Cassiopeia Newsletter – Autumnal Equinox / equinoxe d’automne 2023


In this issue:

ALMA Matters
Update on CASTOR
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien
Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update
ngVLA Update

Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21). To submit a contribution please email All submissions must be received by the specified due date to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.

Cassiopeia est le bulletin d’information de la CASCA, publié quatre fois par année, aux solstices et aux équinoxes (21 mars, 21 juin, 21 septembre et 21 décembre). Pour soumettre un article, écrivez à Toutes les soumissions doivent être reçues avant la date limite spécifiée pour être publiées dans la prochaine édition. J’accepte les fichiers en format texte (ascii) et Word. Veuillez noter que la mise-en-page de votre document ne sera pas conservée. Veuillez faire parvenir vos images en pièces jointes à votre courriel plutôt que de les insérer dans votre article. Pour les liens à des sites internets, veuillez inclure l’adresse entre parenthèses à côté du mot ou de la phrase devant servir d’ancre.

ngVLA Update

By / par Erik Rosolowsky (U Alberta), Joan Wrobel (NRAO)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2023)

Recommendations from the U.S. decadal survey Astro2020. Full science operations for the ngVLA would begin in the 2030s. The ngVLA would advance all three of the priority scientific areas identified by Astro2020. Credit: National Academy of Sciences

ngVLA Funded to Enter the MREFC Review Process

In July, the U.S. National Science Foundation approved the ngVLA project for entry into the Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction (MREFC) review process. MREFC queue entry is not a commitment to construct the ngVLA, but does signal strong scientific and technical promise, and growing project readiness. Three MREFC reviews (Conceptual, Preliminary, Final) will be completed over the coming years. Those reviews will provide the Foundation with the critical information needed to consider adding ngVLA construction to a budget request later this decade. This would pave the way to begin full ngVLA science operations in the 2030s, as recommended by the U.S. decadal survey Astro2020.

In September, the Foundation released funds to continue the project’s design efforts through 2026. That the ngVLA has been funded to enter the MREFC queue is a testament to the research community’s strong support for the project. The ngVLA project is very grateful for that support!

Special Session: Space Weather on Other Worlds

The NRAO and the ngVLA project will convene a Special Session titled « Space Weather on Other Worlds » in January 2024 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

The session will highlight recent scientific breakthroughs in characterizing space weather on other worlds with current facilities; describe planned near- and long-term improvements for ground- and space-based facilities; discuss major scientific leaps likely to result from next-generation facilities across the electromagnetic spectrum; and review the highest-priority themes in this area for the state-of-the-art observatories to be commissioned in the next decade.

Invited presentations by Bin Chen (NJIT), Lia Corrales (University of Michigan), Cynthia Froning (Southwest Research Institute), Melodie Kao (University of California, Santa Cruz), Sebastian Pineda (University of Colorado), and Jackie Villadsen (Bucknell College) will be featured. Contributed iPoster presentations are welcomed. Abstracts are due September 29, 2023.

Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update

By / par Patrick Hall (MSE Management Group Member)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2023)

Funding Proposals

Disappointingly, the $6.5M Canada Foundation for Innovation funding request for wide-field spectroscopic telescope design and development work was not funded.

Based on the comments received, a significantly different approach would have to be taken for a future proposal to be successful. For instance, the Expert Committee reviewers wrote “Although the long-term science that will be enabled by the planned technology development activities is important, the proposal does not clearly articulate their innovation. As described, the endeavors are not novel or pushing the state-of-the-art.” And: “The nature of this project is too specialized to have concrete benefits on the population. As such, its impact remains unclear.” While the lack of direct and immediate return to the community is inherent to all astronomy projects, these comments imply that CFI is unlikely to be right path to fund proven components for MSE but could support more innovative (and potentially high risk) technologies.

More encouragingly, a $0.5M NSF ATI (Advanced Technology & Instrumentation) grant proposal led by Sam Barden at the MSE Project Office at CFHT was approved. The proposal will fund critical technology development for MSE spectrographs (wavelength splitting and pupil slicing).

A $4M NSF MRI (Major Research Instrumentation) will be revised and resubmitted in November.

An NSF Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-1 (MSRI1, $6M-$20M range) proposal for MSE design work or Pathfinder construction will be submitted Jan 2024. A similar previous proposal was well received (recommended by a review panel to go forward to the next review phase, but the panel was overruled).

