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Dedication of Gemini Observatory's Northern Operations Centerin Hilo, Hawaii

November 18, 1998

On November 18, 1998, the Gemini Observatory Northern Operations Center at the University of Hawaii's University Park will be officially dedicated and blessed. This new 17,000+ square foot facility is the first permanent home for the Gemini Observatory's scientific, technical and administrative staff. The building will also contain the Observatory's remote access control center, instrument labs, meeting & conference facilities and will serve as a hub for Gemini's world-wide communication network that connects the seven countries participating in the Gemini Project. The building's lobby has been designed to greet visitors with exhibits that will interpret Gemini research for the public and display current scientific research done at the observatory.

The building was designed by Oda/McCarty Architects, Ltd. and constructed by Isemoto Contracting Company, Ltd. Both firms are based in Hilo. Ground was broken at the site in the University of Hawai'i University Research Park in June 1997.

Approximately 200 guests are scheduled to attend the event from as far away as the United Kingdom and South America. Participants in the ceremony will include: the Honorable Stephen Yamashiro (Mayor of the County of Hawai'i), the Honorable Mazie Hirono (Lieutenant Governor, State of Hawai`i), Dr. Rose Tseng (Chancellor, University of Hawai'i at Hilo), Dr. Robert McLaren (Interim Director, University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy), Dr. Matt Mountain (Director, Gemini Observatory), Dr. Goetz K. Oertel (President, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy), Dr. Jean-Rene Roy (Chairman - Gemini Board) and Dr. G Wayne van Citters (Staff Associate for Gemini, National Science Foundation). Father John Berger (Assistant Pastor, St. Joseph's Church) will perform the blessing and Mr. Kekoa Billena will perform a traditional Hawaiian chant prior to the untying of the Maile Lei.

Gemini Director, Dr. Matt Mountain said, "It is wonderful to have our new offices after spending so much time in temporary facilities. I'm extremely pleased with the new building and confident that it will be a great asset as we continue forward and accomplish the ambitious goals that have been set for Gemini."

The Gemini 8-meter Observatory Project is a multi-national effort that will provide two nearly identical 8-meter telescopes that can explore the sky in both optical and infrared light. To accomplish this, one telescope is located on Mauna Kea (Gemini North) and another on Cerro Pachón in northern Chile (Gemini South). It is expected that Gemini North on Mauna Kea will start collecting starlight by early 1999. Both telescopes will incorporate new technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors to collect and focus starlight, at times with even more clarity than the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Gemini 8-meter Telescope Project is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a non-profit consortium of 27 US institutions and four international affiliates. Gemini receives major funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which acts as executive agency for the international partnership. The other Gemini partners are the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Gemini is the highest priority nationally-funded astronomy project in each of the partner countries, and each contributes significant scientific, technical, and financial support.

For photographs and more details on the Gemini Observatory please access: http://www.gemini.edu