Call for nominations for Honorary IAU Members

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has initiated a relatively  new category of membership called « IAU Honorary Members ».  Details  about this category can be found at https://www.iau.org/news/announcements/detail/ann20035/ and https://www.iau.org/administration/statutes_rules/working_rules/

In brief, Honorary Members would be individuals who are not  professional astronomers and do not qualify as ordinary IAU members,  but they have substantially contributed to the development of  astronomical research in their country.  According to the IAU General  Secretary, these individuals would have « significantly contributed to  the progress of astronomy. This includes training, education,  communication, etc. »

Only **ONE PERSON per year** can be nominated by the Canadian National  Committee (CNC) of the IAU.  The CNC is the CASCA Board of Directors.

This announcement is a call for nominations (or self-nominations) for  Honorary IAU members.

**BY FEBRUARY 1, 2021**, please send (or arrange to have sent):

1. The CV of the nominee.
2. Two letters of recommendation outlining why the nominee should  become the Canadian Honorary Member nominee.

Send this information to:
secretary@casca.ca
with the subject line:
IAU Honorary Membership Application (followed by the name of the candidate)

Invitation à participer à la première enquête annuelle de l’ACP sur l’EDI

(L’enquête se termine à 23h59 HNE le lundi 30 novembre)

Pour : Les physicien(ne)s des universités, de l’industrie et du gouvernement au Canada
Étudiant(e)s poursuivant un diplôme de physique dans un établissement canadien

De : Association canadienne des physiciens et physiciennes;
Kevin Hewitt et Anastasia Smolina,
Co-rédacteurs du numéro spécial de PaC – Inclusivité pour l’excellence dans la communauté des physiciens au Canada

Sujet: Invitation à participer à la première enquête annuelle de l’ACP sur l’EDI (et à être inscrit pour avoir une chance de gagner l’une des cinq cartes-cadeaux de 100 $)

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La physique est une science quantitative qui s’appuie sur des mesures pour comprendre le monde naturel et valider des hypothèses. Son succès repose sur cet engagement à mesurer, et il en est de même pour notre désir de créer un environnement plus inclusif dans la communauté des physicien(ne)s au Canada. Il n’y a jamais eu d’enquête exhaustive sur la diversité de la communauté de la physique au Canada, alors que les États-Unis collectent ces statistiques depuis plusieurs décennies.

L’objectif de la première enquête annuelle de l’ACP sur la diversité est de comprendre comment l’identité, l’âge, le statut de premier de la famille, le domaine d’études, la province de résidence, l’emploi et les résultats scolaires, le revenu, les responsabilités familiales et de garde d’enfants, la culture et le climat, la langue et la citoyenneté influencent la participation à la main-d’œuvre industrielle liée à la physique, au gouvernement et au milieu universitaire. Cette étude a été approuvée par le comité d’éthique de la recherche de Dalhousie le 27 octobre 2020 (dossier du CER n° 2020-5261).

Les données brutes seront stockées en toute sécurité sur le serveur canadien Wufoo de l’Association canadienne des physiciens et physiciennes, et seront également sauvegardées sur un serveur sécurisé de Dalhousie. La publication des résultats dans les numéros de La Physique au Canada de l’ACP suivra des lignes directrices strictes, y compris la communication sous forme agrégée lorsque le nombre de répondants dans une catégorie donnée est inférieur à 5. Bien que la communauté des physicien(ne)s au Canada soit parmi les derniers à mener une enquête aussi vaste sur le terrain, nous espérons que le retard sera compensé par la qualité des données.

Les dirigeants des milieux universitaires, industriels et gouvernementaux pourraient identifier des interventions potentielles pour créer une communauté d’excellence plus dynamique et plus inclusive, ce qui permettrait de faire progresser davantage le domaine. Nous espérons que vous participerez à l’enquête. Comme mesure d’encouragement supplémentaire, et pour vous remercier de votre temps, vous pouvez choisir de participer à un tirage au sort pour courir la chance de gagner l’une des cinq cartes-cadeaux de 100 $ à la fin de l’enquête.

