MagAO 2018A Day 1: Surprise mystery guest

Our surprise mystery guest arrived — it’s Phil Hinz, the PI of Clio, who has handed it off to us for these many years. He came down here this time, for the first time since 2012 or 2013, because we got a new computer and are running new software and we have a lot of installing and testing and debugging to do. He and Clio had a very touching reunion — and then we got to work on debugging:

Our surprise mystery visitor is Phil Hinz who came to see his long-lost instrument Clio.
[Image description: A collage. Top: Phil gives Clio a warm hug (literally). The black cylinder is the dewar and it’s full of 77-Kelvin liquid nitrogen, thanks to a successful feeding day yesterday, I mean cooling day. Bottom: Phil leans over to look up some code on his laptop which is balanced on a step ladder, and my laptop is on the background on a tool chest with Paul on Skype, and the Clio electronics rack is open and on top of it is the new Clio computer, with quite the rat’s nest of cables coming out the back.]

Phil is very happy to have finally arrived — he had to stay the night in Santiago because his original flight was cancelled due to the LATAM strike, and the Sky flight Laird managed to get on yesterday was sold out when Phil tried. Laird’s new grad student Andrew Sevrinsky also arrived today on another Sky flight.

In the morning, we brought the Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) from the cleanroom to the telescope. The ASM is the thing we move at a frequency of 2000 Hertz and at 585 locations on the back of the mirror, to counteract the effect of blurring from the atmosphere so that we get sharp images. We store it wrapped in plastic in the clean room so that we don’t get any dust in its 50-micron gap, and we store it on its side so that if there’s an earthquake hopefully the magnets will hold it. But for all that nice safe storage down there, then we always have to put it on the back of a truck and drive it up the hill.

Laird and the Izuzu driver make a caravan of 1, transporting the ASM from the cleanroom to the telescope.
[Image description: Another collage. It’s a sequence of 4 pictures of the truck carrying the ASM up the mountain. Laird is walking alongside the truck (because we ask the driver to go about 5 mph). The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful place with the valley and the distant mountains. In the last picture the telescope domes are there.]

In the afternoon we installed the NAS (the housing that holds our wavefront sensor and our visible-light science camera “VisAO”) attached to the Nasmyth port of the Clay telescope. This was the first time we’ve installed it when there’s still another night of science to go — tonight is a MegaCam night. But our NAS doesn’t get in the way of MegaCam, and we had a full crew today, and tomorrow it will take a lot longer than normal to get our stuff installed, because it takes a long time to remove MegaCam and the f/5 and the f/11 — so it was great we managed to get the NAS installed today! Thanks to Juan, Felix, Miriel, Juanito, Victor, and the rest of the hard-working day crew!

Jared, Felix, and Juan install the NAS.
[Image description: There is a large blue circle that is the side of the telescope. Attached to it is a black circle with 4 boxes standing up off it at 2:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 11:00 — those are the electronics cabinets. Jared is standing to the left side apparently tightening something or maybe checking some cables. Felix is standing on the step ladder wrangling the crane cables. Jaun is standing off to the right operating the crane. A beam of light is going across the image, from some bright spotlights that are not in the picture.]

And now Laird and Jared have gone to bed, but Phil and I are working in the Aux, with software engineer Paul Grenz on Skype, working on getting the new Clio code to work on the new computer. We’re starting the switch over to a night schedule.

I guess today is Day 1 because Laird and Phil are here. Or maybe because it was Laird’s first full day. And finally, we saw some great wildlife today!

I saw this guanaco on my way down to dinner.
[Image description: A photo with a guanaco standing in profile except looking at the photographer in the center, some desert and mountains in the background, and some scrubby brush and a guard rail in the foreground. The guanaco has a long neck, stand-up ears, a short curled-over tail, and some nice fuzzy legs. It is colored a mix of browns.]

Laird saw this wild vizzy on his way down to dinner.
[Image description: A vizcacha on the rocks. It looks sort of like a large rabbit, but it has a black stripe on its back, and its tail is very long and bushy like a squirrel. If you could see it hop, it is also reminiscent of a kangaroo. The rocks are big boulders, very angular, probably metamorphic.]

Song of the day:

[Song/Image description: “Shaman’s Call” by R. Carlos Nakai]


[Song/Image description: Flute cover of “Shaman’s Call”]

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