Alan Nursall, Featured Speaker at the CASCA-2017 EPO Session

By Sharon Morsink (CASCA EPO Committee member & CASCA-2017 co-organizer)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2017)

This year’s CASCA conference in Edmonton will feature an invited talk by Alan Nursall in the Education and Public Outreach session. Alan is the President and CEO of Telus World of Science Edmonton, Edmonton’s Science Museum. He also hosts a weekly science segment on Discovery Channel Canada’s show Daily Planet. Past positions include Science Director at Science North in Sudbury. He holds an MSc in geography and meteorology from the University of Alberta. He has extensive science communication experience through his work at science centres and on television.

In a recent interview he was asked “Why is it important to get people excited about science?” His answer: “People always say, `Science takes the beauty out of everything.’ No, it doesn’t! Science is gorgeous. We need to have a continuous, ongoing discussion about how we understand our world, and science is one of the lenses.”

Alan Nursall’s talk will inspire us to continue to communicate our love of astronomy to the public.

The CASCA/ACURA TMT Advisory Committee (CATAC) Is Up and Running

From/de Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2017)

In early 2017, the CASCA/ACURA TMT Advisory Committee (CATAC) was formed to provide advice and a forum for communication regarding the TMT project. Specifically, the ACURA/CASCA mandate to the committee is to:

  • Provide advice to CASCA and ACURA on the current state of the TMT project.
  • Act as a conduit for consulting with and informing the Canadian Astronomical community about the state of the TMT project;
  • Advocate and advance Canadian participation in the TMT project;
  • Encourage Canadian scientific participation and leadership in the TMT;
  • Advise on strategic development of technology for the TMT in Canadian Industry;
  • Provide technical assistance to the 2020 (and subsequent) CASCA Long-range Plan Committees.

The full terms of reference can be found on the CATAC website.

The committee is in complete agreement with earlier advice that TMT will be most competitive and desirable if it is constructed on Maunakea as planned. Every effort should be made to make this happen. However, should this prove impossible, the TIO Board has decided that TMT would move to an alternative site, at Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos (ORM, La Palma). This decision is currently expected in October of 2017. The immediate and urgent objective of CATAC is to obtain a deep understanding of the implications, should TMT need to relocate to ORM. To this end, we have been holding weekly meetings via telecon or webex, many of which are open to CASCA members. The schedule of meetings is given on our website, and meetings open to the public are announced on the CASCA email exploder. Any CASCA member wishing to attend these meetings should send email to Luc Simard ( to be added to the list. Minutes and other documentation are also made available on the CATAC website.

One of CATAC’s most important roles is to keep the community informed as the project progresses, and to ensure that your voice is heard. We are consulting widely and inviting experts to our meetings to advise on technical issues. As well as attending meetings, you are encouraged to contact the Chair at at any time.

CATAC is using information from these meetings to prepare a report that will be delivered to CASCA and ACURA. This report will consist of a factual narrative, with Findings and Recommendations. We will present a draft of this report at the CASCA meeting in Edmonton, May 30-June 1. Together with the LRPIC we are planning an extended discussion session which will, among other things, consider the implications of these recommendations in the broader context. We look forward to working with and for you to secure a bright future for the Canadian astronomical community.

CATAC Members:

  • Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo) Chair
  • Sarah Gallagher (Western University), Vice-Chair
  • Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
  • Chris Wilson (McMaster University)
  • Ray Carlberg (University of Toronto)
  • David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
  • Harvey Richer (UBC)


  • Greg Fahlman (General Manager of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
  • Don Brooks (Executive Director of ACURA, non-voting, ex-officio)
  • Bob Abraham (CASCA President, non-voting, ex-officio)
  • Doug Welch, (Science Governor for Canada on TIO Governing Board, non-voting, ex-officio)
  • Tim Davidge (NRC, observer)
  • Luc Simard (NRC, observer)

Taking Stock – Upcoming Survey about Cassiopeia and Other CASCA News Sources

By/par Magdalen Normandeau (Cassiopeia co-editor)
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2017)

When it was first created, the purpose of Cassiopeia was clear: without the internet, the hardcopy newsletter that members received a few times per year was an important tool for keeping the CASCA community in the loop about observatories, instruments, big projects, etc. Eventually, an online version was created and the hardcopy version was phased out.

Coming soon: a survey about Cassiopeia and other CASCA news communications

Coming soon: a survey about Cassiopeia and other CASCA news communications

Given these changes, we should reexamine Cassiopeia and how CASCA communicates news to its members. Who is reading Cassiopeia? Why are they reading it? What parts are they reading in it? What would they like to be reading in it? Is having a 4 times/year newsletter still worthwhile? What about other news communication methods used by CASCA (e-News blasts, individual postings to the listserv)?

A survey is being designed and the plan is to have the results in time for discussion at the AGM at the CASCA-2017 conference. Stay tuned!