The MagAO-X Migration

To beat the harsh Canadian frost, most birds migrate south for the winter. In Tucson we have the opposite problem! As temperatures rose in the desert a group of us (Jared, Alex R., Kyle, Laird, and Lauren with alumna Kelsey Miller meeting us from Leiden) headed to Canada to beat the heat and present our research at Adaptive Optics for Extremely Large Telescopes 6 in Quebec Canada.

Sunset on the first day of Quebec City

Some of us were a bit thrown off from the sudden transition from English to French, but for me who just got back from Marseille, it was interesting to see the differences between Canadian French and Parisian French. One thing that was definitely the same was the amazing French cooking. The MagAO-X students had a truly memorable night with alumna Kelsey Miller, who took us to a gastronomy restaurant well above the grad student paygrade. $20 and five thin potato slices later the hungry grad students ended up at a French Canadian Irish Pub (does that make sense?) just in time to grab some real food and watch the Stanley cup finals.

Speaking of memorable dinners, the conference dinner was the best I’ve ever been too! Really good food followed by an incredible musical group. They could play any song on the spot on their classical instruments, and spiced things up with acrobatic displays (never missing a note!). Our very own Kyle Van Gorkom was even lucky enough to be chosen as an audience volunteer! They projected his face onto a screen for a very silly comedic dance.

But things weren’t all fun and games for the MagAO-X crew. We were all hard at working presenting our current results and building anticipation for our first light run. In order of presentation …

Lauren presenting her work on three-sided pyramid wavefront sensing.
Kyle presenting his mad skills at deformable mirror flattening.
Alex Rodack presenting his work on simulating the Real Time Frazin Algorithm that uses knowledge of your system to improve contrast through your coronagraph.
To finish out the conference P.I. Jared Males presents current MagAO-X progress and his vision for an extreme adaptive optics system on the Giant Magellan Telescope. We were all relieved that his presentation didn’t crash this time.

(Kelsey and Laird also had posters but we were bad students and didn’t take photos….)

We are all back in Tucson now, but I for one am missing the lovely weather. At least I have my heap of maple flavored snacks to remind me of cooler temperatures and a great trip. Although we didn’t see any Canadian Geese this trip, they are this post’s song of the day.


2016B Day 9: The Odyssey

Commissioning is a long and windy road, not unlike Odysseus’ journey in the Odyssey. The MagAO team has traveled half way around the world, and have had our share of battling monsters (like our deformable mirror!), and treasure hunts (to spot that elusive green flash!). We are so close to the end of our journey, only two more days and we should be on sky!

Speaking of mythical creatures…. Professor Laird Close caught this awesome shot of a viscacha mid hop.

As you can imagine things are getting busier than ever as we ramp up to go on sky. Here is a video of Dr. Katie Morzinski preparing the CLIO infrared camera for the telescope! She is filling the dewar with liquid nitrogen to cool it 55K! Watching her made us wish we had the stuff to make Dip N Dots…

The wavefront sensor dynamic duo finally achieved a pupil separation of 40 pixels!


The rest of the AO team has been hard at work getting the deformable secondary up and running! But I don’t have any pictures sorry guys.

unnamed Gary Galileo the Guanaco working hard directing observatory traffic

unnamed (1)After a long day the MagAO team takes a moment to admire the sunset…

… And take an obligatory selfie of course!

Song of the day is both space and Odyssey themed!
Out Hud 2005: A Face Odyssey