CASCA member is co-winner of prestigious IAU Shaw Prize.

Victoria Kaspi PhD, CC, FRS, FRSC of McGill University is the co-winner of the 2021 Shaw Prize in Astronomy. This year’s prize was awarded for the work which she and Chryssa Kouveliotou have done in the field of magnetars: a class of highly magnetised neutron star. Here is the link to the IAU press release detailing their research.

The Shaw Prize, established under the auspices of Mr Run Run Shaw in November 2002, is an international award to honour individuals who are currently active in their respective fields and have recently achieved distinguished and significant advances making outstanding contributions in academic and scientific research or applications. The Shaw Prize consists of three annual awards: the Prize in Astronomy, the Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and the Prize in Mathematical Sciences. Each prize carries a monetary award of one million two hundred thousand US dollars.

LRP2020 final report

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of Matt Dobbs, Jeremy Heyl, Natasha Ivanova, David Lafrenière, Brenda Matthews and Alice Shapley, we are pleased to present the final report of the CASCA 2020 Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy (LRP2020). The unformatted version of the report is now available on the CASCA website. A professionally-designed version and a French translation are in progress and are expected to be available early in 2021.

We thank everyone who contributed to the LRP process by writing a white paper, attending a town hall, participating in consultations, or answering our many requests for information. We would especially like to recognize the very hard work of the LRP2020 panel members over the past twenty months.
The LRP2020 section on the CASCA website contains links to all of the submitted white papers and reports as well as a summary of the process. The designed and translated versions of the report will be available there once complete.

Pauline Barmby & Bryan Gaensler
LRP2020 Co-Chairs

Optical Senior Lead (PC-04) /Optical Specialist (PC-03).

Name: Michael Maszkiewicz
Affiliation: Canadian Space Agency

An opportunity has been advertised for the following positions:

  • Optical Senior Lead (PC-04)
  • Optical Specialist (PC-03)

You can view the opportunities at the following web page:

Selection process number: 20-CSA-EA-8513
Closing date: December 4th, 2020

This email has been forwarded to CASCA members as a service to the community. Unless explicitly stated, this does not imply an endorsement of its contents by CASCA or the CASCA Board.

The First Canada-Wide Diversity in Physics Survey

(Survey closes 23h59 EST on Monday, November 30)

To: Physicists in academia, industry and government within Canada
Students pursuing a physics degree at a Canadian institution

From: Canadian Association of Physicists;
Kevin Hewitt and Anastasia Smolina,
Co-editors PiC special issue – Inclusivity for Excellence in the Physics Community in Canada

Subject: Invitation to participate in the first annual CAP EDI survey (and be entered for a chance to win one of five $100 gift cards)

PLEASE NOTE: First year undergraduate students who receive this message should only complete this survey if you are enrolled in a Physics programs/pursing a physics degree.


Physics is a quantitative science which relies on measurements to understand the natural world and validate hypotheses. Its success is based on that commitment to measurement, and the same is true of our desire to create a more inclusive environment in the Physics community in Canada. There has never been a comprehensive survey of the diversity of the Physics community in Canada, whereas the US has been collecting these statistics for several decades.

The objective of the first annual CAP Diversity survey is to understand how identity, age, first-in-family status, field of study, province of residence, employment and educational outcomes, income, family and child care responsibilities, culture and climate, language, and citizenship influences participation in physics-related industrial workforce, government and academia. This study has been approved by Dalhousie Research Ethics Board on Oct. 27, 2020 (REB file # 2020-5261).

The raw data will be stored securely on the Canadian Association of Physicists Wufoo Canadian server, and will also be backed up on a secure Dalhousie server. Publication of the results in CAP’s Physics in Canada issues will follow strict guidelines, including reporting in aggregate form when the number of respondents in a given category is less than 5. While the Physics community in Canada may be among the last to conduct such a wide-ranging survey of the field, we hope the delay will be offset by the quality of the data.

Academic, industrial and government leaders could identify potential interventions to create a more vibrant and inclusive community for excellence, further advancing the field. We hope you will participate in the survey. As an added incentive, and to thank you for your time, you can choose to enter a draw for a chance to win one of five $100 gift cards at the end of the survey.

Please follow the link below to participate in the survey

You should discuss any questions you have about this study with Kevin Hewitt and Anastasia Smolina. Please ask as many questions as you like before or after participating by contacting us via email or phone: 902-494-2315 or (Kevin Hewitt) and (Anastasia Smolina).

If you have any ethical concerns about your participation in this research, you may contact Research Ethics, Dalhousie University at (902) 494-3423, or email (and reference REB file # 2020-5261).

This email has been forwarded to CASCA members as a service to the community. Unless explicitly stated, this does not imply an endorsement of its contents by CASCA or the CASCA Board.