If an NSF Mid-Scale Innovations Program in Astronomical Sciences (MSIP, $4M-$30M) call is made this year, a proposal to advance the MSE Pathfinder will be submitted.

MSE and MSE Pathfinder Instrument at CFHT

Information on the MSE Pathfinder instrument has been circulated as part of the Upcoming Ten Years of CFHT discussions, as circulated to CASCA members and available at this link. Discussions also continue with four groups who expressed interest in MSE Pathfinder and three in MSE design study work in the recent CFHT call for partners in those initiatives.

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By / par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2023)

Background Summary of the TMT Project

Recognizing that the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) is a project spanning multiple decades, many people new to the astronomy community will be unfamiliar with its history. Following is a short summary of the project’s background, with links to more information. Current updates detailing developments since our last report follow this background.

current news follows summary

The TMT is a proposed 30-m diameter, optical telescope with a state-of-the-art adaptive optics system that will achieve unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. It will enable transformative discoveries in a wide range of disciplines including exoplanets and the search for biomarkers, cosmology and the formation of the Universe, galaxies and stars, and much more, as described in the Detailed Science Case. TMT is one of only three planned telescopes of this type. The others are the 25-m Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and the 42-m European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

Canada has been engaged in the TMT project since 2003, with a significant scientific and technical leadership role. Canada joined the TMT International Observatory (TIO) corporation as a full member in 2015, following a $243M commitment from the federal government. These funds primarily support construction of the enclosure by Canadian industry, and the adaptive optics system, NFIRAOS, by Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics (HAA). Participation in the TMT has been strongly endorsed by the Long Range Planning exercise, starting with the midterm review in 2005. Canada has three seats on the TMT Board: the ACURA Executive Director (Gilles Joncas), the HAA Director General (Luc Simard); and a Science Governor (currently vacant). Canada also has three voting seats on the Science Advisory Committee, and one non-voting position usually occupied by the Science Governor. Canada’s share of observing time is expected to be in the range of 10-15%, though this depends on the outcome of negotiations for NSF partnership, and the final project cost.

TMT is a technically mature project, but construction requires both significant additional funding, and the support of the local community. Protests against TMT construction in 2014 and 2019 have prevented construction from proceeding. The position of CASCA and ACURA, endorsed by CATAC, is that unless the TMT project has consent from the Native Hawaiians, Canada’s astronomical community cannot support its construction on Maunakea. Several important changes have taken place since 2019, including the establishment of the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority (MKSOA). The formation of this body was recommended by a Working Group initiated by the State Governor, and signed into law on July 7, 2022. This Authority began work on July 1, 2023, and will take over management of the mountain from the University of Hawaii after a transition period of no more than five years. This Authority includes Native Hawaiian representatives and cultural practitioners, giving them a direct role in the management of these lands, including the issuing of leases to astronomy facilities.

The US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) is a partnership between TMT, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and NOIRLab, to advance US access to 30-m class telescopes in both hemispheres. A proposal to the NSF has led to a formal review of the project by that body, under the MREFC process. Following a recommendation by the US Astro2020 review, the NSF is considering a significant share of at least 25% in each of TMT and GMT. The review process includes federal environmental and cultural reviews, under the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

TMT does have legal right to construct on an alternative site, on La Palma, Canary Islands. There are still associated environmental, political and social complications, including motivated environmental groups opposing construction. The NSF review process is currently limited to Maunakea as a potential site.

Construction cannot begin until the NSF Final Design Phase is completed – a necessary but not sufficient condition. This phase nominally takes 1.5 years, and has not started yet. Assuming seven years for construction, the earliest possible first light date for TMT is 2033. Technical first light for the European ELT is planned for 2027, with the first four instruments commissioned and ready for science by 2030. It is disappointing to be behind the ELT, when at one point (in 2014) TMT was so far ahead. However, CATAC is mindful that these facilities have anticipated lifetimes of >40 years, serve very large communities and that current anticipated first light dates are subject to change.

Further information can be found on the TMT website. Previous CATAC reports and eCass articles can be found here.

Project Status

Earlier this year, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) completed a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP). The report was positive, and it is expected that a recommendation will be made to the National Science Board (NSB) to move into the Final Design Review (FDR) stage. The next meeting of the NSB is Nov 29-30, 2023.

The NSF Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Section 106 process continues, with updates and FAQ provided here. This process continues to move slowly, due in part to the large volume of comments submitted during the scoping process.

