We've started an observing block for the LEECH survey this week. It's been a rocky beginning. We learned on Sunday of a coolant problem with the left secondary. The mirror has now been removed, leaving us with a monocular telescope for the run. This would be a showstopper for interferometry, but the LEECH observations can continue with one aperture, although at a reduced sensitivity.
We have now had four straight nights of high winds and poor seeing. Sometimes the wind has been bad enough that we have been unalbe to open the shutters (safety concerns). Sometimes it's just bad enough that the seeing is really poor. Last night the seeing varied between 2-4 arcseconds. We were thrilled at the end of the night when it settled down to 1.4 arcseconds.
So, it's been challenging conditions, but we have made progress. We have tested coordinated AO offsetting. This routine allows the observer to pause the AO, move the star and resume AO correction with a single command. The approach has increased our offsetting efficiency by roughly a factor of 4, for a 5 arcsecond move.
We have also begun observing the LEECH targets. The AO still creates reasonable images for seeing of less than 2 arcseconds.
And the weather looks to be improving. I had a nice view during my breakfast this afternoon of calm blue skies.