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Gemini Observatory

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Management and Operations of the Gemini Observatory  (AURA/National Optical Astronomy Observatories)

Research Areas & Anticipated Benefits

The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8-meter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the world’s best observing sites. From their locations on mountains in Hawaii and Chile, Gemini Observatory’s telescopes can access the entire sky.

The Gemini South telescope is located at an elevation of almost 9,000 feet on a mountain in the Chilean Andes called Cerro Pachon. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini North Telescope is located on Hawaii's Mauna Kea to take advantage of the superb atmospheric conditions almost 14,000 feet into the dry, stable air of the Pacific. The Gemini Observatory's international headquarters is located at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Gemini's instrument program keeps the observatory at the cutting edge of astronomical research. Both of the Gemini telescopes have been designed to take advantage of the latest technology and thermal controls to excel in a wide variety of optical and infrared capabilities. One example of this is the unique Gemini coating chamber that uses "sputtering" technology to apply protected silver coatings on the Gemini mirrors to provide unprecedented infrared performance.

Gemini was built and is operated by a partnership of seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. Any astronomer in these countries can apply for time on Gemini, which is allocated in proportion to each partner's financial stake.

The Gemini telescopes have been integrated with modern networking technologies to allow remote operations from control rooms at the base facilities in Hilo and La Serena, Chile. With the flexibility of "Queue Scheduling" and remote participation, researchers anywhere in the Gemini partnership will be assured the best possible match between observation, instrument and observing conditions.

Education & Outreach Activities

The Gemini Observatory offers many education and outreach opportunities for the general public and for its host communities in Chile and Hawaii.

Journey Through The Universe is a flagship Gemini North outreach program that engages the entire East Hawaii community – from students, teachers and families to the public at large – with an intensive week of programming that includes workshops for teachers, classroom visits by astronomy researchers, public programs and lectures, and family science nights. At AstroDay Chile, dozens of Chilean astronomy research organizations organize a day of fun interactive activities, public events, and family learning.

The four Gemini StarLab portable planetaria provide in-school and community educational programming on astronomy, navigation, light pollution and the cultural connections between the naked-eye sky and Gemini’s host communities in Chile and Hawaii.

Using a video conferencing system, teachers can engage their classes in a live visit to the Gemini control room and learn about recent discoveries, what it is like to work on the front line of scientific research, and ask questions of an astronomer. For classrooms without video conferencing capabilities, the Gemini Virtual Tour offers an interactive CD-ROM that allows users to explore the science and facilities of the Gemini Observatory. An interactive walk-around of the observatory and an observation activity using real data and observing procedures allow users to explore the observatory in an exciting, educational virtual environment.

Gemini has also hosted conferences for women in astronomy, women in engineering, and mentoring to broaden participation in the future astronomy.

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  • Photo of Gemini Observatory at night
This composite image shows the sky over Gemini North. The 8-meter optical/infrared telescope is located on Hawaii's Mauna Kea, a long dormant volcano.
Gemini Observatory
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