2010 Aluminization Video

Here is the video from the camera mounted in the window of the vacuum bell jar during the ‘shoot’.

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The whereabouts of MMIRS & Megacam

It has been decided by the PIs of MMIRS and Megacam to leave both instruments at Magellan for the next several years as long as they are being scientifically productive there.  This will allow people to plan long term projects at Magellan.  The reasoning behind this is several-fold:

1) The overhead for moving the instruments in terms of both mechanical and software support is quite substantial, not to mention the risk involved in the move.

2) The better seeing and photometric conditions at Las Campanas make it a better place to do Megacam imaging projects.

3) Both UA and CfA have access to Magellan, so they will have access to the instruments.

This will be readdressed if they are not being productive in Chile.

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Official statement on the re-coating of the MMT primary mirror

The MMT was taken offline for an extended period during this year’s summer shutdown to re-coat the primary mirror. The previous coating was applied during 2005 and with careful use, frequent CO2 cleaning and contact washing we have been able to keep that coating in very good condition. Measured reflectivity of the primary indicated it was time to give the mirror a new coating.

Although the process appeared to have gone smoothly, a visual inspection following the removal of the bell jar revealed patches of the surface that are “discolored”. We are still investigating exactly what happened, and though we have a working theory we wish to verify exactly the issue with the process before we make an official statement to this end.

There is one main affected area, which we estimate, is ~15% of the mirror surface and two small discreet patches separate from the larger area that are effectively non-reflective. The combined effect of these “blemishes” is to give a reduced throughput (or effective collecting area) of the telescope as they have a greatly reduced reflectivity with respect to an ideal Aluminum coating. As a guide, the measured reflectivity is worse in the blue and increases red-wards, e.g. at 400nm the worst measured reflectivity is 18% and increases to 50% at 700nm (for reference ideal Al is ~91% reflectivity).

We estimate that the imperfection of the coating delivers an equivalent collecting area of a telescope approximately 6.2m in diameter. For numerous reasons including budgetary and staffing restrictions, at this time we intend to re-coat again during the summer shutdown, 2011.

For more information and images please see Grant’s presentation from the SO Observer’s Lunch on 10/5/10. If you have any further questions, or comments please direct them to Morag Hastie.

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MMT primary mirror coating removed for re-aluminization

The 6.5-meter MMT primary mirror was stripped of its aluminum coating on July 23, 2010, in preparation for re-aluminization. A video of the mirror stripping can be seen at:

Removal of the aluminum coating is done with a series of scrubbing and rinsing treatments, using ordinary mops, paper towels, various cleansers, solutions, and water.  Great care must be taken to remove all of the existing aluminum coating as well as any contaminants from the mirror surface.

Unlike many other mirrors, the MMT is re-aluminized in situ with the mirror remaining on the telescope within its mirror cell during the entire aluminization process.  The mirror is enclosed in a large (>20-foot  diameter) vacuum bell jar from which all air and contaminants are removed.  Aluminum filaments are then vaporized, depositing a thin, even coating of reflective aluminum across the mirror face.

Although the aluminization event itself occurs in less than a second, weeks of preparation are required prior to the event.  Much of the hardware and electronics within the mirror cell must be removed prior to vacuum sealing.  All surfaces that will be inside the vacuum chamber must be thoroughly cleaned.  The hardware is then reassembled after aluminization and prior to any telescope operations.  The previous re-aluminization of the MMT primary mirror occurred in 2005.

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Kodak interviews Margaret Geller

Catch an interview of Dr. Margaret Geller of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory posted on the Kodak website. You can also see an image taken at the MMT Observatory. Click on the link below to hear the interview.

http://1000words.kodak.com/post/?ID=8867244839063408549

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MMT telescope operator featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” 6/4/10

MMT operator Mike Alegria is featured in an “unusual job” segment on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” this afternoon.

Reporter Ted Robbins interviewed Mike at the telescope in late April during an adaptive optics engineering session with Michael Hart, et al.

The exact broadcast time is uncertain.  In Tucson, KUAZ runs “All Things Considered” from 3:30 to 6 pm.  It’s in the first 15-minutes of one of the show’s two hours.  Alternatively, go to www.npr.org , where the segment will be posted after it airs.