Veuillez suivre le lien ci-dessous pour participer à l’enquête

https://canadianassocofphys.wufoo.com/forms/knc39fo1y28fz7/

Vous devriez discuter de toutes vos questions sur cette enquête avec Kevin Hewitt et Anastasia Smolina. Veuillez poser autant de questions que vous le souhaitez avant ou après votre participation en nous contactant par courrier électronique ou par téléphone : 902-494-2315 ou (Kevin Hewitt) et (Anastasia Smolina).

Si vous avez des préoccupations d’ordre éthique concernant votre participation à cette recherche, vous pouvez contacter Research Ethics, Dalhousie University au (902) 494-3423, ou par courriel ethics@dal.ca (et référence du dossier du CER n° 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

Chères usagerères de Gemini,

Ceci est un rappel que la date limite de soumission des demandes de Retour Rapide est à la fin du mois, le 30 novembre à 23h59 heure normale d`Hawaii. Gemini-Sud aussi acceptera des demandes de Retour Rapide ce mois-ci! Les demandes retenues pour ce cycle resteront actives dans la queue de janvier 2021 à mars 2021.

Le programme RR a été utilisé pour mener des études pilotes, compléter des ensembles de données et suivre des objets nouvellement découverts, bien que nous acceptions des demandes de tout type de projet à valeur scientifique.

Pour accéder aux modèles de demandes RR ainsi que pour plus de détails sur le programme, veuillez consulter le dernier appel de demandes RR à:
https://www.gemini.edu/observing/phase-i/ft/ft-cfp

Bonne chance,

Stéphanie Côté,
pour l’Office Gemini Canadien,
Centre de Recherche Herzberg en Astronomie & Astrophysique
Conseil National de Recherches Canada
5071 West Saanich Road, Victoria BC V9E 2E7
Gouvernement du 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 (david.bohlender@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca) to obtain a LaTeX template for your proposal. Dmitry Monin (dmitry.monin@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca) 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 | david.bohlender@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Soutien financier de l’ASC pour les programmes d’observation initiaux (ERS) et du cycle 1

L’Agence spatiale canadienne (ASC) désire transmettre certaines précisions aux futurs utilisateurs des programmes canadiens d’observation (https://asc-csa.gc.ca/fra/satellites/jwst/programmes.asp) avec le télescope spatial James Webb (JWST).

• L’ASC a l’intention de financer les projets ERS et du Cycle 1 de la mission JWST.
• Grâce à la contribution de l’ASC à la mission, les astronomes canadiens devraient recevoir au moins cinq pour cent du temps d’observation ouvert disponible en plus des 450 heures de temps garanti d’observation (GTO) à l’équipe scientifique canadienne du JWST.
(voir https://jwst-docs.stsci.edu/jwst-opportunities-and-policies/jwst-call-for-proposals-for-cycle-1).
• Rappel : La date limite pour soumettre une proposition à STScI pour le cycle 1 est le 24 novembre 2020.
• Les astronomes canadiens sont encouragés à soumettre des propositions en réponse à cette invitation ouverte à la communauté astronomique internationale. Un budget total d’environ $780,000 (en dollars canadiens) sera alloué au financement des astronomes canadiens retenus dans le cadre des compétitions ERS et de Cycle 1.
• Les propositions sélectionnées de chercheurs principaux canadiens (CP), de co-chercheurs principaux (Co-CP) et de co-chercheurs (Co-C) seront admissibles à un financement. La priorité sera donnée aux programmes CP, Co-CP et Co-C d’observateurs généraux (GO) par rapport aux programmes de recherche archivistique (AR) dans la distribution des fonds.
• L’annonce des propositions sélectionnées par la NASA se fera au printemps 2021. Les candidats retenus seront invités à soumettre à l’ASC une demande de subvention pour leur projet.
• Les demandes de subventions seront évaluées selon les critères d’évaluation du volet recherche du programme de subventions et contributions de l’ASC (https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/fra/programmes-financement/apercu-des-subventions-et-contributions.asp).

How Astronomers Can Teach and Talk About Climate Change!

CASCA’s Sustainability Committee is pleased to announce a special  presentation:

Speaker: Dr. Travis Rector, Professor, Physics & Astronomy, University of Alaska Anchorage

Date: Thursday October 8, 2020
Time: 11:00 am PDT (GMT-7)

Climate change may just be the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.   Our response, particularly in the next decade, has critical consequences for what the future will hold.  Fortunately astronomers  are well positioned to make a difference.  We are highly trusted.  And we offer a unique and important perspective that can help people understand the problem as well as solutions.  Introductory astronomy classes and our public outreach are an effective way to teach climate change because they reach large numbers of people and cover related  topics.

