especially for our hard-charging PI and Post-Doc. So with a renewed spirit, everyone feeling much more themselves today, we joined the LCO crew in getting MagAO-X buttoned up and ready to ship back to Tucson.

And thank goodness for the crew! They are professionals and did most of the hard work and crane ops today.

Mauricio (black shirt) leads the LCO crew in getting the cling-wrapped and foil-wrapped MagAO-X up onto the shock mount for the trip back to AZ.

The two biggest items to get ready are MagAO-X and the electronics rack. Both are wrapped up and stuffed into giant white wooden boxes via crane for shipping.

Sebastiaan wrapping the electronics box in cling wrap. And wrapping… and wrapping… and wrapping………..

The electronics box all wrapped and lookin’ good.
Seriously the scariest part as the electronics box is lowered GENTLY onto its side.
EEEE the nerves!
PI Jared securing the lifting rings on top of the MagAO-X box.
Old shipping labels had to be replaced with new ones.
The front panel to the MagAO-X box is a beast!
A datalogger attached to the shock mount to record the forces the instrument experiences on its journey.

There is a third box to ship containing the operating computer (not pictured), and a whole bunch of stuff that lives down here full time and is not traveling to Tucson.

A clean cleanroom awaiting our return in November.

The vizzys were in excellent form today.

We ended well before dinner and enjoyed some rare down time before our last meal at LCO. And one more sunset to close us out.

Thanks to Joseph, Jared, and Laird for the pics in this post. Stay tuned for tomorrow as we journey back north.

I wanted the song of the day to be Jump Around by House of Pain (You know: “Pack it up pack it in, let me begin…”) but the copyright refused to let me embed. So here is “Pack Up” by Eliza Doolittle. And this song rocks y’all.

MagAO-X 2022A Day 27: The Best For Last

We have waited a long time for a night like last night. MagAO-X had first light way back in Dec 2019. We had just 4 nights to get it aligned to the telescope for the first time, figure out how to acquire a star, and start testing and optimizing our control system. That was just long enough to show that we had a working system, but we left knowing that there were lots of things to improve.

We all know what happened next. For two years we’ve been biding our time in the our lab at UArizona. That both gave us time to perfect a bunch of things, but I think it also caused us to forget a lot of things we learned in 2019. And Extreme-AO is hard. Really hard. It took us most of our 2 week run to start to understand MagAO-X on the telescope facing real turbulence.

Over the last 4 or 5 days I knew that we had really gotten some things working better, and (with lots of remote help from Olivier) had tuned our control system to where it was demonstrating much more stability. But right when we turned that corner the weather also took a turn, and the seeing blew up for 3 nights.

However, Cerro Manqui always seems to save one good show for us AOistas on our last night, and did not make an exception for this run. We had 1/2 arcsecond or better seeing almost the entire night. We even saw 0.35″ on the Baade guider — it is always said such measurements are an upper limit due to the optics involved (but don’t forget outer scale, which is important at LCO, so r_0 is a little smaller). During a period of steady 0.5″ seeing, we performed a thorough optimization of our non-common-path deformable mirror, and took some deep PSF measurements with 1376 modes running at 2 kHz. Here is the result:

The point spread function (PSF — that just means “image of a star” for most purposes) of MagAO-X at 908 nm (in the z’ filter). This is the combo of two images, the central circle used a neutral density (ND) filter to avoid saturation, and is scaled to show the Airy Pattern detail. The rest is without the ND, and shows the faint structures of the PSF. The key feature for AO nerds is the square darker region, our “dark hole”, which is 44 lamda/D on a side (22 in radius). This means we are really correcting the 1367 modes in our basis set.

We’re all ecstatic to finally see such an image from MagAO-X. An amazing team of people has worked incredibly hard for the last 6 years to make this happen. Way to go everybody!

Clay opening for our last night.

I took this photo sitting on the dome floor. The sunrise is starting through the lower louvers. At the same time, you can see moonlight reflected off the primary illuminating the bottom of the secondary mirror baffles, and stars are still shining.

We worked with Alycia taking great data all night. As soon as she declared the observing over for the night, we shut it all down and started tearing it apart.

Sunrise disassembly.

After de-cabling and getting ready for the crane, Sebastiaan, Logan, and I went down for a short nap. Laird and Joseph (who went to bed early for this reason) worked with the crew to get MagAO-X craned off the platform.

We wrap MagAO-X in mylar emergency blankets to keep it from overheating in the sun.
Mauricio Cabrales steps back to make sure MagAO-X is going up straight on the crane.
MagAO-X is now in the cleanroom, waiting to go back in its boxes for the trip home.

