If the Gemini and Subaru observatories pull off a proposed joint Wide-Field Multi-Object Spectrograph (WFMOS), the collaboration would epitomize nascent trends in astronomy toward both time-swapping and large “campaign” projects.

The observatories on Mauna Kea have dabbled in time-swapping for a couple of years. Since the beginning of last year, for example, Gemini and Keck have traded five nights a semester. The arrangement gives Keck users access to Gemini’s mid-infrared imager and spectrometer, and the Gemini community uses Keck’s high-resolution optical spectrograph. On a smaller scale, Keck and Subaru have swapped nights here and there, and, starting later this year, Gemini and Subaru plan to exchange five nights a semester.

But the WFMOS collaboration would be much more ambitious, says Gemini acting director Jean-René Roy. “Japan effectively becomes a new partner in Gemini, and Gemini becomes a new partner in Subaru. This is really a new paradigm.” The twin...

You do not currently have access to this content.