Involving the United States, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and the Republic of Korea, the Gemini Observatory is an international partnership to provide the tools necessary to sustain cutting-edge research in the astronomical sciences. The partnership operates two 8-meter telescopes: one in the Northern Hemisphere on Maunakea, HI, and one in the Southern Hemisphere on Cerro Pachón, Chile. The twin telescopes are infrared-optimized, have superb image quality, and provide unprecedented optical and infrared coverage of the northern and southern skies. Scientific operations began on Gemini North in 2000 and on Gemini South in summer 2001.
These telescopes provide astronomers from the partnership countries with world-class observing facilities. Observing time is assigned on the basis of scientific merit. Astronomers from each partner country can apply for time on Gemini regardless of institutional affiliation and time is awarded in direct proportion to each country's contribution to the partnership.
The suite of instrumentation available on the telescopes continues to expand, offering imaging and spectroscopic capability in the optical and infrared, and Gemini also hosts a robust visitor instrument program. Gemini pioneers innovative approaches to proposing and observing, including Fast Turnaround programs (monthly deadlines); Large and Long programs (multi-year research); and Priority Visitor mode.
Each partner country has a National Gemini Office which provides support and information for users in that country. The US National Gemini Office is operated by the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), and is the gateway to the Gemini telescopes for the U.S. astronomical community.
The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc, a consortium of 47 US universities and institutions and 3 international affiliates, manages the Gemini Observatory for the international partners under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. NSF acts as the executive agency for the partnership and provides the U.S. share of funding for the operation of the Observatory.