It’s giant! It’s magellan! And it’s a telescope! Coming to a Chile near you in [mumble mumble mumble]

The MagAO-X team is also fully engaged in preparing for the next big thing in telescopes, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). GMT is one of the ELTs (extremely large telescopes) being planned for the next generation of ground based science, along with the Thirty Meter Telescope and the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (yes, ELT is an ELT). GMT is currently being built near our MagAO-X home at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Our group is knee deep in planning for GMagAO-X, the extreme adaptive optics coronographic instrument for exoplanet science on the GMT.

So we made a big showing at the GMT Community Science Meeting this week in DC. These meetings are run every year with a rotating science focus, this year was our time to shine with the Exoplanets meeting. The idea is to get future GMT users together to talk about the exoplanet science they want to do with this powerful exciting new platform. Jared gave an invited talk about GMagAO-X, while Laird, Jay, Maggie, Eden, Sebastiaan, and I presented posters about our current and future science. MagAO-X collaborator, super star, and blog alum Alycia Weinberger was there as well. There was an opening reception Tuesday night, two full days of talks and posters, fancy pantsy meals provided (and open bar!!), ending with a half day wrap up on Friday. All in a super fancy hotel in the middle of DC. I had a great time, this was maybe the first time I’ve been to a conference where every talk was something I was interested in (my optics colleagues may have felt differently).

Pics for your viewing pleasure.

Posters! One of these things is not like the others…

Poster Pops! Little 1-min advertisements for your poster.

Our fearless leader gave a talk all about GMagAO-X

I’m writing this from home the day after the conference utterly exhausted! Tons of fun, tons of travel, and the open bar didn’t help things.

I’ll end with the super fancy conference group photo!

You didn’t know that that’s what DC looks like? You need to travel more.

The song of the day is Science Is Real by They Might Be Giants

Code/Astro Days 2.5-4: More Code, Some Astro, and the Super Secret Seasoning to Tonkotsu Ramen

I’ll try to make up for my clickbait title by starting right off with the secret ramen seasoning that I’m uniquely suited to identify.

The last supper

It’s apparently very rare, but chefs from select regions of Japan will season tonkotsu (pork) flavored ramen with peanut dust or peanut butter to impart a special nuttiness to the savory soup. As many of you might guess, this didn’t turn out well for one of the resident peanut deniers in the group. But hopefully those who read this blog will help spread some awareness since, in general, Japanese food restaurants have been a very safe haven for peanut allergy sufferers…! And no, the restaurant made no mention of this additional ingredient anywhere on their menu :-/.

After a quick brush with my kryptonite, we were back the next afternoon exploring the surrounding Chicago area to seek out the healing properties of a slice of deep dish. Although the weather was less than ideal for most of Wednesday with a slight chance for multiple tornados.

Selfie with all the Tucson kids! ft. Vikram (Steward) and Edgar (physics) and Gemma (Spain)

As for the workshop, we (Jialin, Gemma of España, and I) shared a brief eureka moment when we successfully created and pip-installed our very own open-source Python package on our computers! To get everyone else up to speed, we utilized this workshop to get a head start on a collaborative, bright, most-likely-to-be-single star catalog for AO calibration purposes! All that’s really left to do is streamline the catalog querying and crossmatching functionality and then actually make the SQL database prior to our next observing run.

Big thanks to Logan for helping us refine this idea and make it happen in such a short timespan!

I always worry my posts end up evolving to be too too wordy so please enjoy a photo dump of the social activities that took place for the rest of the workshop and afterwards before flying back home to Tucson :-).

This is Ben from UC San Diego. We ran into Ben serendipitously and after some small talk he confessed to being a fellow Jared fan after seeing Jared’s talk at AO4ELT. Astro is such a small world.

Song of the Day

We had a Lyft driver who was literally the city of Chicago anthropomorphized. dApparently in his youth one of his favorite pastimes was staying at the bars in Downtown Chicago until closing. Well so, around last call, when they played this song at the end of the night it was his cue to antagonize the bouncers and convince them, as best as he could, that he makes his own rules, he owns this bar, they’d have to use force to get him to leave, etc. On more than one occasion he got the bouncers grinning and giving him the stink-eye while cracking their knuckles at ten minutes to closing. However, as soon as the clock showed 30 seconds to official closing time he was already 100 ft away from the building and power walking his way home. In between belly laughs he exclaimed “I was young, dumb, and I’m *still* only 5’5″ on a good day so what did you expect? I knew my limits!”

It was way funnier with the thick Chicago accent and euphemisms than is probably coming off typed out here.

