NRC Herzberg News/Nouvelles du CNRC Herzberg

By/par Dennis Crabtree (NRC-Herzberg)
with contributions from/avec des contributions de David Bohlender, Greg Burley, Alan McConnachie, and Dmitry Monin

(Cassiopeia – Autumn/Automne 2015)

La version française suit

These reports will appear in each issue of E-Cass with the goal of informing the Canadian astronomical community on the activities at NRC Herzberg. Feedback is welcome from community members about how NRC Herzberg is doing in fulfilling our mandate to “operate and administer any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada” (NRC Act).

General News

A BC-registered non-profit organization, Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Society, has been formed. The main purposes of this new organization are to “promote interest and awareness of the DAO” and to restart the public education and outreach activities provided by the Centre of the Universe which NRC Herzberg closed in 2013 due to budget limitations. The organization has a website (Friends of the DAO) and is also on Facebook (

DAO Telescopes

The venerable DAO 1.2-m and 1.8-m telescopes continue to operate on every clear night in Victoria and we encourage new users and especially students to consider applying for time. The telescopes are scheduled on a quarterly basis with proposal deadlines nominally one month prior to the start of each calendar quarter.

Robotic operations are proving to be very popular on the 1.2-m telescope with typically 60% of the nights scheduled for automatic operation. While this telescope has no imaging capabilities, its McKellar spectrograph offers a large number of grating and camera configurations to provide spectra with dispersions between 2.4 and 40.9 Å/mm. Wavelength coverage is limited by the SITe-4 CCD’s 60 mm length. In good conditions during robotic nights we regularly obtain spectra for objects as faint as V = 11, mainly for radial velocity measurements using a cross-correlation analysis. Re-aluminizing of the primary mirror will take place in September.

Now in its 97th year of operation the 1.8-m Plaskett telescope offers users imaging, spectroscopy and spectropolarimetric capabilities. Spectroscopic programs (with a choice of dispersions between 10 and 120 Å/mm) continue to be most popular with the telescope but for several years about 20% of the time has been allocated to programs that use the dimaPol polarimeter module. This provides circular polarization measurements of a 300 Å region entered on the H-beta line and is being used to search for new magnetic upper main sequence stars as a complement to large programs being executed at the CFHT and other observatories. Imaging at the modified Newtonian focus is also possible and the dedicated E2V-1 CCD provides a 23.9’ x 10.6’ field of view. Contract observing services are available to applicants if preferred; this can provide insurance against long stretches of bad weather, especially in the winter months, since you are billed only for useful observing hours.

Given the success of the 1.2-m telescope automation our most recent DAO development efforts are concentrating on upgrades of the Plaskett telescope, dome and control software to eventually enable similar robotic operation of the 1.8-m telescope and spectrograph or imager. A new telescope control system has been released, the dome shutter and wind curtains are now controlled through the network, a rain sensor is in operation, and an updated absolute encoder has been installed on the RA axis to greatly improve telescope tracking. We anticipate installing new limit and horizon switches in the coming months; unlike the 1.2-m we have the extra complication of having to avoid collisions of the 1.8-m telescope with the pier or dome! Once this critical protection is installed and a number of other pieces are in place we will begin testing automated (but supervised) observations during the next several semesters.

Please feel free to contact David Bohlender ( or Dmitry Monin ( at NRC Herzberg for further information.

Gemini GHOST Spectrograph

The GHOST project is a partnership with AAO, ANU, NRC and Gemini to design and build a high-resolution, fiber-fed spectrograph for Gemini South. The project lead – the AAO – are developing the fiber feed and fiber injection optics, ANU are providing the software, and NRC are developing the bench spectrograph and thermal enclosure. GHOST has been under intensive development and is currently nearing the end of its design phase.

The instrument includes a dual fiber feed for resolutions of 75,000 (high-resolution mode) and 50,000 (low-resolution mode). The wavelength range is from 363nm to 950nm, with the blue/red crossover at 535nm. The entire optical spectrum is obtained in a single observation. The bench spectrograph is a based on a high-efficiency echelle grating with VPH cross-dispersers. It is a dual beam (Red + Blue) optical design, with two independently operated CCD detectors to ensure high throughput across the full wavelength range.

For best instrument stability, the bench spectrograph is located in the telescope pier lab, and is housed in a temperature stabilized thermal enclosure. Although not optimized for precision radial velocities, it is expected that a radial velocity precision of a few m/s will be possible with GHOST.

Figure 1 - CAD drawing of GHOST optical bench layout

Figure 1 – CAD drawing of GHOST optical bench layout

In the design and development phase, NRC engineers have been creating the optical design and opto-mechanical layout, designing and prototyping the detector system, and working on the enclosure concept and design. Critical and final design reviews are scheduled for the end of 2015/first quarter of 2016, and first light is expected to be in early 2018.

Montreal-Ohio-Victoria Echelle Spectrograph (MOVIES)

The Montreal-Ohio-VIctoria Echelle Spectrograph (MOVIES) is a collaboration between NRC, Université de Montréal and Ohio State University, and was one of 4 feasibility studies chosen through a competitive selection process for a 6 month, CAD100K study, as part of the process initiated by Gemini to design a new “Generation 4″ instrument. The Feasibility Study Report was submitted to Gemini on August 24, 2015.

MOVIES is a broad bandwidth, moderate resolution (R3 – 10K) dual arm optical and near infrared (NIR) échelle spectrograph that simultaneously covers 0.36 – 2.45μm. It is supported by a rapid acquisition camera operating simultaneously in two optical and one NIR bands. MOVIES is designed for obtaining spectra of the faint Universe with high throughput, high efficiency and high reliability.

An essential and defining characteristic of MOVIES is that it will capitalize on Gemini’s “target of opportunity” mode. MOVIES will acquire targets (including starting the acquisition exposure, reading out the images, identifying the target, centering and verifying the object in the slit, switching to guiding mode and starting the science exposure) within 90 seconds. The acquisition and guiding cameras have large fields of view (3 x 3 arcmins) to ensure good sky coverage, to facilitate precise astrometry, and to enable blind acquisition when necessary. Two optical and one near-infrared acquisition images are obtained simultaneously, to easily acquire targets with an unknown spectral distribution. Further, they are designed to be used as simultaneous multi-band imagers to obtain “one-shot color-color diagrams”, and they are an important science imaging capability in their own right.

High throughput is achieved by the dual-arm design, where optimized optics in each arm and VPH gratings minimize light loss. The design has been developed to allow for a minimum number of optical elements per arm. Detectors optimized for broad wavelength ranges in the optical and NIR are used with coatings that further enhance their efficiency. For the optical arm, an option is included of using a large format electron multiplying CCD as the primary science detector; when used in EM-mode (large gain), these detectors allow for a very significant increase in observing efficiency obtained relative to normal CCDs for faint targets.

