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.