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Faculty members in Physics at UESC are members of International Observatories.

The Gemini Astronomical Observatory, located in Chile, is part of an international consortium formed by the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, and the University of Hawaii. Its establishment dates back to the late 20th century, with the first telescope, Gemini North, inaugurated in 1999 in Hawaii, and the second, Gemini South, in 2000 in Chile.

The Governing Council of the Gemini Observatory is supported by advisory committees for its operational activities. Dr. Henri Michel Pierre Plana, Full Professor at UESC in the Graduate Program in Physics (PROFÍSICA), is a member of one of these committees, representing Brazil. These committees meet twice a year, alternating between Hawaii and Chile.

On November 13-14, 2023, Prof. Henri Plana, a member of the Gemini Observatory's Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC), attended the committee's 2nd Semiannual Meeting of the year in La Serena, Chile.

Photo: Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Author: Henri Plana (UESC-PROFÍSICA).

Upon arrival in Chile, Prof. Henri had the opportunity to visit the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, another astronomical observatory in the region. Additionally, he caught sight of a future observatory named "Vera Rubin," highlighting the dynamic and ongoing expansion of cosmos exploration by astronomers from different countries.

Photo: 2nd Semiannual Meeting of the 2023 STAC - Science and Technology Advisory Committee, a hybrid event.

Author: Henri Plana (UESC-PROFÍSICA).

Prof. Henri's involvement in the Gemini STAC Committee reflects his active participation, and consequently that of PROFÍSICA's Graduate Program in Physics (PROFÍSICA) and UESC, in decisions regarding high-importance scientific instruments and issues for the global astronomical community.

Foto: 2a Reunião Semestral de 2023 da Comissão STAC - Science and Technology Advisory Committee, integrante do Observatório Gemini que se deu de forma híbrida. Autor: Henri Plana (UESC-PROFISICA).

For undergraduate and graduate students in physics at UESC, this proximity to experienced professors actively engaged in international committees opens windows to enriching opportunities and global perspectives for their careers.

It also offers an opportunity for students from other universities in Brazil and Latin America who are interested in establishing scientific collaborations with physicists from UESC, through either Scientific Initiation Projects (IC) or more advanced research projects.

Science, as illustrated by the Gemini Observatory, thrives when connecting leading professionals beyond borders.

Photo: Record of one of the operations rooms at Gemini.

But how does the Gemini Astronomical Observatory function?

Gemini comprises two 8-meter telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile. An intriguing fact is that Gemini telescopes are twins, built simultaneously to ensure symmetry in observational capabilities across both hemispheres.

Photo: The two Gemini telescopes, one located in Hawaii (left) and the other in Chile (right). Credit:

Mas como funciona o Observatório Astronômico Gemini?

O Gemini possui dois telescópios de 8m, localizados em Hawaii e no Chile. Uma curiosidade intrigante é que os telescópios Gemini são gêmeos, construídos simultaneamente para garantir simetria nas capacidades observacionais nos dois hemisférios.

Photo: The two Gemini telescopes, one located in Hawaii (left) and the other in Chile (right). Credit:

What is the utility of an astronomical observatory?

The utility of an observatory like Gemini for society is multifaceted. Firstly, it plays a crucial role in advanced astronomical research, providing astronomers with a clear view of the celestial northern and southern hemispheres. This observational capability spans from exploring planets and stars to understanding distant cosmic phenomena.

Furthermore, Gemini contributes to the education and training of scientists by facilitating observation programs and international collaborations. Its presence in Chile and Hawaii also fosters local development by generating jobs and promoting scientific education in the region.

One could say that the Gemini Observatory represents a window to the universe, promoting the understanding of the cosmos and enriching society with discoveries and knowledge that transcend borders.

Faculty and students from PROFÍSICA are already well-known in observatories within and outside Brazil.

Astrophysicists from UESC have a globally relevant research trajectory that includes:

  • Participation in International Committees: Since 2009, at least three of our faculty members have been part of national or international committees alongside the National Laboratory for Astrophysics (LNA), involving major International Astronomical Observatories. Currently, as mentioned earlier, Dr. Henri Plana at Gemini (International Gemini Observatory) and Dr. André Luis Batista Ribeiro at SOAR (Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope).

  • Scientific Collaborations with Other Countries: 134 institutes worldwide in 24 countries, such as Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Scotland, France, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, to name a few.

Image: André Ribeiro, Coordinator of the PROFÍSICA Graduate Program at UESC, participating in the Biannual Meeting of the Brazilian Time Allocation Committee for the SOAR Telescope (Chile) to distribute observation time among projects submitted for approval.

Another example of the relevance of the actions of astrophysicists and professors from the Graduate Program in Physics (PROFÍSICA) at UESC in these international research groups, were the articles published by Gemini Edu and Space Today (Dr. Sérgio Sacani) about a research project conducted with Gemini data, led by Dr. Leandro Kerber (PROFÍSICA-UESC). According to Dr. Sérgio Sacani, this work was "(...) another work done by Brazilians, a work of super prominence, a work super important for the understanding of the galaxy (...)."

Photo: Dr. Leandro Kerber at the SOAR Observatory.

For several years, undergraduate and graduate students inclined towards astrophysics have been participating in visits to astronomical observatories in Brazil, such as the "Pico dos Dias" Observatory located in Brasópolis (MG), the Valongo Observatory in Rio de Janeiro, and the Antares Observatory in Feira de Santana (BA).

The main objective of these technical visits is to provide students with a comprehensive experience in observational astronomy, where they can learn about the development of astronomical instrumentation by LNA, the instrumentation installed in telescopes, and engage in observations and analyses of stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies.

In addition, the Astrophysics Laboratory at UESC (LATO) conducts scientific outreach and extension activities through the UESC Astronomical Observatory (OAU), which is open to the population of Southern Bahia.

Photos: Technical visits to the Pico dos Dias Observatory, Brasópolis (MG). Credits: Leandro Kerber and archive: PROFÍSICA-UESC.

You can learn details about how these technical visits take place by watching the "Astrophysical Chat: Behind the Scenes of an Astronomical Observation at the Pico dos Dias Observatory" available on the Live Physics Journey Platform.

Register, watch, and still receive a certificate, all for free until September 2024, at:

For more information about the graduate program in Physics at UESC:

Dr. André Luis Batista Ribeiro, Coordinator of the Academic Master's Program in Physics at UESC, PROFÍSICA -

For inquiries to Dr. Henri Plana regarding this matter, proposals for scientific initiation, or partnerships in more advanced research:

Did you find the information provided here helpful? Did it contribute to your studies or research?

Related topics:

Articles on research led by Astrophysicist Dr. Leandro Kerber, Professor at the PROFÍSICA Graduate Program at UESC: Gemini Article.

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First Master's dissertation defended with SIFS data (SOAR Telescope) is from UESC

Testimonial from Astrophysicist Dr. Raquel Santiago Nascimento



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