MagAO-X 2022B Day 6: Gen Z takes Las Campanas

Eden here, representing the three exhausted first year grads that just landed in Chile. This second wave of helping hands will get to join the great thumb twiddling. (We have also beaten MagAO-X’s shipping crates to the mountain.) There’s no new news regarding the strike, but kindly telescope-time neighbors have agreed to swap nights: time after our run was supposed to end exchanged for our first observing nights. So now our first night of observing is December 2nd instead of tomorrow, a successful stall for more delivery and setup time.

Undaunted by the ever foreboding slack updates, I started my LCO journey at a crisp 7am at LAX. You wouldn’t believe it, but the traffic at 7am on a Saturday is still upsettingly bad.

My last sight of home for a while.
Dust motes and the majestic morning wakeup call on our SCL redeye.

In my ATL leg I met up with Avalon for our 8 hour red eye and in LSC customs we caught Jialin! Overall, no huge hiccups. It helps when you have nothing to declare, and no huge astronomy gadgets to explain in a language you can’t speak.

After a successful trip through customs.

From 7am to 1 we hang out in the domestic terminal, scavenging for vegetarian bites and unsuccessfully searching for dental floss.

We each deal with 5hr layovers in our own way.
So much hope for MagAO-X in these shining eyes.
Finding our telescope on a map of many observatories near La Serena.

After our plane hop north, we get a ride up the coast and into the mountain range to the telescope. Some quick COVID tests later, and we’re settled into our LCO homes for the next week or so!

The roomside views are stunning.
Small welcoming committee!
And, as is tradition, the crew watching the sunset, now with new members.

Song of the Day

“Pull It Together” by The Greeting Committee

Someone sleeping on blacktop really needs to pull it together.

out of context, Anonymous quotes of the day:

“I’m basically having one long meal from 1pm to 6pm”

“I was lost in the sauce there for a good two hours.”

“The moon is just made of fluff”

“Chilean olives are better than American.”

2022B Packing Operation: Success

What’s on more wheels than it should be, has three bulk bags of desiccant for a carry on, and is heading for a South American Vacation??? Only our favorite high contrast imaging system!

The team has spent the last week in booties and safety boots making sure that the instrument gets to Chile as cozy as possible.

Monday: Batten down the hatches!

Mere hours after its last lab experiment, MagAO-X is wrapped into shipping shape. This is the first “All hands on deck” of the week: cables unplugged, optics covered, mounts tightened, glycol drained, etc.

Prof. Close and Dr. Haffert work on protecting optical components as Logan and Dr. Males secure the cabling.

The whole package is wrapped, and rewrapped (after that thing we forgot), and wrapped a third time (just to be sure) in anti-dust plastic wrap and anti-static covers. You better believe we used extreme amounts of bubble wrap wherever possible.

Tuesday: A hard hat kind of day

Tuesday 7am and we’re back in lab (the morning people are, that is). We meet up with Tom and Pat, the guys qualified to work the heavy machinery, and get to work making MagAO-X portable. First, the crane with a fancy name is assembled with grad student labor and good balancing skills.

The final steps of the hallway assembly, requires lots of shimmying and a few good kicks.

We tuck the support into the lab, right below the highest point between the vents and lights. We lift the beam as high as possible, and attach a pulley system to hoist up MagAO-X. This gives us enough of a gap to attach a specially designed cart to the table’s base, the right width to wheel down to the cargo elevator.

MagAO-X has got its wheels.

After carefully wheeling our cargo to the loading doc, we get to work with unsealing the large wooden shipping crate.

Proper safety shoes and headgear are essential.
Dr.Males explains the finer points on disincentivizing bad shipping practices.

Next, we gently lift the instrument, wheel the base underneath, bolt the instrument to the crate base, then undo the cart. We can bolt the box back together once the top is lowered into place.

MagAO-X catching some air.
Top goes back on the box.

After the instrument, a lunch break. Then we do it all again with the electronics rack.

Electronic rack gets lifted into its box before getting turned to its side.
The electronics box gets re-bolted twice. After all this box work, you could call some of us drill experts.

Our two big boxes with instrument tucked in tight, and we’re done for the day. Done by 3pm? Our best time yet.

Friday: Load ‘er up!

The movers show up like clockwork, right during Logan’s internal symposium talk. Those of us not giving Xoomies facts hustle back from LPL to the loading doc and help scoot boxes to the forklift pickup.

Very important supervision work.
Goodbye computers!

The instrument is on the truck!

One 2 million dollar Jared Males signature later and the instrument is officially in the shipper’s hands. Have a nice flight to Chile MagAO-X, we’ll see you in November.

Bonus: MagAO-X says Happy Halloween

See you space cowboy!

Song o’ the day:

Historical and topical.

AO Summer School 2022: Eye Day

Summer school posts were delayed due to blog server space, but we’re back with recap blogs!

It’s summer camp season. The older you get, the harder it gets to secure a summer full of bunk-bed living, bug spray, buffet lunches, and late night card games. The folks at Santa Cruz gave us a pretty wonderful approximation, chock full of AO knowledge to boot.

The accommodations were a mere minute walk from the conference hall.

