Cassiopeia – Winter solstice d’hivers 2015


In this issue/Dans ce numéro:

President’s report
ALMA Update
Astrosat News
BRITE-Constellation News
Herschel-HIFI News
Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update
Nouvelles du CNRC Herzberg / NRC Herzberg News

Editors: Magdalen Normandeau & Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21). To submit a contribution please email All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. We accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.

President’s Report


By Chris Wilson, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Hivers/Winter 2015)

Hi, everyone,

Well, the end of term is in sight but like many of you, I am still swamped with marking and student meetings. So this will again be a short report noting a few important highlights.

Our next annual meeting will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The graduate student workshop will be on May 30th, 2016 with the CASCA meeting itself May 31st – June 2nd, 2016. The meeting will be held at the historic Fort Garry Hotel, located in the heart of Winnipeg, within easy walking distance of many attractions such as The Forks and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. More information is available on the meeting web site. Registration will open in January.

Work on the report from the Mid-Term Review panel is well underway; the committee estimates that roughly 90% of the document has been written. The panel is holding weekly telecons and I think the report is converging quite quickly. While there is a certain amount of polishing that will be needed, the panel is working to have the full report completed early in the new year.

I am sure that many of you continue to follow the latest news on the TMT from Hawai`i. In early December, the Hawai`i Supreme Court invalidated the Conservation District Use Permit issued by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to the University of Hawaii – Hilo to build TMT on Maunakea. This means that TMT will need to apply for a new permit in Hawai`i in order to build on the Maunakea site, with September 2016 the earliest possible date on which a new permit could be obtained. We continue to monitor the situation and will share information as it becomes available and can be made public.

Members of the ACURA Advisory Committee on the SKA helped to organize a workshop on “Canada and the SKA” that was held at the University of Toronto December 10-11, 2015. The meeting was an opportunity for the Canadian community to assess its main interests and activities for the SKA, and to identify areas for synergy and coordination. There was good turnout by astronomers from a number of Canadian universities and NRC-Herzberg, as well as participation by a number of potential industrial partners and a number of international astronomers as well. If you missed the workshop, the talks are expected to be made available soon on the conference web site.

The CASCA Board held two meetings this fall, a short one in October and our longer mid-year meeting in December. These meetings are held electronically to save time and travel costs. We also discuss issues as they arise via email and igloo (a community forum software). The new Diversity and Inclusivity Committee has been established; its first chair is Dr. Brenda Matthews from NRC-Herzberg and you can find the membership and terms of reference on the CASCA web site. Another task at this time of year is identifying new members to serve on CASCA committees: a big thank you to everyone who has agreed to serve our community in this way!

One of the major areas of discussion over the past 18 months has been the Westar trust and the Westar Lectureship. In my previous report, I described how the Board had committed a portion of the income from the Westar funds to support the Discover the Universe Initiative. A big focus over the next 6 months will be working to re-establish the Westar Lectureship series. The Westar lectures occurred quite regularly in the 2000s but as far as I can tell was overtaken in 2009 by the International Year of Astronomy and never restarted. The CASCA Board is working with our EPO committee and Discover the Universe to implement a new model that combines a Westar lecture by an astronomer with hands-on teacher training activities offered by Discover the Universe. Expect to see a call for volunteers in early 2016.

Happy holidays!

JWST Early Release Science Program: A Survey to Gauge Community Interests

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled for launch in October 2018, and the first call for proposals will be released in 2017. The Space Telescope Science Institute, following the recommendations of the JWST Advisory Committee (, is now defining the parameters for an Early Release Science (ERS) program.

The primary objective of the ERS program is to provide community access to a broad suite of JWST science observations as early as possible in Cycle 1. The observing programs will be chosen by peer review to provide representative datasets and to address technical challenges related to the major instrumental modes available on JWST. ERS observations are expected to seed initial discovery and to inform Cycle 2 proposals, which will be submitted just months after the start of Cycle 1.

We are gathering community input to inform our preparations for the program and invite your participation in our brief survey at The survey will be open until 15 January 2016 and consists of four pages; it should take 10-15 minutes to complete.

