President’s Report

By / par Rob Thacker (CASCA President)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

Dear CASCA Members,

I hope the new Year is treating you well! With LRP2020 getting underway and the release of the Space Strategy it seems like things never slow down. This message comes with both good and some not quite so good news but let us begin with some great news!


While it feels like yesterday since I wrote my last President’s message, not only have we announced the appointment of Pauline Barmby and Bryan Gaensler as Co-Chairs of LRP2020, we have also put in place the additional panel members, consisting of Matt Dobbs, Jeremy Heyl, Natasha Ivanova, David Lafreniere, Brenda Matthews and Alice Shapley as the external member. I’m sure you will all join me in thanking everyone for taking this important and challenging task on – as we all know, there is much hard work ahead for the panel!

With the white paper call going out, LRP2020 is truly underway and I want to strongly encourage everyone in the community to participate in the LRP process. Having been through two reports I know that some of the most difficult writing assignments are actually those for which there has been limited input. Pauline and Bryan are doing their utmost to ensure as many channels of input as possible are available and everyone in the community should feel that their voice will be heard.

The LRP process is a marathon not a sprint. We’ll likely all feel exhausted by the end – so spare a thought for the panelists! But only after we have explored every avenue, considered and debated as many possibilities as we can muster, can we be confident in setting a plan for the next ten years. Equally importantly, the LRP Implementation Committee carries much responsibility to respond to the challenges that cannot be foreseen. So, the next time you voice some concerns about the decision one of these groups may have made, just ponder for second what they’ve likely been going through, and then of course, speak your mind!

Coalition Activities

I cannot discuss Coalition activities without again thanking my Co-Chairs, Don Brooks as the Executive Director of ACURA, and Guy Nelson CEO of Empire Dynamic structures. As always Duncan Rayner of Temple Scott and Associates continues to provide advice. The past few months have been particularly active and challenging as we have tried to move forward awareness of astronomy’s funding concerns while, as everyone is aware, the Government made significant new investments in science through the 2018 Budget.

Following on from a successful fall visit, the Coalition again visited Parliament in February. As I mentioned in my winter report, we have taken an approach of meeting as many stakeholders as possible to build as much awareness of astronomy in Ottawa as we can. This time around we were fortunate to have a meeting with representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as some key members of the Standing Committee on Finance. One interesting development is that some of the MPs chose to request to speak to constituents, so we had fun building “Team Coalition”. So, without further ado, I pass on my most sincere thanks to my teammates René Doyon (Université de Montréal), Judith Irwin (Queen’s University), Laura Parker (McMaster University) and Nathalie Ouellette (Université de Montréal) for giving up their time in support of this important exercise!

Coming away from the day of meetings we all felt things had been successful. Importantly, we received an update on space-science funding and were told that it was a significant priority. Overall, we came away feeling a strong sense the message was getting home, and indeed we now have an open offer to host a reception on the Hill in May. Stay tuned for more details.

Canada’s Space Strategy

Less than a month after our visit to Parliament came the announcement by Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada’s new Space Strategy. I invite everyone to go and read the document, but remember it is high-level policy.

As I write this, the precise implications of the space strategy on astronomy are not yet clear. However, we do know that the vast majority of the $2B announcement, over 20 years, is focused on the Lunar Gateway. There are smaller supplementary programs in technology development for lunar exploration (LEAP) as well as a young astronaut program. Of course, new investment in space is always welcome and I’m sure you will all join me in thanking the Government for moving this important part of Canada’s innovation platform forward. This is clearly good news for our colleagues at the Canadian Space Agency.

But I am sure many of you have quickly realized that this announcement does not signal any new investments in space-based astronomy. It’s worth remembering we have not had any commitment to a new space astronomy mission since 2009 (the Hitomi replacement XRISM being excluded) and other than the immensely anticipated James Webb Space Telescope, our direct involvement in missions in the 2020s is currently nonexistent. While we have been able to leverage involvement in Euclid, we cannot hope to have a strong space-based astronomy portfolio if our only route to involvement is secondary support by ground imaging. If we truly wish to build on the expertise and ideas that we have in Canada, ideally to step forward and lead a significant international mission, we are going to need investments to match. Our concerns are also shared by the planetary exploration community. Having been in touch with some of the senior members of that community, it is clear that several important missions in space exploration (whether by massive or massless particles) have very pressing funding needs that the new strategy does not appear to be addressing, at least right now.