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Movies of the new building going up …

We are moving along quickly with construction of the building extension at the summit. Below are a couple of movies from the day the steel beams went up from different vantage points. Enjoy!

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*Update* – The Second MMT Science Symposium

**Participants in Tucson: Abstract submission and meeting registration will open on Monday, April 12**

Participants in Cambridge: TBD (opening soon)

 For those attending the meeting in Cambridge, meeting and/or dinner registration will be done through the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory.  For those attending the meeting in Tucson, meeting and/or dinner registration will be done through the MMT Observatory office in Tucson.

All abstracts will be submitted through the MMTO website.  Final deadline for all abstract submissions is Monday, May 3 (300 words maximum).

Meeting and dinner registration details for Tucson participants are being finalized and will be posted on April 12.

**********************************************************

FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT

The Second MMT Science Symposium – May 19-20, 2010

May 19 – Scientific Oral and Poster Presentations

May 20 – MMT Long-term Strategic Planning Meeting

 The MMT Observatory and MMTO Council are pleased to announce the Second MMT Science Symposium.  The occasion will also mark the tenth anniversary of the re-dedication of the MMT held May 20, 2000.  In addition to celebrating the anniversary, we would also like to showcase the important science accomplishments that have been achieved with the MMT 6.5m telescope. 

 The meeting will be held via videoconference between the parent institutions, The University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution.  For those attending in Tucson, the meeting will be held in Steward Observatory, Rooms 505 & 505A.   For those attending in Cambridge, the meeting location is Room M-340 at the Center for Astrophysics.  The meeting will also be streamed live on the internet. 

Oral and poster presentations will be on Wednesday, May 19.  Abstracts are due on Monday, May 3.

On Thursday, May 20, an MMT strategic planning discussion will be held with attendance limited to faculty and staff from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Arizona Universities (UA, NAU, ASU).   

We are planning a dinner and celebration on the evening of May 19.

More details will be coming soon!

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New Red Channel Fully Depeleted Detector

A new fully depleted detector for the Red Channel Spectrograph was commissioned in November 2009.  The plot below shows a comparison of the detector quantum efficiencies of the Blue Channel CCD and the current and previous (deep depletion) generation Red Channel CCDs.

Blue and Red Channel detector QE comparison.

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Instrument Status 2010B

A short summary of the status of each MMT instrument is given below. If you would like any further information regarding any of the instrumentation please contact Morag Hastie (mhastie@mmto).

  • RED CHANNEL: Available. New detector. Contact Grant Williams @MMTO for support.
  • BLUE CHANNEL: Available. Contact Grant Williams @MMTO for support.
  • MMIRS: Unavailable. At Magellan
  • Hectos: Available. Contact Dan Fabricant @CfA for Hectospec and Andy Szentgyorgyi @CfA for Hectochelle.
  • Megacam: Unavailable. At Magellan
  • SWIRC: Available. Contact Warren Brown @CfA
  • ARIES: Available. Contact Don McCarthy @SO
  • CLIO: Available. Recently added ice band (3.1 um) filter and R = 100 prism mode. Contact Phil Hinz @SO
  • PISCES: Available. Contact Don McCarthy @SO
  • MIRAC-BLINC: Available. R = 100 grism mode recently commissioned. Contact Phil Hinz @SO
  • MAESTRO: Available. Shared Risk – contact J. Bechtold @SO
  • SPOL: Available. Please contact Paul Smith @SO

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Applying for Observing 2010B

Applying for Observing Time at the MMTO:

  • Proposal Deadlines for Trimester 2010B (1st May 2010 – 19th July 2010)
  • Note the shortened trimester due to Primary aluminising to take place this summer.

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Construction at the MMT

Construction began on January 11, 2010 on an Instrument Repair Facility at the MMT summit.  It is scheduled to be completed by summer.  Construction is taking place during the weekdays between 8:00am – 5:00pm.  There are no plans for work to be done on weekends.  The construction site is cordoned off with cones or is within a chained-off area. 

Please be aware that construction trucks will be on the Mt. Hopkins road and there could be short delays.  The contractors are using Whipple radios when driving up and down.  Whenever possible, please carpool to minimize traffic and also parking at the summit.  Currently, there is plenty of parking and the goal is to keep parking available for astronomers throughout the construction.  However, please leave keys in vehicles in case they need to be moved.

