Dr. Anthony Moffat: 2022 Carlyle S. Beals Award for Outstanding Research

CASCA is pleased to announce that Dr. Anthony Moffat is the winner of the 2022 Beals Award.  This is in recognition of decades of cutting-edge research on topics relating to massive stars, including Wolf-Rayet stars, stellar pulsations, rotation, magnetic fields, clumping, binaries, clusters, and surveys.  Many of us have used a Moffat profile: that was his work! He received his doctorates in astronomy from Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum in Germany, and has been a professor at Université de Montréal ever since, and hasn’t slowed his research output since taking emeritus status.  He has trained generations of scientists who are still working in Canada and internationally. He remains very active in research on massive stars and astronomy projects like the BRITE constellation.

Dr. Deborah Good: 2022 J. S. Plaskett Medal for Most Outstanding PhD Thesis

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Deborah Good as the recipient of the 2022 J.S. Plaskett Medal for the most outstanding doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics. Dr. Good received her PhD in 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Ingrid Stairs at UBC, and she is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut and the Flatiron Center for Computational Astrophysics.  Her thesis, “Timing Pulsars and Detecting Radio Transients with CHIME,” includes groundbreaking work on the first few months of pulsar and fast radio burst detections with CHIME. To complete this research, she led efforts within the CHIME team to calibrate instruments, write software, verify events, and is on the cutting edge of trying to discover whether or not all Fast Radio Bursts are repeating events. She also collected pulsar data, discovered many new pulsars, and adapted the NANOGrav pipeline to work for CHIME data, laying the groundwork for data processing that will be needed in the next couple of years.

We would also like to recognize the exceptional theses of all the finalists: Dr. Connor Bottrell, Dr. Ryan Chown, Dr. Adam Gonzalez, and Dr. Émilie Parent

Dr. Karun Thanjavur: Winner of the 2022 Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education and Outreach

CASCA is pleased to announce that Dr. Karun Thanjavur is the winner of the 2022 Qilak Award, recognizing his outstanding outreach work for a diverse group of beneficiaries, specifically leading efforts to connect Indigenous communities around the province with the University of Victoria. His projects within the last few years include multiple programs bringing Indigenous students to the university for astronomy classes, labs, and telescope observing sessions, and leading the organization of several activities at CASCA 2018 that connected local Indigenous knowledge-keepers with CASCA members. In addition to these Indigenous-focused programs, he also regularly appears in the media and extensively organizes public outreach with UVic’s on-campus observatory. The 2017 solar eclipse event was wildly successful with ~1500 attendees.  As well as mentoring students of many different ages and backgrounds, he acquires observing time on DAO’s Plaskett telescope every quarter specifically for training and mentoring undergraduates. Dr. Thanjavur earned his PhD from UVic and has held positions ranging from marine engineering, to teaching robotics and combustion engineering, to instrument scientist and resident astronomer at CFHT, and is currently a Senior Lab Instructor at UVic.

National Research Council Takes Major Step to Cement Canada’s International Leadership in Astronomy

Canada signs cooperation agreement with the SKA Observatory

November 29, 2021 (OTTAWA) – A new cooperation agreement signed today by the National Research Council (NRC) to continue Canada’s participation in the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) helps cement Canada’s international leadership in astronomy. One of the largest scientific projects in human history, SKAO will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope.

The Coalition for Canadian Astronomy welcomed the announcement and expressed its thanks to the NRC and to Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne for their leadership in securing the cooperation agreement.

“Canada’s astronomers are consistently ranked among the best in the world, and the research produced makes astronomy arguably Canada’s highest ranked science. Known for developing a number of breakthrough technologies in radio astronomy, Canada has been a partner in SKA since its inception, and today we are taking a step towards long-term participation in a project that will generate amazing discoveries for decades to come,” said Rob Thacker, President of the Canadian Astronomical Society and Coalition Co-Chair.

The SKA will be constructed over the next decade, with the earliest science operations beginning mid-way through construction. The international project will combine almost 200 dish-shaped radio telescopes together in South Africa, and connect over 100,000 low-frequency antennas in Australia. The SKA will also have data centres around the world, including one potentially in Canada. There are currently 16 partner countries in the project.

The SKA has been a top priority for Canadian astronomy for over two decades as it progressed through the conception and design phases. The project entered the construction phase on July 1 of this year.

