Maunakea Scholars Awarded Observing Time at Gemini North

Maunakea Scholars Awarded Time on Gemini North

On February 3rd, Gemini awarded telescope time to two ecstatic local high school students through the Maunakea Scholars program. The Maunakea Scholars program is the first of its kind in the world, and is spearheaded by Canada-France-Hawai‘i-Telescope (CFHT). The program involves collaboration between the Maunakea observatories, high schools, and students across the state to give high school students competitive access to the world’s best telescopes on Maunakea. The students work with their teachers and mentors from the professional Hawaiian astronomy community to develop their proposals for telescope time. A time allocation panel then reviews the proposals and awards time on various Maunakea telescopes to the successful young investigators. The process is very competitive with a proposal success rate of 1 in 3, or about 33%. This year, the program awarded telescope time on Gemini, Subaru, the East Asian Observatory, and CFHT, to students from Kalani, Nānākuli, and Kapolei high schools on O‘ahu, and Waiākea and Honokaʻa high schools on Hawaiʻi Island. The East Asian Observatory (EAO), NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), and W. M. Keck Observatory will join the program for the next round of applicants.

Award ceremony at Nānākuli high school. (L-R) CFHT Director Doug Simons, Principal Darin Pilialoha, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, Jasmin Atcherson, David Lassner, Mary Beth Laychak, Jameeka Marshall.

Award ceremony at Kapolei. (L-R) front row: Kelly Blumenthal (IfA Mānoa graduate student and MK Scholars mentor), Chantelle Lopez, Ashlyn Takamiya. Back row: Nadiah Gamurot, Heather Flewellings (IfA research astronomer and MK Scholar mentor), Emily Little, CFHT Director Doug Simons, Justin Fernando, Mary Beth Laychak.

Gemini North Observing Programs

The two successful Gemini proposals both featured exoplanets. Chantelle Lopez (Kapolei) will be looking for signs of Hydrogen in the atmosphere of Gu PSC b through planetary transit spectroscopy to gain some insights as to the likelihood of there being liquid water on the planet. Jasmine Atcherson (Nānākuli) will look at a rogue planet (a planet not obviously attached to a host star) to try and determine its age and gain clues about its origin. Congratulations to Jasmine and Chantelle, the latest Gemini Maunakea Scholar awardees!


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