But we need to recognize that climate change communication is  different than the other forms of outreach we do.  Climate change is a  difficult topic to teach because it spans a wide range of subject  areas, from physics to psychology.  It is also a controversial topic,  meaning that simply knowing the science content is not enough.  People largely made decisions about climate change based upon their values and identity. We therefore need to communicate the causes,  consequences, and solutions to climate change.

In my talk I will describe effective methods for teaching climate  change in astronomy classes as well as present established strategies  for engaging the public.  I will also discuss ways in which our  profession can reduce our carbon footprint.

About the speaker: Travis Rector is a professor at the University of  Alaska Anchorage and the chair of the American Astronomical Society’s  Sustainability Committee.

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CASCA’s Sustainability Committee exists to find ways to mitigate the  environmental impacts, especially climate impacts, of Canadian  astronomy; and to enhance the understanding, teaching, and outreach on  topics relating to Earth’s climate system.

Canadian Astronomy, Racism, and the Environment – Part 1

By / par Martine Lokken, Chris Matzner, Joel Roediger, Mubdi Rahman, Dennis Crabtree, Pamela Freeman, Vincent Henault-Brunet (The CASCA Sustainability Committee, The CASCA Equity & Inclusivity Committee)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2020)

Part 1: An Introduction to Environmental Racism

This year’s widespread protests in support of Wetʼsuwetʼen sovereignty, and in support of Black lives in the face of police brutality, have brought heightened attention to the racism and systemic racial inequalities that have long threatened Indigenous and Black people in North America. The astronomy community has been coming to terms with its own systemic racism [1], and it is important that we examine our field’s environmental impacts [2] through the same lens. In this moment, we in CASCA’s Sustainability Committee reflect on the many ways in which environmentalism and racism interact. Here we present some background on how these issues are intertwined with the climate crisis and environmental damage both globally and within Canada. In a later article with the Equity & Inclusivity Committee we will ask how we as astronomers have benefitted from and perpetuated racism, environmental or otherwise, and what we can do to change this.

The climate crisis is projected to deal a sequence of crushing blows to peoples of the arctic, equatorial, and oceanic regions of the world. Of those affected, the UN warns that Indigenous peoples face the most climate-based disruption because of their strong cultural and economic connections to the land on which they live [3]. Indeed, this has already begun [4]. Drought now affects a quarter of the world’s population, mainly in equatorial regions [5], leading to food insecurity and mass migration [6, 7]. Heat waves are on the rise, some now surpassing what humans can naturally survive [8]. Last year, massive fires decimated the Australian landscape, damaging perhaps thousands of Indigenous cultural sites [9], while deliberate fires ate away at the home of the Amazon’s Indigenous people. This year’s Amazon fires could be even worse [10], and record heat waves are intensifying annual wildfires in Siberia [11]. Vast floods have covered a quarter of Bangladesh [12], while rising seas are swallowing island nations [13]. The distribution of global wealth plays a major role in deciding who can best survive these extreme events: while wealthy areas of developed nations are able to adapt to some of the effects of climate change through investment in infrastructure, the world’s poorest are disproportionately losing their homes, livelihoods, and even lives [14]. Meanwhile, the worst per-capita contributors to the climate crisis are primarily located in the northern hemisphere [15] and led by wealthy nations such as Canada, the U.S., Australia, Saudi Arabia, and other major oil-producing countries. The disparities between the worst perpetrators of the climate crisis versus those who suffer the greatest impacts correlate with inequalities of wealth, power, and territory that have been sown over the long history of European colonialism, and are reinforced by systemic racism.

Canada is no exception to this. Our country has a tragic history of slavery, anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, and attempted erasure of Indigenous cultures. Much of our wealth is based on the exploits of land which often was cheated or taken by force from Indigenous nations [16, 17]. We are currently the fourth largest producer and exporter of oil [18], and the average Canadian’s contribution to the climate crisis is among the world’s greatest [19]. However, unsurprisingly, systemic racism plays a major role in who has benefitted from this wealth versus who is most impacted by the environmental damage.

