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Gemini e-Newscast March 2021

In This e-Newscast:

COVID-19 Update

Operations at Gemini North have continued largely unchanged, with a reduced day crew on the mountain and night crew separated into two control rooms at the Hilo Base Facility. Recently case counts on Hawai'i island began to trend upwards again and we are monitoring closely.

Vaccinations in Chile are progressing well, but at the same time the COVID-19 case counts in the Coquimbo region have steadily been going up. As a result, the authorities have declared strict quarantine measures for the area. However, this new situation is not expected to have a significant impact on the operation of the Gemini South telescope.

MAROON-X Embarks on its Exoplanet Quest

Assembling MAROON-X. Luke Gers assembles MAROON-X at Gemini North in 2019. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/A. Peck
Astronomers using the recently installed instrument MAROON-X on Gemini North have determined the mass of a transiting exoplanet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 486. As well as putting the innovative new instrument through its paces, this result, when combined with data from the TESS satellite, precisely measures key properties of a rocky planet that is ideal for follow-up observations with the next generation of ground- and space-based telescopes. See the press release here.

Gemini Observatory Archive Update

GOA was updated last week mostly for sustainability and in preparation for uploading quick-look reduction products that will be produced by DRAGONS starting later this year. There are, however, some improvements visible to the user. It is now possible to search for data related to an ADS bibliographic code as well as search for calibrations for selected files from a previous search (shown in the figure below). ADS also links directly to these searches as "Gemini" from their website (for example). See the change log for a full list of changes.

Call For Proposals 2021B

The 2021B semester Gemini Observatory Call for Proposals has been made public, along with a new version of the Phase I Tool. Details can be found here. Below are the deadlines for all the partners.

Fast Turnaround Proposals

Gemini North and South are accepting proposals for the Fast Turnaround (FT) program. As of the prior FT cycle (Feb 2021), all submitted FT proposals must be consistent with the policies of the Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP), as described in the Call for Proposals (linked below). The upcoming deadline ends at 23:59 Hawai‘i Standard Time on 31 March 2021. Successful proposals from this cycle will stay active in the Queue from May 2021 until July 2021. Please check the telescope schedule for Gemini North and South and their instrument availability for the May-June-July cycle. The FT program has been used to conduct pilot studies, complete observations for existing data sets, follow-up on newly discovered objects, and much more. Proposing teams are typically notified 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 see the FT Call for Proposals page here.

Staff Updates for Users

From left to right: Jennifer Andrews, Janice Lee, Stephen Goodsell.
Our new staff look forward to serving the user community to enable and facilitate scientific discovery on the astronomical frontier with Gemini in NOIRLab.

Jennifer Andrews, Assistant Astronomer, Gemini North
Dr. Andrews will support GNIRS and GMOS and work on all things time domain. She is interested in massive star transients, in particular core-collapse supernovae and luminous blue variable eruptions, mainly in the optical and IR. 

Janice Lee, Gemini Chief Scientist, NOIRLab HQ
Dr. Lee will work with the community to guide the scientific direction of Gemini. She and her research group study star formation, stellar clusters and associations, in nearby galaxies.

Stephen Goodsell, Head of Strategic Planning and GNAO Project Director
On 1 March 2021, Dr. Goodsell moved from the Gemini Development Group where he was the Instrument program manager to the Gemini Directorate to head the Observatory’s strategic planning and the portfolio management office. He remains interested in facility, instrumentation and adaptive optics development and exoplanet detection and characterization.

Scientific Programmer Position

NOIRLab has an immediate opening for a Scientific Programmer to work with the International Gemini Observatory primarily on DRAGONS (Data Reduction for Astronomy from Gemini Observatory North and South), a software suite to provide reliable, automatic reductions of science data. The successful candidate will join the Science User Support Division at NOIRLab and will initially be based in either Hilo, Hawai'i or La Serena, Chile. This is a fixed-term 3-year position with the possibility of extension. Please see the job ad for further details. Questions may be directed to Joanna Thomas-Osip (
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