Hi LBTI Blog followers!
My name is Kim, and I'm a 3rd year graduate student who has been helping with the LBTI run over the past few days (along with post-doc Rob De Rosa and soon fellow grad student Abhi Rajan -- we all work in Jenny Patience's group at ASU). I've taken some photos while I've been here, and Phil and Vanessa suggested I write a guest post and add these to the blog. Hope you enjoy!
After this run started with a wintry blast, the skies finally cleared yesterday and began to melt the snow -- a good chance to snap a panorama from the balcony.
The snow survived long enough during the day for a snowy nighttime panorama too, with the city of Willcox visible on the left, along with the light domes of Tucson (middle) and Phoenix (rightmost). The starry skies belie an extraordinarily turbulent atmosphere -- at some points, we had seeing near 4 arcseconds!
Much of the snow melted this morning and afternoon. By sunset, the forecast boded well for clear skies and improved seeing.
With the moon approaching 3rd quarter, we've had the nice privilege of dark time for our first half nights. Below, the Milky Way provides a great backdrop for the open LBT dome. (Not pictured: IR starlight from a LEECH target makes its way into LMIRCam.)
Viewed from another angle, the Andromeda Galaxy (seen at the top left) and the Pleiades (top right) grace the LBT dome, while more stars within the galactic plane peek through the ventilation doors.
(Also, a huge thanks to Chick Woodward for his kind donation of handwarmers, without which these nighttime shots would've been a lot less pleasant!)
Toward the northwest, the Milky Way sets over the treeline and surrounding forest.
On the opposite horizon, the eastern sky rose bearing Jupiter (reflecting brightly on the left), Orion, and a bit more of the galactic plane in between. We'd soon be pointing the telescope in that direction to get a glimpse of the Galilean moons. The excellent dark sky at Mount Graham provides a nice view of M42, the Orion Nebula, to boot.
Meanwhile, indoors we were getting some great results with excellent seeing (~0".5) and (mostly) nicely-behaved AO systems. The black plot on the middle monitor shows AO-corrected rms wavefront error of less than 1 nanometer on the highest orders, with overall correction (white curve) at a factor of 5-10 improvement over the input wavefronts (red curve) -- the first time we've reached these levels of correction. Vanessa approves!
On the LMIRCam side, Andy and Phil pored over interferometric imaging at M' band of Jupiter's extremely volcanically-active moon, Io. Warm bright spots corresponding to volcanic activity could be seen on the moon's resolved disk.
The telescope phased well over the separation, providing great fringes of the bright spots!
Meanwhile on NOMIC, Denis was also spotting fringes of the Io volcano spots, this time at N-prime and 8.7 µm.
Back outside, the cold clear night continued with reasonably good seeing, and a nice chance to get some parting star trails. A great end to a fantastic opportunity to work at the LBT and see the awesome progress being made with LBTI -- we've learned so much this run!