While the NSF process takes place, the corresponding delay to TMT construction is of concern, as the potential for a large gap between E-ELT and TMT first light dates grows. LRP recommendation #16 reads:

We recommend that NRC address any lack of access to a VLOT due to delays in TMT construction through arrangements that give Canadians access to other VLOT facilities.

CATAC looks forward to participating in future discussions with HAA and the astronomy community about this recommendation.

As part of the NSF review process, the TMT Detailed Science Case is being updated, led by the International Science Development Teams (ISDTs). All chapter editors have now been identified. The plan is to deliver a complete draft by the end of 2023 for review and comments.


The Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority (MKSOA) began their work on July 1, 2023, and are in the process of hiring staff. Full transfer of authority from the University of Hawaii to MKSOA will happen within five years; no new leases or subleases may be signed before then. It is still too early to know if there will be a process for lease negotiation in the interim.

The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) is on path to be decommissioned this year, with the telescope itself being removed this month. Detailed, up to date information about the process is available at the CSO website.

On July 14, a petition was filed to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), requesting a decision under the Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures (EWUAP). The request is a joint submission from three petitioners: KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, (2) Ziibiing Lab: Global Indigenous Politics Research Collaboratory, and (3) the Transnational Law and Racial Justice Network (TLRJN). Among other things, the petition requests that CERD urge Canada to divest support from TMT. This petition is now before CERD and the process, which can take several years, is a closed one between the committee and the Canadian government. ACURA’s response to this petition, and the petition itself, can be found here.

Upcoming Workshops

There will be three ELT-JWST synergy workshops: one in North America, one in Asia, and one in Europe. Registration is open for the first, to be held at UCLA Dec 11-15, 2023: “The Landscape for ELTs after the launch of JWST.” Canadians are strongly encouraged to attend. Some travel support may be available – please contact for more information. The European and Asian meetings are anticipated to be held in 2024.

The last TMT Science Forum was in China in 2019. Plans to hold one in Canada in 2021 were postponed due to COVID and then finally cancelled in 2022. It is now anticipated that the next forum will be held in Washington, D.C., in late 2024.

CATAC Membership Changes

After six years of excellent service, inaugural CATAC member Harvey Richer has come to the end of his term. We are grateful for his work on this committee, and in particular for leading the effort to host the Science Forum in Vancouver, unfortunately thwarted by the pandemic. ACURA has nominated Suresh Sivanandam (U Toronto) to take Harvey’s place on CATAC.

Gilles Joncas has replaced Don Brooks as ACURA Executive Director and serves on CATAC in a non-voting, ex-officio role. Similarly, as CASCA President, Sarah Gallagher takes over from Chris Wilson.

CATAC Membership

Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo), Chair,
Bob Abraham (University of Toronto; TIO SAC)
Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
Laura Ferrarese (NRC)
Suresh Sivanandam (University of Toronto)
Jason Rowe (Bishop’s)
Stan Metchev (Western University; TIO SAC Canadian co-chair)
Gilles Joncas (ACURA Executive Director, non-voting, ex-officio)
Luc Simard (Director General of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Sarah Gallagher (CASCA President, non-voting, ex-officio)
Tim Davidge (TIO SAC; NRC, observer)

ALMA Matters

By / par Brenda Matthews and Gerald Schieven (NRC)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2023)

Cycle 10 Proposal Statistics

Researchers from Canadian institutions were allocated over 16% of the North American portion of ALMA time (including both the 12m-array and the ACA). This is significantly more than Canada’s nominal 7.125% share of North American time.

ALMA Ambassadors Applications Due 13 October

The ALMA Ambassador Program provides training and an up to $10,000 research grant to postdoctoral researchers, senior graduate students, and early career researchers interested in expanding their ALMA/interferometry expertise and sharing that knowledge with their home institutions. The selected Ambassadors receive training at the NRAO headquarters in Charlottesville, VA, in February 2024 on topics including interferometry basics, ALMA science capabilities, proposal writing, and guidance on speaking on these topics. Ambassadors will then host a workshop at their home institution to prepare their local community for the Cycle 11 call for proposals. The deadline for applying for this program is 13 October. For more information and to apply for the program, go to the NRAO website.

Cycle 10 to Start 30 September

Cycle 10 is now scheduled to start on the afternoon of Saturday 30 September.