More information on the general framework and timeline for the ERS program can be found on the ERS webpage ( Questions and/or comments are welcome via email (jwst_ers [at]

2016 U of T Astronomy Summer Undergraduate Research Program

Le Programme d’été de Recherche pour premier cycle Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) en Astronomie et Astrophysique, à l’Université de Toronto est une chance unique offerte aux étudiants pour préparer leur carrière dans le domaine de la recherche scientifique.

Pendant le programme de 16 semaines, les étudiants pourront:

• Acquérir de l’expérience en vue d’une carrière en recherche scientifique, en conduisant un projet relié à la recherche effectuée à l’Université de Toronto (UdeT)
• Collaborer avec des astronomes de l’ UdeT
• Perfectionner leurs compétences informatiques
• Améliorer leurs compétences en matière de communication et rédaction
• Mieux connaitre les recherches effectuées à l’UdeT
• Participer aux activités d’information destinées au grand publique

Les étudiants obtenant une bourse du programme travailleront avec des astronomes de l’Institut Dunlap (Dunlap Institute), du Département d’Astronomie et d’Astrophysique (Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics DAA), ou l’Institut Canadien d’Astrophysique Théorique (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics CITA), en fonction du projet de recherche des étudiants et de leurs intérêts.

Le programme SURP offre aux étudiants une opportunité unique de travailler dans un
groupe constitué de trois unités ayant des expertises complémentaires en recherche
observationnelle, en instrumentation astronomique (Dunlap), et en astrophysique
théorique (CITA).

Le programme aura lieu du 2 Mai au 19 Août 2016.

La date limite d’application au programme est le 29 Janvier, la date d’offre officielle sera
envoyée le 5 Février.

Pour plus de détails, merci de visiter les sites:

Bourses 2016 pour stagiaires d’été iREx

L’Institut de Recherche sur les Exoplanètes (iREx), récemment créé à l’Université de Montréal, regroupe des professeurs, chercheurs et étudiants spécialisés dans la recherche et l’étude des exoplanètes, les corps de faible masse, les étoiles jeunes et les disques proto-planétaires. Les chercheurs de l’iREx sont activement engagés dans une variété de projets scientifiques observationnels, théoriques et instrumentaux. Plus de détails sur la programmation scientifique de l’iREx sont disponibles sur

L’iREx offre des bourses d’excellence à tous les niveaux (BSc, MSc, PhD et postdoctoral). Plus particulièrement, l’iREx ouvre dès maintenant un concours pour des bourses de niveau BSc pour les stages d’été.D’une durée de quatre mois (mai-août), ces stages constituent une excellente occasion pour les étudiants de se joindre à une équipe dynamique et de s’initier à la recherche de pointe en astrophysique en participant activement à des programmes scientifiques d’avant-garde liés aux exoplanètes et autres thématiques connexes. Les chercheurs disponibles pour superviser des stagiaires cet été sont les professeurs Nick Cowan (NC) René Doyon (RD), David Lafrenière (DL), Pierre Bastien (PB), Andrew Cumming (AC) et les chercheurs Étienne Artigau (EA), Loic Albert (LA) et Julien Rameau (JuR). Des stages dans les thématiques suivantes sont offerts :

1 – The NIRISS Optical Simulator (NOS) – Le simulateur en laboratoire de l’instrument NIRISS (NOS) : acquisition et analyse d’image de transit d’exoplanète grâce à NOS (LA);
2 – Recherche de planètes distantes dans les archives du satellite SPITZER (EA, JuR);
3 – Les télescopes spatiaux au service de exoplanètes: construire et tester des modèles de détecteurs de haute fidélité permettant la caractérisation atmosphérique des exoplanètes (NC);
4 – Analyse de données liées à la recherche de naines brunes et exoplanètes autour d’étoiles jeunes (EA, DL, JuR);
5 – Développement d’algorithmes liés à la recherche d’étoiles jeunes (DL, RD, JuR);
6 – Détermination de l’âge des étoiles candidates du relevé Gemini Planet Imager (RD);
7- Simulations de données du futur télescope spatial James Webb liées à l’étude des exoplanètes par spectroscopie de transit et par imagerie directe (LA, EA, RD, DL);
8- Développement d’un simulateur optique de l’instrument NIRISS du JWST en laboratoire lié à l’étude des exoplanètes par spectroscopie de transit (LA, EA, RD);
9- Simulations numériques des performances de SPIRou, un spectropolarimètre infrarouge de haute précision dédié à la recherche de planètes terrestres par vélocimétrie de haute précision (EA, RD);
10- Observations et analyse de données avec POMM, le nouveau polarimètre de haute précision de l’Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM). Cibles : étoiles candidates du relevé Gemini Planet Imager (PB)

