More Gemini news

Today the UK arm of the Gemini Project, based in Oxford, swung into action, sending an updating email to most professional UK astronomers, and stressing that the decision to pull out of Gemini is not yet final. Tomorrow (Nov 21st) there is a meeting of STFC Council and they are carefully declining comment until after that meeting. Watch this space.

The Oxford Gemini team have a News Page, and this has collected links to the various press reports, letters that people have written, and so forth. Pat Roche’s letter to Oxford MPs puts it pretty much how I would. Astronomy is suffering because of problems in other parts of the science programme that STFC has absorbed.

There is also a nice letter from Jim Emerson, leader of the VISTA consortium, which I trust will appear there soon.

4 Responses to More Gemini news

  1. rob ivison says:

    pat roche’s comments about the government’s lack of support for STFC, setting aside the nonsense about the gemini observatory reaching maturity, is the most sensible response i’ve seen so far. i’m surprised you considered signing the graundiad letter, Andy. i’ve also been surprised by the dishonesty (by omission of comment) of so many professional astronomers. if money needs to be saved, something has to go. if not gemini, then what? the virtual observatory? it is difficult to defend an expensive 8m telescope with a lower over-subscription rate than many (all?) 4m telescopes, and no major new instruments even commissioned, let alone in the pipeline.

  2. No major new instruments? omission and dishonesty?

    NICI, the near-infrared coronagraphic imager is in the last stages of commissioning right now. Flamingos-II, a near-infrared multi-object spectrograph, and the multi-conjugate AO system are scheduled for commissioning next year. All of these instruments are eagerly awaited by many UK astronomers. In the longer term, the Gemini Planet Imager is underway. I believe that PRVS, the precision radial velocity spectrograph aimed primarily at low-mass planet searches and with major contributions by the UKATC in Edinburgh, would have been approved last week had it not been for the threatened withdrawal by the STFC.

  3. andyxl says:

    Rob – think Northern Hemisphere !!! Your suggested replacement ?

  4. rob ivison says:

    lack of a northern 8m facility is crippling, i agree. membership of Gemini gives us limited access to Subaru/Keck, which can’t be sniffed at.

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