Figure 2 - Schematic of the MOVIES spectrograph

Figure 2 – Schematic of the MOVIES spectrograph

Further, zero-read noise in these detectors gives the option of temporal and spectral binning post-processing at potentially extremely high (hertz) cadence, opening up a new domain of high cadence optical spectroscopy for energetic, variable and/or transient observations. MOVIES will be reviewed by Gemini at the end of September. For more information on any aspect of MOVIES, Canadian contacts include:

Lead (NRC): Alan McConnachie (, Lead (UdM): René Doyon (, Leslie Saddlemyer (, Olivier Hernandez (, and Étienne Artigau (artigau@ASTRO.UMontreal.CA).

Les rubriques qui suivent reviendront dans chaque numéro du bulletin et ont pour but de tenir les astronomes canadiens au courant des activités de CNRC Herzberg. Les commentaires des astronomes sur la manière dont CNRC Herzberg accomplit sa mission, c’est-à-dire « assurer le fonctionnement et la gestion des observatoires astronomiques mis sur pied ou exploités par l’État canadien » (Loi sur le CNRC), sont les bienvenus.


Un organisme sans but lucratif enregistré en C.-B. a vu le jour sous l’appellation Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Society. Cet organisme a pour buts principaux de faire connaître l’Observatoire fédéral d’astrophysique (OFA) et de rehausser l’intérêt qu’on lui porte. Il relancera les activités de vulgarisation publiques au Centre de l’univers dont le CNRC avait dû fermer les portes en 2013 faute de fonds. La société possède un site Web (Friends of the DAO) et une page Facebook (

Les télescopes de l’OFA

Les vénérables télescopes de 1,2 m et de 1,8 m de l’OFA continuent d’explorer le firmament chaque nuit quand le ciel est dégagé, à Victoria, et nous encourageons les nouveaux utilisateurs, les étudiants surtout, à solliciter du temps d’observation. Le calendrier des télescopes est établi trimestriellement, les astronomes ayant jusqu’à un mois avant le début du trimestre pour soumettre leurs demandes.

La robotique est en vogue au télescope de 1,2 m, où 60 % des nuits sont typiquement consacrées aux observations automatiques. Bien que l’instrument ne soit pas doté d’un imageur, son spectrographe autorise de nombreuses configurations de réseau et d’appareil photo de manière à restituer un spectre dont la dispersion varie de 2,4 à 40,9 Å/mm. La longueur du DCC de SITe-4 (60 mm) limite toutefois les longueurs d’onde couvertes. Quand les conditions sont bonnes, les observations automatisées restituent régulièrement le spectre d’objets d’une luminosité aussi faible que V = 11, ce qui permet essentiellement de calculer la vitesse radiale par corrélation croisée. Le miroir principal du télescope recevra un nouveau revêtement d’aluminium en septembre.

Exploité depuis 97 ans, le télescope Plaskett de 1,8 m propose des services d’imagerie, de spectroscopie et de spectropolarimétrie. Les programmes spectroscopiques (dispersion de 10 à 120 Å/mm) demeurent les plus populaires, mais depuis plusieurs années, on alloue 20% du temps d’observation environ aux programmes qui recourent au polarimètre dimaPol. Ce module permet d’établir la polarisation circulaire d’une zone de 300 Å centrée sur la raie H-bêta; on s’en sert pour chercher le champ magnétique de nouvelles étoiles dans le haut de la séquence principale en complément aux grands programmes poursuivis au CFHT et dans d’autres observatoires. Le télescope autorise aussi la prise d’images au foyer de type newtonien modifié, tandis que le DCC dédié de l’E2V-1 offre un champ de vision de 23,9 pi x 10,6 pi. Les astronomes qui le préfèrent peuvent conclure une entente afin de réserver du temps d’observation. Pareille entente sert en quelque sorte d’assurance contre les périodes prolongées d’intempéries, ce qui est particulièrement commode en hiver, puisque seules les heures d’observation utiles sont facturées.

Compte tenu du succès remporté par l’automatisation du télescope de 1,2 m, les plus récents travaux de perfectionnement réalisés à l’OFA se concentrent sur le télescope Plaskett, la coupole et le logiciel de commande, l’idée étant de robotiser de la même manière le télescope de 1,8 m ainsi que son spectrographe ou son imageur. Un nouveau système de contrôle du télescope a été mis en place, l’obturateur de la coupole et les volets coupe-vent sont désormais commandés par réseau, un détecteur de pluie est en service et l’on a installé un codeur absolu plus moderne sur l’axe AR, ce qui améliore considérablement les capacités de poursuite de l’instrument. Durant les mois qui viennent, nous devrions installer de nouveaux commutateurs pour l’horizon et la limite (contrairement au télescope de 1,2 m, celui de 1,8 m pourrait heurter la coupole ou le pilier, ce qui nous complique la tâche!). Dès que ces systèmes de protection cruciaux seront fonctionnels et que quelques autres composants seront en place, nous entamerons les observations automatiques (sous surveillance) pour quelques semestres.

N’hésitez pas à communiquer avec David Bohlender ( ou Dmitry Monin ( à CNRC Herzberg pour en savoir plus.

Le spectrographe GHOST de Gemini

Le projet GHOST, auquel collaborent l’AAO, l’ANU, le CNRC et les observatoires Gemini, a pour but de concevoir et de bâtir un spectrographe à haute résolution alimenté par fibre optique pour le télescope Gemini Sud. L’AAO, qui pilote le projet, met au point le système d’alimentation par fibre optique et les éléments d’optique qui injecteront la lumière dans les fibres. L’ANU procurera le logiciel et le CNRC développera le banc de spectrographie de même que l’enceinte thermique. Les travaux de développement se poursuivent rondement et l’étape conceptuelle du projet tire à sa fin.

L’instrument sera alimenté par un double système de fibres optiques autorisant une résolution de 75 000 (haute) ou de 50 000 (faible). Il couvrira les longueurs d’onde de 363 nm à 950 nm, avec décalage bleu/rouge à 535 nm. La totalité du spectre sera obtenue en une seule observation. Le spectrographe repose sur un réseau échelle à haut rendement pourvu de dispositifs VPH à dispersion croisée. Les deux faisceaux optiques (rouge et bleu) sont reliés à autant de détecteurs DCC commandés séparément, ce qui garantit un débit élevé pour toute la plage de longueurs d’onde.

Pour conférer la plus grande stabilité à l’appareil, le spectrographe a été installé au laboratoire dans le pilier du télescope, à l’intérieur d’une enceinte thermique dont on stabilise la température. Bien que le GHOST ne soit pas optimisé pour établir la vitesse radiale avec précision, on s’attend à pouvoir la mesurer à quelques m/s près.

