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Gemini e-Newscast #119

May 23, 2019

In This e-Newscast:

Astronomers using the Gemini Observatory explore Neptune’s largest moon Triton and observe, for the first time beyond the lab, an extraordinary union between carbon monoxide and nitrogen ices. The discovery offers insights into how this volatile mixture can transport material across the moon’s surface via geysers, trigger seasonal atmospheric changes, and provide a context for conditions on other distant, icy worlds. Read more at http://www.gemini.edu/node/21182

MAROON-X is Coming Together


MAROON-X, the radial velocity spectrograph from the University of Chicago, has arrived at Gemini North. This visiting instrument is expected to be able to detect Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of mid- to late-M dwarf stars using the radial velocity method. First though, it needs to be assembled and aligned in the thermally controlled enclosure in the Pier Lab.  Uncrating and inspection began on May 6, with assembly and positioning of large items (such as the cryostat) taking place over the next few days. During the week of May 13, the optics were unpacked, integrated and aligned. Although the work is going very smoothly, thanks to the outstanding instrument team and the assistance of the skilled Gemini day crew, we will postpone the commissioning until July due to other activities taking place at the telescope.
MAROON-X arrived in ten crates and is now unpacked and the large items moved into the thermally controlled enclosure. Now the optics are being installed and aligned.

Bienvenido, Zorro!


Small, clever and super fast. It’s easy to see why this instrument is called Zorro (Spanish for fox). This new speckle instrument is ‘Alopeke’s (at Gemini North) twin, and will be permanently mounted at Gemini South. It arrived safely at Cerro Pachón and was installed on the telescope in mid-May. Nighttime commissioning is taking place as this e-newcast goes to e-press. You can learn more about Zorro (and ‘Alopeke) on this Gemini instrument page. Stay tuned for first light images and, in the meantime, read more about the exciting technique of speckle imaging in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Astrobeat article featuring Zorro’s Principal Investigator Steve Howell!
 
Zorro assembled on the bench at Gemini South, awaiting installation.
 

First Hawai'ian Language Class for Observatory Staff is Pau (Finished)


Staff at Maunakea observatories were privileged to participate in a class on Hawai'ian language and culture during the first half of 2019. The class, led by kumu 'ōlelo (language teacher) Kamalani Johnson, met every Friday at lunchtime in the Gemini Lecture Hall, and through the magic of videoconferencing, was available to participants in Waimea and Mānoa as well as those based in Hilo. Over one hundred haumana (students) participated, and the final class was bittersweet.  Plans are progressing to provide future classes, but in the meantime, Maunakea Observatories’ staff will miss the weekly opportunity to learn about the rich history and culture of the islands and our communities. Mahalo nui e kumu Kamalani, a hui hou aku.
 
Gemini's Alyssa Grace (left) and Jocelyn Ferrara (center) present kumu Kamalani with a photo of Maunakea signed by class participants.
 
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