That said, I sincerely hope my current skepticism is misplaced. The Joint Committee on Space Astronomy is going to be updated post-Budget on the precise ramifications of the space strategy, and I look forward to talking with my colleagues at the CSA more about the future of Canada in space. It is always possible that the new space strategy investments could lead to reallocation of funds to space-based astronomy.

Needless to say, the Coalition will continue to make our community’s concerns heard.

Thank you!

In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone who contributes their time voluntarily in support of CASCA, and of course our staff as well! Being a volunteer can be a thankless task, so I would like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to everyone that donates their time, particularly our committee members and, as always, e-Cassiopeia editor Joanne Rosvick!

Our community would not be where it is without you!

Happy Vernal Equinox!


BRITE-Constellation Mission Update

By / par Gregg Wade (Canadian PI for BRITE)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)


BRITE-Constellation is an international space astronomy mission consisting of a fleet of 20x20x20 cm nanosatellites dedicated to precision optical photometry of bright stars in two photometric colours. The mission continues in full science operations, with 25 data releases to BRITE target PIs having already taken place, and many datasets available in the public domain from the BRITE public archive.

The BRITE mission is a collaboration between Canadian, Austrian and Polish astronomers and space scientists. The Canadian partners represent University of Toronto, Université de Montréal, Bishop’s University, and Royal Military College of Canada. The mission was built, and the Canadian satellites operated by, the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Lab (UTIAS-SFL). The Canadian Space Agency funded the construction of the Canadian satellites, and continues to support their day-to-day operations.


There are five operating BRITE satellites in the Constellation, collecting data on various sky fields in a coordinated programme to obtain well-sampled, longterm continuous (~6 months) light curves in both red and blue bandpasses.

As this issue of Cassiopeia went to press, here was the status of the sky assignments for the BRITE cubesats:

  • BRITE Toronto (Canada): Toronto observes with a red filter. It is currently observing the Ori/Tau field, switching between the two fields each orbit.
  • BRITE Lem (Poland): Lem observes with a blue filter. It is also observing the Ori/Tau field.
  • BRITE Heweliusz (Poland): Heweliusz observes with a red filter. This satellite is observing CMa/Pup II field. As implied by the numeral ‘II’, the current campaign on this field represents a revisit of a previously-observed field.
  • BRITE Austria (Austria): BRITE Austria observes with a blue filter. It is observing the Ori/Tau field and the Vel/Pup V field.
  • UniBRITE (Austria): UniBRITE observes with a red filter. This satellite is also observing the Ori/Tau field and the Vel/Pup V field.

The BRITE Constellation observing programme from early 2017 through to early 2020 has been planned by the BRITE Executive Science Team (BEST), and details are available on the BRITE photometry Wiki page.

Recent Science Results

“Seismic modelling of early B-type pulsators observed by BRITE: I. θ Ophiuchi” (P. Walczak et al. MNRAS, in press). In this paper the authors analyse BRITE time-series observations of the well known β Cephei type star θ Ophiuchi. Seven previously known frequencies are confirmed and nineteen new frequency peaks are detected. In particular, high-order g modes, typical of the Slowly Pulsating B-type (SPB) pulsators, are uncovered. These low-frequency modes are also detected in the 7-year-long SMEI light curve. If g modes are associated with the primary component of θ Oph, then our discovery allows, as in the case of other hybrid pulsators, to infer more comprehensive information on the star’s internal structure. With this aim the authors perform in-depth seismic studies. To explain the mode instability in the observed frequency range a significant increase of the mean opacity in the vicinity of the Z-bump is needed. Moreover, constraints on mass, overshooting from the convective core and rotation are derived.