Code/Astro Day 1-2.5: Code, Code & Deep Dish Pizza

Both the non-Ph.D.ed KLIPers convened at O’Hare and ready to create a catalog of non-binary stars for the next MagAO-X run, we enjoyed the mild (relative to Tucson) sunshine on the Northwestern Campus. We spotted a nice garden with some cool spiders and Northwestern viscacha enjoying its nutritious meal.

Ready to explore the campus while it’s sunny!

We visited the old astronomy building on Northwestern Campus, which is also the site for the Dearborn Observatory completed in 1888. The 18.5″ refractor inside the dome as well as the entire building was closed to visitors during our visit on Sunday.

According to Wikipedia, this telescope was used to discover Sirius B!

In addition to the OG KLIPers or KLIPistas of MagAO-X, Gemma Gonzalez-Tora from ESO joined the team. We have made a decent amount of progress on making a code to find single stars within a given coordinate. Stay tuned for Jay’s post later this week to see our final product!

Cheers to our amazing team and congrats to Gemma on obtaining her Ph.D.!

We also spotted the third MagAO-X team member on Zoom! Hello Eden!

Oh yes, the title can very deceiving, but the rest of the post contains only Jialin’s review of the Chicago/Evanston food. Chicago deep dish is of course a must try for first timers. Jay and I stopped by the famous Labriola on our half-day off for a 12 inch Danny’s Special Deep Dish Pizza, which contained Russo Sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, and onion in addition to lots of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. (And half the pie is about to head back to Tucson!)

Look at that cheese pull! Thanks Jay for insisting on trying this place!

The Chicago Style hot dog is on par with the Sonora Dog, with fresh tomato and a good thick slice of dill pickle!

Portillo’s Chicago Style Hot Dog: Beware of the hidden picked peppers, they can really burn!

If you can’t wait until SPIE 2024 in Japan to try the famous Omurice or Japanese omelette rice, you can find a pretty good substitute in downtown Chicago. (Don’t bother getting the ramen, you can find better ones in Tucson, shhhhhh….)

We ordered the curry sauce instead of the more traditional option.

And I won’t be myself if I don’t recommend a good boba or bubble tea place.

Yes, this is indeed the third boba I’ve had since arriving and there will be more…

Song of the Day(s):

I wanted to catch a musical in Chicago Broadway during my time here, but unfortunately, July is the month of nothingness. Thus, I feel inclined to share one of the most famous numbers from the musical Chicago!

AO4ELT7 Days 2 to 5: Go Team!

Hello, it’s me again. For various reasons, more senior members are not available for extended comments on AO4ELT. (Notably either enjoying France or other vacation escapades.) So to keep Joseph from shutting down the blog in disappointment, here’s another Eden recap of a French conference.

Lecture Hall picture courtesy of Arnaud

Day 2: WFS, DMs, and phasing – Oh my!

How do you get a gainfully employed post doc to arrive on time to an 8:30am conference start time? You make him the session chair. Maggie and I might have been a liiiiittle late to the invited speaker, Roberto Ragazzoni, the origin of pyramid WFSs, gave an engaging talk on the 27 OTHER WFS designs he’s dreamed up over the years.

The DM vendors gave their talks the second day as well, and it was nice to hear someone outside the team bragging about us for a change.

Thanks BMC for the shout out!

Just to prove their point and show how to use a BMC DM in a truly extreme AO system, Laird followed up with our GMagAO-X

HCAT design overview, waterwheel and all.
Photo credit Guido.

We concluded the day with dinner in the very same halls the palace of old used to dine in. Whats more, they gave us a light show of projectors to display the hall in its different eras. Rumor has it Jared has a video of the light shows, even though he prefers the hall in its more natural lighting.

The 300 of us filled out the dining hall quite well!
Someone is not amused

In true french fashion, this dinner took around 4 hours and multiple bottles of wine. Sebastiaan did not eat the offered cheese.

Day 3: XWCL past present and future

Wednesday, midway through our conference days, we had our largest number of XWCL talks yet! Especially if you include the once and future lab members. We started with Lauren Schatz, recently graduated and now a critical member of space force, give her invited talk on LASSIE – Laser guide Star Sensor Integrated Extreme adaptive optics.

How do you make extreme AO cooler? Add lasers.
Image credits to Guido.

Sebastiaan Haffert, current group postdoc, gave the first talk of the evening session, with a hot-off-the-press presentation on more novel WFS designs.

Listen up, he put on a button down for this.

What you might not know is that he finished the last simulation mere minutes before we had to turn in our slides:

Upon successful completing on the last plot.