A webcam showing the construction appears on the MMT homepage in the bottom right-hand corner.  We will continue to post information and progress on the construction on this Blog.

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MMT December Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing               90.0
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            10.0
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change       0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                            37.8
Percentage of time lost to instrument                          2.6
Percentage of time lost to telescope                           7.1
Percentage of time lost to general facility                    0.1
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)   0.0
Percentage of time lost                                            47.6

—————
Breakdown of hours lost to telescope:
10.25  Hexapod failure
  7.30  M2 (f/15) problems
  7.00  AO software
  0.50  Gap contamination
  0.50  Thin Shell Safety (TSS) issues

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MMTO is looking for an Adaptive Optics Scientist/Engineer

The MMT Observatory (MMTO), a joint venture of the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Arizona, is seeking a Scientist or Engineer with working knowledge of astronomical adaptive optics to join the MMT team. The MMTO operates a 6.5-meter telescope at the summit of Mt. Hopkins (elevation 8550 feet), some 40 miles south of Tucson in southern Arizona. Additional details regarding the telescope and associated instrumentation may be found via the web site: http://www.mmto.org.

The position will be based at the MMTO offices in the Steward Observatory building on the campus of the University of Arizona. Significant work at the telescope site on Mt. Hopkins will be required. System integration, checkout, and performance analysis will require some nighttime work.

The selected candidate will support and/or coordinate the Operations team in the maintenance and troubleshooting of the adaptive optics hardware including the f/15 secondary and its associated electronics, the natural guide star top box, and the adaptive optics test stand. The candidate will work with the electrical, mechanical, and software groups at the MMT and the Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics to further optimize the performance of the system to ensure smooth and robust operation. This optimization may require the design, fabrication, testing, and implementation of new equipment. The candidate should also have significant software development experience in the areas of hardware control and data analysis. The candidate will also need to interface with and coordinate observers, prospective observers, and instrument PI’s.

The Observatory uses state of the art computer control electronics in an industrial setting. We are seeking a motivated hands-on person with both practical skills and knowledge of cutting-edge technologies. A strong background in astronomical instrumentation is required and preference will be given to an applicant with experience in astronomical adaptive optics. Strong documentation and communication skills are a plus.

Further details can be found here.

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Research Using the MMT in the News

From observations made using the MMT, Dr. E. Mamajek of the University of Rochester has discovered that the first known binary star is actually a sextuplet system.   To read the article published by Science Daily, press here.

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MMT November Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing             93.4
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            6.6
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change    0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                          22.3
Percentage of time lost to instrument                        0.4
Percentage of time lost to telescope                         2.8
Percentage of time lost to general facility                  0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather) 0.0
Percentage of time lost                                          25.5

—————
Breakdown of hours lost to telescope:
7.0 Hexapod
1.0 WFS
1.0 Guider issues
0.5 M1 panic
0.3 Unable to flatten f/15

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MMT October Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing           100.0
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering           0.0
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change    0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                         37.5
Percentage of time lost to instrument                       7.3
Percentage of time lost to telescope                        2.6
Percentage of time lost to general facility                  0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather) 0.0
Percentage of time lost                                          47.3

—————
Breakdown of hours lost to telescope:

3.9   f/15 loop
1.5   Elephant hose replaced
1.0   Hexapod
2.25 WFS

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The New Red Channel Detector

The installation and testing of a new detector for Red Channel has been completed by the UofA’s Imaging Technology Laboratory (ITL). The new device has 15-micron pixels and a format of 520 x 1032 pixels (spatial x dispersion). The read noise of the detector is 3.5 electrons. The measure QE for the detector is provided below. ITL’s web page ( http://uao.itl.arizona.edu) provides additional details and information.

The new Red Channel detector QE.

The new Red Channel detector QE.

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MMT September Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing             96.7
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            3.3
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change     0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                          26.3
Percentage of time lost to instrument                        0.1
Percentage of time lost to telescope                         3.7
Percentage of time lost to general facility                   0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)  0.0
Percentage of time lost                                           30.0

—————
Breakdown of hours lost to telescope:

3.5  WFS 
5.05 f/15 issues 
2.3  SO guider camera

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All over!

LCROSS successfully impacted the moon at 4.31am (MST)!! NASA will be having a news conference at 7.00am (PDT) on NASA TV.