Many rural Indigenous communities in Canada are disproportionately feeling the effects of climate change. Ice roads, which in the winter enable goods to reach northern communities, become unavailable or unsafe as temperatures rise [20]. Melting ice and extreme weather is cutting Inuit people off from traditional hunting lands, severely threatening people’s physical and mental health [21]. In Eastern Indigenous communities, rising sea levels have negatively impacted traditional medicines and food supplies by increasing the salination of freshwater [22]. In addition to the unintentional impacts from climate change, there are also many situations in which racist planning for polluting sites such as factories, mills, and pipelines have caused environmental harm to rural Indigenous communities. For example, for 53 years the Northern Pulp mill in Nova Scotia treated its effluent in Boat Harbour (A’se’k), a tidal estuary upon which the Pictou Landing First Nation depended for food, livelihoods, and culture. Only this year, after years of community activism, has the provincial government ended the pollution of Boat Harbour, allowing its restoration to begin [23]. These various stresses to rural communities can spur an exodus to urban centers, leading to the loss of languages and cultures that are often deeply connected to the local environment [22, 20].

Systemic racism has also resulted in various environmental disparities for racialized communities in urban areas. The Canadian government warns of the dangers of urban heat islands, areas which amplify warm temperatures due to an excess of paved surfaces and lack of green space [24]. Populations more at risk for heat-related illness include Indigenous people, newcomers to Canada, and poor people [24]. The systemic effects which cause higher poverty rates among racialized people [25] and a lack of heat-protecting infrastructure in poor neighborhoods combine to make racialized Canadians more vulnerable to rising heat waves. (Because of Canadian astronomy’s connections to the U.S., it is also worth noting that the long-lasting effects of racist redlining in many U.S. cities have resulted in heat islands being centered on predominantly Black neighborhoods there [26, 27].) In addition to heat, pollution is another major health issue in urban centers. Similar to Pictou Landing, there are many cases of polluting sites being built near Indigenous or Black communities in urban areas (e.g. “Chemical Valley”, ON [28] and Africville, Nova Scotia [29]). These compounding environmental effects can cause serious health problems in marginalized communities, such as higher cancer rates and respiratory issues [28, 30], increased heat-related illnesses [30], poisoning from high levels of dangerous materials in water sources (e.g. Grassy Narrows, ON [31]), and worse pregnancy outcomes faced by Black mothers [U.S. data, 32]1.

The disproportionate effect of the climate crisis on racialized communities is exacerbated by the casual and systemic racism often present in predominantly-white environmental circles and the policies put forth by them. An important example of this is the centrality of the overpopulation argument to many Western approaches to the climate crisis, including in scientific circles [33]. While regularly debunked by public health scholars with the topical expertise in this area [34,35,36], racist origins and implications have been used to advance racist policies in the name of environmental sustainability [37,38]. This interplay has acted to shift the blame from the consumption of the Global North and casts the blame on the Global South, including some of the very populations that are most susceptible to the effects of the climate crisis.

Therefore, although the climate crisis will affect everyone to some extent, it is important that we recognize how global and local histories of racism and colonialism factor into the equation. Those of us with the privilege to be relatively insulated from environmental damage — at least for now — must especially examine our environmental impact and our complicity in systems of oppression. In doing so, it is essential that we learn from the BIPOC leaders who have historically spearheaded the movement for environmental justice like Dr. Robert Bullard and the Rev. Benjamin Chavis [39] and listen to the young voices, such as Makasá Looking Horse, who are taking the reins [40]). In our next article, we will examine how Canadian astronomy has benefitted from and continues to partake in white supremacist systems while also contributing to environmental injustice. We will discuss how to change the status quo, considering issues such as respect for Indigenous land rights and frequency of academic flights.


1Canada doesn’t require collection of race-based health data, an issue which has gained awareness during the Covid-19 pandemic (https://globalnews.ca/news/7180914/canada-race-based-data-covid-19/).
The general taboos around studying the effects of race in Canada partially explain why there are fewer available resources on environmental racism here than in the US.

