Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien

By/par Stéphanie Côté and Eric Steinbring (CGO, NRC Herzberg / OGC, CNRC Herzberg)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

La version française suit

New Lasers for Gemini GeMS and Altair

Figure 1: Close-up view of the propagation of the laser guide-star system from behind the secondary mirror of the Gemini-South Telescope  (Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)

Figure 1: Close-up view of the propagation of the laser guide-star system from behind the secondary mirror of the Gemini-South Telescope (Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)

Upgrades to the Gemini facility adaptive optics (AO) systems in both the North and South will provide improved operation. Chief among these changes is the replacement of older, previous-generation laser systems. The replacements are the same TOPTICA models used on Keck and Subaru, and give robust, trouble-free performance. Returned power in the laser spots is not actually the primary reason for this; the real challenge of previous operations was laser reliability, which hurt on-sky efficiency. The improved GeMS (Gemini Multiconjugate-AO System) Laser Guide-Star Facility (LGSF) in the South was already commissioned last October, and is now offered in 2018B. In the North, the Altair LGSF is scheduled to have its new laser installed in April, and it too is offered (with shared risk) in the coming semester. Further improvements are coming to GeMS as well: expected delivery of a more sensitive natural guide-star sensor (NGS2), and testing of a replacement third deformable mirror this year. Users are encouraged to send proposals for either Gemini-North or South to take advantage of the improved AO observing performances thanks to these new lasers.

Gemini Science conference: “Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory”

Early registration for this Gemini Science meeting is now open. Register now for the special early registration rate.

www.gemini.edu/seg2018

The Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory 2018 conference will be held from July 22nd to July 26th, with San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf as a backdrop. This meeting invites the Gemini community to review recent science highlights, identify needs in the context of Gemini’s evolving capabilities, and develop strategies for the future. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us for user and staff presentations featuring science highlights, instrumentation, observing modes, and informal discussions.

Early Registration: until March 31, 2018
Abstract Submission: until May 15, 2018

See you in San Francisco!

Join the thousands and thousands of Gemini Observatory followers on Facebook: @GeminiObservatory and Twitter: @GeminiObs



Nouveaux lasers pour GeMS et Altair

Figure 1: Gros plan de la propagation du système d`étoile-guide laser depuis l'arrière du miroir secondaire du télescope Gemini-Sud (Crédit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)

Figure 1: Gros plan de la propagation du système d`étoile-guide laser depuis l’arrière du miroir secondaire du télescope Gemini-Sud (Crédit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)

Les mises à niveau des systèmes d’optique adaptative (OA) de Gemini-Nord et Sud permettront d’améliorer grandement leur fonctionnement. Le principal changement est le remplacement des anciens systèmes laser de génération précédente. Les nouveaux lasers sont les mêmes modèles TOPTICA utilisés au Keck et Subaru, et donnent une performance robuste et sans problème. La puissance retournée dans les points laser n’est pas réellement la principale raison de cela; le vrai défi des opérations précédentes était la fiabilité du laser, qui nuisait à l’efficacité sur le ciel. Le système d’étoile-guide par laser (LGSF) de GeMS (Gemini Multiconjugate-AO System) amélioré dans le Sud a déjà été mis en service en octobre dernier et est maintenant offert en 2018B. Dans le Nord, le LGSF d’Altair devrait avoir son nouveau laser installé en avril, et il est également offert (en mode risque partagé) au cours du prochain semestre. D’autres améliorations seront également apportées à GeMS: livraison attendue d’un senseur d’étoile-guide naturel plus sensible (NGS2) et test d’un troisième miroir déformable de remplacement cette année.
Les usagers sont encouragés à soumettre des demandes pour Gemini-Nord et Sud afin de profiter des meilleures performances d’observation OA grâce à ces nouveaux lasers.

Conférence Gemini “Science et Évolution de l’Observatoire Gemini »

L’inscription à tarif préférentiel pour cette conférence scientifique Gemini est maintenant ouverte. Inscrivez-vous maintenant pour le tarif spécial.

www.gemini.edu/seg2018

La conférence «Science and Evolution of Gemini Observatory» 2018 se tiendra du 22 juillet au 26 juillet, avec l’historique Fisherman’s Wharf de San Francisco en toile de fond. Cette conférence invite la communauté Gemini à examiner les progrès scientifiques récents, à identifier les besoins dans le contexte des capacités évolutives de Gemini et à développer des stratégies pour l’avenir. Marquez votre calendrier maintenant et prévoyez vous joindre à nous pour des présentations d’usagers et d’employés sur leurs résultats scientifiques, les instruments, les modes d’observation et pour des discussions informelles.

