NOAO Currents

December 2018  •  Issue 56



Currents is a sparkplug for communication between NOAO and our community. It provides updates—and solicits community input—on NOAO observing opportunities and NOAO programs and policies on a more rapid timescale than is possible with the NOAO Newsletter.

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In this Issue…

NOAO at the January AAS Meeting

Join us in Seattle, WA for these NOAO-related events:

  • NOAO Town Hall: NOAO into the 2020s and Beyond
    Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 1:00-2:00 pm; Room 6B
  • Workshop: NEID – the New Precision Radial Velocity Spectrograph on WIYN
    Monday, 7 January 2019, 2:00-3:30 pm, Room 305
  • Workshop: The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to LEDs – Practical Solutions for Dark Sky Preservation in the LED Era
    Monday, 7 January 2019, 11:00 am-1:00 pm, Room 401
  • Movies of the Early History of KPNO and CTIO
    Monday, 7 January 2019, 5:30-6:30pm, Room 4A
  • The US Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Program Session
    Monday, 7 January 2019, 9:30-11:30 am; Room 4C-4
  • US ELT Program: GMT & TMT Open House
    Monday, 7 January 2019, 7:30-9:00 pm, Room 4C-2
  • NOAO Mini-Workshop: Resurgence of High Resolution Spectroscopy at Gemini
    Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 2:00-3:30 pm; Room 305
  • NOAO Data Lab’s “Resources for Large Surveys” in the session on Astrophysics Archives in the 2020s
    Tuesday, January 8 2019, 10:00 - 11:30 AM, Room 606
  • NOAO EPO Student Event: Einstein Schools activity on gravity and general relativity
    Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 12:00-2:00 pm; NOAO Booth
  • Gemini Observatory Open House
    Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 5:30-6:30 pm, Room 305
  • LSST Town Hall
    Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 7:30-8:30 pm, Room 6C
  • NSF Town Hall
    Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 1:00-2:00 pm, Room 6B
  • NN-Explore

    Workshop: NEID – the New Precision Radial Velocity Spectrograph on WIYN: A state-of-the-art spectrograph dedicated to high-precision Doppler observations of exoplanets around nearby stars, NEID (NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy) will be commissioned on the WIYN 3.5m telescope in early 2019 and will be available for community use beginning in the 2019B semester. A session at the AAS meeting on 7 January 2019 will describe the status and science capabilities of NEID, its queue, pipeline, archive, and utilization policies, and the NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research (NN-EXPLORE) partnership.

    The Resurgence of High-Resolution Spectroscopy at Gemini

    NOAO Mini-Workshop – “Resurgence of High-Resolution Spectroscopy at Gemini”: The US National Gemini Office (US NGO) will host a mini-workshop on Gemini high-resolution spectroscopy at the AAS meeting on 8 January 2019. The session will focus on the science opportunities made available by spectrographs spanning the optical to mid-infrared, including the visitor instruments GRACES, IGRINS, and Maroon-X, as well as the new facility optical spectrograph GHOST. Read more…

    US ELT Program News and Activities: The US Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Program aims to provide the US community with open access to significant observing time on both the Thirty Meter Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope. On 7 January 2019 at the AAS Meeting, the Program will host a session on US ELT Program Science and a GMT & TMT Joint Open House. Read more…

    Community members recently gathered in Tucson to develop and polish their TMT+GMT Key Science Program (KSP) concepts for submission in mid-December. Highlights of KSP development will be presented at the January AAS session on US ELT Program Science. Read more…

    The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to LEDs – Practical Solutions for Dark Sky Preservation in the LED Era: With communities around the world switching to light emitting diode (LED) fixtures for outdoor lighting, commonly-adopted white LEDs will increase sky glow by a factor of 2 to 4 over the widely-used high pressure sodium (HPS) standard. In this 7 January 2019 workshop, members of the AAS Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris will share practical information you can use to advocate for dark-sky friendly LED solutions in your community. Read more…

    A scene from Skies of the Andes showing the 36-inch telescope being set up outside before its dome was completed. The telescope was used for several weeks like this!

    Early History of KPNO and CTIO on Film: At the January AAS meeting, John Glaspey (NOAO) and Sharon Hunt (NOAO) will present an iPoster describing several movies made in the 1970s that highlight the Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololo observatories. The movies were made by John Lutnes of KPNO, with the longest movie running just under 30 minutes. The iPoster will link to a mini version made from clips taken from the movies. Links to the full-length version will eventually be added to the NOAO Library web site. The featured titles include Skies of the Andes, Stars, Galaxies and the Southern Skies, and Journey Into Light.

    Join the TMT International Science Development Teams: The annual call for new members of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Science Development Teams (ISDTs) is now open. The ISDTs involve astronomers worldwide in scientific planning to help shape the observatory’s capabilities, operations plan, and future directions. Membership is open to all PhD scientists. Applications are due by 8 February 2019. Read more…

    Extremely Big Eyes on the Early Universe

    Meeting Announcement – “Extremely Big Eyes on the Early Universe”: Registration is now open for the second of a three-part international conference series that will review the current state of the art in studying the high redshift universe and discuss how to best use giant telescopes to go beyond. The 25-29 March 2019 event, to be held at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe in Tokyo, has a registration deadline of 31 December 2018. Read more…

    Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer

    Meeting Announcement – “Massively multiplexed spectroscopy with MSE: Science, Project and Vision”: The US community is invited to a meeting on the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE), a proposed 11.5-m wide-field spectroscopic survey telescope that is beginning its Preliminary Design phase. The meeting, to be held in Tucson 26-28 Feb 2019, is hosted by NOAO in collaboration with the MSE Project and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). Interested astronomers are encouraged to help define the MSE Design Reference Surveys and to explore the ability of MSE to address 2020 Decadal science priorities. Visit the meeting web page for more information, and to register.

    NOAO in the News:

    NSF Funds “Windows on the Universe Center for Astronomy Outreach” at KPNO:
    A new $4.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will fund the development of a new center for astronomy outreach at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Located in the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope facility, an iconic structure that was once the world’s largest solar observatory, the center will provide the public with a new way to experience the cutting-edge research being carried out at Kitt Peak and NSF’s other astronomy facilities around the globe, including ground-based optical, radio, solar, and gravitational wave facilities.

    View the Trailer Video and read more in the NOAO Press Release.

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    Contact Us

    Did something interesting, inspiring, or surprising happen on a recent observing run? Please tell us about it! Is there a topic that you would like to see covered in a future Currents? If you are planning a regional astronomy meeting or department internal symposium, would you like someone from NOAO to give a presentation on our new program? Please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you!

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    In this Issue

    Currents is a sparkplug for communication between NOAO and our community. It provides updates—and solicits community input—on NOAO observing opportunities and NOAO programs and policies on a more rapid timescale than is possible with the NOAO Newsletter.

    NOAO is the national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

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