Last night was my first of two nights on the MIKE spectrograph, and instrument I've written about before. I'm here with Alex Ji, a graduate student at MIT working with another Las Campanas Belle, Anna Frebel. (Alex is on Twitter, @alexanderpji, you should follow him!) The plan was to split four MIKE nights, with my targets getting priority the first two nights, and Alex and Anna's targets getting priority the second two nights. This is a great partnership, because (in theory) it spreads out the weather risk a bit, and I got a chance to give Alex some lessons on using MIKE before he is by himself for the last two nights (when I'm going home). Alex is super enthusiastic, and we came up on Tuesday afternoon and did most of the calibration images needed for both our data reductions for all four nights.
|Alex putting the diffuser in so we can take milky flat calibration frames. Photo credit: Cindy Hunt Benson.|
|LCO on Tuesday afternoon. Looks great!|
|Alex, before we walked up to the Magellans on Tuesday evening. Does not look great.|
Above is an all-sky camera time lapse of last night. You can see a few sucker holes at the beginning of the night, and even the Milky Way through the clouds. But then it just gets worse...and worse...and worse. You can't even see the nearly-full moon rise near the middle of the night. Boo.
Tonight is even less promising. Luckily it isn't raining or snowing, but the clouds are certainly thicker and the wind is certainly higher. Looking at the satellite imagery,
makes it seem like we might see some clear-ish sky by the end of the night, but we'll have to wait and see. The LCO staff are not so optimistic -- they covered the instruments inside the dome, as well as several other electronics, with plastic covers, in preparation for precipitation.
Non-observing is part of being an observer, particularly a "classical" (not queue; you have to come do the observations in person yourself) and "ground-based" observer. Luckily for me, LCO is a lovely place to hang out and work and chat with interesting people.
|Astronomers eating! Clockwise from back left: Alex Ji, Serge Dieterich, me, Andrew Newman, |
Gwen Rudie, Cindy Hunt Benson. Photo Credit: Francesco Di Mille , with Serge's phone.
which is a riff of a video Anna Frebel made a few years ago. Unlike Anna, we were not-observing, but we still got a lot of work done, and had fun! Can you spot the Quadritos?