AAL is currently a limited term partner in the International Gemini Partnership,giving Australian astronomers access to 7 nights/year on the two 8-metre Gemini telescopes located in Chile and Hawaii until 31 December 2017.
Previously, AAL was the managing entity for funding to give Australia full membership of the International Gemini Partnership, which gave Australian astronomers access to 6.19% of the nights available on the telescopes. This arrangement ended in December 2015, afterwhich AAL transitioned to a limited term partner. Australia previously used EIF funds to contribute towards Gemini instrumentation.
Gemini South panoramic view at twilight. Image credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA
Australian-based astronomers currently have access to 15 nights per year on these telescopes. This level of access has been secured through to the end of 2020, thanks to support from the Australian Commonwealth Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
Representation on Magellan Committees
Magellan Council (observer status): Dr Mita Brierley, AAL Program Manager
Australian Gemini Undergraduate Summer Studentship (AGUSS) recipient student Ms Courtney Jones, a 3rd year undergraduate at the University of Tasmania, on a visit to the Magellan 6.5m telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Image credit: Courtney Jones.
The Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology and AAL each have access to 15 nights per year on the Keck Telescopes until at least 2017. The twin 10-metre Keck telescopes in Hawaii are the largest optical/infrared telescopes in the world. AAL's time has been made available by the W.M. Keck Observatory via the Australian National University. The collaboration is made possible through the support of the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), via the Department of Education and Training, and an Australian Government astronomy research infrastructure grant, via the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
The Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology and AAL agreed to form the Keck Time Allocation Committee (KTAC), which is providing a single interface for Australia-based astronomers who wish to request access to the total of 45 Keck-nights available per year in 2016 and 2017. This model is designed to facilitate larger programmes and broader collaborations to maximise the scientific-return from Australia's engagement with the Keck telescopes.
AAL thanks the Australian National University and Swinburne University for their leadership in enabling the above programme. AAL has engaged the Australian Astronomical Observatory to manage and support this programme within Australia. Details for how Australian astronomers can apply for Keck time through KTAC is available from the AAO's International Telescope's Support Office.
Following the first two semesters of the KTAC process, AAL, ITSO/AAO, Swinburne and ANU representatives undertook an evaluation of the process to determine the extent to which the unified TAC is providing scientific and operational benefits. The findings were largely positive, and are described in this report dated 16th August 2016.
The 10m-diameter Keck Telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
International Telescopes Support Office (ITSO)
The International Telescope Support Office (ITSO, formerly AusGO, the Australian Gemini Office) hosted by the Australian Astronomical Observatory provides support and training to Australian-based astronomers to maximise access to, and science output from, large-aperture overseas optical telescopes, including Keck and Magellan. ITSO has also been involved with a number of outreach activities involving Australian undergraduate students, school students, amateaur astronomers and members of the public. ITSO is led by Dr Stuart Ryder.
ITSO currently receives support from the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
The winning image from the 2010 Gemini School Astronomy Contest, organised by the Australian Gemini Office, showing colliding galaxies NGC 6872 and IC 4970. Image credit: Sydney Girls High School Astronomy Club, Travis Rector (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Ángel López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Observatory/Macquarie University), and the Australian Gemini Office.