Saturday, September 28, 2013

HRS First Light!!!

It's Saturday morning so it's Tracker Time!  It's a testament to Jürgen's endless enthusiasm that he somehow managed to get into his safety harness, despite almost every bit of it being thoroughly twisted.  We did get him straightened out eventually though ;)

Up top, Eben & Jono finished getting the fibre cable into the rho wrap.

Ray made sure the fibres emerging from the break-out box were as comfortable & safe as possible, but we'll have to get Tech Ops to make us a cover of some sort to protect this awfully vulnerable part of the instrument.

During lunch, Jono & Johan removed the hosepipe & attached all the clips & brackets that support the fibre cable.

After lunch, Janus installed the FIF in the payload.

So then the fibres could be fed through from the top of the rho stage, into the FIF bay in the payload's Rotating Structure.

As anticipated, this was not a trivial task & some tweaks were needed before we could get all the ferrules safely bolted into position.

Eben made a cool holster (the blue tube on the left) to contain & protect the spare fibres.  This would also serve as a parking bay for the actual (non-spare) fibres if for whatever reason we had to remove the FIF.  We checked that all the fibres had enough slack to comfortably reach all the extreme FIF positions & everything looks Good!

The team came back up after a quick dinner, fully expecting the humidity to spike at any time & shut things down.

Aligning the primary was a real mission as we'd had the aircons off for most of the afternoon while working up on the tracker.

We had to settle for a coarse alignment in the end, but at least the weather held up & we could set about initialising & configuring the mechanisms for our first on-sky exposure.

We wanted a bright target & hoped for something auspicious like Alpha Cen, but nothing of the sort was within SALT's visibility annulus at the time.  So we pointed to HD190007, a V = 7.5 mag K4 dwarf that's a high-precision radial velocity standard.

No shortage of tension in the control room...

Janus sent the Low Res object fibre to fetch the star & we set the exposure meter running.  Counts!!  But are they really coming from the star?  Move the FIF away slightly - see the counts drop - move back - see them return: Yes :D  We have starlight going down a HRS fibre!

Sorry Ray, but it really is time for the PI to wear The Astronomer's Hat!

A 10 second exposure, a 12 second readout & we have our first blue échellogram - Her Royal Spectrographness Is Alive!! :D

& the red channel's working too - here's a 2 minute High Res exposure of HD199961, a V = 4.7 mag G6 giant.

SALT Astro & Tech Ops Managers are smiling: "I'm happy if You're happy!" says Chris :)

Just before snatching my camera away.

With that, Ray disappeared to the fridge to fetch a bottle of bubbly & was again required to don The Hat.  

Pity Eddy & Ockert & various others aren't here for this, but Cheers to all!  & especially to Eben & the guys that worked all day (through lunch & dinner on a Saturday) to allow us to go on-sky tonight while the weather's good, before Jürgen & David leave.  Also to Amanda & Veronica for so graciously letting us crash your observing run!

We have another treasure to add to the collection on top of the SALT fridge...

The weather continued to amaze as the humidity levelled off & the seeing steadily improved - we don't often see 0.6 arcsecond seeing up here!

So inspiring was all this that next thing we found Hamish grilling Francois about the finer details of how the CCAS instrument works to align the primary mirror.

Through the rest of the night we observed a few other objects in the different modes & tried various calibration frames, including the ThAr arc lamp in the SALT Calsys.  We have heaps more to do, but for now we're finding our feet & figuring out what's what...

Along the way, the control room crowd slowly thinned out.

& we began dropping like flies through the wee hours...

Jürgen might well be sleep-walking in this one?  David's focused at infinity while Ray (of course), is actually thinking.

Shortly after pointing out that the control room sorely needs a hammock, Luke checked out.

Finally even Ray went down...  That's when you know it's time to stop!

It's been a very long & busy 21 hour day for us - we're off to bed...  Sleep tight HRS :)


  1. Congratulations!! Its great to see this after so many years in the running!
    Miss you all and the excitement of SALT...

  2. It's Saturday morning so it's Tracker Time! It's a testament to Jürgen's endless enthusiasm that he somehow managed to get into his safety ...