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Gemini e-Newscast October 2020

In This e-Newscast:

Restart of Limited Operations at Gemini South

Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/Chris Carter
After approximately three weeks of necessary maintenance on the facility, telescope, and instruments, Gemini South will resume limited night-time science operations in the second half of October. In mid-September 2020, the site passed the Phase 1 Readiness Reviews for minimal science operation. This represented the culmination of months of preparatory work by dozens of team members. The team’s planning prioritized the safety of staff, and of our facilities and the surrounding communities, in the face of the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, read the full press release here.

Hawai'i COVID-19 Update

Science operations continue at Gemini North. At the time of the last e-newscast, cases of COVID-19 had spiked on Hawai‘i Island, there were a significant number of cases on the Hilo (east) side and it was clear that there was widespread community spread. Since that time, the spike in cases has subsided so we have increased the day crew presence on the mountain. The current operational phase is characterized by wide variations in the day to day count of new cases, with individual spikes in two locations on the Hilo and Kona sides respectively. Because those cases are limited to specific locations/institutions, we have made no further changes in the above arrangements but are monitoring the situation daily.

The Carina Nebula Observed in Unprecedented Detail with Adaptive Optics

Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA
Acknowledgment: 
PI: Patrick Hartigan (Rice University)
Image processing: Patrick Hartigan (Rice University), Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani & Davide de Martin
Astronomers have captured the western wall of the Carina Nebula in unprecedented detail with the GSAOI instrument at Gemini South. The newly released image reveals a number of unusual structures in the nebula and is a wonderful demonstration of the effectiveness of adaptive optics. This image marks the first time that adaptive optics was used to observe this region of the nebula so every detail is a fascinating first glimpse for astronomers and the general public alike. Read the full details here.

A&G Engineering at Gemini North

Gemini North will shut down from 26-October to 13-November inclusive, to carry out essential maintenance on the Acquisition & Guiding (A&G) unit and instruments. Originally, a primary mirror coating was planned at this time, but limits on our summit staffing due to the COVID-19 pandemic preclude that. This is the second time the coating has been unavoidably postponed (it was originally scheduled for July 2019, which unfortunately coincided with the onset of protests on Maunakea) and it will be a top priority when fuller access to the summit becomes possible. Also, due to COVID restrictions, this shutdown will be carried out by a reduced crew, and has been extended by three nights as a result. In addition to a long list of maintenance tasks on the various A&G modules, we will also be replacing the GNIRS cold heads, carrying out maintenance on GMOS mechanisms, continuing to work on the Altair AO system and installing a new filter in `Alopeke.

October Fast Turnaround Call for Gemini North

Gemini North is accepting Fast Turnaround (FT) proposals, and the next deadline is at 23:59 Hawai‘i Standard Time on 31 October 2020. Successful proposals from this cycle will stay active in the Queue from December 2020 until February 2021. Please check the telescope schedule later this month for the February (2021A) schedule. The FT program has been used to conduct pilot studies, complete the observations for existing data sets, follow up newly discovered objects, and much more. Proposing teams are notified of the decisions typically within a few weeks of the deadline, and data for successful programs can be obtained as early as a week or two after that. For more details, please check the FT Call for Proposals page here: http://www.gemini.edu/observing/phase-i/ft/ft-cfp

With Gemini South preparing to resume science operations, the monthly FT call at Gemini South remains on hold until further notice. Updates will be provided on the FT News page.
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