References

  1. https://www.particlesforjustice.org/letter
  2. https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.01272
  3. https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/climate-change.html
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/06/climate/climate-change-inequality-heat.html
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/06/climate/world-water-stress.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage
  6. https://features.propublica.org/climate-migration/model-how-climate-refugees-move-across-continents/
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/climate/kenya-drought.html
  8. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/19/eaaw1838
  9. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00164-8
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/17/dramatic-footage-fuels-fears-amazon-fires-could-be-worse-than-last-year
  11. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wildfires-sibera-russia-burned-area-larger-than-greece-heat-wave/
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/climate/bangladesh-floods.html
  13. https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/small-islands-rising-seas
  14. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/13/climate/manila-san-francisco-sea-level-rise.html
  15. https://ourworldindata.org/per-capita-co2
  16. https://www.ubcpress.ca/asset/9296/1/9780774821018.pdf
  17. http://fnn.criaw-icref.ca/images/userfiles/files/LWM3_ColonialismImpacts.pdf
  18. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-facts/crude-oil-facts/20064
  19. https://ourworldindata.org/per-capita-co2
  20. https://bifrostonline.org/how-is-climate-change-impacting-indigenous-communities-in-remote-regions-of-canada/
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/30/canada-inuits-climate-change-impact-global-warming-melting-ice
  22. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/11/28/indigenous-communities-forefront-climate-resilience/
  23. https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/pictou-landing-first-nation-northern-pulp-1.5447179
  24. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/publications/healthy-living/reducing-urban-heat-islands-protect-health-canada.html
  25. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/esdc-edsc/migration/documents/eng/communities/reports/poverty_profile/snapshot.pdf
  26. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/09/climate/city-heat-islands.html
  27. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/13/racist-housing-policies-us-deadly-heatwaves-exposure-study
  28. https://ecojustice.ca/exposing-canadas-toxic-secret/
  29. https://humanrights.ca/story/the-story-of-africville
  30. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/12/science.aay4497/tab-pdf
  31. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/grassy-narrows-framework-1.5520501
  32. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/climate/climate-change-pregnancy-study.html
  33. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/12/12/16766872/overpopulation-exaggerated-concern-climate-change-world-population
  34. Rosling, H., Rosling Rönnlund, A. and Rosling, O., 2019. Factfulness. Paris: Flammarion.
  35. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/27/what-goes-up-population-crisis-wrong-fertility-rates-decline
  36. https://www.nhpr.org/post/outsidein-problem-concerns-about-over-population-part-one#stream/0
  37. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/environmentalisms-racist-history
  38. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229
  39. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/environmental-justice-movement
  40. https://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/making-waves/2018/11/six-nations-youth-leads-protest-against-nestl%C3%A9-water-operation

Indigenizing Astronomy – Long Range Plan

By / par Samantha Lawler (Campion College, University of Regina)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2020)

A First Step Toward Incorporating Traditional Knowledge in your Astro 101 Class – Connect with Local Elders/Knowledge Keepers

This is an example of how one new professor (the author) has begun the very first steps to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into an Astronomy 101 class that did not previously include any. The course is offered through Campion College, an affiliated college of the University of Regina (U of R). The U of R has a large undergraduate Indigenous population, with 14% of students self-identifying as Indigenous. The U of R also has an Office of Indigenization, and one of their stated goals is to connect faculty and staff with Indigenous Elders/Knowledge Keepers and to help with Indigenization of their courses. As a first step toward Indigenizing an existing course (Astronomy 101), I was able to make use of their Elder-in-residence program to bring a Life Speaker to the very first class I ever taught at the U of R. The staff of the Office of Indigenization helped me practice pronunciations to properly acknowledge the territory (where I had just begun living 2 weeks prior). They also taught me the proper etiquette for introducing the Life Speaker, as well as providing me with a properly prepared traditional offering of tobacco to present do the Life Speaker prior to him speaking to the class. I asked the Life Speaker to share his traditional knowledge of astronomy, and he spoke at length about the traditional view of the Earth as our mother and the Universe as our father, as well as his personal connection with the Northern Lights. My favourite highlight was learning that the Cree name for the Northern Lights translates to “the relatives are dancing,” a much more joyful and active name than we use in English.

