Gemini e-newscast #48

by xzhangIn this release:
Gemini Observations of Comet ISON
FLAMINGOS-2 on the Gemini South Telescope
2013B Proposal Review Complete
GMOS Mask-Making Software Update
Beta Release of Ureka IRAF + Python Distribution
Committee Reports Posted


Gemini Observations of Comet ISON

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) visits close to the Sun later this year, with predictions for good visibility in the morning sky in November and December. Astronomers Karen Meech et al. (University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy) are already using Gemini to study the comet, observing variations in brightness as layers of volatile material are released. The comet became fainter in April, which may be showing that a less active layer is now exposed after removing the volatile ice covering in its first passage from the Oort Cloud to the inner Solar System. More information and higher resolution images are available from Gemini press/image release.

GMOS North observations of comet ISON, from February 4, March 4, April 3, and May 4, 2013 (left to right; comet ISON is at center in all images). The first three are r-band; the last is g, r, i color composite.

FLAMINGOS-2 on the Gemini South Telescope

FLAMINGOS-2 was re-installed on the Gemini South telescope on June 11, following replacement of the motor that controls the multi-object spectroscopy (MOS) wheel. Additional concurrent work was done to improve the alignment of the gate valve baffle. The repaired MOS mechanism performed well in lab testing with the instrument in various positions, and it proved to be very stable. The next important step, on-sky commissioning, is scheduled to start the week of June 17.

Installation of FLAMINGOS-2 on the Gemini South telescope.


2013B Proposal Review Complete

The review of 2013B proposals is complete following the meeting of the International Time Allocation Committee. Principal Investigators should receive their reviews from the national TACs next week or sooner. With your successful proposals, look for eavesdropping opportunities, and be sure to use the latest skeletons for preparing observations in Phase II.


GMOS Mask-Making Software Update

A new version of the Gemini MOS Mask Preparation Software (GMMPS) is now available. This version contains significant changes designed to improve usability and to reduce the time needed to iterate on mask designs. The slit placement algorithm has also been improved. All users of GMMPS are encouraged to update.

Defining nod-and-shuffle masks in GMMPS version 0.402


Beta Release of Ureka IRAF + Python Distribution

The Space Telescope Science Institute and Gemini have jointly released the beta version of Ureka. This software for Mac OS X and Linux includes IRAF and associated packages for IRAF, DS9, a suite of Python scientific software packages (e.g., numpy, scipy, and matplotlib), and the usual data processing packages from STScI and Gemini. Download the installer and learn more at http://ssb.stsci.edu/ureka/ (select "1.0 beta 5"). Remember, this is a beta version so please report problems and provide feedback to: help@stsci.edu.

Committee Reports Posted

The report from the Science and Technology Advisory Committee’s (STAC’s) April 2013 meeting and resolutions from the Gemini Board’s May 2013 meeting are posted at the Gemini website (STAC report; Board resolutions). Some important topics that got attention from both groups are the implementation of Gemini Large and Long-Term Programs, the plans for the next new facility instrument, and the launching of a small project development fund, so the community can be involved in upgrading existing capabilities and helping to commission new modes.