ALMA Announces Observatory Projects for Configurations 8 and 9

The ALMA Observatory announces five filler programs that have been approved on the main array. The programs are designed to fill the gaps in the 12-m Array observing schedule at low frequencies in Configurations 8 and 9, based on input from scientists at the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs). The proposed programs were reviewed by the Observatory Scientist and the Department of Science Operations head, and approved by the ALMA Director.

The data from the proposals will be quality assessed by the JAO and released through the ALMA Archive with no proprietary period. Observing priority will be given to any remaining PI science projects and activities to commission new capabilities on the array. The release of data in Band 1 will be dependent on the progress of the ongoing commissioning activities. The release of any Observatory Project data will be preceded by an announcement on the Science Portal.

The approved projects are:

  • 2022.A.00032.S: 12CO and Band 3 continuum 5-pc-scale imaging of molecular clouds in the Antennae galaxies
  • 2022.A.00034.S: Band 3 observations of a super-deep 1’x1′ field in Hubble Deep Field South
  • 2022.A.00036.S: Band 3 high-spectral resolution survey of HL Tau
  • 2022.A.00035.S: Band 1 Continuum and CS line observations of HD 163296
  • 2022.A.00037.S: Band 1 Continuum and CS line observations of HL Tau

For more information, see the ALMA website.

Update on CASTOR

By / par John Hutchings, Patrick Côté (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2023)

The CASTOR mission continues to work towards flight approval and funding on several fronts.

  1. The phase 0 science study report has been submitted to CSA, and shared with other stakeholders such as NRC and our international colleagues. It is an extensive document that updates the facility capabilities with a nominal mission schedule and observing plan that covers a broad range of frontier science investigations. The capabilities of high-resolution wide-field UV-blue imaging, spectroscopy, precision photometry, and wide-field astrometry makes the mission entirely unique within the international landscape.
  2. The Coalition for Astronomy (ACURA, CASCA, and Industry) has prepared a plan of engagement with government, already under way, and set for the coming months. They are making use of updated mission digests. Statements of support and interest are also being received from ACURA (and other) universities endorsing the importance of moving ahead with CASTOR, noting that it forms an important, major component of the 2020 LRP plan for astronomy.
  3. International partnerships continue to develop, with formal meetings held recently between CSA and counterparts in Spain and Korea. The UK space agency has further formalized their wish to join CASTOR, and a group in France is also developing a plan for participation. We expect continued discussions with NASA as their plans evolve throughout this year. CSA continue to formalize the details of sharing technical information with all these groups.
  4. The JPL-processed CMOS detectors have been packaged by Te2v in UK and shipped to Canada. Control electronics are being delivered to the UV vacuum facility at the University of Calgary where final preparations are made for the testing program agreed on with JPL. This will be an important step in the proposed partnership with them, and potentially for future NASA missions, like the Habitable Worlds Observatory.
  5. Several NRC funding opportunities for CASTOR-related work are being pursued, with proposals submitted both in August and in the coming weeks. The team at HAA and the University of Manitoba is continuing their work with students who are leading several projects in science planning and mission operations.

For more information on the mission, see the CASTOR mission website.

Canadian Gemini News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien

By / par Eric Steinbring (Canadian Gemini Office, NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre / Office Gemini Canadien, Centre de Recherches Herzberg en Astronomie & Astrophysique du CNRC)

(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2023)

La version française suit

Observatory Status

Since 1 August 2023 both telescopes have been in shutdown. That morning NSF’s NOIRLab detected a cyber incident in its computer systems, which forced the suspension of astronomical observations at Gemini North, in Hawai’i. Out of an abundance of caution, they also decided to isolate the Gemini Observatory computer systems by shutting those down. Likewise, operations were suspended from Gemini South, in Chile, which happened to be in a scheduled shutdown at the time. NOIRLab currently reports that the recovery process of the affected facilities and telescopes is ongoing, and although the Observing Tool (OT) does not yet allow connection to the database, the website is now back online. The Archive and Phase I tools (PIT) are working, as is the Helpdesk-ticketing system. Further updates will appear here. Know that the CGO is monitoring this situation, and when operations are expected to start again there will also be an announcement to the CASCA-membership e-mail exploder.