With extensive help from the U of R Office of Indigenization, I, a brand-new professor, was able to properly acknowledge a land that was new to me, and share the traditional knowledge of an Indigenous elder, on my very first day of teaching. Administrative procedures were already in effect to make compensating the elder for his time with a proper honorarium from Campion College (the Office of Indigenization recommended $200), which is also an important part of acknowledging the importance of traditional knowledge. Having the Office of Indigenization as a resource for advice and for connection with Indigenous groups is completely invaluable for Indigenizing astronomy (as well as other courses). I am extremely thankful that these structures exist and I acknowledge that without the help of the Office of Indigenization, it would have taken years for me to build up the contacts to do what I was able to present on my very first day of teaching. In the near-future, I look forward to expanding collaboration with their office and with First Nations University, another affiliated college of the University of Regina.

A pandemic addendum: This semester, while all of our university’s teaching is online, the Office of Indigenization were again able to connect me with the Elder and arrange for him to join my class via Zoom. It worked amazingly well!

Starting the course with an acknowledgement of the land and an Indigenous Elder’s very personal, interconnected view of astronomy completely changed the starting point of the class, and created a much more respectful beginning to this course. The standard astronomy textbook narrative is often to start with “primitive, » « ancient » views that are later shown to be “false” by triumphant Western science. This started the course on a much more respectful note, allowing for traditional knowledge to coexist with current scientific practices as another way of knowing what we all observe in the sky.

As a settler and a new Canadian, I am very much still learning about Indigenous knowledge in my new home, and I am definitely not an expert. I am sharing my experience in hopes that other astronomers across Canada will be inspired to take a similar step toward Indigenizing their astronomy courses. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will you be pushed way outside your comfort zone? Almost certainly! (In a good way!) Will you and your students benefit from this connection? Absolutely, yes.

A few useful resources to get started:

U of R Office of Indigenization page
Land acknowledgements in Canada
LRP 2020 paper on Indigenizing astronomy by Neilson et al.

Update on CASTOR

By / par Patrick Côté (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2020)

The recently released 2020 Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy has identified CASTOR, Canada’s “first marquee space astronomy mission”, as the top priority in Canadian space astronomy for the coming decade. The LRP2020 report highlighted the “substantial interest and involvement from Canadian industry” and emphasized that CASTOR would “allow Canadian astronomers to perform spectacular new studies of a huge range of cosmic phenomena ranging from exoplanets to cosmology.”

At the same time, the LRP2020 report pointed out that “It will be vital to engage with the federal government to fund this very large mission, and to work closely with international partners like JPL/NASA and IIA/ISRO.” To this end, industry partners and members of the community are working to explore partnership scenarios and refine the business case for this flagship mission, including expected economic impacts and returns on investment.

The next stage of design work will begin in late 2020, with a request for proposals for a Space Technology Development Program (STDP) study expected soon. That 22-month study — which will focus on the opto-mechanical design, focal plane array, fine steering system, UV spectrograph and precision photometer — will be awarded to Canadian industry through a competitive process. It is hoped that science planning will ramp up during a Phase 0 study that could begin in early 2021. In the meantime, discussions are underway for a virtual meeting, to be held in late 2020 or early 2021, between members of the Canadian, Indian and other international teams to discuss opportunities for scientific, technical and programmatic collaboration.

As always, members of the community who would like to participate in the next phases of CASTOR development are encouraged to contact: patrick.cote@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.

President’s Message

By / par Sara Ellison (CASCA President)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2020)

It’s back to school time – and for a semester the like of which we have never seen before! First of all, a warm welcome to all of the new members of our community – graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and professors alike. It is not an easy time to be starting a new position of any kind, or moving to a new place. Although we are fortunate that our profession is largely conducive to remote working, activities such as collaboration meetings, classroom interactions and student-supervisor exchanges all play a critical role in our daily work lives. Engaging our new community members will be critical in the months ahead. I encourage every one of us to think about how we can reach out to the new people in our departments (and beyond!) to make them feel welcome and included. I also want to take this opportunity to remind you that new graduate students can join CASCA for free for their first year, so please encourage your new peers/students to take advantage of this.

