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First Gemini/Subaru Science Meeting Sets Future Directions

May 21, 2009

Figure 1. The nearly 200 participants of the Gemini/Subaru Science Conference gather in front of the clock tower building where sessions were held at Kyoto University in Japan.

Set among the beauty of Kyoto University, Japan about 200 users and staff of the Gemini and Subaru observatories and the National Gemini Offices participated in the first joint Gemini and Subaru science conference from May 18-22, 2009. The 5-day meeting provided an opportunity for participants to share a wide range of research topics spanning studies of our solar system and exoplanets to cosmology and the high redshift universe. Users also shared innovative observing techniques, unique collaborations and looked toward the future of both observatories and how they can work together to best serve our users and remain competitive. In particular, methods and procedures for coordinating the use, planning, and construction of future instruments were discussed.

The goals of the conference were to promote a mutual understanding of both communities and to highlight the international nature of modern astronomy. These goals were clearly achieved.

Key scientific topics of the conference:

  • Cosmology, Large-scale Structure and Galaxy Formation
  • Black Holes, AGN and Active Galaxies
  • Stars and Compact Objects
  • Solar System and Exoplanets
  • Star Formation and Interstellar Medium
  • Future Prospects of Subaru/Gemini

The conference concluded with the 3rd Gemini Users Meeting on Friday, May 22nd where staff updated users on issues related to doing science on Gemini and provided a forum for user input.

The meeting included the announcement that Gemini's financial participation in the Wide-field Multi-object Spectrograph (WFMOS) would not proceed as planned following the cancelation of the WMOFS Project by the Gemini Board. Details on this announcement can be found in the Gemini Board WFMOS Resolution that the Gemini Board produced during the week prior to the Kyoto conference. Gemini's Director, Doug Simons made the announcement to open the conference but emphasized the fact that future collaborations between Gemini and Subaru are still a core foundation for the two observatories. "While I'm extremely disappointed about the status of Gemini's participation in WFMOS, we are still committed to a partnership with Subaru to best serve our user communities," said Simons. A strong desire was expressed to expand the number of nights availalbe for the current Subaru-Gemini observing time sharing and for more instruments to be available through the exchange.

Additional details on the conference can be found on the conference web site.

Figure 2. Participants enjoy a tour of Jakko-in temple during a group excursion prior to the conference banquet on Wednesday, May 20, 2009.