NOVEMBER FAST TURNAROUND CALL for Both Gemini North and South

Dear Gemini Users,

Please be reminded of the Fast Turnaround proposal deadline at the end of this month, November 30th at 23:59 Hawaiian Standard Time. Gemini-South will be accepting Fast Turnaround proposals too this month! Successful proposals from this cycle will stay active in the queue from January 2021 until March 2021.

The FT program has been used to conduct pilot studies or stand-alone science projects, complete data sets, and follow up newly-discovered objects, although we welcome proposals for any kind of project with scientific value.

To access the Fast Turnaround proposal templates and get full details about the program, please see the latest FT Call for Proposals at:

Good luck,

Stéphanie Côté,
for the Canadian Gemini Office,
Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre
National Research Council Canada
5071 West Saanich Road, Victoria BC V9E 2E7
Government of Canada

This email has been forwarded to CASCA members as a service to the community. Unless explicitly stated, this does not imply an endorsement of its contents by CASCA or the CASCA Board.

DAO 2021 first quarter proposal deadline

The deadline for applications for time on the DAO 1.2-m and 1.8-m telescopes for the first quarter of 2021, 4 January through 31 March, is 1 December 2020.

Despite the DAO site being closed to most staff and visitors since mid-March because of COVID-19, both telescopes have continued to operate robotically throughout the pandemic. While the 1.2-m telescope has been available for robotic observations with its McKellar spectrograph for many years, the Plaskett 1.8-m Telescope is now also available for robotic imaging on a shared-risk basis.

The 1.2-m spectrograph can provide spectra with dispersions between 40.9 Å/mm and 2.4Å/mm with wavelength coverage determined by the 61.4 mm long SITe-4 CCD. Most 1.8-m imaging programs are currently carried out with SDSS filters but Johnson/Kron-Cousins filters are also available. The imaging FOV is 23.9’ x 10.6’ and the E2V-1 detector is normally binned by a factor of 2 for a scale of 0.6” per binned pixel.

If you are interested in applying for time please contact me ( to obtain a LaTeX template for your proposal. Dmitry Monin ( and I can also provide more information about each telescope’s capabilities and limitations. For example, the 1.8-m telescope has a number of pointing restrictions required for safe robotic operation.

Thanks and stay safe!

David Bohlender

David Bohlender, Research Officer
Canadian Astronomy Data Centre & Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre
National Research Council of Canada
5071 West Saanich Road, Victoria, BC V9E 2E7
Tel 250-363-0025 | Fax 250-363-0045 |

Call for Proposals for GEMINI 2021A and SUBARU Exchange-time

The Gemini 2021A Call for Proposals has now been released, and Canadian specific information for Phase 1 can be found at:

The deadline is: Thursday October 1st, 2020, at 4pm (PDT)/ 7pm (EDT)

This semester Canada will have access to 224 hours on the North and 186 hours on the South. Please consider submitting programs with relaxed observing conditions, even if they will take longer to execute to get to the same S/N.

Exciting News for 2021A:

  • For GSAOI/GeMs, the new NGS2 Natural Guide Star system has been successfully commissioned. Much fainter guide stars can now be selected thus increasing considerably the sky coverage.
  • MAROON-X is now available at Gemini-North. It is a high-resolution (R=80000) optical radial velocity spectrometer.

For semester 2021A (1 February 2021 to 31 July 2021) the full instrument suite available on Gemini-North is: GMOS-N, GNIRS, NIRI, and NIFS. Altair will not be available for 2021A as it is still under repair. The Visitor instruments offered on Gemini-North are: GRACES, ALOPEKE, POLISH-2 and MAROON-X.

And on Gemini-South: GMOS-S, Flamingos-2, GSAOI + GeMs; and the Visitor instruments Zorro and IGRINS.

A guaranteed minimum of 5 classical nights will be available on Subaru. The instruments available are: AO188 (but no LGS-AO), FOCAS, HDS, IRCS, Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), and SWIMS (a wide-field near-infrared imager and multi-object spectrograph) replacing MOIRCS. Note that the visitor instruments SCExAO including the VAMPIRES module, CHARIS and now IRD-Infrared Doppler are also available. You must request half nights or full nights, except for HSC now taking programs in queue mode.

Good luck!
Stéphanie Côté,
Canadian Gemini Office, NRC HAARC

Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST)

Dear CASCA Members,

Let me bring to your attention a webinar series organized by the Canadian Space Agency at the beginning of August.

Best regards,
Jean Dupuis, Canadian Space Agency

Dear Researchers,

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) cordially invites you and your research teams to attend a series of webinars to be hosted in early August that will present the various platforms available for conducting research in a simulated space environment.

