Shared Postdoctoral Position in Precision Radial Velocity Studies of Exoplanets (McMaster & Grenoble)

The exoplanetary research groups at McMaster University and l’Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA) invite applications for a shared, full-time postdoctoral position in the field of precise radial velocity (RV) studies of exoplanets. The successful applicant will work under the joint supervision of Dr. Ryan Cloutier (McMaster) and Dr. Xavier Bonfils (UGA).

The successful applicant will join the NIRPS ( GTO science team and enjoy access to data from its ongoing GTO program. NIRPS is a precise near-IR RV spectrograph that was recently commissioned on the ESO 3.6m telescope in Chile and is operating alongside the HARPS optical spectrograph. Work hours will be split between focused (80%) and independent research programs (20%) with the former focusing on NIRPS+HARPS data analysis to characterize the global architectures of M dwarf exoplanetary systems. We particularly invite applicants whose scientific backgrounds include leveraging observations to discover and characterize exoplanetary systems.

The duration of the appointment is 36 months with the first 18 months to be spent at McMaster before transferring to UGA for the remainder of the appointment. Master University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and UGA in Grenoble, France. Considerations for a term extension are conditional on satisfactory performance and the availability of funds. The start date of the position is negotiable but must begin before December 31, 2023.

Interested candidates should submit an application (single PDF file format) that includes:

  1. a cover letter
  2. a 3-page statement of research interests, including interests that pertain to NIRPS’s scientific capabilities (figures and references included)
  3. an up-to-date CV
  4. names and contact details for three consenting reference letter writers who may be contacted

Application materials should be submitted by email to The position will remain open until filled but evaluations of applications will begin on August 1, 2023.

McMaster University and UGA are strongly committed to employment equity within its community and to recruiting a diverse faculty and staff. Both universities seek qualified candidates who share our commitment to equity and inclusion, who will contribute to the diversification of ideas and perspectives, and especially welcomes applications from underrepresented minorities including but not limited to Indigenous peoples, members of other racialized communities, persons with disabilities, women, and persons who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

At McMaster University, this position will be part of a Collective Agreement for Postdoctoral Fellows, CUPE 3906, Unit #3. This position carries a competitive salary and standard benefits package at both universities, including medical benefits.

Useful links

Ryan Cloutier, PhD
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy | McMaster University

Pronouns: He/Him/His
A.N. Bourns Science Building | 1280 Main St W | Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8
Office: ABB 318
ZOOM meeting room

re-submission of the summer solstice 2023 issue of e-CASS to include an article from the CSA

Dear all,

An article was sent to the editor’s email spam folder by accident, and thus was missed. Please check the updated issue of the newsletter for the article from the Canadian Space Agency.

My apologies to Denis Laurin for not including the article in the original newsletter.


Dr. Joanne Rosvick (she/her)
Associate Professor
Department of Physical Sciences (Physics)
Faculty of Science
Thompson Rivers University
805 TRU Way
Kamloops BC
V2C 0C8

CASCA AGM Student Prizes

Dear CASCA members,

For those who were unable to attend last week’s CASCA AGM in Penticton, here are the winners of the student prizes:

Best talks from the Board (in no particular order):

  • Demet Kirmizibayrak (UBC): “Time Lags in Astronomy Through Novel Timing Methodologies”
  • Stefan Pelletier (Université de Montréal): “Probing the Carbon Budget and Formation History of the Ultra-Puffy Exoplanet WASP-127b”

Best poster from the Board:

  • Xiaoyi Ma (winner; University of Toronto): “Vortex-induced rings and gaps in a protoplanetary disk”
  • Alice Curtain (runner up: McGill University): “Science in Space: How to telescope designing and building telescopes in Minecraft to encourage belonging and equitable spaces in STEM”
  • Alan Knee (runner up: UBC): “Gravitational wave detection techniques for hierarchical triples in the LISA band”

Best talks from the Graduate Student Committee (in no particular order):

  • Alice Curtain (McGill University): “Calibrating the CHIME/FRB Outriggers using Pulsars and the VLBA”
  • Veronika Dornan (McMaster): “Investigating the M_GCS – M_h Relation in The Most Massive Galaxies”

Best posters from the Graduate Student Committee (in no particular order):

  • Lauren Foster (McMaster University): “Comparing Star Formation on the Leading versus Trailing Sides of Infalling Group and Cluster Galaxies”
  • Kate Hartman (McMaster University): “omparing Globular Cluster System Properties with Host Galaxy Environment”

Congratulations to the winners – and thanks to all students who attended last week’s CASCA meeting and provided an impressive array of 48 oral and 62 poster presentations.