Inscription à tarif préférentiel: jusqu’au 31 mars 2018
Soumission des résumés: jusqu’au 15 mai 2018

C`est un rendez-vous à San Francisco!

Rejoignez les milliers et milliers de suiveurs de l’Observatoire Gemini sur Facebook: @GeminiObservatory et Twitter: @GeminiObs.

Colibri Notice

From/de Jeremy Heyl (UBC)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

Colibri: Canadian High-Time-Resolution High-Energy-Resolution X-ray Telescope

We propose to develop a concept for a high-time-resolution, high-energy-resolution x-ray telescope using transition-edge sensors (TES) for the x-ray detectors and collector optics to direct the x-rays onto the focal plane to give a large effective area in a small satellite. The key science driver of the instrument would be to study neutron stars and accreting black holes. Our concept study will provide a preliminary costing for the mission including the definition of the science requirements and its influence on design choices such as the form of the optics and focal plane, total effective area, mirror complexity, choice of orbit, mission duration and telemetry requirements.

Please contact Jeremy Heyl if you would like to participate in this study and help with the CSA Bid due 19 April.

President’s Report

By Bob Abraham, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

Budget 2018: Mostly good news

The Federal Budget came out on February 27, and it appears to be favourable to Canadian researchers working in basic science. Funding for academic institutions for research-related activities is set to rise by $340-million in fiscal year 2018-19. By 2023, scientists can count on about $446-million more annually from the funding councils, including direct money for grants, research chairs and a new program to support interdisciplinary science and international collaboration.

The increased support for science was precipitated by last year’s Fundamental Science Review, led by former University of Toronto president David Naylor. While the increase in the budget falls well short of the $1.3-billion a year increase that the report called for, a 25-per-cent increase in funding basic research is hugely welcome. Over the past year, individual scientists and organizations such as CASCA have voiced support for the Naylor report, and support for the report has been a theme of the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy’s periodic visits to Ottawa. On the whole, I think that all this advocacy appears to have paid off.

Another notable aspect of the Federal Budget is the way it calls for a return to a basic research role for the National Research Council. This comes after years of re-purposing NRC to focus strongly on industrial applications. Details remain sketchy at the time of this writing, but as far as I can tell, these changes at NRC are likely to be good news for both CASCA members affiliated with NRC and for Canadian astrophysics as a whole. In particular, I can see many ways that NRC being directed to place greater emphasis on basic research (and on research excellence) would benefit our community. I’d like to understand the plan in detail before commenting on specifics, but perhaps it is worth emphasizing a basic point made in our Long-Range Plans: the success of astrophysics in Canada relies heavily on the partnership between Universities and the NRC. For that reason, all astronomers in Canada should keep a close eye on developments at NRC.

Budget 2018: Some bad news

While the Federal Budget appears to provide mostly good news for astrophysics, many of us were disappointed to see an absence of a strong commitment to the Canadian Space Agency in the document. The implications of a dwindling commitment to Space by Canada were the focus of a recent newspaper article by Ivan Semeniuk. I think this article makes for some interesting reading:

Lost in space: Why Canada’s diminishing role in the heavens is a problem – The Globe and Mail.

There are several reasonable interpretations of the lack of a specific call-out to the Canadian Space Agency in the Federal Budget. My personal interpretation is that the government is simply not ready to commit to a rejuvenation of the CSA because it is still formulating its space policy. The situation is laid out in the following article:

New space policy not ready.

I was particularly struck by one portion of this article, which makes the following points:

  • There is at least one external factor that appears to have contributed to a delay: the ongoing uncertainty in the U.S. space program. Like it or not, right or wrong, the government is taking a wait-and-see approach to what happens in the U.S.
  • NASA has been rudderless, without an approved Administrator since the election of the Trump government in November 2016. And now, Acting Administrator Lightfoot is retiring at the end of the month. Yes, there is a new Space Council in place led by Vice-President Pence, but the dynamics between the White House, the Council and Congress are mired in backroom politicking with no cohesive strategy forthcoming.
  • Does Canada need to wait for the U.S. picture to clear up before making any plans? Are we that dependent on their strategy?
  • I wonder the same thing. Canadian astronomy has benefited hugely from our participation in multi-billion dollar flagship missions, in which we can play a relatively small but highly significant role. I personally believe that we need to contribute significantly to international flagship missions in the future. (Our participation in the James Webb Space Telescope is a great example of Canadian academia operating synergistically with Industry in this capacity, as is our small but important contributions to the success of the Herschel and Planck missions). But, in my opinion, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by international flagship missions should only be a component of a broader Canadian space astronomy ecosystem. We can (and should) aspire to a greater degree of independence and leadership in smaller impactful missions (the proposed CASTOR mission being one good example).

