Monday, June 1, 2015

On the du Pont...

That's me and Jessica Donaldson at the controls of the du Pont
telescope.  Jessica was in training so she could take over the
next few nights. 
Tonight is Astrometry night again!  I'm currently using the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search Camera (CAPSCAM)--built by my esteemed colleague Alan Boss--to image young brown dwarfs at the exoplanet mass boundary.  Last night I was taking medium resolution echelle spectra of them and tonight I'm getting images so we can dig into their fundamental parameters.  For the past few years I have been building this extremely important collection of age calibrated exoplanet-like brown dwarfs.  When it's all pretty, reduced, and published, I'll make a database available to the community which will be critical for exoplanet comparative and characterization studies. One reason why Carnegie is such a fantastic place for someone with my scientific preference and expertise is because all of the instruments I need are wrapped up in this one fabulous observatory.

An old photographic plate stored
in the lounge area of the du Pont.
Sergio shows off the light table which
illuminates the old photographic plates.
Speaking of a fabulous observatory, tonight I explored a few things in the du Pont telescope.  I discovered the lounge room which had a light table and a few old photographic plates lying around.  Sergio (our fantastic telescope operator) helped me look through them.  At left is an old plate of the Large Magellanic cloud (LMC) taken in the 90's.  Funny that the 90's seems so outdated now.  CCD's is where its at!  At right is Sergio standing with the light table that was used to illuminate the plates so you could do science.  Super old school.

And one last important note for tonight.  It was EMPANADA night!  Every Sunday at the observatory, astronomers are graced with the awesomeness of the Las Campanas empanada (that is what I will call it from now on).  I think Anthony Bourdain should return to Chile and get a taste of these.  They are fantastic.  I would try to schedule all my observing runs to fall on a Sunday if I could just so I could make sure I got my fix of this tasty treat.   I'm headed down the mountain tomorrow to visit with my old officemate David Rodriguez and I've got a spare empanada for the road.  

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