Calls for Proposals

Thankfully the cyberincident has had no effect on planning for the Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) Special shared-risk Call for Proposals, nor the upcoming semester of 2024A. So, in fact, two CfPs are out right now:

  • A special shared-risk GHOST CfP for Gemini-South only, through the Fast Turnaround program. The 2023B PIT (v2.2.0) will be required for this CfP, and the deadline is Saturday September 30, at 12PM (noon) Hawai’i Standard Time,
  • and also the regular 2024A semester CfP for both Gemini North and South, plus Subaru Exchange Time. The new 2024A PIT is required for this CfP, and the deadline (for Canadian applications) is Tuesday October 3, at 4PM (PDT) / 7PM (EDT).

Statut de l’Observatoire

Depuis le 1er août 2023, les deux télescopes sont à l’arrêt. Ce matin-là, le NOIRLab du NSF a détecté un cyber-incident dans ses systèmes informatiques, qui a forcé l’arrêt des observations astronomiques à Gemini Nord, à Hawaï. Par prudence, ils ont également décidé d’isoler les systèmes informatiques de l’Observatoire Gemini en les fermant tous. De même, les opérations ont été suspendues à Gemini Sud, au Chili, qui se trouvait alors en arrêt programmé. NOIRLab rapporte actuellement que le processus de récupération des installations et des télescopes concernés est en cours, et bien que l’outil d’observation (OT) ne permette pas encore la connexion à la base de données, le site Web est désormais de nouveau en ligne. Les Archives de Gemini et l’outil de Phase I (PIT) fonctionnent, tout comme le système de tickets du Helpdesk. D’autres mises à jour apparaîtront ici. Sachez que le CGO surveille la situation et que lorsque les opérations reprendront nous en ferons l’annonce par courriel aux membres de la CASCA.

Appels de demandes

Heureusement, le cyberincident n’a eu aucun effet sur la planification de l’appel de demandes spécial à risques partagés pour le Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST), ni sur le prochain semestre 2024A. Donc, en fait, deux appels de demandes sont actuellement en cours:

  • Un appel de demandes spécial à risques partagés pour GHOST à Gemini-Sud uniquement, via le programme Retour Rapide (Fast Turnaround). Le PIT 2023B (v2.2.0) est requis pour cet appel de demandes, et la date limite est le samedi 30 septembre à 12 heures (midi), heure normale d’Hawaï,
  • et aussi l’appel de demandes régulier du semestre 2024A pour Gemini Nord et Sud, avec le temps d’échange Subaru. Le nouveau PIT 2024A est requis pour cet appel de demandes, et la date limite (pour les candidatures canadiennes) est le mardi 3 octobre à 16h (PDT)/19h (EDT).

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

Chers collègues,

Un article a été envoyé accidentellement dans le dossier de courrier indésirable de l’éditeur et a donc été manqué. Vérifiez s’il vous plaît le numéro mis à jour de la newsletter pour l’article de l’Agence spatiale canadienne.

Mes excuses à Denis Laurin pour ne pas avoir inclus l’article dans le bulletin d’origine.


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

President’s Message

par Chris Wilson (CASCA President)
(Cassiopeia – printemps 2023)

First, some good news: the Federal government has announced its intent to seek full membership for Canada in the Square Kilometre Array Observatory! Congratulations to everyone who has worked to make this a reality. More details can be found in the SKA update in this newsletter.

The CASCA Board has held two regular monthly meetings since my last report. In this report I will focus on 2 major initiatives that are in progress: a review of our ground-based optical/infrared facilities (10m-class and smaller), and a plan for a part-time Westar Lectureship co-ordinator.

In their December 2022 report to the CASCA Board, the Ground-based Astronomy Committee (GAC) recommended that we undertake a thorough review of existing and potential optical/infrared (O/IR) facilities that are or could be accessible to Canadian astronomers. The CASCA Board agreed that the need for this review is sufficiently urgent to scheduling it ahead of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the 2020 Long Range Plan that would be carried out in 2025. The O/IR review committee will be tasked with assessing science, technical readiness, schedule, and balance between community desires. I’m very pleased to announce that Doug Welch from McMaster University has agreed to chair this review committee.

In my December 2022 article, I mentioned that the Board had met with several members of the Westar subcommittee. At that meeting, we had discussed the possibility of hiring a co-ordinator to support the revision and expansion of the Westar Lectureship program, and possibly other Education and Public Outreach initiatives as well. Both an expansion of the Westar Lectureship program and an EPO coordinator paid by CASCA were recommendations of the 2020 Long Range Plan. The Westar subcommittee submitted a concrete proposal that the Board considered at our March meeting. This proposal included two options: a part-time Westar-only coordinator position, or a full-time National Outreach Coordinator, with Westar coordination being part of that role. The Board found that a full-time position is not within the scope of CASCA’s current budget without a large increase in dues or via a cost-sharing program with one or more individual universities. Therefore, the Board approved a motion to support a Westar co-ordinator at a part time level for up to 3 years. Final details of the funding available for this position will be reviewed and approved at the next Board meeting.