    Gearing up for the next LRP

    These are my opinions, but what are yours? The Coalition’s trips to Ottawa are input-output exercises. In terms of output, we describe what our community does, provide status reports, and explain our need for additional resources. But in terms of input, we take the opportunity to really listen to what the ministry and our elected representatives are saying. One of the most clear messages conveyed to us is that a major strength of our community is its cohesion. This cohesion is manifested by our Long Range Plan, which provides a strong central focus for our community’s activity. In less than a year we will kick off the planning for LRP2020, and the topics above will no doubt be the subject of considerable discussion. Your opinions matter. When the time arrives, please take the opportunity to fully engage in the LRP process, by talking with your colleagues, contributing to a white paper, and participating in the Town Hall meetings, both locally and at the CASCA AGM.

    JWST

    While our community has significant concerns about the long term future of Canadian Space Astronomy, this should not blind us to the fact that the very near-term future is looking pretty damn good. The James Webb Space Telescope Cycle 1 proposal deadline is April 6! After being involved in this project for well over a decade, I can hardly believe that the day we can apply to use this spectacular facility is almost here. The Canadian Space Agency, working in partnership with astronomers led by René Doyon at the University of Montréal, have really delivered the goods for the present generation of astronomers, and they deserve our thanks. I can’t wait to see what gets discovered. If, like me, you find yourself a little overwhelmed by the proposal process, I recommend you make yourself a cup of tea and sit down in front of YouTube and watch the video recordings of the U de M JWST community preparation webinars.

    TMT

    Michael Balogh (chair of CATAC, the Canadian TMT Advisory Committee) has prepared an excellent summary of the progress being made with the TMT project in this issue of Cassiopeia. You should definitely take a look at it, because a key instrument, the Wide Field Optical Spectrometer (WFOS), is being redesigned and this is an excellent opportunity for you to provide the instrument team with feedback on the specifications of the instrument that would best enable your science.

    Diversity and Inclusivity

    The Diversity and Inclusivity Committee (chaired by Brenda Matthews) is preparing a summary of the results from the recent Professional Climate Survey, and the committee has also been given a draft of a proposed CASCA Values Statement to mull over. I expect we will see discussion of both items at the upcoming CASCA Annual General Meeting in Victoria.

    CASCA 2018 and 2019

    As I’m sure you are aware, the 49th annual general meeting of CASCA is being held at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, BC from 22 May to 26 May 2018. The meeting is co-hosted by the University of Victoria, NRC-Herzberg, and the Astronomy Research Centre. It promises to be a spectacular CASCA AGM! You can check out the program on the CASCA 2018 website here.

    CASCA 2019 will be hosted by McGill University in Montréal, which is exciting news, as Montréal is such an amazingly fun city (my favourite, by miles).

    Signing Off

    The CASCA Presidency is a two-year term, and my time as your President is now winding to a close. The next President’s Message will appear in the Summer Cassiopeia and will be written by my successor (Rob Thacker from St. Mary’s University). It has been a privilege to serve you for the last couple of years, and I thank you for putting up with me (not to mention with putting up with these overly-long President’s messages – if you think it’s bad for you, think of poor Joanne Rosvick and Magdalene Normandeau, who had to edit them in spite of them always being late). Leading CASCA for a while has provided me with many opportunities to talk to you all and to share in your adventures, which in turn has shown me how great it is to be an astronomer in Canada. We are part of a community dedicated to excellence in science, and to making our profession better. We are joined together by many things, not least of which is our shared passion to learn more about the Universe and to share its wonders.

    Roberto Abraham
    University of Toronto
    #CASCA

Rapport d’À la découverte de l’univers / Report from Discover the Universe

By/par Julie Bolduc-Duval
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

The English version follows

univers_fr_rgb
À la découverte de l’univers continue d’offrir des formations en ligne gratuites pour enseignants et animateurs de partout au pays et même dans le monde. D’ailleurs, nos dernières formations ont été suivies par plusieurs enseignants d’Europe et d’Afrique.