We then got to see a future XWCL-er, Josh Lieberman, present on his implementation of iEFC with the KPIC instrument/testbed. We’re so excited to have Josh be a part of our group next spring!

KPIC works with coupled planet light, making speckle nulling that much more important.

Last of the day, bringing up the other half of the MagAO-X sandwich, was me! I got to give my talk on my sparkles work that I took on over the last year. Having multiple people I cite in the crowd was new, usually I have to fight to get people to care about optical gain. This talk I got good feedback and even more to think about once I’m back.

Dr. Joseph long and his rendering abilities there with us in spirit.

After surviving the stress of presenting to some of the most knowledgible people in the field, we all relaxed by having cocktails on the Bridge of Avignon, courtesy of First Light and ALPAO. It was something special to see the bridge in such beautiful golden light.

I can see the conference room from here!

Day 4: Last talk!

Jared, giving the invited mid-morning talk, finished up the MagAO-X talks with an overview of what it’ll take to get us to the contrast of the planets we care about, and what MagAO-X is doing to get us there. Of course the whole team sat close to be sure to show our support. We weren’t the only ones who liked Jared’s talk though, younger scientists later reported it to be very accessible, which is a win among some of the other update talks we listened to.

Our fearless leader presents the MagAO-X update
You become a PI to guarantee audiences to your talk, right?

During the coffee break, we finally got our group photo! Feels good to know our group did so well. “Go Team!” – Jared

Our whole team got the chance to present! And we did pretty darn good.

We also had some of our friends from MAPs present later in the day, (see Joseph’s and I’s MAPS posts last month to see this group photo in full color). Jacob gave voice to the struggles that adaptive secondaries and bad weather can can give observers. The next MAPS talk will get to be much more triumphant though, I can feel it.

Jacob on MAPS and trauma bonding.

Some of the best parts of this conference happen when you aren’t last minute cramming for your talk and you can just appreciate the good company of your science peers. Cheers to the Arizona team!

Cheers to the presenters!
Serious beer for serious scientists.

Day 5: We all gave our talks, what do you mean there’s more conference?

Even after we finished XWCL talks, turns out there were still things to stick around for! Sarcasm aside, the last day of the conference wasn’t one to miss, with plenty of atmospheric simulations to go around. Plus, we got a free tour of the Papal Palais with our badge!

All too soon though, it was over. Personally, I got so much from being around this international group of instrumentalists! After being inspired and motivated by all the various project people have been working on, I know I have a lot more too look forward in the rest of my PhD.

Conference Group Photo!

Farewell France! Thank you for treating us so well.

Last views of the southern countryside after we all scatter on Saturday.

Song of the Days

Putting respect on the Avignon name with:

“Bridge of Avignon” in English and French by Barney and crew

AO4ELT7 Days -1 to 1: Three is Company, Five is a Party!

Bonjour! In the early hours of Saturday, I joined the team in Paris! Fun fact: if you land in Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E and you want to be picked up by an Uber, do NOT go to the door labeled “Rideshare Pickup.” That would be far too easy. Uber is relegated to “Express Pickup Door 7A”.

Anyways, we shortly boarded our train to Avignon and got a lovely ride through the French countryside.

Paris Gare de Lyon

Apparently in the words of some Roman cardinals, Avignon is one of the most revolting and polluted cities ever seen. Except not really at all…it’s maybe the prettiest. A gorgeous walled-in city surrounding a castle, Avignon is lush and vibrant.

Thanks to the recommendation of Sebastiaan, the team took a fun tour of the Pont Saint-Bénézet, a medieval bridge across the Rhône. Okay it doesn’t exactly go across…it kind of stops in the middle…there was a lot of drama in the Middle Ages.

The one where XWCL goes to the former Roman Empire

Sunday night was the conference registration and welcome reception where we finally joined Laird after his excursion through Portugal. Five is a party! A party with wine and cheese!

Practicing my talk for anyone who will listen

Day 1 of AO4ELT7

The conference hall is in the medieval conclave of the Palais des papes d’Avignon. It’s very unique, and we likely need to elect the next AO pope, but there is definitely not air conditioning.

Order in the court

The conference kicked off with interesting overview talks about the AO systems of each of the ELTs: GMT, TMT, and of course ELT itself. I presented my first conference talk of my grad school career on our up-and-coming extreme AO instrument, GMagAO-X. GMagAO-X is such an exciting project to be on, as a highly likely first light ELT ExAO instrument working in the VISIBLE.

Not a bad way to spend your golden birthday

And as you do at conferences, you network (with your roommates).

Thanks for a lovely day team 🙂