Best regards

Dr Robert Cockcroft (he/him)
CASCA Secretary
on behalf of the CASCA Board and the Graduate Student Committee

Recording of eclipse info session


Some of us met in the first week of June for an interesting discussion about local initiatives for the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024.

The recording is now available on YouTube (unlisted):

You can also see the Google Slides that I used in the first part of the session.

I think we will have a few other sessions in the next academic year. Instead of writing to everyone through this list, I’m inviting those interested in joining these sessions to fill out this short Google form so that I can contact you directly.

Thanks, and have a nice day!

Julie Bolduc-Duval

CASCA Westar Coördinator

Description of the position

In this part-time position, you, as the CASCA Westar Coordinator, will manage the revamped Westar Exchange program. You will establish and maintain long-term relationships with underserved communities; help to plan and support exchanges between CASCA astronomers and these communities; and work with the Westar subcommittee and other groups across Canada doing similar outreach.

Your responsibilities:

  • Making connections with underserved communities, and maintaining these relationships
  • Learning the important customs, practices, and protocols of these communities
  • Liasing with the CASCA Westar subcommittee and other groups across Canada doing similar outreach work.
  • Working with underserved communities to arrange visits (online or in-person) of CASCA astronomers
  • Helping CASCA astronomers to prepare for their visits, including travel and accommodation, and carrying out or arranging appropriate training (EDI, Indigeneity, cultural sensitivity)
  • Debriefing the astronomers after their visits, to help improve future visits
  • Putting out calls to the Canadian astronomical community to find those interested in becoming Westar visitors
  • Maintaining/updating the Westar Exchange website
  • Time permitting, doing fundraising to sustain the Westar Exchange program

Qualifications and requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in physics, astronomy, journalism, communication, education, Indigenous studies or another relevant discipline
  • Experience in working with underserved communities
  • Familiarity with EDI principles
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Patience and ability to work with diverse groups of people
  • Basic familiarity with Office software
  • A computer with Office software and internet access
  • Proficiency in written and spoken French and English
  • Knowledge of website editing, video or graphic software, and social medial management would be an asset
  • Fundraising experience would be an asset
  • Knowledge of astronomy would be an asset
  • We encourage applications from women, visible and ethnic minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity


This position is fully remote.

Hours per week, Salary, and Length of position:

This is initially a three-year position. The annual salary will be $12,000 in the first year, corresponding to 8 hours/week. In the second and third years the salary will be $9000, corresponding to 6 hours/week. This position is renewable subject to the availability of funds and satisfactory performance.

Anticipated Start Date:

The anticipated start date for this position is Oct 1, 2023

Application Process and Closing Date:

Please email a CV and cover letter to Westar Chair Terry Bridges (, with the title “CASCA Westar Coordinator Application”. Your cover letter should include an EDI statement, and your experience with outreach and fundraising. Interviews will be conducted online (Zoom, Skype, or telephone) after the closing date.

The closing date for applications is Aug 1, 2023.

Optical-Infrared Review Committee (OIR).

Over the past few months, the CASCA Board has established the OIR committee with the primary objective of conducting a comprehensive review of the optical-infrared ground-based landscape accessible to Canadians, both presently and potentially in the future. The committee’s mandate encompasses the assessment of various factors such as scientific viability, technical readiness, scheduling considerations, and the alignment with community needs and desires. It is important to note that the review of Canada’s involvement in the TMT project will not be within the scope of this committee.