Nos formations couvrent des sujets variés comme le démontrent les titres suivants :

  • Webinaire : Nouvelles astronomiques et aperçu de 2018 (offert en janvier 2018)
  • Formation de trois semaines pour enseignants (offert en février 2018)
  • Webinaire : Mesurer la Terre avec vos élèves – Projet Ératosthène (offert en mars 2018 en collaboration avec l’initiative internationale Eratosthenes Experiment)
  • webinar1

  • Webinaire : Lumière – Messagère cosmique (à venir en avril)
  • Webinaire : Voyage interstellaire vers de nouveaux mondes (à venir en mai, avec invitée Dr Marie-Eve Naud de l’Institut de recherche sur les exoplanètes)
  • Formation de trois semaines pour animateurs (à venir en juin)

Visitez notre site web pour découvrir toutes nos formations et ressources gratuites.

De plus, nous préparons présentement les formations qui seront offertes durant le congrès de la CASCA à Victoria. Pour la première fois, deux formations seront offertes : l’une pour les enseignants du primaire le mercredi 23 mai ainsi qu’une pour les enseignants du secondaire le jeudi 24 mai. C’est toujours un plaisir de présenter ces journées de formation et de faire connaitre l’expertise canadienne en astronomie!

Si vous connaissez des enseignants du primaire et du secondaire qui pourraient profiter de nos formations gratuites, n’hésitez pas à leur parler d’À la découverte de l’univers. Nous désirons remercier CASCA pour leur soutien depuis les tous débuts de notre programme en 2011. À la découverte de l’univers est aussi offert par l’Institut Dunlap à Toronto et le Centre de recherche en astrophysique du Québec.



universe_en_rgb
Discover the Universe continues to offer free online training to teachers and educators from across the country and around the world. Our last workshops were attended by several teachers from Europe and Africa.

Our workshops cover a variety of topics as shown by the following titles:

  • Webinar: Astronomy News and 2018 Preview (offered in January 2018)
  • 3-week Workshop for Teachers (offered in February 2018)
  • Webinar: Measure the Earth with your Students – Eratosthenes Experiment (offered in March 2018 in collaboration with the international initiative Eratosthenes Experiment, see French version above for figure)
  • Webinar: Light – Cosmic Messenger (coming in April)
  • Webinar: Looking for Other Worlds (coming in May, with guest speaker Dr. Jason Rowe from Bishop’s University)
  • 3-week Workshop for Informal Educators (coming in June)

Visit our website to discover our free workshops and resources.

In addition, we are currently working on the onsite workshops which will be offered during the CASCA meeting in Victoria. For the first time, two workshops will be offered: one for elementary school teachers on Wednesday, May 23 and one for secondary school teachers on Thursday, May 24. It is always a pleasure to present these workshops and highlight the Canadian expertise in astronomy!

If you know K-12 teachers who could benefit from our free resources and workshops, please let them know about Discover the Universe. We wish to thank CASCA for their ongoing support since the very beginning of our program in 2011. Discover the Universe is also offered by the Dunlap Institute in Toronto and the Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec.

Cher OMM, c’est à ton tour…

By/par Sylvie Beaulieu and Olivier Hernandez
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

The English version follows
OMMlogo
En cette année 2018, l’Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) soufflera ses 40 bougies. C’est en avril 1978, durant la nuit du 27 au 28 précisément, très exactement à 9h30 le 27 avril, que les premiers photons ont officiellement « touché » le miroir principal de 1,6 m du télescope Richtey-Chrétien de Mégantic. Cet instant a été immortalisé par une bouteille Magnum « Cordon Rouge » toujours présente au Pavillon des astronomes. C’est surement les yeux rougis par l’émotion, que les pionniers de l’astrophysique au Québec : les professeurs de l’Université de Montréal, et de l’Université Laval, accompagnés des techniciens et de « l’astronome ingénieur », récoltèrent les premières lueurs de leurs efforts au travers de l’oculaire au télescope.

Au fil des 40 dernières années, l’OMM est devenu plus qu’un télescope. Administré conjointement par l’Université de Montréal et l’Université Laval, le télescope est réservé à la recherche fondamentale en astrophysique. Il s’agit aussi une infrastructure qui regroupe des laboratoires d’astrophysique expérimentale situés sur les campus des deux universités et le télescope au sommet du mont Mégantic, dans la réserve internationale de ciel étoilé, établie en Estrie en 2007, une première mondiale en milieu urbain.