In other news, all current Board members have now taken some initial Indigenous awareness training by completing the course “4 Seasons of Reconciliation” offered by Reconciliation Education. We submitted our annual performance questionnaire related to IAU activities of the community to NRC in February; thanks to Rob Thacker who took this task off my hands. The CASCA Board also reviewed all applications for new IAU membership and these applications have now been passed on to the relevant IAU review committee. The Board approved an increase in the hourly rate of pay for the CASCA webmaster, who has not had a pay increase in several years. We have also been following up with CASCA members who were in arrears on their dues; thank you to everyone who has renewed recently.

The next CASCA AGM will be held June 13-15, 2023, in Penticton, B.C. This will be our first in-person meeting in 4 years, so I encourage you to attend and bring your students! The CASCA Board is looking for an institution to host the 2024 AGM; if your department is interested in volunteering, please contact CASCA Vice-President Adam Muzzin.

As a reminder, there will be 3 open positions on the CASCA Board for election at the 2023 June AGM: 2 for Director and 1 for President. Please consider standing for election yourself or encouraging other good candidates to stand. Suggestions can be sent to Rob Thacker, who chairs the Nominating Committee, or via the nomination form to the CASCA secretary, Rob Cockcroft.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge that progress continues to be slow on various aspects of Board business. A lot of the CASCA day-to-day work and planning falls on the President, who not only chairs the Board but is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation. Unfortunately, I have not been able to devote as much time to CASCA work as I had planned: I caught COVID in early November and have been suffering from first COVID and now long COVID symptoms for the past 4 months. I appreciate your patience if responses to emails are slow or if some aspects of CASCA business take longer to make progress. Special thanks to other members of the Board who are taking on tasks that I would normally be doing, especially Julie Hlavaceck-Larrondo who has been chairing the Board meetings and leading the organization of the optical/infrared review committee.

Wishing you all a good end of semester and looking forward to seeing many of you in Penticton in June,


Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien

par Eric Steinbring (Office Gemini Canadien, Centre de Recherches Herzberg en Astronomie & Astrophysique du CNRC)
(printemps 2023)

Spring Deadlines

Heads up! There are three important Call for Proposal (CfP) application deadlines coming up for Canadian access to Gemini, all right at the end of this month or start of the next:

  • First is the monthly CfP for Fast Turnaround time, at noon Hawai’i Standard Time (HST) on 31 March. This will be for Gemini South only. For the FT Call see here.
  • And then right away is for 2023B Regular Semester proposals, at 4 PM (PDT) / 7 PM (EDT) on 31 March. Look here for the Canadian-specific information about that Call.
  • Finally, on 1 April is the deadline for new Large and Long Program (LLP) applications for 2023. There had been a hiatus on starting new LLPs, but a healthy response to the recent request for Letters of Intent. So, just a reminder that the deadline for those crazy-big idea proposals is coming up fast. No joking.

What’s Happening at Gemini North and South

As reported in December, the shutdown in the North had to be extended to allow repairs of the primary mirror following an incident last Fall. That work is now expected to continue for an extra 4 weeks, and will include re-coating, also taking about 4 weeks. With both of those things done, the Observatory currently plans for returning to sky by the end of April. That’s the reason why FT proposals this month are not being accepted for the North. Another impact is that the regular maintenance shutdown in the South has been re-timed (now set to September/October 2023) to avoid having both telescopes down at once. Makes sense. And then something coming later in the semester (last three months, up to January 2024) for the South will be a special Call for the Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) only. This will make shared-risk time available through the FT proposal process. That will follow a System Verification (SV) phase to ensure all is ready to go for science. Stay tuned!

New HelpDesk System

In January Gemini switched to a new Jira-based HelpDesk system. This new system has improved functionality (particularly for monitoring and escalation of tickets) and should allow better management, and quicker response to your queries related directly to specific instruments and other problems, like data-reduction. See here. To you, the user, it should all be seamless. Now, instead please direct your Gemini-related help-requests to this portal. Don’t be shy. As you know, and as always, your friendly CGO staff is here to help.