Les stagiaires pourraient aussi participer à une ou plusieurs missions d’observations à l’OMM durant l’été. La bourse, au montant de 3 000 $, peut être cumulée avec celle du CRSNG (BPRC) pour un montant total de 7 500 $. Pour les étudiants non boursiers du CRSNG, les professeurs s’engagent à compléter la bourse iREx pour un montant total de 6 000 $. Tout étudiant inscrit dans une université canadienne dans un programme menant à l’obtention d’un diplôme de baccalauréat en physique ou en astronomie est éligible aux bourses. Le stage doit avoir lieu à l’Université de Montréal. Pour l’été 2016, quatre bourses d’excellence Trottier de niveau BSc seront attribuées.

Les candidats intéressés sont invités à soumettre un curriculum vitae, un relevé de notes ainsi qu’une courte lettre de présentation (au plus quelques paragraphes) expliquant leurs motivations à obtenir ce stage et leurs préférences parmi les thématiques proposées pour les stages. Les dossiers doivent être soumis électroniquement à l’adresse suivante : au plus tard le 12 février 2016. Les résultats seront communiqués vers la fin du mois de janvier.

Observatory Software Engineer

Prof. Stanimir Metchev at the University of Western Ontario Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration invites applications for an observatory software engineer.  The successful applicant will be expected to aid with the installation and automation of a robotic array of small-aperture telescopes equipped with rapid-imaging cameras. Depending on interest and qualifications, additional opportunities for collaborations with Metchev’s team exist in the fields of
exoplanets, brown dwarfs, or circumstellar debris disks.

Candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent in Computer Science, Physics, Astronomy, Applied Mathematics, or a related field.  Strong computer programming expertise is required. Background in systems automation, data management, or image analysis would be advantageous.  The start date is flexible, but preferably no later than April 1, 2016.

Required Skills:
– experience with Linux and Windows Operating Systems
– experience with TCP/IP communication
– experience writing software interfaces to hardware devices
(e.g., temperature controllers, CCD devices, etc.)
– experience with a scripting language (python, Perl) is a plus
– experience with XML is a plus
– ability to learn new software languages / systems quickly

Candidates should submit a resume, a brief statement of experience and interests, and the names and contacts of three references directly to Prof. Metchev.  The position is open until filled. For full consideration, complete applications should be received by February 1, 2016.

For more information, please contact Prof. Metchev (

Postdoc in substellar/exoplanetary and/or time-domain astronomy

Prof. Stanimir Metchev at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) Centre
for Planetary and Space Exploration (CPSX) invites applications for a
Postdoctoral Fellow in the fields of substellar objects, exoplanetary
systems, and/or time-domain astronomy.  The successful applicant will
lead aspects of an on-going Exploration Science program with the Spitzer
Space Telescope on the variability and atmospheric properties of brown
dwarfs. Depending on interest, opportunities also exist for the design
and automation of a robotic telescope array for time-domain astronomy.
The candidate will be expected to actively pursue additional
ground-based observations in support of one or both of the above

Metchev leads the Weather on Other Worlds international collaboration,
and is a member of the GPI Exoplanet Survey and the CFHT/SPIRou Planet
Search Legacy Survey teams.  Other research at UWO CPSX spans the fields
of planetary science, astrophysics, and astrobiology.  Collaborative
opportunities exist with members of these teams and disciplines. UWO has
access to all Canadian national telescopes, including Gemini, the CHFT,
ALMA, and a slew of 1-2 metre-class telescopes.  Metchev’s team also
regularly uses other facilities, including Hubble, Magellan, NOAO
telescopes, NASA/IRTF, and McDonald Observatory.

Candidates must have a doctoral degree in Astronomy or a related field.
Background in precision photometry, spectroscopy, or time series
analysis would be advantageous.  The start date is flexible, but
preferably no later than April 1, 2016.

Candidates should submit a curriculum vitae, a brief statement of
research experience and interests, and the names and contacts of three
references directly to Prof. Metchev.  The position is open until
filled. For full consideration, complete applications should be received
by February 1, 2016.