We collected data with multiple instruments throughout the impact and for an hour after it. We now have a multitude of data which needs careful reduction over the coming weeks until we will have the opportunity to make any statements on what we saw.

We could not have asked for a better night – the weather was near perfect, the telescope worked beautifully tracking on the moon and all the instruments behaved impeccably.

Many thanks to everyone who was involved in bringing tonight together, to everyone who was onsite at the telescope to make it such a successful nights observing, to NASA for extremely clear communication through the night and to everyone who has been following us on the blog & the webcams.

Now its time for one last sip of champagne then off to bed before the sun truly rises!

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T-30 mins!

The last blog before impact (and probably for a while after the impact as I’ll be busy reducing the data we observe!)

Everything here is good – sky is clear with 0.5″ seeing! Could not have asked for a better night. We have moved back to the moon and setting up for the final time before impact.

A quick list of people you might have been watching on the webcam!

Faith Vilas (MMT Director)
Shawn Callahan
Mike Algeria
Phil Hinz
John DiMiceli
Tom Trebisky
Vidhya Vaitheeswaran
Dallan Porter
Vanessa Bailey
Duane Gibson
Bryan Cardwell
Morag Hastie

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Countdown continues …

At 1.31am (MST) NASA will count down to T-3 hours mark for the centaur impact. We are busily working away making sure we have all our cameras aligned (we are using 4 different camera’s for different purposes tonight!), we are collecting calibration data that is vital for our science results, making sure our data reduction software works and staying in communication with NASA and all the other telescopes that are observing the event.

On the LCROSS viewer we have a bunch of camera images for you to look at – starting at the top of the right hand column we have:

- The All Sky Camera, which is located outside the telescope and shows us the full sky. The red + sign shows exactly where the telescope is pointing.

- The next one is the view form a wide angle telescope which is bolted on to the side of our main large telescope. Here you should be able to see a more zoomed out image of the moon.

- The third is the image from a small field of view acquisition camera which looks through the main 6.5 meter telescope. It shows a very zoomed in image of the moon so might not look as you expect.

Along the bottom we show 4 webcams that are placed around the observatory; firstly the front of the chamber (dome) (you can see the shutters open with so much illumination from the moon), two cameras at the back of chamber and one in the control room. The control room webcam has the most activity! We have a large crew up here tonight to make sure we get the best possible observations we can for this one time opportunity.

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LCROSS: It all comes down to tonight …

After being involved in the LCROSS project and preparation for the ground based observations from the MMT over the last 18 months it has all come down to tonight. We have one shot at getting these observations so the nerves are running a little high in the control room!

In the last 10 minutes we have had confirmation from NASA that the centaur and payload (ie. the two halves of the rocket – the centaur will crash into the moon first with the payload carrying the instruments crashing in 4 minutes later) have separated successfully.

The weather has completely cleared up and is beautiful. Now we have around 7 hours to do final checks of the instruments we are using to observe the impact, and take all the calibration data that we need.

Please remember to come look at us work and see what we can see! NASA is also streaming live here.

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Watching LCROSS impact!

Want to see professional astronomers at work? We are taking the unique time of the LCROSS experiment to give you all a direct view into the world of a professional observatory for one night only!

We will be streaming images throughout the night which you can view at:

http://www.mmto.org/lcross

Not only are we streaming images from inside the telescope chamber and control room from webcams we will be streaming images direct from two science camera that are trained on the moon throughout the night from which you may be able to see the actual impact.

This has been a big project for us and many other ground based telescopes around the world as well as the extensive NASA team that are running the actual project. It has been an exercise in communication and organization bringing all the parties together. Tonight (Weds) we are all hoping to some final checks and preparation – however here at the MMT we are stuck under heavy fog. The weather forecast for tomorrow is slightly better than tonight but we are still a little worried the weather is not going co-operate. We have all our fingers crossed for it to clear in time for us to capture the impact.

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Bear Sighting

In recent weeks there has been many sightings of bears around Mt Hopkins and the observatory, including a family of three. They are often seen up in the trees munching on the ripe nuts.

On Monday morning as the day crew drove up to start their day they encountered a bear hanging out enjoying the sunshine on a rock near the road. The bear was happy to sit while Ben took a great video from the safety of his truck.

