Message from the CASCA president

By Chris Wilson, CASCA president

Hi, everyone,

The start of term is upon us, with all the work that entails, and so this will be just a short report to update you on some of the things that have been going on over the last three months. More information on many of these topics is available elsewhere in this newletter or in the society web pages.

First, I would like to welcome Joanne Rosvick and Magdalen Normandeau as our new Cassiopeia editors! I am very grateful to them for taking this on and I look forward to working with them.

The Mid Term Review (MTR) is now underway with the solicitation of White Papers in preparation for the town hall meetings that will occur early in 2015. The panel has already requested a number of reports from CASCA committees and individuals involved in proposed or established facilities and missions. But any member of the community is welcome to submit a white paper. Length will be as in the LRP – 4 pages text maximum. Up to 5 additional figures allowed. Deadline for submissions is 28 November 2014. Please see the MTR part of the CASCA web site for more details.

Lobbying efforts for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) are well underway. A thoughtful article by Ivan Semeniuk on the TMT appeared in the Globe & Mail in late July and generated additional media coverage. A number of CASCA members wrote letters to their MPs and to Minister Ed Holder, under whose department the TMT falls, and many or all of us received replies from the Minister’s office in August. Individual CASCA members have also been busy meeting with their university Presidents and/or Vice-Presidents research to update them on the TMT issue and I can report that the TMT was discussed at the U15 meeting of university presidents in August. Also in August, the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy made a Pre-Budget Submission on the TMT to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. I think it is safe to say that TMT as a project and an issue is now quite well-known both within the government and in the universities. We are continuing to raise the issue of TMT with the government this fall. Ultimately, though, we will only know whether or not we are successful in getting funding for TMT when the 2015 federal budget is announced. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the TMT Ground-Breaking ceremony which will happen on October 7 and is supposed to have a live-stream which we hope to link to the CASCA web site.

The Long Range Plan Implementation Committee is continuing its monitoring of the broad suite of activities underway in our community. The Canadian CCAT construction proposal will meet with an expert CFI panel on September 29. A complication to the Canadian effort was the failure of NSF to provide partial funding for CCAT through its recent MSIP program. However, the CCAT team continues to be hopeful that new partners will join the telescope to allow its construction in a timely manner. There is an update on progress with the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer elsewhere in this issue and so I will not say anything more about that here. The ACURA Advisory Committee on the SKA has a new chair (Bryan Gaensler) and is being expanded to nine members in anticipation of accelerated developments with that project over the next couple of years.

In the wider world, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has started on an ambitious program to reform its Commission structure with a deadline of October 15, 2014. Also, the deadline for proposing for an IAU Symposium for 2016 is now October 31, 2014.

And last but not least, two of our society’s members have been honoured this past month. Harvey Richer from UBC has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Christian Marois from NRC Herzberg has been elected to the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada. Congratulations to both Harvey and Christian on a well-deserved award.

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