Gemini South Dedication

January 18, 2002, Cerro Pachón, Chile

Notable Quotes

From the International Gemini Observatory Office:

"About a month ago, we reached a milestone when both Gemini North and Gemini South made observations at the same time but in parts of the sky inaccessible to each other," said Gemini Director Dr. Matt Mountain. "Today's dedication celebrates a decade of work by hundreds of people to build these two telescopes that have now become one observatory."

From Gemini Funding Organization Representatives:

US: Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of the United States National Science Foundation, said "International ventures such as the Gemini telescopes project are vital to scientific progress. Now, more than ever, we need these efforts that transcend national boundaries and cultural divides."

UK: Ian Halliday, PPARC Chief Executive, said, "This is a significant day for the Gemini telescopes and for the entire UK astronomy community. Britain is the second largest partner in the 7-country Gemini consortium. By taking a leading role in such international projects PPARC ensures that UK scientists have access to world-class facilities, enabling them to participate at the frontier of global astronomy research and discovery."

Canada: "There is no doubt that through its success the Gemini Consortium is paving the way for future world collaborations that reach across the hemispheres and beyond the interests of single nations and regional interests," said Dr. Arthur Carty, President of the NRC. "We are most fortunate to have this vehicle to encourage peaceful international cooperation, to contribute to an enterprise of global benefit, and to help point the way toward a better world."

Australia: "On behalf of the Australian Research Council we congratulate the entire team involved in bringing Gemini South to the stage seen at this Dedication Ceremony," said Dr. Gary Da Costa, on behalf of Peter Wills (ARC Chair) and Vicki Sara (ARC Executive Officer). "Membership of the Gemini Project is the highest priority in Australian optical/infrared astronomy, and we are delighted to see the southern telescope becoming available for research so swiftly and so smoothly. Astronomy is a well supported and very popular field of research in Australia, and there is tremendous community interest in the development of Gemini, including the stunning early images obtained with the facilities. Astronomy is also one of the truly internationalised sciences. The Australian Research Council values greatly the opportunity for international co-operation with our sister agencies in the Gemini partner countries, and looks forward to participating with them in the further development of Gemini and other international facilities."

Brazil: Dr. Albert Bruch, Director of the Laboratorio Nacional de Astrofisica/Ministerio da Ciencia e Tecnologia, Brazilian Project Manager and Coordinator of the National Gemini Support Committee remarked that "With the beginning of the operations of the Gemini South Telescope, Brazilian observational astronomy starts a new phase. With the two Gemini telescopes localized in north and south hemispheres - thus allowing whole-sky observations - Brazilian astronomers have, for the first time, guarateed access to modern and highly competitive telescopes among the largest in the world. In this sense, the Gemini South Telescope, which is just about to begin its scientific operations phase, will probably become even more important than the Gemini North Telescope itself, which has been operating since 2000, because the astronomical objects that have been studied by the researchers in this country are traditionally more concentrated in the southern hemisphere than in the northern one. There is no doubt in the astronomical community that the research that will be conducted with this telescope in the future is of maximum importance for the development of the Brazilian astronomy, raising it to new levels."

Brazil: Dr. Esper Cavalheiro, President of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientmfico e Tecnolsgico remarked, "When Brazil became a partner with Gemini in 1993 and SOAR Project in 1995 it took two giant steps forward and entered the age of observation and instrumentation with large telescopes. These projects have not only given Brazilian scientists a valuable opportunity to interact with partners who are actively involved in using the most advanced instrumentation, but also it opened up prospects regarding the development of the better quality astronomical instruments. The National Research Council from Brazil gives such importance to this field of scientific research that it has begun to support a project that we call the 'Millennium Institute for the Evolution of Stars and Galaxies in the Era of Large Telescopes'. Involving more than 80% of Brazil's astronomers and 17 research institutes. The purpose of the project is to train and qualify staff in the field of astronomy while also developing equipment and instruments with a view to taking part in observational projects using the SOAR and GEMINI telescopes. Astronomy discoveries have always had a powerful impact on society since the days of Copernico and have helped to shape views of the modern world that are still current today. Similarly by spreading astronomical knowledge we play a key role in disseminating scientific knowledge and finally in educating the public about science".