Under the Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) 2019 Announcement of Opportunity (AO), certain projects were required to test their technology during a flight, a field deployment or a research site deployment in order to be considered eligible for funding. It is for this reason that the CSA would like to raise awareness amongst the research community about the various platforms from which their projects may benefit. The series will be kicked off by an introductory presentation outlining the CSA’s Capability Demonstration initiative, and will be followed by individual presentations each covering a separate research platform. The presentations will cover the following topics:

  • Overview of the research platform
  • Costs of using the platform
  • Process for accessing the platform
  • Advantages and disadvantages of using this type of platform for research
  • Examples of research that has already been conducted, or can be conducted using this type of platform
  • Research communities that may be interested in this type of platform

The target audience for these webinars will be researchers (principal investigators and co-investigators) from Canadian postsecondary institutions across the country who are conducting research projects related to space science and technology and who may be interested in applying for funding under the FAST program in the future.

Details of each presentation and registration links can be found below. Please note that all webinars will be presented in English, however presentation materials (including Q&A) will be prepared in both official languages and CSA employees will be available to answer questions in French. For presentation topics marked with an asterisk (*), please indicate in your registration form (or by e-mailing me) whether you are interested in attending a French presentation at a later date.

Date and Time Topic Registration Link Presenter
August 6, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
Capability Demonstration Initiative and Research Platforms Overview* [Register here] Sid Saraf
Canadian Space Agency
August 7, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
Parabolic Flights: NRC’s Falcon 20* [Register here] Derek Gowanlock
National Research Council
August 10, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
Stratospheric Balloons* [Register here] Philippe Vincent
Canadian Space Agency
August 11, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
Suborbital Rockets: Blue Origin’s New Shepard [Register here] Erika Wagner
Blue Origin

Andrea Yip
Luna Design and Innovation

August 12, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
Analogue terrains and rovers* [Register here] David Shaffer and Sid Saraf
Canadian Space Agency
August 13, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
International Space Station (ISS) facility: Nanoracks [Register here] Ajeeth Ibrahim
August 14, 2020
1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT
CubeSats [Register here] Darian von Paridon
Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS)

We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

Natasha Isloor
Senior Program Officer
Science, Technology and Expertise Development in Academia (STEDiA)
Canadian Space Agency / Government of Canada

The CASCA RSS feed

The CASCA website now has an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. This allows you to automatically get summaries of all new posts on the site sent to your favourite notification service (be it e-mail, browser, desktop notification centre or Siri) without having to actually visit the site.

An RSS primer and full details of how to subscribe to our RSS feed are in the ‘Contact’ tab of the site at

Mailing list owners: Recently we’ve become aware that, as a fallout from the spam-filter vs. spam-generator AI wars, all of the messages on the e-mail exploder don’t necessarily get to all of the members. In one case an e-mail was received by no one as an outgoing filter erroneously thought that one of the links in it going to a malware site. While I do what I can to clear a way through these minefields for our e-mail this is going to happen from time to time.

So if you run into problems with the e-mail exploder, or if you just want to hedge your bets on the coverage of your time sensitive message, I suggest that you then submit a post to the site with the same information as your e-mail in it under the category ‘e-news’. All RSS subscribers, some of whom will probably be subscribers because of their e-mail provider’s high rate of false positive spam checks, will quickly get your message. If your e-mail’s coverage is in doubt then you can also then send out an additional, link free, message to your mailing list with a suggestion to check the ‘e-news’ category on the site. This will have an excellent chance of getting through to more people than your original message under adverse conditions.

Black Lives Matter and the day of action 10 June

We strongly voice our support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for elimination of systemic racism against Black and Indigenous Canadians. We are outraged at the deaths of so many individuals, most recently George Floyd, Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Jason Collins, Eishia Hudson and D’Andre Campbell, along with all the Black and Indigenous people in Canada, the USA, and elsewhere, who have not survived interactions with police.

Systemic racism exists in Canada, and our society has a long way to go to realize an equitable playing field for all Canadians. We stand with our Black and Indigenous members and their communities. As the wider Canadian community calls for change and for action, we offer our support for those struggling to end systemic racism, white supremacy, colonialism and police brutality. To create the change we want to see, it is incumbent upon each of us to educate ourselves, embrace and promote anti-racism in Canada, understand the impact of our astronomical research and facilities, act to dismantle barriers, and participate in social justice.

We are committed to improving the professional lives of members of the Canadian Astronomical Society. We know that racist language and behaviour exists in the working lives of many of our members, and that we must continuously commit to finding ways toward better representation, inclusion and equity.

As many of you already know, Wednesday June 10th has been designated as a day of action when academics are asked to focus their attention on education and action toward eliminating systemic racism and acknowledging that Black Lives Matter.

We have compiled below some links and resources that CASCA members can explore on this day of action. We encourage all CASCA members to take a stand against anti-Black racism this Wednesday and continue that stand in the future. There are many ways you can help, and all journeys begin with a single step.

Sara Ellison, CASCA President
Brenda Matthews, Chair, CASCA Equity & Inclusivity Committee

Join a movement:

Do some research:
Justice in June
CBC Radio
17 Years of Police Violence In Canada
A US/Canadian Race/Racism Reading List

Desmond Cole: ‘Canada insists on being surprised by its own racism’

Letters to America from Black Canadians