À ses missions de recherche et de mise au point d’instruments se greffe celle de la formation. L’OMM accueille de nombreux étudiants des cycles supérieurs et forme du personnel hautement qualifié actif dans les secteurs de la recherche industrielle, universitaire et gouvernementale, en enseignement et en communications. Finalement, l’OMM est très engagé dans les champs de l’éducation et de la vulgarisation scientifique. Avec l’ASTROLab du parc national du Mont-Mégantic, il attire chaque année plus de 20 000 visiteurs dans cette région du Québec. Les retombées économiques (récréotouristiques, notamment) sont estimées à plusieurs millions de dollars. Depuis maintenant 40 ans, c’est presque un million de visiteurs qui ont pu être reçus à Mégantic.

Le personnel de l’OMM se consacre à la mise en valeur de son télescope et à la conception d’une instrumentation astronomique d’avant-garde pour son télescope, mais aussi pour les grands observatoires nationaux et internationaux, tant au sol que dans l’espace. Ces projets se font en étroite collaboration avec des entreprises de haute technologie québécoises (ABB Bomem, INO, nüvü Camēras, etc…) et canadienne (COM DEV), l’Agence spatiale canadienne, le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, des universités canadiennes et divers partenaires internationaux : la NASA, l’Agence spatiale européenne et plusieurs établissements universitaires aux États-Unis et en Europe. Les chercheurs de l’OMM sont des chefs de file en matière de grands projets de recherche fondamentale et instrumentale sur la scène internationale. À titre d’exemple, mentionnons la première photographie d’un système de planètes extrasolaires en 2008, une percée scientifique majeure qui a de grandes racines dans le développement instrumental de l’OMM. Pensons également au développement de l’astronomie infrarouge, dont l’OMM fut l’un des pionniers, qui a largement contribué à la participation canadienne dans le télescope spatial James Webb.

Il nous est impossible de nommer la longue liste des hommes et des femmes de science qui ont contribué aux succès de l’OMM. À toutes et à tous, votre savoir-faire, expertise, recherche, dévouement et passion pour l’OMM sont très précieux et l’OMM vous en sera toujours reconnaissant. Nous ne voudrions non plus pas passer sous silence les nombreux amateurs d’astronomie qui ont littéralement sauvé l’OMM d’une disparition en 2012 en manifestant leur mécontentement alors que notre principale source de financement disparaissait. Clairement, l’astronomie au Québec a une place de choix dans le cœur de la population. C’est grâce à ce support, entre autres, que l’OMM trouve la force de continuer sa mission d’enseignement, de formation, de diffusion et de recherche.

Dans les prochaines semaines, la programmation des activités du 40e sera disponible sur le site de l’OMM : avec des conférences, expositions, visites, etc.

À toutes et à tous, nous vous demandons de lever votre verre avec nous et de chanter : « Mon cher OMM, c’est à ton tour, de te laisser parler d’amour ! »

L’équipe 2018 de l’OMM

image credit: Remi Boucher

image credit: Remi Boucher




In 2018, Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) is celebrating its 40th birthday. It was on April 27th, 1978, at exactly 9:30 PM that the first photons officially reached the surface of the 1.6m primary mirror of the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope in Mégantic. The moment was immortalized by a “Cordon Rouge” magnum bottle, which is still displayed at the “Pavillon des astronomes”. It was probably with emotion that the pioneers of astrophysics in Quebec – professors at Université de Montréal and Université Laval, as well as the technical staff and the astronomical engineer – saw the result of their work through the telescope’s eyepiece.

Over the last 40 years, OMM became much more than a simple telescope. Jointly managed by Université de Montréal and Université Laval, its primary purpose is fundamental research in astrophysics. However, it also serves as an infrastructure that brings together experimental astrophysics laboratories at both universities, as well as the telescope at the top of mount Mégantic, in the dark sky reserve established in the Estrie region in 2007, the first of its kind in the world in an urban area.

Besides its research and instrument design missions, OMM also serves an educative purpose. It welcomes many graduate students, and trains highly-qualified staff in the industrial, academic and government research sector, as well as teachers and communication specialists. Finally, OMM is also very much involved in education and scientific outreach initiatives. Along with the ASTROLab in Parc national du Mont-Mégantic, it attracts more than 20,000 visitors in this region of Quebec yearly. The economic benefits (leisure and tourism sector, among others) are estimated at several million dollars every year. In the past 40 years, Mégantic received almost one million visitors.