Figure 1 - Diagramme CAO du banc optique du GHOST

Figure 1 – Diagramme CAO du banc optique du GHOST

Durant la phase de conception et de développement, les ingénieurs du CNRC ont tracé les plans des systèmes optiques et optomécaniques, ont conçu le système de détection et créé un prototype, et ont travaillé à la conception de l’enceinte. Les examens du concept des étapes critique et finale devraient avoir lieu à la fin de 2015 et au premier trimestre de 2016, avec mise en service prévue au début de 2018.

Le spectrographe MOVIES (Montreal-Ohio-Victoria Echelle Spectrograph)

Le projet MOVIES est une collaboration entre le CNRC, l’Université de Montréal et l’Université d’État de l’Ohio. Il fait partie des quatre études de faisabilité retenues au terme d’un processus de sélection par concours concernant un projet de six mois de 100 000 CAD lancé par les observatoires Gemini en vue de créer un nouvel appareil de quatrième génération. Le rapport de l’étude de faisabilité a été remis aux responsables des observatoires Gemini le 24 août 2015.

MOVIES est spectrographe échelle à grande largeur de bande et à résolution moyenne (R3 – 10K) doté d’un bras pour la lumière visible et d’un second pour le proche infrarouge couvrant simultanément les longueurs d’onde de 0,36 à 2,45 μm. S’y ajoute un appareil photo à saisie rapide fonctionnant simultanément dans deux bandes optiques et une bande du proche infrarouge. L’appareil est conçu pour capter le spectre de l’univers peu lumineux à un débit élevé, avec un fort rendement et une grande fiabilité.

Un aspect capital et caractéristique du spectrographe MOVIES est qu’il exploitera au maximum le mode « cible occasionnelle » de Gemini. Quatre-vingt-dix secondes lui suffiront pour saisir la cible (démarrer l’exposition d’acquisition, lire les images, identifier la cible, centrer l’objet dans la fente et le vérifier, passer en mode guidage et démarrer l’exposition scientifique). Les appareils photo d’acquisition et de guidage embrassent un champ de vision assez grand (3 x 3 minutes d’arc) pour que l’on couvre une bonne partie du ciel, ce qui facilitera une astrométrie précise tout en permettant une saisie aveugle au besoin. L’instrument capte simultanément deux images dans le spectre visible et une dans le proche infrarouge, si bien qu’il est facile d’acquérir des cibles dont la distribution spectrale est inconnue. Ces dispositifs sont aussi conçus pour servir d’imageurs simultanés dans de nombreuses bandes et restitueront des diagrammes couleur-couleur instantanés. En soi, leurs capacités d’imagerie revêtent une grande importance pour la science.

Le concept du double bras, dont l’optique est optimisée et où un réseau VPH minimise l’affaiblissement du signal lumineux, garantit un débit élevé, car il mise sur le principe de la minimisation des éléments d’optique dans chaque ramification. Des détecteurs optimisés pour capter une grande fourchette de longueurs d’onde dans le spectre visible et le proche infrarouge ont été rendus plus efficaces encore grâce à un revêtement spécial. Le bras du spectrographe opérant dans la lumière visible permet, si on le désire, l’usage d’un DCC multiplicateur d’électrons de grand format comme détecteur principal, à des fins scientifiques. En mode multiplication d’électrons (gain important), ces détecteurs augmentent considérablement la valeur des observations comparativement à celles qu’autorisent les DCC normaux avec les objets peu lumineux.

Figure 2 - Diagramme du spectrographe MOVIES

Figure 2 – Diagramme du spectrographe MOVIES

Par ailleurs, l’absence de parasites en lecture dans ces détecteurs permet un compartimentage temporel et spectral après traitement à un rythme (hertz) extrêmement rapide, ce qui ouvre la porte à un tout nouveau domaine : celui de la spectroscopie optique à rythme élevé pour l’observation des objets variables ou passagers très énergétiques. Le personnel de Gemini examinera le spectrographe MOVIES à la fin de septembre. Pour en savoir plus sur l’un de ses aspects, les personnes à contacter au Canada sont:

Chef (CNRC): Alan McConnachie (, chef (UdM): René Doyon (, Leslie Saddlemyer (, Olivier Hernandez (, et Étienne Artigau (artigau@ASTRO.UMontreal.CA).


By Ernie Seaquist, ACURA Executive Director
(Cassiopeia – Autumn/Automne 2015)


This is the eighth issue of the semi-annual newsletter for E-Cass readers. The intention is to keep the community up to date on the activity of ACURA. ACURA is the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, with a membership of 20 universities. ACURA exists to promote the interests of Canadian university astronomers, including the highest priority LRP projects requiring funding by the Federal Government. The current projects of interest to ACURA are the TMT and the SKA. ACURA also maintains an active role in advancing the interests of its member institutions in the governance of federally supported astronomy, currently undertaken by NRC.

ACURA is primarily concerned with the promotion of and participation in its two highest priorities – the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) following the ground based priorities for world observatories in the LRP. More on ACURA activity on these topics can be found below.

Activity on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

As almost everyone knows by now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on April 6, 2015 that Canada will join as a partner in the TMT project. The amount of the commitment was up to $243.5M Canadian dollars over the period of construction (just under 10 years). This commitment provides for a share by Canada of about 15%, less than the 20% requested, but nevertheless a significant share. This represents a very large commitment by the Federal Government to investment in astronomy, and is obviously a major success for the Canadian Long Range Plan (LRP). NRC as the signing member and executive authority for Canada, in accordance with its parliamentary mandate on government funded large astronomy facilities. The efforts of ACURA, together with its Coalition partners, CASCA and Industry, were a major factor in achieving this success, as were the efforts of NRC in providing the supporting information and documentation to Industry Canada. The success of course rests on the shoulders of the many individuals who were responsible for initiating Canadian engagement in TMT and following through with the design and development work, including NRC, university scientists, and industry teams.

In the end, the government appears to have been persuaded by a number of factors, including support within ACURA universities, led by presidents Meric Gertler of the University of Toronto and Arvind Gupta of the University of British Columbia. Undoubtedly as well, the NRC commissioned industry report, Astronomy Technologies Study on the economic benefits of astronomy instrumentation development at NRC, helped to win the day. As noted in my last newsletter, this report by the Ottawa firm of Doyletech Corporation gives an excellent account of the economic benefits of the adaptive optics work stemming from the emerging new applications to fields such as medicine, the defence industry, communications, and the consumer optical market. Another supporting factor was the unwavering support of Canadian astronomers who consistently underscored that TMT is the highest priority for Canadian astronomy as outlined in the LRP. Without this, we could not have succeeded.