The Long Range Planning (LRP) process is reaching its crescendo. The main facility recommendations have now been released ahead of the full report, in order that they can be a ready tool for lobbying and funding efforts that will start to ramp up through the Fall. The full report content is expected to be released in mid-November (a reminder that there is a dedicated set of LRP web pages hosted on casca.ca, including the schedule for the next six months). Although the release of the LRP’s report represents the final lap of an (ultra?) marathon for the LRP panel, it is just the start of our work as a community. Converting the LRP’s recommendations into reality (whether that be funding new facilities, or improving astronomy’s professional climate) should be an effort in which we all engage. The CASCA Board will, of course, be reviewing the implementation process once the full report comes out. This will certainly include coordination with our Society’s committees, for example to discuss recommendations specific to topics such as equity, diversity, public outreach and sustainability. There has also already been discussion with (and within) the current LRP Implementation Committee (LRPIC, Chaired by John Hutchings), who have overseen the last decade of progress, on how we can most effectively monitor, support and facilitate recommendations. Beyond these official structures, the actions and voices of individual community members (i.e. you!) will be equally vital in converting the LRP’s recommendations into a reality. Every one of us can enact recommendations concerning our professional climate.

One of the LRP-recommended facilities which demands our immediate efforts is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA; see the latest newsletter update here), in which Canada has been a key player since its inception. The SKA is currently going through a major transformation into an inter-governmental organization (IGO) with partner countries signing a convention for membership. This process is already well underway, with 7 countries having already signed the convention, with 3 of them fully ratified. The convention will come into full force when five countries (including the 3 hosts: Australia, South Africa and the UK) have ratified, which is expected by mid-2021. Canada is not currently amongst these signatories. In order that Canada can continue to play a major leadership role in the SKA project, our membership status, and a funding commitment, are urgently needed. For example, Canada has recently been awarded a conditional contract for the mid-frequency central signal processor, one of the largest contracts awarded to date. However, this contract is conditional on our future commitment to the project, and needs to be finalized by the middle of next year. We should all be taking the opportunity to talk about the importance of SKA and other future facilities, both within our universities and to our broader contacts. Without awareness, there can be no action.

There has been much discussion about whether it is a lost cause to consider lobbying for new facility funding in the midst of the world’s current crisis. However, I see reasons to be hopeful. Our federal government, and funding agencies, have already shown willingness to dig into their rainy day coffers. The return to Parliament will be kicked off with a Speech from the Throne on September 23 and is expected to focus on a roadmap out of the pandemic. Word from Ottawa is that the Liberals are in Big Thinking (and spending!) mode, seeking to lay out a new vision to transform Canada in a post-pandemic world, without any immediate concerns for the fiscal deficit. Several of the highly ranked LRP facilities may offer appeal in this regard, both for their scientific and economic benefits. For example, The Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and ultraviolet Research (CASTOR; see the updates from Pat Côté in the 2020 Summer Solstice newsletter as well as this one) mission offers excellent opportunities for industrial partnership and technology development. As a telescope that is envisioned to be Canadian-led, CASTOR will have a field of view 100 times that of Hubble and provide the best ever view of the UV universe, and will therefore be both a cutting edge astronomical facility, as well as a source of national pride and inspiration.

In the last newsletter, Taylor Kutra, Martine Lokken and Hilding Neilson reported their positive experiences in taking/offering a mini-course on astronomy and colonization in Canada. I am delighted to hear that, this coming Fall, Hilding will be offering this course to our CASCA membership on a virtual platform. It behooves all of us to recognize and be educated on the issue of colonization, both in the context of astronomy and in Canada in general. Hilding’s course is a (currently) unique opportunity within our profession to learn from a First Nation professional astronomer with first hand understanding of the challenges and issues. As noted in the afore-mentioned newsletter article, such a course is long overdue. Now, thanks to Hilding’s community offering, one more step is being taken to disseminate this education. An announcement will be forthcoming on the CASCA exploder with more details, including the registration process.

Finally, an update on the AGM. As you all know, the original plan for 2021 was to host the CASCA AGM in Penticton, BC. However, upon discussion with the Penticton LOC (Chaired by Michael Rupen), due to on-going uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions, we have decided that the 2021 AGM should be planned to be virtual. Since the 2022 AGM has already been confirmed to be hosted by Waterloo, Penticton aims to welcome us eventually in 2023. The online organizing committee (OOC) for CASCA 2021 is being led enthusiastically by Dennis Crabtree, and is planned for the week that had been originally identified for the Penticton meeting (May 10-14). In news from south of the border, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is also offering its winter meeting virtually and has offered CASCA members the opportunity to attend at AAS member registration fee level. If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, keep an eye out for the announcement on the CASCA email exploder in the near future, where we will be providing instructions on how to obtain the relevant discount code that can be used for web registration.