The staff at OMM is specifically devoted to enhancing the value of the telescope and the design of advanced astronomical instruments for its own telescope, but also for major national and international observatories on the ground and in space. These projects are undertaken in close collaboration with high-tech firms located in Quebec (ABB Bomem, INO, nüvü Camēras…) and in Canada (COM DEV), the Canadian Space Agency, the National Research Council of Canada, Canadian universities and various international partners, such as NASA, the European Space Agency and several academic institutions in the United States and Europe. The researchers at OMM are leading major fundamental and instrumental research projects internationally. Examples include the first photograph of an extrasolar planetary system in 2008, which was a major scientific breakthrough rooted in instrument development conducted at OMM. The development of infrared astronomy—pioneered by OMM—has also largely contributed to the Canadian participation to the James Webb Space Telescope project.

It would be impossible to mention all the men and women that have made OMM’s success possible. To all of you, your competence, your expertise, your research, your dedication and your passion for OMM was, and continue to be, invaluable, and for that OMM will remain forever grateful. We should also mention the large number of astronomy fans among the public who literally saved OMM from disappearing in 2012 by voicing their discontent that OMM was forced to close for lack of funding. It is clear that astronomy holds a special place in the hearts of the population. Through this support, among other things, OMM is able to carry on its mission of teaching, training, communication and research.

During the next few weeks, the list of activities for the 40th anniversary—conferences, exhibitions, visits, etc.—will be available on OMM’s website.

Everyone, let’s raise our glass and sing, “Mon cher OMM, c’est à ton tour, de te laisser parler d’amour!”

CASCA 2018: A New Century for Canadian Astrophysics / Un nouveau siècle pour l’astrophysique canadienne

From/de David Bohlender (NRC Herzberg, CNRC Herzberg)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

La version française suit

CASCA 2018 is being held at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, BC from 22 May to 26 May 2018. The meeting is co-hosted by the University of Victoria and the NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre with help from volunteers from RASC-Victoria and Friends of the DAO. You can contact us at casca2018@googlegroups.com.

This year’s meeting will be focused on a look forward to the exciting new opportunities and challenges that face the Canadian astronomical community as we begin our second century of Canadian astrophysical research. Science sessions will present results from our newest facilities. A Town Hall Lunch will serve as a foundation for LRP2020 discussions. Centenary sessions embedded within the regular CASCA science sessions will highlight the scientific and technical successes of Canadian facilities and institutes over the first century of Canadian astrophysics, discuss lessons learned that contribute to the present-day quality of astronomy and astrophysics in Canada, and provide insights for our future endeavours.

PlaskettBeer

Special events associated with CASCA 2018 will be a banquet at the world-class Royal BC Museum, a visit to the DAO to celebrate the Plaskett Telescope’s centenary, and a public lecture by CBC’s Bob McDonald (of ‘Quirks and Quarks’ fame). The graduate student workshop will include science and industry components, and education workshops will be held for both elementary and secondary school teachers. And CASCA members have already helped to select the name of our special centenary beer. You can look forward to sampling some of ‘Plaskett’s Big DIPA’ while in Victoria!

We would appreciate you using hashtag #CASCA2018 in your social media to attract attention to the meeting. Those interested in events related to the DAO Centenary itself will find information on the DAO Centennial Facebook page.



L’évènement CASCA 2018 se tiendra entre le 22 mai et le 26 mai au centre de conférence de Victoria. La rencontre est organisé conjointement par l’université de Victoria (UVIC) et le Conseil national de recherche du Canada (CNRC) avec l’aide de volontaires de la branche de Victoria de la Société royale d’astronomie du Canada et de l’organisation « Friends of the DAO ». Pour toutes requêtes, veuillez nous contacter via: casca2018@googlegroups.com.

La réunion de cette année aura pour thème les nouvelles possibilités et les nouveaux défis auxquels fait face la communauté astronomique canadienne au début de notre deuxième siècle de recherche en astrophysique au Canada. Les séances scientifiques présenteront les résultats de nos installations les plus récentes. Une assemblée publique visant à établir les fondements d’une discussion autour du LRP2020. Des sessions du centenaire intégrées aux sessions scientifiques régulières de la CASCA mettront en relief les succès scientifiques et techniques des installations et des instituts canadiens au cours du premier siècle de l’astrophysique canadienne. Ils décriront également les leçons apprises qui ont contribué à la qualité actuelle de l’astronomie et de l’astrophysique au Canada afin de fournir des perspectives sur nos activités futures.