ACURA is now turning its attention to the follow-up, which is a plan for its engagement in TMT governance. Already the Canadian members of the Board of Governors of the newly formed TMT International Observatory (TIO) are Greg Fahlman, General Manager for NRC Herzberg, Ray Carlberg, Canadian TMT Project Director, and myself as ACURA Executive Director. Although executive authority for TMT in Canada resides with NRC, it is understood by both NRC and universities that the scientific user community needs to be heard. This can be accomplished by a role in governance of the Canadian involvement in TMT. Accordingly ACURA is meeting with NRC to outline the nature of this role. The ACURA Board and Council have also met to discuss this topic at their meetings on May 28, 2015 in Hamilton. Convergence appears to be focusing on a process of formal consultation between ACURA and NRC to ensure that the scientific goals of TMT are achieved and that the needs of the community are at the forefront. This could be accomplished by two ACURA Committees – one at the vice-presidential level to discuss strategic issues, and another at the scientific level to glean the views of the community and formulate recommendations for the strategic level committee to carry forward to NRC. The science committee would have representatives appointed by both ACURA and CASCA, and would function in a manner similar to the newly formed ACURA Advisory Council on the SKA (AACS). The new council would in fact be named AACT to represent the TMT. Discussions with NRC will continue later this fall.

Activity related to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

From both scientific and technical perspectives, Canada is becoming increasingly well positioned to make key contributions to the SKA. In the recent pre-construction down-select for design concepts for the components of SKA1 (phase 1 of the SKA), Canada (primarily through NRC) fared very well, and is poised to make contributions to the project in the areas of composite antennas, correlators and beam-formers, low noise amplifiers and RF digitizers. This would represent a contribution by Canada equivalent to about $50-60M Canadian.

On the scientific front, ACURA activity in the SKA is closely tied to its support for the ACURA Advisory Council on the SKA (AACS) chaired by Bryan Gaensler. AACS has been very active in putting together a plan for Canadian scientific participation in the SKA. It has ensured effective Canadian participation in an international science workshop held in Stockholm on August 24-27, 2015, one of a series of meetings held to define the key science projects for SKA1. This will be followed by a Canadian SKA workshop in Toronto December 10-11 to further develop the plan for Canada’s contributions to the international science planning activity. AACS is also developing an ACURA sponsored Canadian SKA website intended for both domestic and international exposure to highlight Canadian involvement in the SKA. In addition, AACS has prepared a detailed report to the MTR panel on the areas where Canada expects to make scientific contributions in order to support the LRP priority of the SKA.

ACURA is financially supporting all of this activity, including the December workshop, the website preparation, the SKA luncheon meeting held at the CASCA meeting in Hamilton in May, 2015, and travel for the AACS Chair.

Overall, ACURA has its hands full for the coming year in both TMT and SKA. In addition, a new ACURA website is in preparation scheduled for completion this fall. It will be hosted at the University of Montreal. It will have a new look and feel, and will be kept up to date in both languages, which has been a problem with the old website. Thanks to ACURA secretary René Racine for initiating this project and seeing it through to completion.

Finally, I would welcome any feedback and suggestions from the community on these and/or other activities.

ALMA Matters

Submitted by Gerald Schieven
(Cassiopeia – Autumn/Automne 2015)

Cycle 3 Allocations

ALMA Cycle 3 observations will begin October 13, with the array in the extended configuration. Canada fared well in the recent allocation process. Of the 151 proposals with Canadian participation (36 as PI) requesting 1059 hours, 44 projects (6 as PI) were awarded “high priority” (grade A or B) status, with 313 hours. This represents over 14% of the total high priority allocation. (By comparison, in Cycle 2, projects with Canadian participation were awarded just over 11% of the total time.) There were 79 individuals from 18 different Canadian institutions on ALMA proposals for Cycle 3.

The 2015 ALMA Summer School

The NRC Herzberg Millimetre Astronomy Group (MAG), in its role as members of the North American ALMA Science Center, ran a successful summer school in Penticton from 17-21 August. Seven interferometry and ALMA experts led five days of talks and hands-on sessions for 18 graduate students, postdocs and ALMA observatory staff, ranging from the fundamentals of interferometry and radio astronomy to how the reduce ALMA data in CASA. The school was hosted at DRAO and included a wonderful tour of the new developments at DRAO: upgrades to the John A. Galt 26-m telescope, CHIME and the SKA prototype antenna.


ALMA data reduction requires high powered computing with large amounts of scratch space. If you need access to such computing power for your ALMA data, the MAG at NRC Herzberg can help. Contact Brenda Matthews ( for more information.

President’s Report


By Chris Wilson, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Autumn/Automne 2015)

Hi, everyone,

As usual, the start of term crush has worked its usual “magic” and so this will again be a short report noting a few key highlights.

The IAU held its General Assembly in Honolulu in August. Canadians were well represented among the participants and invited speakers. Approximately 40 Canadian researchers became new members of the IAU at this meeting. Two Canadians were elected to high-level IAU committees: Bill Harris from McMaster University to the Membership Committee and JJ Kavelaars from NRC Herzberg to the Finance Committee.

I am sure many of you are following the latest news on the TMT from Hawai`i. As I write this, construction is still on hold and protesters continue to be present on the summit access road much of the time. The situation makes the news periodically, in Canada most recently on the CBC news program “As it happens”. The situation remains difficult for people on both sides of the issue and we need to be patient and let the parties closer to the situation try to work out a solution.

The Mid Term Review panel has continued working over the summer. They held a face-to-face meeting in Montreal in July, which included a meeting with staff at the Canadian Space Agency, and are beginning to draft up their report. The final report is scheduled to be released in late fall 2015.

The ACURA Advisory Committee on the SKA has also been active over the summer. There will be a meeting “Canada and the SKA” held in Toronto December 10-11, 2015. This meeting will be an opportunity for the Canadian community to assess its main interests and activities for the SKA, and to identify areas for synergy and coordination. The meeting will be held in conjunction with a meeting on the Murchison Widefield Array December 7-9, 2015. Registration is now open at

Coming up this fall, expect to see a call for nominations for CASCA’s various awards to appear soon with a deadline likely late November or early December. This will be an earlier deadline than in previous years with the aim of allowing award winners to be identified early enough that it is more likely that they will be able to attend the CASCA AGM to be held in Winnipeg in 2016. The CASCA Board is also moving to establish a new Diversity Committee and will be looking for members for this new committee soon. The Board has also committed some funding from the Westar Fund to support a new application to the NSERC PromoScience program by Discover the Universe and the Dunlap Institute.

