Gemini Observatory research facility


The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1-metre diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on Earth. From their locations on mountains in Hawaii and Chile, Gemini Observatory's telescopes can access the entire sky.

The Observatory is funded and operated by an international partnership of six countries, including Canada, the United States, Chile, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. Any astronomer in these countries can apply for time on Gemini, which is allocated in proportion to each partner's financial stake. Canada has an 18% share in Gemini.

Canada's National Research Council (NRC) runs the Gemini Canada office, facilitating access for Canadian astronomers and playing an important role in collaborative research and technology development to expand the Observatory's power and reach.

Our capabilities

After more than a decade of operation, Gemini has evolved into a renewed observatory with competitive new instruments and improved responsiveness and connection to its users. Gemini offers many distinct benefits to the astronomical community:

  • Image quality – The Observatory's locations enjoy good natural seeing conditions, contributing to excellent delivered image quality.
  • Full-sky coverage – Its twin sites in Hawaii (Gemini North) and Chile (Gemini South) make it the only ground-based observatory capable of offering full-sky coverage.
  • Flexible scheduling – The Gemini observing model offers flexible scheduling, facilitating studies of transient events and targets of opportunity, and programs requiring special observing conditions.
  • Unmatched sensitivity – Silver coatings and highly optimized telescope design give the telescopes unmatched ground-based thermal infrared sensitivity on the ground.

Supplementing Gemini's established instrumentation suite, next-generation technology is being integrated into existing facilities. This includes:

  • GeMS (Gemini Multi-Conjugate AO System) a unique capability that delivers uniform near-diffraction limited images over an 85" diameter field.
  • GPI (Gemini Planet Imager) extreme adaptive optics imager and spectrometer, is now the most powerful planet finder in operation.
  • GRACES (Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph) linking Gemini to the ESPaDOnS spectrograph at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) via 270 metre-long fibres, will provide highly competitive high-resolution spectroscopy.
  • GHOST (Gemini High resolution Optical SpecTrograph) now under development by the NRC and Australian partners with expected deployment in early 2018, will have very high throughput which will give users the ability to study faint sources that might be on the borderline of feasibility with other spectrographs in comparable facilities.

Access and use

The Gemini telescopes are scheduled on a semester basis following a semi-annual call for proposals. Canadian proposals are peer reviewed by the Canadian Time Allocation Committee (TAC) and rated proposals are recommended to the Gemini Director for scheduling.

Two new proposal modes improve efficiency and flexibility:

  • Large and Long Programs (LLPs) give Canadian users access to larger blocks of time that may span multiple semesters. This system helps multi-partner teams obtain large blocks of observing time, with each participating partner allocating 20 percent of its time for a common LLP pool as proposals are reviewed together by a single international TAC.
  • The Fast Turnaround Program (FTP) is designed to reduce the time between the birth of an idea and acquiring the data. As of January 2015, monthly calls for programs enable those passing peer review to get scheduled immediately.

Canadian astronomers must use the Gemini Observatory Phase I Tool (PIT) to prepare and submit their proposals for observation time.

Call for observation proposals

The Gemini Canada office is responsible for the technical assessment of proposals, which are then reviewed and ranked by the Canadian Time Allocation Committee (CanTAC). All data obtained is subject to the normal Gemini proprietary period of 18 months.