Les événements spéciaux associés à la CASCA 2018 seront un banquet au Musée royal de la Colombie-Britannique (« Royal BC Museum »), une visite à l’OFA pour fêter le centenaire du télescope Plaskett et une conférence publique de Bob McDonald de la CBC (animateur de l’émission « Quirks and Quarks »). L’atelier destiné aux étudiants diplômés comprendra des composantes scientifiques et industrielles, et des ateliers d’éducation auront lieu pour les enseignants du primaire et du secondaire. Les membres de la CASCA ont déjà contribué au choix du nom de notre bière spéciale du centenaire; vous aurez l’opportunité de goûter à « Plaskett’s Big DIPA » durant votre séjour à Victoria!

PlaskettBeer

Nous vous serions reconnaissants d’utiliser le mot-clic #CASCA2018 dans vos médias sociaux pour attirer l’attention sur la réunion. Les personnes intéressées par les événements liés au Centenaire de l’OFA trouveront des informations sur la page Facebook de « DAO Centennial ».

A Note from your Editor

By/par Joanne Rosvick
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

Hello everyone! I don’t normally include myself in the posts, but I thought I would do so this time. I’d like to thank Bob Abraham for doing such a good job as CASCA president. The times when the President’s Report was late was usually due to the fact that he was busy writing reports for several other organizations in our astronomical community. Thanks Bob! (the posts weren’t THAT late)

I’d also like to welcome Rob Thacker as incoming president, and I look forward to receiving his first report for the Summer Solstice issue of Cassiopeia. Welcome!

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Winter/hivers 2017)

The TMT Science Forum was held in Mysore, India on November 7-10. This is the first time one of these meetings took place in India, and it again proved a very effective venue for helping the partner communities become engaged with the project. The focus this year was on TMT instrumentation beyond first light. As announced in the last issue of e-Cass, TMT has issued a call for White Papers due March 21, 2018. These will be reviewed by the SAC, who will make recommendations for the next instrument(s) after first light. The Science Forum provided an opportunity to kick off some of the discussion. Talks are available here. There were also supporting workshops, held on November 6, for discussing three capabilities: a Planetary Science Imager, high resolution spectroscopy, and the first-light instrument WFOS.

At the last SAC meeting, some important updates were provided on both first light instruments for TMT: the infrared imaging spectrograph (IRIS) and the wide-field optical spectrograph (WFOS). In both cases there are decisions being made now, described below, that should be important to the Canadian community. CATAC is therefore following these developments closely.

IRIS successfully completed the second part of its Preliminary Design Review in September; reviews were very positive. The review focused on IRIS observing modes, its interaction with the AO system (NFIRAOS) and the data reduction system. As a result of the review, the IRIS science team is now discussing details of how observations will be taken, and how data will be reduced. NIRIS coupled with NFIRAOS is a very powerful, but complex, instrument that we expect to be of great interest to the Canadian community. If you are interested in knowing more, or would like to get involved, you are strongly encouraged to get in touch with one of the Canadian science team members: Tim Davidge, Pat Coté, or Christian Marois.

WFOS remains a very exciting and challenging instrument. Having earlier abandoned the original concept (MOBIE), the project is now currently considering two very different designs. One would use image slicers, robotically mounted onto masks, to enable multiobject spectroscopy up to high resolution (R~10,000) with narrow slits. The other is a fibre-based design that would allow patrol of the full field, but also bundling to make integral field units. Both designs have advantages and limitations. CATAC will be meeting with the PI of WFOS, Kevin Bundy, on Dec 19 to learn more about the risks and advantages offered by each approach, and the science input driving the specifications. We anticipate that early in 2018 we will be engaging you, the community, to ensure our Science team and SAC members are best able to represent Canadian interests at the time of this important decision.

In addition to these exciting developments, TMT has recently contracted a design study for a secondary adaptive mirror. Studies are underway to predict the improvement in performance as a function of wavelength, natural seeing and field of view. New simulation results will be presented at the next SAC meeting, in Feb 2018. Though this is unlikely to be a first light capability, it could be a priority for an upgrade not long after commissioning.

The political and legal situation in Hawai’i remains generally positive. Legal challenges remain. These are out of our hands and are being dealt with in the courts. The critical issue now is the time it takes to resolve these cases, but the Project remains optimistic that a site decision will be made in April 2018.

To help inform the community on the funding situation facing TMT, on Sept 26 CATAC hosted a public Webex with Ed Stone (Executive Director) and Gary Sanders (Project Manager). Over thirty CASCA members attended. We were presented with a frank and open description of the TMT budget and construction plans. One important takeaway from that meeting was how much impressive work is currently being done, by all partners, despite the delays. About 70% of the items are under contract right now, and roughly 10% of the project is complete. We also got a detailed description of how the project is costed, and how those costs are being revised. There is of course a significant funding gap, that is understood, and the plan submitted to the NSF included a set of options for staging the project. Further discussions with NSF, however, await a site decision.