Although these bears appear to be relaxed around human presence remember they are wild animals and should be observed from a safe distance!

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Gearing up to LCROSS …

The LCROSS experiment is now into its last two weeks before the impact happening in the early morning of Oct 9th (MST). We will be posting more specific information about the observing happening at the MMT in the coming days but for general information NASA’s LCROSS website is a great place to start.

The media is also ramping up their coverage with many articles including our local The Arizona Republic with quotes from Faith Vilas (MMT Director).

Launch of Atlas AV-020 LRO-LCROSS, June 18, 2009

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Proposal Deadlines for 2010A

Applying for Observing Time at the MMTO:

  • Proposal Deadlines for Trimester 2010A (1st January 2010 – 30th April 2010)

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Instrument Status

A short summary of the status of each MMT instrument and any work that has been completed over the summer period is given below. If you would like any further information regarding any of the instrumentation please contact Morag Hastie (mhastie@mmto).

  • RED CHANNEL: Unavailable. Awaiting a new detector which should be completed in late Oct.
  • BLUE CHANNEL: Available.
  • MMIRS: Unavailable. Further commissioning work undertaken. Shipped to Magellan 09/09.
  • Hectos: Available. Annual maintenance of fibre positioner & fibre chain maintenance completed.
  • Megacam: Unavailable. Shipped to Magellan 08/09.
  • SWIRC: Available.
  • ARIES: Available.
  • CLIO: Available. Recently added ice band (3.1 um) filter and R = 100 prism mode.
  • PISCES: Available.
  • MIRAC-BLINC: Available. R = 100 grism mode recently commissioned.
  • MAESTRO: Available.
  • SPOL: Available.

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New Astronomers Cheat Sheets

To help our visiting astronomers perform tasks either specific to the MMT or for any of our instrumentation we have pulled together a number of “cheat sheets”. You can find these “how to” helpers on the web site or there are hardcopies in a binder located in the control room (top shelf in the bookshelf in the middle of the room).

We have started with a small handful of cheat sheets and will continue to build this resource until we cover all the tasks needed. If you encounter something you feel needs a cheat sheet during your time at the observatory please request it in the Astronomer’s Log.

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New “Astronomer’s Log” Launched

The MMTO has launched a new “Astronomer’s Log”.  The purpose of the log is to allow the users to provide realtime feedback to the staff.  The log is web based and the format is such that users can enter text and “Submit entries” throughout a night of observing.  Entries can include any problems encountered during observing, comments, and/or suggestions.  Each entry is timestamped so that the staff can link entries to system and weather status.  The users can “Edit header information” to provide their name and program.   The log (which requires the generic mmt observer “mmtobs” login, ask the telescope operator if you don’t know the password) allows multiple users (i.e. if observing with colleagues) to add entries at the same time from different computers.  Although the interface is intuitive, there’s a link to instructions for use. At the end of the night the log can be “Finished and closed” at which time the user will have the option of sending a confidential report to the Director only.  PLEASE USE THE NEW ASTRONOMER’S LOG!  The URL for the log is (PLEASE ONLY USE WHEN YOU ARE OBSERVING):

http://hacksaw.mmto.arizona.edu/astlog

Screen capture of the Astronomer's Log

Screen capture of the Astronomer's Log

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MMT July Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing              96.1
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering             3.9
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr chan         0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                           60.3
Percentage of time lost to instrument                         0.0
Percentage of time lost to telescope                        17.5
Percentage of time lost to general facility                   0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)  0.0
Percentage of time lost                                           77.8

—————
Breakdown of hours lost to telescope:

33.40  AO system failures (f/15, DM, hexapod, M2 water
          contamination)
 1.25  f/5 WFS failure

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June MMT Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing              93.3
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering             6.7
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr chan         0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                           29.7
Percentage of time lost to instrument                         0.0
Percentage of time lost to telescope                          0.0
Percentage of time lost to general facility                   0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)  0.0
Percentage of time lost                                           29.7

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MMT makes it to “The Daily Dish”

The MMT made it on to Andrew Sullivan’s “The Daily Dish” today (July 8th) with a photograph for his “The View From Your Window” segment. Click here to see his post of the photograph (below) taken out of the Control Room window. Whoever took the photo and submitted it to Andrew Sullivan let us know and we’ll happily credit you!

