Observing at the Large Binocular Telescope

This is my first post on this blog and I thought I’d start off with a photo blog post. I was offered the opportunity to assist in observations with LMIRCAM which is a mid-IR camera on the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). ASU is a partner in “The LBTI Exoplanet Exozodi Common SearcH” (LEECH), and I was to assist with these observations. Ends up, I was given the shift from the 25th to the 31st, days when nobody else wanted to be stuck observing. So here I am preparing to go observing only to get a cold the day before. But!!! I decided that neither a nascent cold, nor 3 ft of snow would keep me from fulfilling my observing duties and so without further ado, here are some pictures from Mt. Graham.

Driving up to Mt. Graham

Driving up to Mt. Graham

The roads were fairly treacherous with a fair bit of snow, and at one point the 4WD (monster truck!) I was driving got stuck in the snow/ice. I called for help, only to then spend 10 minutes backing to and fro to dislodge said truck. I wasn’t particularly happy about this procedure, since this game was being played at ~9000 ft and there was a bit of a drop on one side (mainly when going forward) and by this point the truck was not parallel but rather perpendicular to the road (wish I had thought of taking a photo).

The huge LBT dome. It’s not circular!.

The huge LBT dome. It’s not circular!.

Anyways, I managed to arrive at the dorms without further incident only to be greeted by wonderful smells of a delicious Christmas dinner that was made for the few determined staff and observers that were working on Christmas day.

What’s isn’t visible, is that we set up 2 laptops that were skyping into the adjacent control room to two other laptops pointing at the main control monitors :). This way we enjoyed dinner while ensuring that good data was being taken. Science FTW!!!

What’s isn’t visible, is that we set up 2 laptops that were skyping into the adjacent control room to two other laptops pointing at the main control monitors :). This way we enjoyed dinner while ensuring that good data was being taken. Science FTW!!!

Well I am now on day 2 of 7 nights that I will be here assisting the science and technical crew. Thus far I have been working as an AO monitor, ensuring that the adaptive optics loops stay closed. Adaptive optics is essentially a hardware technique used to correct for the blurring caused by the atmosphere. And my job, is to make sure that the hardware does what it’s intended and if not, to call for help :).

One can never have enough monitors!

One can never have enough monitors!

Advertisements