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Gemini e-Newscast #32 -- July 29, 2011

Jul 27, 2011

Legacy image of a newly-discovered planetary nebula

Gemini has released a legacy image of a planetary nebula that was recently identified by Austrian amateur astronomer Matthias Kronberger. The nebula is in the field of view that NASA's Kepler Mission is monitoring, so a sensitive lightcurve may reveal if the stellar remnant has a companion. The larger outstanding question is whether isolated stars can produce planetary nebulae, or if they only form in close binary or planetary systems.

Activity on optical spectroscopy for Gemini

Activity on the Gemini High-Resolution Optical Spectrograph (GHOS), has begun in earnest.  In response to the request for proposals issued to the community, Gemini received 7 proposals of which 2-3 will be selected to receive Gemini funding for design studies.  A committee of 5 experts, which includes representation from the US, Canada, and Australia, has been constituted and will meet on August 2nd to rank the proposals and recommend which should receive design study funding. Scot Kleinman is the Gemini Project Manager for GHOS, and Steve Margheim the Gemini Project Scientist.

Soliciting feedback on Solaris SPARC usage

Use of the Solaris operating system in astronomy has decreased significantly in the last 10 years. Therefore, Gemini is considering no longer distributing Solaris binaries for public tools such as the Phase I Tool and Observing Tool (PIT and OT) in order to simplify software development and to focus on the more widely used systems. We are soliciting feedback from users about the potential impacts of this change. If you or your institution still uses Solaris machines and requires Solaris (SPARC) versions of the PIT and OT, then please inform Bryan Miller via email by September 1, 2011. Solaris support would not end before June 2012 and any change would be announced at least four months in advance.

Completion of Viaje al Universo

With much support from the local community, we have completed the weeklong inaugural Viaje al Universo program in La Serena, Chile. The educational program is modeled after Journey Through the Universe, the flagship local outreach program at Gemini North. Talks for the general public, rocket-launching workshops, star parties, and storytelling were some of the activities during the week.