“Canada’s continued leadership in astronomy is directly tied to access to the world’s most advanced facilities. Joining the SKAO is enormously important when it comes to our ability to attract and retain the top researchers and students in astronomy,” said Don Brooks, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy and Coalition Co-Chair.

“Canadian industry has a long history of providing the skilled design, engineering, and manufacturing required for next-generation global astronomy facilities like the SKA, which leads to spinoffs across a range of industries. Today is not only a win for Canadian science, but also great news for the economy and the companies that will supply critical components of the project,” added Guy Nelson, President and CEO of Dynamic Technologies Group and Coalition Co-Chair.

The Coalition is hopeful this announcement will lead to Canada’s full and long-term participation in the SKA.

“The SKA will transform our understanding of the history, contents, extreme conditions, and prospects for life in the Universe,” said Kristine Spekkens, Canadian SKA Science Director and Professor at the Royal Military College and Queen’s. “The science that the SKA will enable is well-aligned with the expertise of Canadian astronomers, who will be at the forefront of many of its ground-breaking discoveries.”

The Coalition is firmly committed to SKA advancing goals around equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“Scientific discoveries with the SKA will inspire a new generation of young Canadians to pursue careers in STEM fields. Guided by the 15 community recommendations in the Long-Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Coalition is working to increase participation and inclusion of communities that are under-represented in astronomy,” said Thacker.

About the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy
The Coalition is composed of:
• Academia: represented by the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) and its 20 members;
• Professional astronomers: represented by the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA);
• Industry: represented by Canadian companies involved in major astronomy projects.

The Coalition is united behind the Long-Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics (LRP), a decadal plan first launched in 2000 and renewed in 2010 and 2020, with a view to sustaining Canada’s international leadership in astronomy. The LRP process, backed by Coalition support, has created a legacy of success, with astronomy consistently ranked as Canada’s top science and Canadians at the forefront of this field globally.

Contact:
Duncan Rayner, 613-241-6000, ext 223
duncan@tsa.ca

Canadian Space Agency – Supplements to the NSERC PDF Program 2021 AO

As part of its commitment to support the development of the next generation of space professionals in Canada, the CSA will offer, through its “Supplements to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowships Program (PDF) 2021” Announcement of Opportunity (AO), grants to postdoctoral researchers who have been awarded an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship under its Postdoctoral Fellowships Program. Postdoctoral researchers must be involved in a promising research project that is aligned with and that will contribute to the priorities outlined in the Space Strategy for Canada.

Summary of key information:

  • Total funding available (2021): $100,000
  • Number and value of the grants: Up to five (5) supplements in the amount of $20,000 each will be awarded.
  • Eligible recipients: Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, be a postdoctoral fellow and conduct a research project under the supervision and mentorship of a more senior researcher in a Canadian academic institution or another appropriate research institution in Canada, be awarded, and have accepted, an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship under the call for proposals 2021 of the NSERC’s PDF Program (see note in Section 3 of the AO).
  • Application deadline: January 7, 2022

The CSA invites postdoctoral researchers interested by this opportunity to apply for a grant supplement through the CSA AO.

You can access the “Supplements to the NSERC PDF Program” AO and obtain information on how to apply by clicking here.

Laurin, Denis (ASC/CSA)

Call for Proposals for GEMINI 2022A and SUBARU Exchange-time

The Gemini 2022A Call for Proposals has now been released, and Canadian specific information for Phase 1 can be found at:

https://nrc.canada.ca/index.php/en/research-development/products-services/technical-advisory-services/gemini-canadian-specific-information-phase-i

The deadline is: Friday October 1st, 2021, at 4pm (PDT)/ 7pm (EDT)

This semester Canada will have access to 188 hours on the North and 192 hours on the South. Please consider submitting programs with relaxed observing conditions, suitable for Band3, even if they will take longer to execute to get to the same S/N.

What’s New for 2022A:

  • PLEASE NOTE: Canada has now moved to a dual-anonymous review process (DARP) for proposals for this semester 2022A. Please follow the DARP guidelines to write an anonymous proposal (see the link in the Call above). This applies to all proposals even those not led by a Canadian, so please make sure to warn your PI.
  • The Priority Visitor mode and Classical mode will be offered for semester 2022A at Gemini-North, but not at Gemini-South. This may change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Users are encouraged to use the Remote Eavesdropping mode for all queue programs.

