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Indications from Gaia data release 2 are that the tip of the red giant branch (a population II standard candle related to the helium flash in low mass stars) is close to –4 in absolute I magnitude in the Cousins photometric system. Our sample is high-latitude southern stars from the thick disk and inner halo, and our result is consistent with longstanding findings from globular clusters, whose distances were calibrated with RR Lyrae stars. As the Gaia mission proceeds, there is every reason to think an accurate Galactic geometric calibration of tip of the red giant branch will be a significant outcome for the extragalactic distance scale.