Gemini: Australia’s 8m Eye on the Universe
 
(left) The southern Gemini 8m telescope on Cerro Pachon in Chile.
(right) Inside the Gemini South dome, with the telescope looking skyward.

In 2001, the School of Physics became host to the Australian Gemini Project Office. This was a result of Professor Warrick Couch, from the Department of Astrophysics, being appointed to the position of Australian Gemini Project Scientist.

The Office, under the management of the Project Scientist, is responsible for overseeing and coordinating Australia’s involvement in the International Gemini Project – a collaboration between the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Australia to build and operate twin 8-metre optical/infrared telescopes: one on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the other on Cerro Pachon in Chile. These telescopes are designed to provide sub-tenth of an arcsecond imagery (achievable up until now only from space) through the combination of being located at superb sites and the use of state-of-the-art adaptive optics techniques. The telescopes are also optimised for superior infrared performance. As such, they will be at the scientific forefront in tackling a diversity of astrophysical problems ranging from planetary and stellar studies to galactic star formation in the very early universe.

The importance of Gemini to the Australian astronomical community and the opportunities it brings to build the high-tech, multi-million dollar instruments that are planned for the telescopes, was recognised by the Australian Government in 2001 when it awarded $14.9 million from its Major National Research Facilties Fund to increase Australian access to Gemini. The Australian Gemini Office is now heavily involved in the process of negotiating this increase, with the goal of ultimately doubling the ~18 nights per year that Australian astronomers currently enjoy on each of the Gemini telescopes.

Warrick Couch

 

 

[ Search | School Information | Courses | Research | Graduate | Resources | Physics ! ]
[ Physics Main Page | Faculty of Science | UNSW Main Page ]
© School of Physics - The University of New South Wales - Sydney Australia 2052
Site comments
CRICOS Provider Code - 00098G