From other affiliated organizations:

NOAO: "Getting to this point has been a dream for U.S. researchers for two decades, before we ever formed the Gemini partnership," said Jeremy Mould, director of the NSF's National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, AZ, home of the U.S. Gemini Program. "Now that both of the twin telescopes have begun operations, astronomers throughout the United States will have access to a unique 8-meter resource, no matter what institution they're affiliated with. At NOAO, we're particularly pleased to see Gemini building on the infrastructure and heritage our pioneers have built into the NSF's Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory."

CTIO: "This new state of the art telescope, Gemini South, represents the pinnacle of a powerful and unique group of telescopes that are located in the AURA observatory", says Dr. Malcolm Smith, AURA representative in Chile. "This group will perform as the lenses of a professional photographer - with its two new telephoto lenses (Gemini, SOAR in Cerro Pachon) combined with a wide-angle lens (Victor M. Blanco Telescope on Cerro Tololo)."

From Gemini Science Users:

US: "With Gemini’s fantastic resolution and light gathering power, we are now able to study dusty protoplanetary disks in remarkable detail, to trace the first steps of planetary birth. Our observations at Gemini utilized a technology called adaptive optics that removes distortions caused by turbulence in our atmosphere," reported Dr. Ray Jayawardhana of the University of California, Berkeley at the 199th American Astronomical Society Conference in Washington DC in early January, 2002.

US: "I hope to be granted time on Gemini to observe the conditions at the core of our Milky Way, because Gemini is so well equipped to observe in the infrared and penetrate the clouds of gas and dust that obscure our view in optical light," said Nigel Sharp, an NOAO astronomer.

UK: Dr. Patrick Roche [UK Gemini Project Scientist at Oxford University], commented, "My colleague Dr Philip Lucas [University of Hertfordshire] and I have been fortunate to receive some of the early infrared images of star fields in Orion, which reach deeper than any other previous observations of the region and reveal many new and interesting structures in unprecedented detail. These and other data demonstrate that both Gemini telescopes meet their design requirements, delivering high sensitivity and exquisite image quality. We now look forward to a long and productive phase of scientific exploration."

UK: A further taster of discoveries to come from Gemini South was recently seen from its twin on Hawaii when it achieved a spectacular image dubbed 'the perfect spiral galaxy’ using an instrument called GMOS [Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph]. The dramatic image clearly demonstrated the power of Gemini’s massive 8-metre light gathering mirror coupled with the 24 million ultra-sensitive pixel array of GMOS to capture beautiful astronomical phenomena. The UK’s Astronomy Technology Centre [ATC], Durham University, and Canadian colleagues built the GMOS instrument. "GMOS is one of the most significant scientific instruments ever built by the ATC," said Dr Adrian Russell, ATC Director, "and we are well advanced in building a twin for Gemini South, where we can expect similar exciting discoveries to come from the southern skies."

Canada: "As soon as we saw the first short-exposure images, we knew that the Gemini data would allow us to probe the stellar content near the central regions of this galaxy, and tackle a long-standing astrophysical problem", said Dr. Tim Davidge of NRC's HIA. "Gemini's incredible resolution made this work possible."

Canada: "The Gemini telescopes allow you to work out there on the frontiers", said Dr. David Hanes of Queens University. "The most exciting research is done at the very limits of our capabilities and winning observing time on one of these superb telescopes is a great thrill."

Brazil: "The Gemini Telescopes are fruitful even before we obtain the data", says Dr. Augusto Damineli Neto of the Instituto Astronomico e Geofisico of the Universidade de Sao Paulo. "Ph.D. students which are involved with projects submitted to Gemini are very excited about the precious experience in advanced techniques and international contacts made possible by Gemini."

Brazil: "Brazilian Astronomy has grown a lot during the last two decades, notably above the average Brazilian science growth. The Gemini South dedication marks the beginning of a new phase, when Brazilian astronomers have instruments that allow them to have equal conditions to those of the leading countries in the area. The perspective of a new and vigorous growth of the research in Astronomy and, consequently, that of Brazil assumes a more important position in the worldwide scenario, is very promising", says Dr. Raymundo Baptista of the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.

Brazil: Dr. Thaisa Bergmann of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul comments that "We anticipate fascinating scientific results, which go from the discovery of new planets in Via Lactea, new galaxy nuclei studies and their black holes, to the unveiling of the galaxies formation process in the farthest regions of the Universe, when it was still in its infancy".

Peter Michaud / / January 30, 2002