SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation 2014 takes place 22-27 June at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Quebec. The biennial symposium and two-day exhibition feature two program tracks, one for technology advances and another for telescopes and systems.
The 12 conferences within those tracks will offer more than 2,200 presentations in key areas such as adaptive-optics systems; observatory operations; ground-based and airborne instrumentation; facility concepts; and cyber infrastructure.
Symposium chairs are Gillian S. Wright of the UK Astronomy Technology Center and Luc Simard of the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada.
Cosmic, but humble beginnings
New observational capabilities have been transforming our understanding of the universe from cosmic background radiation to exoplanets.
The ideas behind these technologies are often conceived in ordinary settings such a morning coffee break or dinner with colleagues and may initially be cast on a restaurant napkin. The path from these humble beginnings is a critical mixture of science, technology, people, and timing.
In keeping with this theme, SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation will have eight plenary talks on topics covering the past, present, and future of astronomy, paying special attention to the behind-the-scenes processes that have led, or are leading, from the drawing board to the sky.
- Roland Bacon of the Observatoire de Lyon (France) will discuss the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) – a second-generation instrument in development for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This unique and powerful tool is designed for discovering objects that cannot be found in imaging surveys.
- Pierre Cox of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile will talk about some of the harsh lessons learned while bringing the most complex telescope array in existence on-line.
- SPIE Fellow Mark Clampin of NASA (USA) will review the current work on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that is proceeding at a frantic pace and the challenges the mission has faced so far.
- Philip Diamond, director general of the SKA Organisation (UK) will discuss the radio telescope Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a mega-science facility with sites in Australia and South Africa that may become the most complex ground-based observatory ever built.
- John B. Hutchings of the NRC-Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (Canada) will describe the history of astronomy in Canada and review the technical and scientific capabilities that exist there today.
- Satoshi Miyazaki of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan will discuss the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), a next-generation wide-field optical-imaging camera built for the Subaru telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii (USA).
- Timo Prusti of the European Space Agency (Netherlands) will present on-orbit performance results of the Gaia mission as it charts a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way.
- George R. Ricker, Jr., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) will comment on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The successor to the Kepler mission, TESS is the first-ever spaceborne, all-sky transit survey.
Courses and special events
Onsite courses taught by experts from around the world will cover systems engineering; advanced composite materials; aerial spectrograph design and development; optics analysis; and related topics at introductory and intermediate levels.
More than 90 companies will display products and technologies during the two-day exhibition.
René Doyon, professor and director of the Mont-Mégantic Observatory at University of Montréal (Canada) will discuss the quest for life outside the solar system at an all-conference dinner 24 June. Tickets to the dinner and presentation are sold separately.
Doyon and his students led the development of differential-imaging techniques that contributed to obtaining the first images of a multiple planetary system outside our solar system in 2008.
SPIE member Sarah Kendrew (UK) is also organizing a “Software Hack Day” for Thursday 26 June in conjunction with the conference on software and cyber infrastructure for astronomy.