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Gemini e-Newscast May 2020

In This e-Newscast:

COVID-19 Update

After an extensive safety review and preparations, Gemini North successfully restarted limited nighttime observations on the night of Tuesday, May 19, with a minimal on-site crew. Gemini is contacting PIs for any needed updates to their existing programs.    
 
We will accept Director’s Discretionary (DD) Proposals for Gemini North with GMOS, GNIRS, and ‘Alopeke beginning Wednesday May 20th. We are currently considering resuming Fast-Turnaround (FT) Proposals for Gemini North.
 
Gemini South nighttime operations remain suspended, and we are not accepting DD or FT proposals for Gemini South at this time. 

We thank all of our staff for the critical work that they are doing to ensure a safe and sustainable return to nighttime operations. Finally, thanks to all of our users for their patience during this challenging time.

Gemini Gets Lucky and Takes a Deep Dive Into Jupiter’s Clouds

This image showing the entire disk of Jupiter in infrared light (4.7 μm) was compiled from a mosaic of nine separate pointings observed by the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab on 29 May 2019. From a lucky imaging set of 38 exposures taken at each pointing, the research team selected the sharpest 10%, combining them to image one ninth of Jupiter's disk. Stacks of exposures at the nine pointings were then combined to make one clear, global view of the planet.
Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley) and team Acknowledgments: Mahdi Zamani.
Researchers using a technique known as “lucky imaging” with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea have collected some of the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. These images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA’s Juno mission. The Gemini images, when combined with the Hubble and Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid. The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud color variations. Use the link to the press release for more details. See the final story in this issue to learn about a special podcast on this work, as well as an upcoming special YouTube event!

New Bug Fix Release of DRAGONS Available

DRAGONS v2.1.1 is now available. This release only includes bug fixes, documentation typo corrections, and added compatibility with Astropy v4. Although no new features are included, this bug fix release continues to support imaging reduction from the current facility instruments. Users are encouraged to update their DRAGONS installation.

See this announcement which contains links to instruction and documentation.

Please note that the days of DRAGONS no longer being compatible with Python 2.7 are approaching.  We are having more and more difficulties getting the conda package to work in Python 2.7 as support for 2.7 dropping across the Python world and affecting our dependencies.  We therefore encourage everyone to start using Python 3 for anything Python, and keep the Python 2.7 environment for Gemini IRAF work only.

Virtual Machine Image for Running IRAF Under Recent MacOS Releases

A CentOS 7 virtual machine image (OVA file) is now available to facilitate running Astroconda IRAF under MacOS 10.15+, which no longer supports running the necessary 32-bit binaries natively. This comes with Anaconda 2019.10, Gemini IRAF 1.14, DRAGONS 2.1.0 and other packages from Astroconda pre-installed. Users of MacOS 10.14 affected by the Tk bug that causes a desktop session logout when displaying graphics may also want to install this guest distribution as a workaround. Please see instructions here.

Download the Gemini Card Game!

Now that most of us have to work from home and find things to do on week-ends, Gemini is giving you the opportunity to download the Gemini Card Game. Get the deck, print it, read the rule book and play!

Gemini Card Game is a cooperative game for 2 to 4 players who work together to complete science programs over a full semester. Experience the complex decisions required to run a world class observatory and the excitement of contributing to a team as you provide researchers with their precious data and contribute to expanding the knowledge of the Universe.

The GEMMA Podcast

In episode 9 of the GEMMA podcast, GEMMA intern Odysseus Quarles interviews Michael Wong, a planetary scientist at the University of California Berkeley. Wong is the Principal Investigatory for the recent Jupiter observations from Gemini North in conjunction with the Hubble Space telescope and the Juno spacecraft. In this episode, Michael and Odysseus discuss Solar System astronomy in a multi-messenger/time-domain context, and how Gemini’s capabilities were uniquely suited to the task. In addition several interesting results from Wong’s observations are shared, including “holes” in the Great Red Spot, and lightning source regions. Click this link to listen. Also, watch for a special Live from NOIRLab@Gemini featuring Michael and Odysseus on Wednesday, May 27th at 1:00pm HST, 4:00pm PT and 7:00pm ET, tune in by visiting the NOIRLab YouTube channel!

Gemini at AAS #236

Join NOIRLab/Gemini at #AAS236 taking place “virtually anywhere” June 1-3. NOIRLab Director Pat McCarthy will present a webinar titled "The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis and Science Restart Plans" on Monday, June 1, at 6:00-6:30pm EDT. Gemini staff will be offering user support at the NOIRLab booth by text, voice and video chats throughout this virtual event. Registration deadline for #AAS236 is May 29th.    
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