All last week we started our days in campus apartments, wandered to breakfast in the nearby dining hall, and then took the short walk to the conference center. All in the idyllic redwood forest of Santa Cruz, of course.

Today it was the vision scientists turn to talk.

Possibly one of the most exciting part of the summer school was the vision science talks. The first two days we took deep dives on AO generically and AO for astronomers. The third day, we got the rundown on resolving the cells of our eyes, sorting by color receptor, and exciting them individually to mimic colors independent of the excitation laser.

An AO system for measuring the distortion of the eye, set up in the lecture hall. Used since the early days of the AO summer school.

We got the opportunity to measure the aberrations in our own eye! In real time Professor Austin Roorda was able to map the distortion in the SH and tell participants the magnitude of each Zernike polynomial. Of special interest were those of us who had glasses, where he was able to get uncannily close to their true prescription (from the focus term). He’s been teaching at the summer school since its inception in the early 2000’s

Austin taking a wavefront measurement of my eye. We were unfortunately not able to see the edge of my contacts.

In the lab section of the day, after lunch, we were lucky enough to get to see the aberrations in our own eyes. There were a few sized pupils we could check against, and we could convolve the distorted PSF with letters to check our vision.

My Eye distortions, decomposed by zernike polynomials (top left), plotted by phase (top middle), turned into a PSF (top right) and convolved with the letter E (bottom middle).

We also got to see a bare-bones AO bench, where we closed the loop and inserted a turbulence screen. They trusted us enough to take out some lenses and have us put it back together again. Even for those of us with experience in labwork, it’s still a treat to get to investigate a system with minimal hazard to research deadlines.

Warren (middle) and Jay (far right) study the AO bench kit.

On the last day, after some exciting HCIPy talks and hands on work, we were treated to a much anticipated event, the Visual Optics Awards! Catagories included the Thirty Meter Telescope award for largest pupil, The Hubble Space Telescope Award for the poorest optics, and a medal ceremony for best RMS WFE after defocus and astigmatism correction.

Top 3 smallest RMS errors in the class, with PSF displayed below. Our own Warren came in 3rd.

Suffice to say, the week was over too quickly. A huge thank you to the organizers at UCSC and CfAO! I learned more than I thought I would, have many foundational papers to start reading up on, and a whole new community of AO enthusiasts to look forward to at future conferences. Hopefully I will be back at some point to help out! For now, I’ll be fondly remembering Santa Cruz with all my sunset beach photos.

Almost full moon at the Memorial lighthouse down on the coast.

Song of the Post: Home by the Sea by Genesis

Bonus: Warren wheeling away on our last day.

The bike rental is in town.
He had to get it all down the hill somehow.

MagAO-X Takes Montréal: Days 3 and 4

*A new grad student has entered the chat.*

Hello Blog! I’m Eden and I’ll be joining the MagAO-X team this fall as an OpSci grad student. This SPIE I’m presenting my wavefront profiling work on imaka, a GLAO demonstrator,  but I’ll be joining the high contrast crew in no time.

Happy to report that I survived my Wednesday poster session.

This conference is much more exciting, informative, and thrilling than any of the online approximations the last two years. So far, as a first time SPIE-ian, I think I could summarize the experience so far as a mix of:

  • Cutting edge talks illuminating the future of our field and fully inspiring me to start over my research from scratch.
  • Celebrity Spotting:
Jared spotting Olivier Guyon in the AO session.
  • Stalking the exhibition hall for the elusive free coffee and rumors of the best freebies:
The Dutch booth had 400 units of a LEGO JWST model. They ran out in a day and a half.
  • Extreme pride at the progress of the field, the creativity of research, and my own ability to understand some of it.
  • Crashing at 3pm and making use of the food and resources in the community lounge networking space.
Leftover beads from diversity sessions means an opportunity.
  • Rallying for the 6-8pm poster session, and being surprised when the admin needs to increasingly aggressively flip the lights to force us attendees to leave.

Over the last two days, many MagAO-X talks have graced the stage of the the AO talk session. The group is looking very good up there.

Laird presents his talk on holographic dispersed fringe sensor.
Sebastian presents on behalf of Meghan O’Brien.

We’ve also had a fully stocked schedule of posters, some of which *cough Sebastian* had an ever present line.

Joseph explaining computer optimization to the next generation.
Maggie presenting on GMagAO-X’s DM optical design.
Noah Swimmer from UCSB presented an MKID camera for use behind MagAO-X 
Sebastian’s poster before the rush.

A very special session on Wednesday paid tribute to a titan amongst AO, David L. Fried of the Fried parameter and the Fried geometry who passed away in May. One of his close collaborators gave a history of his career which ended up being a historical overview of the field itself. As a younger scientist, it was humbling to see how much one man had contributed to the science I work with daily as well as how many around had gotten to work with him directly.

Of note, the memoriam presenter was just as excited as the rest of us to receive the speaker gift for the AO session:

“We r-not limited by seeing” with a back of the Fried Geometry

Hope everyone can stay strong through the last two days of this intellectual marathon!

Double french Songs for your double day blog:

Dream catching, aka its a dream to be at SPIE.
The title is English but the lyrics are mostly French.