For semester 2022A (1 February 2022 to 31 July 2022) the full instrument suite available on Gemini-North is: GMOS-N, GNIRS, NIRI, NIFS, and Altair. 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, and Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC). Many visitor instruments are also available, please see the call. 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

IAU and short update

Dear CASCA Members,

Just a short update on a couple of issues: First of all, the online IAU
XXXI General Assembly (GA) Business Sessions are taking place over the
coming 10 days in an online format. While I will attend the primary
business sessions on behalf of the Canadian community, I thought I would
bring to everyone’s attention that on Tuesday 24 August, 15:00 CEST,
there will be a session to discuss the new IAU Resolutions to be voted
on electronically by Individual and Junior Members, between 26 August
and 10 September 2021. The Resolutions are as follows:

  • Resolution B1 in support of the protection of geodetic radio
    astronomy against radio frequency interference
  • Resolution B2 on the improvement of the Earth’s rotation theories
    and models
  • Resolution B3 on the Gaia Celestial Reference Frame
  • Resolution B4 on the use of a standard photometric system in
    ultraviolet (UV) astronomy

Secondly, I have had a small number of emails asking for further
information around the ongoing societal issues around the resignations.
As I noted in the original Board response, I am bound by confidentiality
at this time and I am absolutely sure none of you want me to commit an
ethical breach at this point. As President in a difficult situation, I
take my duty of care to all members of the society very seriously and I
want to reiterate my genuine request that people not speculate. Although
we cannot openly discuss events right now, that does not mean things are
not happening, and I can say I think we’ve made some positive steps over
the past few days. However, I caution that getting to a point where more
details can be discussed openly will take time. It is the end of the
summer and many people are on much needed holidays.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding, and I’d like to wish
you all well for the upcoming semester,

Rob

Board Response to Resignations of CASCA President and Vice-President

Dear Members,

By now I expect you have read the resignation statement of our President, Sara Ellison, and the Vice-President Samar Safi-Harb.

This is a heavy blow for our Society. I’m sure you all join me in an expression of heartfelt thanks to both Sara and Samar for their service to the Society and community over the last 15 months. I know that choosing to resign was exceptionally difficult for both of them, and I ask everyone to be respectful and empathic of their choice.

I am sure many of you have questions about the precise reasons for their resignations beyond the general outline provided by Sara and Samar. Unfortunately, the primary issue is a confidential one which, at least at present, the Board cannot discuss in detail. I respectfully request that members refrain from making any assumptions or engaging in speculation. The Board asks for your patience until we are in a better position to communicate the next steps for the Society.

The Board convened on August 3rd and following a discussion of the resignations, the Board asked if I would be prepared to be interim President until the next AGM under bylaw 9.1, and I have agreed to do so.

My first action has been to begin the search to find an interim Vice-President. The Board agreed on a list of individuals with prior Board experience that could assume the role quickly. Again, I’m sure you would all join me in providing sincere thanks to Erik Rosolowsky for agreeing to step-in. Thank you, Erik!

I promise to update the membership as soon as possible, but I want to caution that I am out of the office from the 4th to the 12th.

I want to end with an acknowledgment that the volunteer work done in the name of the Society is incredibly valued by the community at large. The volunteer work of the President and Vice President, in particular, has been generous to the point of self-sacrifice. Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Rob Thacker (Acting) President on behalf of the Board

Resignations of CASCA President and Vice President

Dear CASCA colleagues:

It is with sincere regret that we announce our resignation from the CASCA Board.

As President and Vice-President, we felt truly privileged and honoured to serve our Society and its mission, and we thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of this journey.

The Board’s dedication and service to the community is truly immeasurable, and our appreciation for the Board’s incredible service to the community has only exponentially intensified this past year. It’s been a pleasure to work with every single member of the Board.

Our guiding core values are empathy, kindness, integrity, enthusiasm and inclusion of diverse perspectives. Given recent events around the latest AGM and how it unfolded, we both observed and personally went through negative experiences from outside the Board that are in conflict with our values. Upon deep and careful reflection, we came to realize that these values would be more effective and beneficial to activities outside of our CASCA leadership role.

The decision to step down has been an incredibly difficult and painful one for us to reach. So we convey this news to you with a very heavy heart, kindly asking for your understanding.

Thank you for putting your trust in us. We remain dedicated members of CASCA. We will do our best to assist the Board during the transition. We look forward to continuing to work with many of you, our fellow astronomy colleagues, on the science and society matters that make us tick.

Sincerely,

Sara Ellison and Samar Safi-Harb