A Note from the Editor

By/par Joanne Rosvick, Cassiopeia editor
(Cassiopeia – Winter/hivers 2017)

Hello everyone! I wanted to write a short note to thank Magdalen Normandeau for her help as co-editor these past few years. She certainly taught me a few things about formatting and publishing a newsletter, and I appreciated her assistance greatly. I wish her every success in her future endeavours. Thanks, Magdalen!

I hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday season, and all the best in 2018!

President’s Message

2014-06-27-Prof. Roberto Abraham

By/par Roberto Abraham, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Winter/hivers 2017)

Professional Climate Survey

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan gave a speech at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa on November 2 in which she touched on many topics of interest to CASCA, including some preliminary thoughts on The Fundamental Science review (a.k.a. the Naylor Report), the launch of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee and the recent appointment of Dr. Mona Nemer as the Government’s Chief Science Advisor. As will be described below, CASCA is communicating directly with the government on all these subjects. Another important topic highlighted in her speech was the need for greater representation in the sciences. In her speech, Minister Duncan noted the following:

This issue has a deep personal significance to me as someone who spent the bulk of her career as a woman in science.

During my science career, I was told the reason I was getting paid in the bottom 10th percentile was because I was a woman.

I was asked by a fellow faculty member during a staff meeting when I planned on getting pregnant.

I was asked to choose how I wanted to be treated: as a woman or as a scientist.

My travels across Canada have made it very clear to me that addressing the inequities in the research community must remain a top priority for all of us.

Minister Duncan concludes:

We must work together to right the gender, equity and diversity scales in the sciences. And when we do, science will be that much stronger for it.

I say ‘amen’ to that. In fact, I think we as a society do too. And when it comes to issues of greater inclusiveness and fairness in representation, CASCA as a professional society can have real agency in effecting changes in our own professional climate. We have taken some important steps already (e.g. by forming the Equity and Inclusivity Committee, led by Brenda Matthews), but it would be incredibly helpful to have a clearer understanding of the scope of the problem. For that reason the Equity & Inclusivity Committee put together a climate survey (available in both French and English. All CASCA members should already have received news about the survey via the society’s email exploder, but allow me to reiterate how hugely important this survey is to the health of our profession in Canada. If you don’t believe me, believe the Minister of Science. If you haven’t already completed the survey, please, please, find the time to do it.

Coalition Activities

Since the last time I wrote to you, the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy has continued its dialogue with the federal government, focusing on the priorities set out in the Long Range Plan. On November 28, the co-chairs1 of the Coalition and two invited guests visited Ottawa with this purpose in mind. We had two specific goal for this trip. The first was to provide updates on some key priorities which we have been invited to comment further on during our last visit (progress on the Thirty Meter Telescope and the Square Kilometre Array). The second was to advocate for greater support of the Canadian Space Agency. We met with Dr. Nipun Vats (Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development) and Michael Rosenblatt (Director, Federal Science and Technology Policy, Science Policy Branch, Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development). We also met with Katharine Wright at the Office of the Chief Science Advisor, and with Kate Young (M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science).

To help us articulate our goals more clearly, on this trip we were joined by Prof. Sarah Gallagher (Western University) and by Deborah Lokhorst (a PhD student at the University of Toronto). Sarah recently co-authored an important white paper on space astronomy funding (together with Jeremy Heyl and Ilaria Caiazzo, both at UBC), and she was able to place Canada’s investments in Space Astronomy into a broad international (and historical) context. Deborah was tasked with explaining why federal support is needed now for priority missions identified in the Long Range Plan (such as WFIRST), in order to secure a bright future for younger generations of Canadian astrophysicists, such as herself, that will be carrying the torch once people like me have ridden off into the sunset. While this visit to Ottawa focused largely on Space Astronomy and support for the Canadian Space Agency, we did not fail to communicate how the plan represents a coherent vision for Canadian astrophysics (agreed upon by the whole community), how astrophysics (the country’s premiere science, in terms of international impact) benefits all Canadians, and how the LRP aligns with the government’s priorities.

On behalf of the CASCA Board of Directors, allow me to conclude this message by wishing you all the best for a happy holiday season, and for a productive and prosperous 2018.

1 The coalition co-chairs are Prof. Don Brooks (UBC), representing ACURA (the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy), Guy Nelson (CEO of Empire Industries), and me (representing CASCA, i.e. you).