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Gemini e-Newscast #65

November 18, 2014

In This e-Newscast:

Double-take on Icy Solar System Worlds

Two recent Gemini programs explore very different bodies from the early Solar System. One, observed at Gemini North and led by Karen Meech (University of Hawaii) claims to have provided astronomers with the first look at the surface of distant Oort Cloud objects (work presented at the recent American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences meeting). The other, executed at Gemini South and led by Matthew Knight (Lowell Observatory) supported ESA's Rosetta mission by observing the comet 67P only hours before the Philae probe landed on the comet¹s surface. The Gemini website has more information about comet 67P and the Oort Cloud object.
Time-lapse sequence showing the motion of Comet 67P from Gemini South GMOS data over a 26-minute period.

Fast Turnaround Program Coming Soon

Starting in January 2015 users from most Gemini partners will be able to short-circuit the regular six-month proposal cycle. Under the new “Fast Turnaround” (FT) program, there will be a proposal deadline at the end of each month. At the deadline, the proposals will be distributed to reviewers, who are the Principal Investigators (or designated co-Investigators) of other proposals received during the same cycle. The results of this peer review will then be used by Gemini staff to construct the final list of accepted proposals from that (monthly) round. Within three weeks PIs will be told whether they have been awarded time, and accepted programs will be observed in a “mini-queue” on three dedicated FT nights each month, remaining valid for the following three months. The scheme will initially run as an open-ended experiment limited to a maximum of 10% of Gemini North telescope time. See the web pages describing the FT program and more background in the October GeminiFocus (page 18, available as a PDF download or for e-reader). Questions and comments are welcome, and should be sent to

User Forum Winners

Congratulations to the winners from early contributions to the User Data Reduction Forum <>! The Users’ Committee for Gemini (UCG) evaluated the submissions and recommend that David Rupke be recognized for his large effort, and Andrew Stephens for his smaller submission. The contributions are IDL-based routines to work with data from integral field spectrographs, including NIFS and GMOS (IFSRED and IFSFIT, from David) and dynamic sky generation for NIRI (SKYNAMIC, from Andrew). Both winners now have an opportunity to obtain new observations using Director’s Discretionary Time. Many of the other submissions were also excellent, and we encourage your continued involvement in our user forum. This is a user-supported location for trading ideas, scripts, and best practices, allowing you to particiapte in open discussions of data reduction processes and strategies.

A Successful Viaje al Universo Outreach Program in 2014

For one week in late October Gemini’s Chilean outreach program Viaje al Universo brought the universe to thousands of residents in our local communities of La Serena, Coquimbo, and Vicuña. During this intensive week of diverse programming, students, teachers and the public enjoyed educational workshops, hands-on classroom presentations, StarLab portable planetarium programs, nighttime naked-eye (and telescopic) tours, public talks, and a very successful career panel discussion that engaged over 100 local students.
Gemini astronomer Juan Madrid shares his passion for science with 7th and 8th graders at Colegio San Joaquin in La Serena explaining the scale of the Solar System.
A student from Leonardo da Vinci school in Vicuña explains her astronomy-inspired artwork to Gemini Director Markus Kissler-Patig at Alfa Aldea, a public observatory in the Elqui Valley.
Copyright © 2014 Gemini Observatory, All rights reserved.

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