We have one more big day of crane ops tomorrow to get our stuff all packed up to ship home. I confess that as soon as I finished processing the PSF image, Sebastiaan and I started listing all the things we know aren’t perfect yet, and started making predictions for how much better we can make the next one (faster, more modes, predictive control laws, better NCP optimization . . . we can go on). So we’ll be busy over the next 6 months.

The song of the day is one my favorites. For obvious reasons I think.

Metallica covering Astronomy. Unless this is your first time with us, you’ve heard it before.

MagAO-X 2022A Day 26: The real last night

Yes, Jared, it really is the last night!

I wish I could send a supersonic shipment to the MagAOX team to sustain them while they quickly pack up everything in the next day or so. I’d include really good coffee and Coke Zero (“We’ve really disrupted the economy of Las Campanas” –Joseph on the soda supply). I just realized I haven’t heard anything about wasabi peas, so maybe those too. If I get to join in person next time, I’ll bring goodies, I promise.

I’ve learned a little more about MagAO-X in the last few days, so I’m even competent to keep the log now, and I have dared to touch the web GUI to change the names of the files. I’m catching on to the procedures for starting on new targets, so with apologies to Herman Oliveras, former DuPont Telescope operator and cartoonist extraordinaire:

Two bugs are dancing. PI Bug says, "Uh oh. You've lost it. Definitely been observing too long. What's with the dance moves?" The two small bugs sing, "Just keep calm and carry on. Find your favorite song and turn it up."  PI Bug says, "I hate to tell you, but we use a bump mask not Bump by Cash Campbell."
Cash Campbell’s song Bump

Yeah, there’s bad calls seeing and bad news speckles
Sometimes you don’t know what to do gain to slide
Your mind wave front sensor can turn a pebble into a boulder
Might feel like a mountain that you’re rolling over,
But it ain’t nothing but a bump.
[With apologies to Cash Campbell]

An afternoon walk to stretch from a night of sitting and snacking is an observing must-have. I have long admired the local LCO flora and fauna (see old blog posts, e.g. here), particularly the vizcachas. Well, there are some consolations to remote observing — it’s spring here in Chevy Chase, MD, that miraculous season between the freezing rain and horrible humidity, and I did get to take a walk on a day that was pleasantly warm in my neighborhood bursting with flowers.

This vizzy relative was in my front yard enjoying a lunch buffet on my plants.

Arabbit, aka bunny, on my front lawn in Maryland.
They’re very cute until they eat my vegetable garden, then I see them as candidates for stew.

The neighborhood has a bit of a predator-prey cycle going with foxes. Come summer, when the rabbit is feasting on my vegetable garden, I’m going to try to lure some Carnegie Earth and Planets Lab foxes up the road a mile to here. Meanwhile, check out this video that a Carnegie postdoc posted today (take that LCO foxes, we have babies):

And for you desert dwellers, enjoy these colorful photos of the cherry tree and lilacs in my yard, tulips in neighbors’ yards, a busy bee on some azaleas, and a Robin on my front steps.

Garden flowers, a bee and a bird
This is definitely the time of year to be in the DC area.

Speaking of things that are bright and striking …

The team has been calling the artificial spots placed by shaping the deformable mirror, which I can use for photometric calibration, “sparkles” (see Sebastiaan’s blog yesterday). I find the name apropos and not just because I like fireworks (in fact, the whole PSF including sparkles and diffraction looks like fireworks) but also because the alternative, “speckles” has too many meanings. I did my PhD thesis with a pre-adaptive optics technique called “speckle imaging.” Speckle is a horribly ambiguous term now, as AO-using scientists use the term speckles to mean any compact light on the detector, whether it arises from rapidly changing atmospheric cells (the way I used the term when I did my PhD), errors in wavefront correction, or is longer-lasting due to wavefront errors in the optical system.

Before this post totally spirals out of control, here’s a cool spiral from the satellite image at 220424T0537.

A cloud spiral on the satellite map of Chile.
Whatever eddy caused that isn’t making our seeing bad under the red circle.

The seeing has finally gotten really good for me, and that makes me love a good night of observing! Speaking of love, it turns out sparkle is the subject of a lot of love songs. I think I’m going to love the sparkles placed by the deformable mirror when I go to reduce my data.

Earth Wind and Fire: Sparkle

Harmonies in tune that reflect the moon
Sparkle, you’re so lovely in my sight”

Billy Holliday – Them There Eyes

“Sparkle, bubble, get you in a whole lot of trouble.”

Aretha Franklin: Sparkle

“Breathlessly and eager, you got me round your finger
A sparkle with the fire, you always take me higher”