To close, I want to note four of our society’s members who have been honoured this past month. Roberto Abraham from the University of Toronto has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Julio Navarro from the University of Victoria has been awarded the Henry Marshall Tory Medal from the Royal Society of Canada. This medal is for outstanding research in any branch of astronomy chemistry, mathematics, physics, or an allied science. Matt Dobbs from McGill University and Sara Ellison from the University of Victoria have been named to The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. Congratulations to Sara, Matt, Julio, and Bob on these well-deserved awards.

LRP Update

By John Hutchings, on behalf of the LRP Implementation Committee
(Cassiopeia – Summer 2015)

While the Mid-Term Review panel is working towards their report, expected near the year-end, many of the LRP initiatives are in a state of flux. The LRPIC keeps track of these regularly, and this memo gives a snapshot of events as they are unfolding now. A summary table of LRP projects with dates, costs, and partners, can be found here.


Now we have approved funding, Canada is a formal member of the TIO, with specified hardware responsibilities. Construction has been halted while complex negotiations take place on the overall future use of the mountain. The recent statement by the Governor of Hawaii covers many of the issues.


There is an active Canadian SKA committee reporting to ACURA, led by Bryan Gaensler. This group has put together a report detailing Canadian interest and capability to move ahead into SKA1. The SKA organization itself has not yet settled on several details of the partnership, and it will take time before Canada is in a clear position to make definite funding applications.


MaunaKea Spectroscopic Explorer is the proposed 10-class MOS upgrade for CFHT. The project office is located and supported at CFHT, and is active in developing detailed designs, conducted with partners that include China and India, as well as the current CFH. A workshop was held in Nanjing in April, and a large international science team will meet in Hawaii in July. This design stage will complete at the end of 2017.


CSA have study contracts in place for a number of specific NASA-approved contributions to WFIRST, both in hardware and software arenas. These studies will be complete in August. Following that, CSA will need to decide what detailed partnership they will support, and enter discussion with NASA on that, and the science return Canada gets.


Following the detailed concept study of a few years ago, CSA currently have a detector development contract with ComDev. A science definition study and further design work development are both pending within CSA.


These are two JAXA proposed space missions with Canadian science interest. JAXA is expected to select between these and other choices this summer, so our options may be affected.


These are linked as single-dish supporting telescopes for ALMA, as well as having their own unique capabilities. The future of Canadian participation in both of these is uncertain and subject to funding needs.


There is an activity to involve a significant number of Canadians in LSST that involves matching funds from the Dunlap Institute. Those interested should look for details as this evolves, as it potentially affects our participation levels in facilities such as Gemini and MSE.


The future directions and funding for space science remain unclear, with no future missions supported. This situation is a significant concern for Canadian space astronomy plans. A workshop to bring some of these issues and ideas forward, has been postponed, but a call for `Topical Teams’ has been issued.

President’s Report


By Chris Wilson, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Summer 2015)

Hi, everyone,

The undeniable highlight of the past 3 months was the announcement by the Federal government on April 6, 2015 that it would fund Canada’s share of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). TMT construction funding appeared as a line item in the Federal budget that was released on April 21, 2015, with funding for the past year and the next five years set out in some detail. TMT also merited its own two pages in the budget document.

This announcement was the culmination of at least seven years of activity by many players, including the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy, university presidents, ACURA, CASCA, individual astronomers, and the general public. I want to take this opportunity to summarize the activities that I personally was involved in or was aware of over the past year that helped us achieve such a successful conclusion.

Over the summer of 2014, a number of Canadian astronomers wrote to Minister Holder. Some also met with their individual MPs and/or with their University President or Vice-President Research. These efforts resulted in some initial discussion of the TMT at the U15 meeting of university presidents in August. Also in August, the Coalition made Pre-Budget Submission on the TMT. In July there was also a very good article by Ivan Semeniuk on the TMT in the Globe & Mail that generated some follow-up media interest on radio and television. In September the Coalition sent copies of the TMT two-pager and brochure to all MPs.

The TMT Planning Team held monthly telecons over the summer and early fall of 2014 and was heavily involved in the outreach to Holder and the preparation of the pre-budget submission. However, as the lobbying became more confidential, political, and requiring rapid responses, more and more of the work and discussion was done by the Coalition co-Chairs (Don Brooks, Guy Nelson, and myself) along with ACURA Executive Director Ernie Seaquist, our TSA lobbyist Duncan Rayner, and TMT Canadian Project Scientist Ray Carlberg. Also in the fall I believe there were parallel discussions and lobbying efforts going on among key university presidents. However, I have only indirect knowledge of these efforts and likely the details are known only to the presidents involved. So I will not say anything further except that the strong support by key university presidents and their willingness to interact with government on our behalf was certainly an essential part of the effort that resulted in a successful outcome on TMT.

On October 20, 2014, the three Coalition co-Chairs traveled to Ottawa for meetings with staff in the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Finance, and the Privy Council Office. Those meetings were very professional and cordial, and my impression was that the level of interest in the TMT project was highest in Finance and the PCO, despite the fact that they did not have as much history with the TMT as did Industry. In late October/early November, Industry co-chair Guy Nelson participated in a large Canadian delegation trip to China; although we did not manage to get TMT into any of the announcements during that trip, he made valuable contacts among staff members, including in the Prime Minister’s office, which were likely very useful later on. The coalition followed up with a letter to all MPs in November.

In November the Coalition was requested to come to Ottawa for a meeting with the Prime Minister’s Office; although we were not able to settle on a November meeting date, we did have a meeting with the PMO December 16, 2014. In late November, I wrote personally to the Prime Minister about the TMT as CASCA President, as it occurred to me that he might not have been reached individually by any of the other letters.

In January 2015, a very good and positive story on the TMT appeared in the Toronto Star, highlighting that we were approaching a now or never decision for Canada’s participation and saying that the TMT is something Canada should be doing. The Coalition sent an email-blast to all MPs in late January with the links to the Star article. There was a similar article about Canada’s potential role in the TMT in Nature in March. In late March we received a request for some more information on the TMT from a staff member in the PMO. On March 31, 2015, the Coalition had its first firm indication that we were going to have a positive outcome on the TMT, and after several hectic days, by April 6 most of us, including representatives from the RASC and other amateur communities, were in Vancouver to hear the Prime Minister announce Canada’s commitment to the TMT. At the request of the government, I also attended the 2015 Budget Stakeholders Lock-Up in Ottawa on April 21, presumably to be available to answer any media questions afterwards. In the event there was no media interest in the TMT that day, the news-worthy event having probably been the earlier announcement on April 6.

