Thursday, February 16, 2017

What Could Go Wrong...Didn't!

My name is Felicity B. Hills. I am a second year physics PhD student at the University of Michigan, and I am brand new to astronomy. This week, I came to Chile for the first time to observe for the first time ever. Luckily, I had a ton of people to help me along the way (shout out to fellow Las Campanas Belles bloggers Katie Morzinski and Alycia Weinberger).

From left to right: CLIO, Dr. Alex Greenbaum, and myself. (The UChicago sweatshirt is from an REU, but I promise I'm wearing a Michigan t-shirt underneath!)
This trip run was not without its drama! On our second night at LCO the wavefront sensor of the AO system failed. We weren't sure if Jared, Laird, and Mauricio and Pato from the day crew (and others) worked incredibly hard to get everything up and running just in time for Alex and I observe our main science target! Katie stayed on the night schedule to be our AO Captain, working with basically no breaks all night.

Seemingly everything was running smoothly until we moved the telescope to our science target and it wasn't there! We franticly looked through catalogs and literature trying to verify the coordinates and proper motion of our target. It started to look hopeless as every resource told us approximately the same thing. That's when TO Hernan swept in and saved the day! He found it! From then on, our observing night went relatively smoothly. This was truly a crash course in observing.