View out of the MMT Control Room Window

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Meteor Hunting at the MMT

On Tuesday evening at 21.20 local time a large meteor flashed across the Tucson sky. We captured this stunning event with the monitor cameras we use during daily operation of the MMT

The MMT All-Sky camera is mounted outside near the MMT Observatory which can view the whole sky. The astronomers and operators use this camera every night to monitor weather conditions from inside our control room. We save images roughly every 10 seconds and archive them for future use. Below is a link to a small movie clip with 3.5 minutes of the All-Sky camera images around the time of the meteor. Look carefully, on frame 8 there is a bright streak as the meteoroid enters the atmosphere and starts to burn-up. Then on frame 9 as the meteoroid completely burns up the flash is so bright it completely saturates the All-Sky camera.

Meteor on All-Sky Camera

We also have a number of web cameras located inside the telescope chamber that capture images once a minute. We were lucky enough to capture an image from one of the cameras right when the meteoroid first entered the atmosphere, the light is bright enough to illuminate the chamber. The image on the left-hand-side below is from 1 minute before the meteor and shows the chamber completely swamped in darkness. The image on the right-hand-side clearly shows the chamber being illuminated by the meteor. This image corresponds exactly in time with frame 8 of the movie clip, so sadly we missed capturing an image at the peak of the event.

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Proposal Deadlines for 2009C

Applying for Observing Time at the MMTO:

  • Proposal Deadlines 2009C: 25th August 2009 – 31th December 2009

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MMT January-April ’09 Trimester Report

To read the MMT January – April ’09 Trimester Summary Report,
click here.

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May MMT Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing             100.0
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering             0.0
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr chan         0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                           17.7
Percentage of time lost to instrument                         3.0
Percentage of time lost to telescope                          1.6
Percentage of time lost to general facility                    0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)   0.0
Percentage of time lost                                            22.3

Breakdown of time lost to telescope: 1.0 hr WFS camera; 3.0 mirror gap contamination

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MMIRS settles into new home at the MMT

MMIRS (MMT and Magellan Infrared Spectrograph) has just completed its first successful week of commissioning at the MMT. The team took imaging data, longslit spectra, multi-object slit mask spectra all with control from MMIRS of the telescope guiding and wavefront sensing. 

Congratulations to the team – we look forward to the next run in a couple of weeks time. 

Below is a YHK image of Messier 64, the Black Eye Galaxy.

 

The Black Eye Galaxy.

The Black Eye Galaxy.

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MMTO Confirms Ultra-faint Object in Milky Way Halo is Dwarf Galaxy.

How small can a galaxy be?

Astronomers are now finding small-fry galaxies that contain fewer than a million, possibly as few as a thousand, stars.

Until recently, these very faint, dwarf galaxies in the halo of the Milky Way have eluded discovery.  

Read about this exciting new result by a team including Ed Olszewski, Jill Bechtold & Tim Pickering at UA News.org.

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MMT April Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing               89.7
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering            10.3
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr chan          0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                           25.4
Percentage of time lost to instrument                         0.0
Percentage of time lost to telescope                          0.2
Percentage of time lost to general facility                   0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)    0.0
Percentage of time lost                                          25.6

Breakdown of time lost to telescope: mount computer (0.5);

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Video Introduction to the MMTO

A short video introduction to the MMTO was compiled for the International Year of Astronomy 2009, 100-hours of Astronomy 24 hour webcast.  There are two versions of the video; the first is an introduction only and the second appends a compressed time lapse version of the instrument change video provided earlier in the blog.  The introduction video can also be accessed by clicking on the image of the MMT on the main web page.

Introduction Video

Introduction and Instrument Change Video

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Around the World in 80 Telescopes!

aw80t-badge2

As part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 the MMT Observatory will participate in the 100 Hours of Astronomy 24 hour webcast that will take place April 3rd and 4th UT. We will be broadcasting live from the MMT control room on Friday, April 3rd at 23:50 Arizona time (April 4th 06:50 UT).  Click the image and tune in to watch!