With hindsight, the December 16th meeting with the PMO was a real turning point. We were scheduled to meet with two mid-level staff members, but at the last minute a very high-level and well-connected staff member joined the meeting and asked a lot of very focused and interested questions. He said very positive things, such as the TMT is exactly the type of project that a federal government should be doing, because it can’t be left to the private sector, an individual university, and so on. This person likely played a key role in moving the TMT through the process. I happened to see him after the Budget Lock-Up and was able to say thank you in person.

So that is a brief history of the TMT efforts in Canada over the past year. We had a little celebration at the CASCA Banquet in Hamilton where a number of individuals were thanked publicly and invited to speak, and we had a wonderful set of TMT cupcakes (see photos elsewhere in this issue) for people to enjoy. In addition, the CASCA Board formally recognized Don Brooks and Guy Nelson as Patrons of the society, in recognition of their hard work on are behalf as coalition co-chairs over many years.

While TMT was obviously the big news story of the past three months, there have been other important activities going as well. The Mid Term Review panel has been very active. A series of three town hall meetings were held in Montreal, Toronto, and Victoria from March 24-26, 2015. On April 20, the MTR panel held a face-to-face meeting at the Toronto Airport Sheraton to review the results from the town halls and to come up with a preliminary list of recommendations. These preliminary recommendations were presented to the community at the CASCA Annual General meeting in a special one-hour session on May 27, 2015. The MTR panel will focus on writing the report over the summer, with the release of the final report planned for late fall, 2015.

The 2015 CASCA annual meeting was held in Hamilton, Ontario from May 24-27 hosted by McMaster University. The graduate student workshop this year focused on Statistics in Astronomy and was led by Dr. Eric Feigelson (Penn State Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics). By all accounts this was a big success. The main meeting featured a variety of interesting contributed and invited talks as well as a number of lunch sessions focussing on particular telescopes, including a very well attended information session on the SKA on Monday. The CASCA Board and student awards for the best poster by a graduate student were both one by Alexandre Fortier from Université de Montréal for his poster “On the Origin of DQ White Dwarfs”. The CASCA Board award for best student talk was won by Paolo Turri from the University of Victoria for his talk “Precision photometry from the ground: observations of the double subgiant branch of NGC 1851 using GeMS MCAO”, while the CASCA student award for best student talk was won by Nicholas MacDonald from Boston University for his talk “One Epoch at a Time: Discovering Jet Structure in Blazars through Radio Map Stacking”.

A Big “Thank you” to the Government of Canada


By Chris Wilson, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Summer 2015)

On April 6, 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would be a partner in the construction and operation of the Thirty Meter Telescope, committing up to 243.5 million dollars in construction funding. I am sure I speak for all members of the Canadian Astronomical Society when I say that we are extremely grateful to the Government of Canada for this commitment, the largest capital funding ever provided to a Canadian astronomical telescope.

The Thirty Meter Telescope will be a revolutionary facility producing exciting new discoveries in areas from studies of planets around other nearby stars to the formation of galaxies at the edge of the visible universe. Canada’s participation in TMT construction speaks to the international competitiveness of Canadian industry, which will build the telescope enclosure and its adaptive optics system. For Canadian astronomers and universities, participation in the TMT will help us to maintain our world-leading reputation in Astronomy and Astrophysics and to continue to attract the very best students and researchers to study and work in Canada.

As CASCA members, we look forward to working with our national and international partners to build the Thirty Meter Telescope and to sharing its first science results with our fellow Canadians.

Canadian Gemini News / Nouvelles Canadiennes de Gemini

By/par Stéphanie Côté
(Cassiopeia – Summer/Été 2015)

La version française suit

Some Stats from Semester 2015B: Send more Gemini-South Proposals! And send longer proposals too!

Figure 1 - Oversubscription rates for Gemini-North and Gemini-South.

Figure 1 – Oversubscription rates for Gemini-North and Gemini-South.

Despite receiving a healthy number of proposals for 2015B (35 in total), the oversubscription rates have gone down, particularly for Gemini-South where the numbers of hours requested has plummeted to half of what it has been in recent semesters (see Figure 1). In the last 3 years we had seen unusual higher oversubscriptions for Gemini-South over Gemini-North for several semesters, thanks to the commissioning of Flamingos-2 and GPI in the South. But this semester the demand for the South has been at its lowest, mainly because large GMOS-S proposals are completely missing. This is perhaps an effect of the new Large Programs mode. Large GMOS-N proposals are also lacking but overall numbers for the North are good, thanks for a healthy interest in the new GRACES.

Figure 2 - Average length of proposals submitted to Canada (in the case of joint proposals, only the amount of time requested to the Canadian TAC is counted).

Figure 2 – Average length of proposals submitted to Canada (in the case of joint proposals, only the amount of time requested to the Canadian TAC is counted).

Also the numbers of hours requested per proposal is unusually low for Canada, at just over one night per proposal, 10.6hours (see Figure 2). A large number of Canadian proposals are actually joint proposals (about 40%), which means that their total time request will get spread over several partners and this leads to only a small request to the Canadian TAC. Canadian users should be more ambitious by requesting more time per proposal.

News about the GeMs Upgrade

The project to upgrade the Natural Guide Star Sensors of GeMs , lead by the Australian National University, has made progress and passed its design review in March 2015. NGS2 will provide a 1.5 magnitude boost in sensitivity , which will increase the sky coverage to approximately 3 times that offered by the current NGS in GeMS. It is planned for installation in early 2016. If you have in the past considered a GeMs proposal but were disappointed by the lack of suitable guide stars around your pet targets, then please try again in 6 months time and there is a good chance that this time your project will be feasible.

Also recently a team of specialists from Gemini North and South explored the options opened by new laser technologies to recover enough laser photon return to sustain GeMS long-term performances. In the past it has been difficult to maintain a sustainable workable state with the current laser and a GeMs run in the Fall even had to be cancelled because of laser issues. Their feasibility study found several candidates could indeed replace the current laser for an equivalent photon return. They recommended to proceed to procurement for a new laser that would be more stable. This was approved by the Gemini STAC and Board and is now going ahead. We should expect a delivery in about 6 months.

Fast Turnaround Proposals: deadline every end of the month

This is a reminder that the Fast Turnaround Program is continuing on Gemini-north all through the year, and that there is a deadline for proposals at the end of every month. Accepted programs will be active a month later and for a total of 3 months. Already many Canadian programs have been accepted and observed. The FTP will enable Canadian PIs to access targets of interest before the competition.

Quelques statistiques du Semestre 2015B : faites plus de demandes pour Gemini-Sud! Et aussi faites des demandes plus longues!

Figure 1 - Taux de souscription pour Gemini-Nord et Gemini-Sud.

Figure 1 – Taux de souscription pour Gemini-Nord et Gemini-Sud.