We are delighted to announce that the OIR committee will be co-chaired by Doug Welch from McMaster University and Ivana Damjanov from Saint Mary’s University, who have graciously accepted the role of co-chairs. We are confident that their expertise and leadership will greatly contribute to the committee’s success. The remaining members of the committee will be announced shortly, and their collective knowledge and experience will further enrich the review process.

The committee aims to provide its recommendations by June 30, 2024, in the form of a comprehensive report that will be made available to the public. This report will serve as a valuable resource for the CASCA community, providing insights and guidance for the future of optical-infrared ground-based astronomy in Canada.

Lastly, we would like to share the terms of references that have been adopted by the committee (see below). These terms of reference outline the scope and objectives of the review process, ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the committee’s work.

Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to the fruitful outcomes of the OIR committee’s work.

Best regards,
Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo, on behalf of the CASCA Board

Terms of Reference


CASCA has formed the Optical-Infrared Review (OIR) Committee to assess and address the needs of Canadian researchers in light of developments since the Long Range Plan (LRP) 2020.

Significant developments since the LRP recommendations have become public include:

  1. The successful launch, commissioning, and science operations of the James Webb Space Telescope.
  2. The near-term science operations of the Rubin Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (estimated Jan. 2025), the launch of Euclid (estimated launch July 2023), and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (estimated launch 2026/7).
  3. A moratorium on new leases for observatories has been established in 2022 as the management of Maunakea transitions from the University of Hawai’i to the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority over the five-year period beginning on 1 July 2023 (Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer after the National Strategic Planning Reviews). This impacts the original timeline for the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (CFHT/MSE) that included an estimated start of science operations in 2030. The start of the construction phase for MSE on Maunakea would depend on the decision about the CFHT’s site lease renewal at the end of this decade. In the case of a positive outcome, MSE science operations will not commence before the late 2030’s or early 2040’s. By then, the other wide-field multi-object spectrographs already under construction will likely have been taking data for a decade:
    – Subaru/PFS (Prime Focus Spectrograph)
    – VLT/MOONS (Multi-Object Optical and Near-IR Spectrograph)
    – VISTA/4MOST (4-metre Multi-Object Spectrograph Telescope)
    – Mayall/DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument)
    The construction of MSE, regardless of when it is built, will result in a gap of science operations at the site of approximately eight years.
  4. The (US) National Science Foundation (NSF) is conducting an environmental review of the Maunakea site in preparation for its potential future investment in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) as part of the US Extremely Large Telescope Program. The NSF will not make a funding decision until a range of viewpoints and all aspects of the project are considered (UPDATES | March 23, 2023). The final decision was initially expected by the end of 2024 but has now been delayed and will also be influenced by the capacity of the NSF budget available at that time.
  5. As a partner in the Gemini International Observatory, Canada must make a decision for the upcoming Gemini Assessment Point, due in 2024.


The OIR Committee is charged with providing an assessment of optical and infrared facility resources both currently/imminently available to, or needed by, its researchers. This assessment will weigh the feasibility and capacity of the Canadian research community to engage and support the appropriate suite of facilities and will emphasize:

  1. The needs of Canadian early-career OIR faculty/staff researchers (and other such Canadian researchers needing access to OIR facilities) over the period 2025-2035;
  2. In this assessment, the recommendations from the LRP 2020 will provide the baseline community consensus from that time and those recommendations will be reviewed with respect to developments in the intervening time;
  3. The OIR review will be a similar mid-LRP cycle assessment much as the GAC was for VLOTs;
  4. The community’s needs with respect to 4m-class facilities, recognizing Canada’s existing partnership in the CFHT but also the conclusion of current Large Programs during the period under consideration. Long Range Plan recommendation #22 specifically recognizes that the CFHT situation may need to be re-assessed during this interval and this committee is in a position to provide such an assessment and recommend possible scenarios for 4m-class facility access going forward;
  5. The community’s needs with respect to 8m-class facilities, recognizing Canada’s partnership in the International Gemini Observatory and its existing instrumentation and those instruments that will become available in the near future. The committee will provide input relevant to the Gemini Assessment Point decision due in 2024 and to take effect in late 2027; and
  6. Canada remains a committed partner of the TMT International Observatory. VLOT facility plans and commitments are not directly part of this assessment but it is recognized that among possible recommendations by this committee to serve non-VLOT needs, some may provide possible VLOT access.