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MMT March Observing Statistics

Percentage of time scheduled for observing               93.4
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering              6.6
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr chan          0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                           26.8
Percentage of time lost to instrument                         0.2
Percentage of time lost to telescope                          3.4
Percentage of time lost to general facility                   0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)    0.0
Percentage of time lost                                          30.3

Breakdown of time lost to telescope: mount/encoders (9.9); wfs (0.5);

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Elevation Tracking for Third Trimester of 2008

The MMTO MySQL database was queried for routine tracking and weather data for the final trimester of 2008 (Sept-Dec). These data are presented with discussion of data sources, their distribution over various dimensions of the data, and appropriate statistics are shown for the purposes of evaluation of the tracking performance of the latest iteration of the elevation servo (e.g. the version released after Summer 2008 Shutdown).

 

The figures that follow and the figures in the full text are available via the web at http://tinyurl.com/cop6v8 if closer study is desired.   

Histogram of RMS error using guarded data. The boxplot below shows the median and IQR (25th to 75th percentiles).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

 

 
 

 

 

 

To read the full text technical memorandum, click here

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MMT February Observing Statistics

    Time Summary

Percentage of time scheduled for observing              100.0
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering              0.0
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr chan           0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                           38.8
Percentage of time lost to instrument                         0.2
Percentage of time lost to telescope                           0.3
Percentage of time lost to general facility                   0.2
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)   0.0
Percentage of time lost                                           39.4

Breakdown of time lost to telescope: broken mount miniserver, hacksaw crash;
Breakdown of time lost to general facility: hoseclamp reboot;

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MMT Sep – Dec ’08 Trimester Summary Report

To read the MMT September – December ’08 Trimester Summary Report,
click here.

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Preparing for NASA’s LCROSS mission

During Monday’s (3/2/9) engineering night Shawn Callahan, Morag Hastie, Tim Pickering, Phil Hinz, and Ale Milone tested the f/15 AO system capabilities to develop procedures to image lunar impact craters for the upcoming NASA LCROSS mission. To learn more about this interesting NASA mission go to: http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/

On this mostly clear evening, the moon’s illumination was less than 50% causing polar LCROSS impact craters to be unlit. We used JPL’s HORIZONS software and scripts from Tom Trebisky to generate ephemerides for the moon. As soon as we began non-sidereal tracking the center of the moon we offset to the cusp at the northern intersection of the bright limb with the terminator. This region of the moon has several mountains and crater walls in the dark limb tall enough to catch the first rays of sunrise.

The AO system was able to lock onto one glowing oblong shaped mountain top. We were all treated to see amazing lunar images free of most atmospheric distortions while looking through 2.7 airmass (22 degrees elevation angle). This was a first for the MMT!

We tried locking onto various other moonscapes with less contrast but were unsuccessful before the rapidly setting moon prevented further observations. Regrettably our efforts did not leave enough time to capture these beautiful images of the moon with the AO system locked. (Next time!) Further testing is required to determine if we can lock the AO system on the candidate craters.

The LCROSS craters shall be illuminated during our next engineering run in early April. During this run we plan to use the f/9 and/or f/5 telescope configuration to test and verify our procedures for locating and tracking each candidate impact site.

The LCROSS mission is scheduled to impact August 28th at 4:39 UTC (21:39 MST). On this evening, sunset at the MMT is 18:52, and the moon sets at 00:27. The moon shall be at an elevation angle of 42 degrees (1.5 airmass) during impact.

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MMT January Observing Statistics

Time Summary

Percentage of time scheduled for observing                    90.2
Percentage of time scheduled for engineering                   9.8
Percentage of time scheduled for sec/instr change            0.0
Percentage of time lost to weather                                    45.1
Percentage of time lost to instrument                                 0.5
Percentage of time lost to telescope                                  2.8
Percentage of time lost to general facility                           0.0
Percentage of time lost to environment (non-weather)       0.0
Percentage of time lost                                                     48.4

 ——–

Breakdown of time lost to telescope: secondary (f/15 problem),

pointing/computer problem with AO, PCR server, wfs camera,

M1 panic, computer

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MMT Telescope Trained on Moon During 2009 Impact

Astronomers will use the powerful University of Arizona/Smithsonian MMT Observatory on Mount Hopkins, Ariz., to search for lunar water ice when NASA fires a 2-ton rocket into a polar crater on the moon later this year.

To read more about this, click here

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MMTAO In the News

Listen to Michael Lloyd-Hart discuss MMT adaptive optics and the multiple laser guide star system for large telescopes on Arizona PodCats at:

http://uanews.org/node/23776

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