Malgré la réception d’un bon nombre de demandes pour 2015B (35 au total), les taux de souscription ont baissé, en particulier pour Gemini-Sud où le nombre total d’heures demandées a chuté de moitié par rapport aux semestres récents (voir Figure 1) . Au cours des 3 dernières années, nous avions vu des taux de souscriptions inhabituellement plus élevés pour Gemini-Sud que Gemini-Nord pour plusieurs semestres, grâce à la mise en service de Flamingos-2 et GPI dans le Sud. Mais ce semestre la demande pour le Sud a été à son plus bas, principalement parce que les longues demandes pour GMOS-S ont complètement disparu. Ceci est peut-être un effet du nouveau mode Grands Programmes. Les longues demandes pour GMOS-N font également défaut mais les chiffres globaux pour le Nord sont tout-de-même bons, grâce à un grand intérêt des canadiens pour le nouveau GRACES.

Figure 2 - Longueur moyenne des demandes soumises au Canada (dans le cas des demandes jointes, seule la quantité de temps demandée au TAC canadien est comptée).

Figure 2 – Longueur moyenne des demandes soumises au Canada (dans le cas des demandes jointes, seule la quantité de temps demandée au TAC canadien est comptée).

De plus le nombre total d’heures demandées par demandes est exceptionnellement bas pour le Canada, et se situe à environ une nuit par demande, soit 10,6 heures (voir la figure 2). Un grand nombre de demandes canadiennes sont en fait des demandes jointes (environ 40%), ce qui signifie que leur demande de temps total va se partager entre plusieurs partenaires, et cela conduit à seulement une petite demande au TAC canadien. Les utilisateurs canadiens devraient être plus ambitieux en demandant plus de temps par demande.

Nouvelles à propos de la mise à niveau de GeMs

Le projet de renouvellement des Senseurs d` Étoiles Guides Naturelles de GeMs, dirigé par l’Australian National University, a fait des progrès et réussi sa revue de conception en mars 2015. NGS2 sera 1,5 magnitude plus sensible, ce qui augmentera la couverture du ciel à environ 3 fois celle offerte par le NGS présent de GeMs. L` installation est prévue pour le début de 2016. Si vous avez déjà par le passé considéré faire une demande GeMs , mais aviez été déçu par le manque d`étoiles-guides disponibles autour de vos cibles préférées, alors veuillez essayer à nouveau dans à peu près six mois, il y a une bonne chance que cette fois-ci votre projet soit réalisable.

De plus, récemment une équipe de spécialistes de Gemini Nord et Sud a exploré les options offertes par les nouvelles technologies laser pour récupérer un rendement suffisant de photons laser pour soutenir les performances de GeMs à long terme. Par le passé il a été difficile de maintenir un état viable durable avec le laser actuel et une mission d`observation GEMS a même dû être annulé cet automne en raison de problèmes du laser. Leur étude de faisabilité a trouvé plusieurs candidats qui pourraient en effet remplacer le laser actuel avec un retour de photons équivalent. Ils ont donc recommandé de procéder à l’approvisionnement d’un nouveau laser qui serait plus stable. Cela a été approuvé par le STAC et le conseil de direction de Gemini , et va maintenant de l’avant. La livraison est attendue pour dans environ 6 mois.

Demandes “Fast Turnaround“ : date limite à la fin du mois

Ceci est un rappel que le programme de demandes “Fast Turnaround“ se poursuit sur Gemini-Nord tout au long de l’année, et que la date limite pour les demandes est à la fin de chaque mois. Les programmes acceptés seront actifs un mois plus tard et pour un total de 3 mois. Déjà de nombreux programmes canadiens ont été acceptés et observés. Ce programme FT permettra aux usagers canadiens d’accéder à des cibles d’intérêt avant la compétition.

Herschel-HIFI News

Submitted by Sylvie Beaulieu, Herschel-HIFI Instrument Support Scientist
(Cassiopeia – Summer/Été 2015)

Herschel Interactive Processing Environment (HIPE)

HIPE 13.0 is the latest release, and HIFI_CAL_22_0 is the latest Calibration Tree. You are invited to visit ‘What’s New in HIPE’ for the changes in this new release. Additional information can be found in ‘HIFI Instrument and Calibration’

Herschel Science Archive (HSA)

The current ‘Herschel Science Archive’ is v.6.2.1. and has been released on 2 June 2015. Herschel data are 100% public domaine.

University of Waterloo Group News

Since the last publication of our newsletter, we saw the departure of instrument support scientist
Carolyn McCoey who recently gave birth to a beautiful girl. Carolyn was with the Herschel project
for nearly 8 years.

We also bid farewell to our HIFI system architect Kevin Edwards who was with the project for nearly
10 years. The group wishes to thank Carolyn and Kevin for their tremendous good work, they will be
missed greatly.

Please note that the Herschel-HIFI Waterloo group will cease operation by the 31st of March 2016.
Although no support will be available from that date via the Waterloo group, we will try to maintain
the webpage live, and as up-to-date as it is possible to do so.

The Herschel Science Centre, along with the Instrument Control Centres (HIFI, PACS, and SPIRE)
are in the process of implementing a documentation repository which will be known as the Herschel
Explanatory Legacy Library (HELL). This repository will be composed of the Mission and Satellite
Overview manual, the instruments handbooks, the instruments data reduction guides, as well as
technical and tests reports, and any documents that each ICC will want to provide for Legacy.

Permanent links to the ESA Herschel Project and to the Herschel Explanatory Legacy Library (HELL)
will be available through our webpage.

What’s New in HIPE 13

Pointing in all observations

A new approach to pointing reconstruction has been implemented in HIPE 13 by introducing additional correction
based on the gyroscope information. For the HIFI data, such a correction will be applied in a conditional fashion depending on a quality figure computed for each individual observation. The new pointing reconstruction will not apply to under-performing cases, and those latter will still use the pointing files used back in HIPE 12. Details about the new attitude reconstruction, and the way it is approached and may impact the HIFI data, can be found in these two documents: Pointing information and memo.

Electrical Standing Wave in Bands 6 and 7

From HIPE 13 onward, observations in bands 6 and 7 will automatically be corrected from the Electrical Standing
Wave affecting those data. The correction is based on an optimised fit to the baseline artefact stored in the
HIFI calibration files and applied by the pipeline. This also means that the optimum solution may not necessarily completely correct the standing wave. Note that the continuum present in band 6 and 7 data can only be fully trusted if the Electrical Standing Wave is corrected. Refined solutions will be provided on a case by case basis in HIPE 14. For instructions on how to benefit from this reprocessing and see the typical improvement expected in the data, please refer to section 11.4 of the HIFI Data Reduction Guide.

