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 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 🙂

AO4ELT7 Days -5 to -2: The CDI Prologue, AO-istas in France

First stop after the plane, because how else will the people know we’re in Paris?

This is the prologue to the long sweaty conference the XWCL team will be spending in Avignon, in which some of us spend a shorter but just as sweaty time at a workshop in Paris. (There is a heatwave here, and it’s humid, and the desert kid in me is struggling to adapt.). Last year Sebastian, having good ideas as he does, collaborated with other high contrast imaging folks to think up a workshop on Coherence Differential Imaging, or CDI. As the whole point was to entice the next generation of instrumentalists with the siren song of coherent starlight subtraction in control and post processing, I was an easy target to convince to attend. Jared, having never been to Paris before, was also more than willing to spend a few days in the discussion. So here we are, tourists in a world-dominant optics hub.

Day -4: What is CDI again?

“The Castle” – Observatory de Paris, Muedon

The first day of our CDI journey gave us a late start and a delightful Uber driver, who not only saved us from walking up a long hill to the conference location, but also regaled us with a deep dive into just how bad the drivers there really are.

We found that big tower again from the suburbs.

The Observatory itself was nestled overlooking over the city from it’s Parisian suburb, magnificent among the larger park and woods that presumably came with the original estate.

Overview talks included the Self Coherent Camera (SCC) design.

We started the day with a series of very helpful overview talks, in which I rapidly went from not even really knowing what CDI stood for to appreciating cutting edge efforts to use the coherent properties of starlight with our high contrast systems. Barnaby Norris, Sarah Stieger, Axel Potier, and William Thompson should be commended on how much effort they put into the breadth and depths of their review talks. If you had listened closely, over the birds and the beatific breeze, you would have heard my brain expand three sizes in just an hour.

Pastries for thought.

Almost as helpful as the actual programming were our extended coffee breaks, catching up and floating ideas with some of the leading experts in the field amid delicious pastries. It’s a good reminder that no matter how deep in the trenches I am with my little calibration codes, plenty of my colleagues in the field are right there beside me, banging their heads against similar walls.

Gratuitous pictures of snack tarts and our struggles with slicing them.

At the end of the day we snuck in a little solar observing in an H-alpha filter. What a welcome sight to see the small saguaro on the solar telescope, designed and built by Lunt Solar Aystems in Tucson Arizona! With that petite piece of home, this place started to feel familiar.

With just this little guy we saw stellar prominences in great detail.

Day -3: Discussions and downpour

We did ask Sebastiaan if he wanted an umbrella…

Our second day was focused on hands-on teamwork exercises, which the MagAO-X team prepped for with the team exercise of figuring out how to get on the train, in the rain, from the wrong end of the station. It made us miss our chatty uber driver, especially with the quarter-mile hill treck from the train station to the workshop. Sweaty and drenched and a little dazed, we quickly got into our day of working through simulations and practical implementations of CDI algorithms and architectures.

a quick look into the wavefront correction on THD2 – To the left, the pupil, and to the center the PSF

One of our hands-on notebook experiences allowed us to play with the test bench right here in Paris. Their team has done great work to show a possible use case for AO telemetry, and in some of them we were even able to use their complex coronographic phase mask to pull out the planet!

Using a model of the THD2 test bench and well-calibrated telemetry to reconstruct a PSF, and a planet!

After the day wrapped up, and to much nicer weather, Vincent Deo, a Paris local, walked us through the Meudon streets to a delightful sidewalk restaurant. There, discussions continued, though perhaps on much sillier topics, over wine and Belgian Beers and Charcuterie.

Cheers to charcuterie

Meanwhile… word has reached us that the Space Force AO4ELT contingent has arrived on the other side of France …

Day -2: Reflect, Revise, Repeat (in 2-3 years?)

Sebastiaan and I finally made our train, and made it to the workshop mostly on time

And before you know it its over. We wrapped up our discussions on the final day, summarizing our progress, thoughts, and future projects to the rest of the attendees. It was required that the students do the talking, and because of that the final presentations had much fresher face than the introductory ones. It did feel like

Thank you to our LOC and SOC for being such wonderful hosts!

Of course, for all we’re learned, it was also a treat to be able to see another world center for astronomy, and another old telescope. Though this site is mostly for solar observing in the modern day, it has a history of observing that you can feel wandering the halls.

The original Lyot Coronograph

Finally, we finished this productive and educational tour de force with a very french dinner. More cheese, duck, and good friends from California and Australia.

Everyone but XWCL looks good in this picture, so I guess we’ll use it.

See you all soon in Avignon!

Song of the Day(s):

Blog Rules for the french trip: Every post should use at least one french word, have a song of the day, and be tied to a memory of the trip.

Summer Breeze by The Main Ingredient

The streets of Meudon were perfumed by the many jasmine bushes, wafting along a puff of breeze. I can understand why they’d want to host a workshop out there.