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

Invitation for Canadians to join the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA)

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is the precursor of SKA-Low and is a powerful science facility in its own right (see http://mwatelescope.org for details).

The MWA’s particular attributes include:
– wide frequency range (70–300 MHz) with flexible tuning
– a very wide field of view (hundreds of square degrees)
– high angular resolution (several arcminutes)
– extreme (digital) pointing agility

MWA phase 2, which has improved the sensitivity of the array by an order of magnitude, is now operating. A further upgrade, MWA phase 3, is in the planning stages.

The MWA is an international collaboration, with partners from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, Canada and the United States. Canada is a full member of the MWA project, with representation on the MWA Board.

Canadian astronomers who wish to join the MWA Consortium and to consequently gain access to MWA data, software tools and science collaborations should contact Bryan Gaensler (bryan.gaensler@utoronto.ca) by Friday, September 3rd, 2021.

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

FAST 2021 AO

The objective of the Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to support the research projects of Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions that will contribute to the development of new scientific knowledge and space technologies, while making it possible for students to acquire hands-on experience in space-like missions.

Summary of key information

• Expected budget for this AO: $5.28 million
• Eligible recipients: Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions
• Type of transfer payments: grants
• Maximum amount per grant (three funding categories)
o Category A: $300,000
o Category B: $100,000
o Category C: $40,000
• Maximum duration of a project per grant:
o Category A and B: up to 3 years
o Category C: up to 1 year
• Estimated project start date: March 2022 onwards
• Application deadline: October 15, 2021

You can access the FAST 2021 AO by clicking here:
https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/funding-programs/funding-opportunities/ao/2021-fast.asp

For questions, contact asc.stedia-dstemu.csa@canada.ca

Virtual Gemini Science Meeting 2021

Gemini will be hosting a Virtual Science Meeting August 23-26 2021. It will be a combination of invited talks, observatory updates, hands-on training sessions and plenty of time for discussions, including chat rooms and possibility for one-on-one meetings with speakers. There will be a special focus on upcoming instrumentation. This meeting is meant to bridge the gap between the last Gemini Science meeting in 2018 and the next in-person meeting planned for August 2022 in Seoul Korea.

The meeting is free but you do need to register to receive the connection information. Registration will close August 15.

https://noirlab.edu/science/resources/meetings/gsm2021/registration

Join us for this Virtual meeting, coming soon on a screen near you!

For further information: Gemini team

ngVLA Update

By Erik Rosolowsky (U Alberta), Joan Wrobel (NRAO)
(Cassiopeia – Summer 2021)

The design development for the ngVLA has continued over the past three months. The US National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has selected a contractor to develop a production-ready design and produce a prototype antenna for the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA). An agreement with mtex antenna technology GmbH of Germany was signed on May 27. Under the contract, mtex will prepare a production-ready antenna design based on NRAO specifications and an earlier reference design presented in 2019 to the U.S. Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (Astro2020). The design will be for the 244 ngVLA dish antennas that will be 18 meters in diameter.

The ngVLA Project received a favourable review in the Canadian Long Range Plan and is currently under review by Astro2020, a committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The committee’s report is expected later this month. The ngVLA Project’s activities are presently focused on being ready to react to a positive Astro2020 Decadal outcome and to prepare documents for an ngVLA Conceptual Design Review in the autumn.

If you would like to review an overview presentation on the current state of the ngVLA Project, please feel free to review this presentation by project scientist Eric Murphy.

The first public tour of the ngVLA occurred in March. The tour featured presentations, interviews of ngVLA staff, and a question-and-answer session. Anyone who missed the virtual event is welcome to view it here.

Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Update

By Kristine Spekkens (Canadian SKA Science Director) and the AACS
(Cassiopeia – Summer 2021)

Artist’s impression of SKA1-Mid in South Africa, combining MeerKAT dishes and SKA dishes. Image credit: SKA Organisation


There have been many exciting SKA developments in recent months and the project proceeds apace, despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic across partner countries. Up-to-date Canada-specific information regarding potential science, technology, industry and societal impacts are available on the SKA Canada website, and a summary of developments through May 2021 was presented at the 2021 CASCA AGM SKA Town Hall. More broadly, frequent project-wide updates are posted on the SKA International website.

The SKA Observatory (SKAO) Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) now controls the project. Construction of SKA Phase 1 (= SKA1) is slated to begin in early July, pending approval by the IGO Council in late June. There has been considerable recent activity among partner countries to secure their participation ahead of the construction phase: China has ratified the SKAO Convention to become the seventh Full Member alongside Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, and the United Kingdom; France’s request to accede to Full IGO membership was approved; and Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has signed a Cooperation Agreement with the SKAO to allow the Swiss scientific and engineering community to participate in the project until a decision is made by their government to join the IGO. These recent commitments, combined with other developments such as the appointment of telescope site directors and the inaugural meeting of the SKAO Science and Engineering Advisory Committee underscore the project’s technical and financial readiness to enter the construction phase in a few weeks.

Canada’s future participation in the SKA requires committing to SKA1 construction and operations. The Federal Budget 2021 did not provide a decision on Canada’s SKA participation, and there remains an urgent need for a Canada to make a commitment to the IGO to guarantee return on investment through participation in SKA1 construction tender and procurement. In particular, Canada’s conditional allocation of the SKA1-Mid correlator construction package, one of the largest and more desirable across the project, will be jeopardized if a commitment is not made before construction starts in July. Raising awareness about the SKA within government and universities continues to be an part of the process towards securing Canadian participation, and work in this regard is well underway (see President’s Message in this issue) by the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy. Our Government understands the SKA project timeline and the importance of Canada’s contribution to its success. Consideration is still being given to the options available for Canada to continue making contributions to the project.

There will be significant employment opportunities as SKA1 construction ramps up. Many scientists, engineers, software designers, and support and administrative personnel will be hired in the UK and the host countries (South Africa and Australia). Those interested should keep an eye on the recruitment site, which includes a “job alert” tool to set up personalized emails filtered by field of expertise, location, duration and employment type (permanent, contract, secondment, etc.). Watch this space for opportunities throughout 2021.

For more information and updates on Canada and the SKA:

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