Spectral Scan Observations

The reprocessing of spectral scans in HIPE 13 will make use of optimised mask tables for spurs and unruly baseline ranges. This will result in improved deconvolved solutions at the Level 2.5. In order to benefit from this update you should reprocess your data from Level 0 with the new calibration tree (see section 5.4 of the HIFI Data Reduction Guide).

Calibrated OFF position spectra (any mode)

In HIPE 13, the data used in the OFF positions will be processed up to an equivalent Level 2 calibration (both in intensity and frequency) and can therefore be directly compared to the ON-target data. Details about the peculiarity of each OFF spectra can be found in the cookbooks (see chapter 2 of the HIFI Data Reduction Guide). In order to generate those spectra, you need to reprocess the data from the Level 1, and can work from the calibration tree present in the data processed with HIPE 12.1.

Single Point and Spectral Mapping Modes

The Level 2.5 products in these modes have been optimised by stitching the respective spectrometer subbands. In maps, for example, this will result in a smaller number of cubes. More details can be found in section 4.6 of the HIFI Data Reduction Guide.

Feature Story

Congratulations to recent PhD graduate Scott Jones (working with Dr. Martin Houde, Western Ontario)
who used HIFI data for part of his thesis.

Thesis abstract

Star formation is a fundamental process in the evolution of the cosmos. Yet given the abundance
of stellar constituents, it remains preeminent as to why the number of stars is not correspondingly
large. If we cannot satisfactorily explain how stars are formed, then many further avenues of research
are hindered.

This thesis furthers means to probe one of the foremost theories as to the relative lack of stars, interstellar
magnetic fields. These fields have been observationally verified on multiple scales. I will use the most direct
method to probe magnetic fields in known star-forming regions, polarization, at millimetre/submillimetre wavelengths. In particular, I will focus on the effect that magnetic fields have on the emission produced by rotational molecular transitions.

Much of the background behind the study of magnetic fields, and their deduction through submillimetre polarimetry, will be developed in Chapter 1. Here I provide an overview of not only the role that magnetic fields may play in star formation, but also the competing theories of turbulence and magnetohydrodynamic waves. The various manifestations of polarization will also be covered, including polarized molecular transitions.

Chapter 2 will look at one of the most well-studied star-forming regions, Orion KL, through observations of a newly discovered water maser transition at 620.701 GHz. Interstellar masers allow different environments to be probed, regions where more complex activity has created a population imbalance between rotational energy levels.

The remaining two chapters will present methods and data from the Four-Stokes- Parameter Spectral-Line Polarimeter at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory. I will look at considerations that must be made when a small map is collected by way of quantifying the amount of instrumental polarization. Spurious polarization signals may pervade the outer edges of the telescope beam, leading to a misrepresentation of the true amount of source polarization. Chapter 3 details the methods involved in removing sidelobes plus the other sources of instrumental polarization, while Chapter 4 goes on to present the actual data to which these techniques have been applied. The data itself is of the molecular transition 12CO (J = 2 -> 1), prominent within the protostellar source OMC-2 FIR 4.


  1. Jones, S. C., Houde, M. and Hezareh, T. 2015, ApJ, to be submitted “The Detection of Non-Zeeman Circular Polarization of CO Rotational Lines in OMC-2 FIR 4”
  2. Jones, S. C., Houde, M., Harwit, M., Kidger, M., Kraus, A., McCoey, C., Marston, A., Melnick, G., Menten, K.M., Morris, P., Teyssier, D. and Tolls, V. 2014, A&A, 567, A31 “Polarisation observations of H2 O JK−1 K1 = 532 − 441 620.701 GHz maser emission with Herschel/HIFI in Orion KL”

Conferences, workshops and webinars related to Herschel

The University of Waterloo Herschel-HIFI Support Group is committed to assist you with accessing data through the Herschel Science Archive (HSA) and in using the Herschel Interactive Processing Environment (HIPE) to process your data. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Our webpage has a dedicated page on Data Processing.

ALMA Matters

Submitted by Gerald Schieven
(Cassiopeia – Summer/Été 2015)

2015 ALMA Summer School, Penticton 17-21 August

There is still space in the 2015 ALMA Summer School! Join us in Penticton, BC for a week of learning and practicing all things ALMA. Previous experience with interferometers or ALMA is not necessary. We will cover the basics of radio astronomy, interferometry and the how-tos of ALMA (its capabilities, applying for time, managing projects and data reduction). This is a workshop style school with lots of time for hands-on applications. We have room for a maximum of 30 participants.

Please head to this site for more details about the summer school.

Cycle 3 Call for Proposals

The call for ALMA Cycle 3 proposals ended 23 April with 1582 proposals, a record for any astronomical facility, requesting over 9000 hours of 12-m Array time (an oversubscription rate of ~4.3). Twenty-three proposals were submitted with PIs from Canadian institutions, down slightly from Cycle 2. PIs will be notified of the success of their proposals by July 29. Cycle 3 will begin on October 1.

User Support at NRC-Herzberg

If you are an ALMA user who would like one-on-one help with your data, the NAASC is here to help! You can arrange a trip to Victoria (or Charlottesville, VA) to get help from an ALMA expert in dealing with your dataset. Please contact Brenda Matthews [email] at NRC if you are interested in arranging a visit to Victoria, or submit a ticket to the ALMA Helpdesk. Details about visiting the North American ALMA Regional Center in Charlottesville, VA, can be found at this site.

Heterodyne Receiver Array Prototype

Following the successful paper study of a multi-pixel focal plane array for the ALMA total power antennas, funded in part by the North American ALMA partnership’s ALMA Development Studies program, the Millimetre Technology Group at NRC Herzberg is now planning to design, build, and test a small 4-pixel array prototype for the Band 3 frequency range of 84 to 116 GHz. This mini-array project will be used to validate the cold stop design and the very compact 2SB, dual polarization, RF assembly which has been developed in Victoria. Many challenges lay ahead in areas including lenslet design, cold stop optimization, machinability of very compact assemblies, and feasibility of integration into a limited cryostat space.

ALMA Technical Maintenance

The Band 3 receivers continue to operate reliably with very few failures. Only one cold cartridge is presently in the Victoria laboratory and it is being used as a test-bed for the cartridge gain stability upgrade project.

ALMA Band 3 Development Project

NRC Herzberg is currently involved in a second Development Program activity to upgrade the gain stability of the Band 3 receivers. Over the past few months we have been able to test magnetic defluxing heaters on a cartridge and have obtained promising results. In close collaboration with the North American partnership and the Joint ALMA Observatory, we are working towards a technical solution that improves gain stability at low cost and low risk for deployment in Chile.