The Committee will comprise both senior and early career researchers and will have non-voting stakeholders and subject matter expertise from relevant stakeholders, including NRC and ACURA. It will also include at least one senior expert member from outside Canada.


The Committee will consult broadly with the Canadian community and will also be informed by:

  1. The research plans and aspirations of current early-career researchers, including both observers and instrumentalists;
  2. Data on OIR facility demand and archive use;
  3. Current and projected budget allocations, operations costs and joining fees (where applicable);
  4. Data on the role of OIR facilities and archive use in recent publications. Here, the international picture of which OIR facilities are providing significant impact will be sought;

The Committee will endeavor to provide its recommendations by June 30, 2024. The report will be made public.

Footnote Throughout “OIR facility/facilities” refers both to the resources currently available to the Canadian astronomical community and to other facilities (currently in operation or coming online shortly) that may be of interest to Canadian astronomers.

Canadian Space Agency: ROSS AO cycle 2 deadline is July 28, 2023

The deadline for the second funding cycle of the Canadian Space Agency’s Research Opportunities in Space Science Announcement of Opportunity (ROSS AO) has been extended by two weeks to July 28th 2023. This extension is to facilitate the voluntary submission of a Notice of Intent (NoI), which was added to the ROSS AO in response to requests from the scientific community.

The objective of this non-mandatory NoI is to verify the eligibility of the applicant and the project before submitting a complete application (see Section 4.1 for details. NoIs will be accepted until June 16th 2023. After this date, NoIs will not be subject to a response. A proponent can submit a complete application form whether or not they submitted an NoI.

Denis Laurin (for the ROSS team)
Canadian Space Agency

2023 Summer NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge

Make Your Own Image of the Phantom Galaxy (M74)!

Join NASA’s Universe of Learning for an exciting opportunity to use real astronomical data and tools to create your own images of the Phantom Galaxy, also known as M74. Use your images to explore the mysterious structures within this galaxy, or just create an image that you think is beautiful. You can capture your own real-time telescope image using the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network. You can also work with an archival set of data files taken with multi-wavelength NASA, ESA, and CSA space telescope mission (Webb, Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and XMM-Newton).

The NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge provides learners of all familiarity levels authentic experiences using real astrophysics data, including those from NASA space-based missions. Participants engage in the scientific practices of a scientist through accessible data tools and experiences while they create and share their composite images.

The NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge includes instructions on how to turn the data into beautiful composite images with a simple and free web-based image processing tool used by professional astronomers. The JS9 image processing tool is widely used by the astronomical community to process and analyze the data from the world’s premiere research telescopes. NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge uses a version of this tool, JS9-4L, developed for learners.

The challenge also features a short video by professional astronomers. These subject matter experts provide science content knowledge of the Phantom Galaxy as observed across the electromagnetic spectrum. Submit your creations to the challenges and they may be highlighted as standout entries commented on by scientists.

Join the NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge, here:

You can also learn more about other opportunities to discover the universe for yourselves at NASA’s Universe of Learning:

Nathalie Ouellette
Université de Montréal

Report on the 50th anniversary of the Rothney Observatory

On behalf of the Heritage Committee I would like to bring to your attention a report on the 50th anniversary celebration of the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory. The report was prepared by Gene Milone and includes material from Philip Langill and T.A. Clark.

The report can be found at this link:

Dennis Crabtree

Canadian Amateur Astronomy Site

Many of you have probably heard that the RASC has stopped publishing SkyNews Magazine. The former editor-in-chief, Carina Ockedahl, is very enthusiastic about continuing her work on astronomy news in the form of a website that she just launched:

I wanted to highlight this for CASCA members both because it’s a handy resource for Canadian-centred astronomy news, and because there are great opportunities here for CASCA members to write about their research projects for a keen audience of primarily amateur astronomers. Please reach out to Carina directly if you have any questions or are interested in contributing:

Samantha Lawler
University of Regina