The Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education and Outreach

The Qilak award was developed jointly by the Beyond International Year of Astronomy group (a collaboration of CASCA, the FAAQ and the RASC). Established in 2011, these Awards are given, one by each of the sponsoring organizations, with a common purpose and evaluation criteria. The Qilak Award recognizes individual Canadian residents, or teams of residents, who have made an outstanding contribution either to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy in Canada, or to informal astronomy education in Canada. Beginning in 2018, CASCA will separate award cycles to recognize outreach efforts accumulated over a career in odd years and recent and impactful outreach activities in even years. Nominations should carefully outline why a given nominee or group of nominees falls with a specific category. In recognition of the nuances associated with group nominations, the Award can only be received by a specific group once every 8 years. Individual nominees may only win the Award once, and individual Award winners may not be nominated as part of a group award. The Award is open to all CASCA members.

One goal the award is to promote such activities among the members of the sponsoring organizations. The recipient of the CASCA Qilak award will write an invited article for the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (JRASC), and will be offered the opportunity to address the membership at the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

The nomination package must consist of a joint letter of nomination by at least two members in good standing of CASCA. No letter should exceed three pages in length. A letter of nomination should highlight how the nominee, or team of nominees, have distinguished themselves in astronomy outreach or communication, and/or cite exceptional achievements. Additional material such as examples of a nominees work is allowed.

For the 2021 award, letters of nomination and any supporting materials (see nomination guidelines) must be received by the chair of the Awards Committee and the CASCA Business Office, by Dec 31 2020.

2021 Qilak Award


CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Jayanne English as the recipient of the 2021 Qilak Award.

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Jayanne English as the recipient of the 2021 Qilak Award. Dr. English obtained her PhD from Australian National University, and is currently an Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Manitoba. Over many decades, Dr. English has leveraged her prior training as an artist (at the Ontario College of Art and Design University) to build a unique outreach program that bridges art and science. She has promoted the use of artistic techniques and design to influence how astronomical images are constructed by both professional astronomers and amateur enthusiasts. During her two-year tenure as the coordinator for the Hubble Heritage Project, she led the production of some of the most iconic Hubble Space Telescope images, many of which have had billions of views. Combining optical data with radio observations, Dr. English was recently awarded a 2nd Place National Radio Astronomy Observatory 2020 Visualization Award for her stunning composite HST-VLA image of the galaxy NGC 5775. In collaboration with composer Nicole Lizee, she produced “Colliding Galaxies: Colours and Tones”, a unique integration of astronomy and electronic music. By designing and teaching courses such as “The Art of Scientific Visualization”, Dr. English has also trained a next generation of astronomical visualization experts, guaranteeing that her work will have a multiplicative effect on the broader community.

CASCA is delighted to recognize Dr. Jayanne English’s efforts with this award.

Recipients to date have been:
2020 Bolduc-DurvalJulie Bolduc-Duval Discover the Universe Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.
2019 CamiJan Cami Western University Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.
2018 ThackerRob Thacker St Mary’s University Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.
2017 ChastenayPierre Chastenay Université du Québec à Montréal Teaching & learning astronomy in Elementary Schools Full Citation.
2016 MatthewsJaymie Matthews University of British Columbia When galaxies, puppets and Ashton Kutcher collide. Full Citation.
2015 DelaneyPaul Delaney York University Outreach from the York Observatory: 40 Years and Counting! Full Citation.
2014 Trottier_Howard (11)finsmHoward Trottier Simon Fraser University The IYA and Beyond at Simon Fraser University. Full Citation.
2013 James Hesser National Research Council of Canada Provocative Reflections on Communicating Astronomy in 2013 Canada. Full Citation.
2012 John R. Percy University of Toronto “A Half-Century of Astronomy Outreach: Reflections, and Lessons Learned”

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