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Gemini e-Newscast #102

December 19, 2017

In This e-Newscast:

An “Oddball” Visitor and a VERY Distant Black Hole

Several high-profile Gemini science results splashed across headlines over the past month. One featured key observations of ‘Oumuamua, the mysterious object from beyond our Solar System and another finding characterized a supermassive black hole fueling a quasar which shone only about 690 million years after the Big Bang. Learn more at the Gemini press releases listed on our News Archive.

First GeMS Run with the TOPTICA Laser

December brought with it the first full science block with GeMS and the new TOPTICA Phototronics laser. This science run followed the successful laser commissioning block completed in October.

The science run, from December 4th - 9th, provided clear signs that the Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System (GeMS) will be well (and reliably) supported by the TOPTICA laser. Superb data resulted from the run - in fact one of the nights was considered by GeMS instrument scientist Gaetano Sivo as the best GeMS night ever! During this period there were no loop losses, the natural seeing was great, Airy rings were visible in raw frames, and, at times the system delivered sub-80-milliarcsecond images in the J band (where excellent AO performance is more difficult to obtain). The TOPTICA laser proved straightforward to operate and we look forward to smooth laser operations in the future.
Propagation of Gemini South TOPTICA Phototronics laser during commissioning. Photo Credit: Ariel López, GS Science Operation Specialist Group Manager

‘Alopeke Commissioning Update

The images below illustrate the remarkable progress on ‘Alopeke, the visiting differential speckle imaging camera on Gemini North. For more details on this instrument and opportunities to use it, see the upcoming (January) issue of GeminiFocus and future stories in these monthly e-newscasts.
A 19-arcsecond field in the globular cluster M15, imaged in half a minute with `Alopeke at 832 nm. The stacked raw frame (left) has seeing approximately 1 arcsecond and significant elongation due to windshake. Point sources in the reconstructed image (right) have FWHM approximately 0.15 arcseconds. These commissioning data cover the central quarter of the `Alopeke field, but the technique should be extensible to the full field also.

Visit Us at the January AAS Meeting

Gemini is offering personalized help to participants at the the upcoming January American Astronomical Society meeting in Maryland. If you have Gemini data; a Gemini program; or even a vague idea for a project appropriate for an 8-meter telescope come visit the Gemini booth at any time during the Exhibit Hall hours (except during the Gemini Open House, see below).

Also, if you are using Gemini data in your AAS talk or poster, please let us know!  We’ll be happy to announce your presentation in our exhibit booth and on our Facebook feed. Contact us at with the presentation number and date, and we’ll help you get the word out.

Last but not least, join us at the Gemini AAS Open House on Tuesday January 9th from 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm in the Chesapeake H room. Featured topics will include a brief “State of the Observatory” presentation and opportunities for questions and discussion with staff and management. Come mingle with us, we are looking forward to seeing you in National Harbor!!
Gemini booth at the 2017 January AAS meeting.

Gemini Science Meeting Registration Coming Soon!

Early registration opens on January 4th for the Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory 2018 conference! This meeting is scheduled for July 22nd - 26th and features San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf as a backdrop. Learn more about this exciting opportunity to be a part of Gemini’s future by visiting the conference website.

Gen 4#3 Update

On December 11th, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Gemini Observatory appointed Dr. Alexander van der Horst of George Washington University as the Interim Principal Investigator (PI) for Gen 4#3 (referenced as OCTOCAM), a next-generation astronomical instrument designed for the 8-meter Gemini South telescope in Chile. SwRI is the prime contractor with Gemini for the instrument.

This appointment follows the departure of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (IAA-CSIC) from the project. IAA-CSIC had originally provided the PI and Deputy Project Manager roles through their subcontract with SwRI.

“Dr. van der Horst will continue to serve as the instrument’s Project Scientist while the team brings a new Principal Investigator on board in early 2018,” said Dr. Scot Kleinman, Associate Director of Development at Gemini Observatory. “We remain grateful to the previous PI, Dr. Antonio de Ugarte Postigo, for leading the project from its inception up to this point and to Dr. Christina Thöne for her contributions as the Deputy Project Manager. We greatly appreciate Dr. van der Horst’s stepping up to lead the development team as we continue to bring this broadly capable instrument to Gemini on schedule.”

The Gen 4#3 instrument is a unique, multichannel imager and spectrograph that will provide rapid exposures of high-resolution images and moderate-resolution spectra simultaneously from ultraviolet to infrared wavelengths. The team expects to deliver the instrument to the Gemini South telescope in 2022.

If you have further questions on this announcement please contact:
Stephen Goodsell: sgoodsell”at”
Scot Kleinman: skleinman”at”
Laura Ferrarese: lferrarese”at”

Gemini Observatory holds Hilo’s Second Astronomy on Tap Event

Gemini Observatory held Hawaii’s second Astronomy on Tap event at Hilo Town Tavern on Wednesday, December 6th. The event is based on similar events around the world that bring astronomy to pubs and bars. Started 2012 in New York City by current Gemini astronomer, Meg Schwamb, more than 15 cities have begun hosting Astronomy on Tap events, including sites in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands.

The event featured the following short talks by astronomers from both Gemini Observatory and the East Asian Observatory with special guest host Mimi Fuchs (from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Submillimeter Array)
Gemini Observatory’s Trent Dupuy shares his presentation entitled “How Adaptive Optics Forever Changed Astronomy” during the recent Astronomy on Tap event in Hilo, HI.
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