“Stellar masses from granulation and oscillations of 23 bright red giants observed by BRITE – Constellation” (Kallinger et al. A&A, in press). The study of stellar structure and evolution depends crucially on accurate stellar parameters. The photometry from space telescopes has provided superb data that allowed asteroseismic characterisation of thousands of stars. However, typical targets of space telescopes are rather faint and complementary measurements are difficult to obtain. On the other hand, the brightest, otherwise well-studied stars, are lacking seismic characterization. Aims: Our goal is to use the granulation and/or oscillation time scales measured from photometric time series of bright red giants (1.6≤Vmag≤5.3) observed with BRITE to determine stellar surface gravities and masses. Methods: We use probabilistic methods to characterize the granulation and/or oscillation signal in the power density spectra and the autocorrelation function of the BRITE time series. Results: We detect a clear granulation and/or oscillation signal in 23 red giant stars and extract the corresponding time scales from the power density spectra as well as the autocorrelation function of the BRITE time series. To account for the recently discovered non-linearity of the classical seismic scaling relations, we use parameters from a large sample of Kepler stars to re-calibrate the scalings of the high- and low-frequency components of the granulation signal. We develop a method to identify which component is measured if only one granulation component is statistically significant in the data. We then use the new scalings to determine the surface gravity of our sample stars, finding them to be consistent with those determined from the autocorrelation signal of the time series. We further use radius estimates from the literature to determine the stellar masses of our sample stars from the measured surface gravities. We also define a statistical measure for the evolutionary stage of the stars.

Fig. 1: Hertzsprung-Russell diagram including the red giants observed with BRITE – Constellation by Kallinger et al. (grey filled circles). The small dots show MIST stellar evolution models for solar composition with the mass colour coded. Blue filled circles mark stars for which solar-type oscillations have been identified in the BRITE-Constellation data.

“BRITE photometry of the massive post-RLOF system HD 149404G” (Rauw et al. 2019, A&A 621,15). HD 149404 is an evolved non-eclipsing O-star binary that has previously undergone a Roche lobe overflow interaction. Understanding some key properties of the system requires a determination of the orbital inclination and of the dimensions of the components. The authors used the BRITE-Heweliusz satellite to collect photometric data of HD 149404. Additional photometry was retrieved from the SMEI archive. These data were analysed using a suite of period search tools. The orbital part of the lightcurve was modelled with the nightfall binary star code. The Gaia-DR2 parallax of HD 149404 was used to provide additional constraints. The periodograms revealed a clear orbital modulation of the lightcurve with a peak-to-peak amplitude near 0.04 mag. The remaining non-orbital part of the variability is consistent with red noise. The lightcurve folded with the orbital period reveals ellipsoidal variations, but no eclipses. The minimum when the secondary star is in inferior conjunction is deeper than the other minimum, likely due to mutual reflection effects between the stars. Combined with the Gaia-DR2 parallaxes, the photometric data indicate an orbital inclination in the range of 23°-31° and a Roche lobe filling factor of the secondary larger than or equal to 0.96. The authors conclude that the luminosity of the primary star is consistent with its present-day mass, whereas the more evolved secondary appears over-luminous for its mass. It is confirmed that that the primary’s rotation period is about half the orbital period. Both features most probably stem from the past Roche lobe overflow episode.

Fig. 2: Top: Full de-trended BRITE lightcurve of HD 149404 obtained by Rauw et al. All 19 414 data points are shown (red) along with their error bars (black). Bottom: Same, but for the data averaged per spacecraft orbit. This lightcurve contains 708 data points.

Conferences, Resources and Social Media


The BRITE team is spearheading the organization of a conference entitled “Stars and their Variability, Observed from Space”, to occur in Vienna, Austria from August 19 – 23, 2019. Preregistration is available on the conference website.


The BRITE Public Data Archive, based in Warsaw, Poland, at the Nikolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre, can be accessed at

The mission Wiki (including information on past, current and future fields) can be accessed at

BRITE Constellation is on Facebook, at @briteconstellation.

The BRITE International Advisory Science Team

The BRITE International Advisory Science Team (BIAST), which consists of BRITE scientific PIs, technical authorities, amateur astronomers, and mission fans, advises the mission executive on scientific and outreach aspects of the mission. If you’re interested to join BIAST, contact Canadian BRITE PI Gregg Wade:

Other News

BRITE-Austria and UniBRITE recently celebrated their 6th anniversary in orbit.

Fig. 3: An illustration of the accumulated statistics of the BRITE mission.

The BRITE Executive Science Team recently adopted the principles of the EAS Ethics Statement and Guidelines for Good Practice.

Astrosat News

By / par John Hutchings (Astrosat Working Group member)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

Astrosat is now in its 4th year of operation. The orbit is stable and there are no power or datalink issues. One of the three LAXPC units is not operating, and sadly the UVIT NUV channel remains off in spite of numerous attempts to restart it. UVIT data processing and archiving are up to date, and incomplete datasets are being added. Currently cycle 6 proposals are being executed, along with newly instigated legacy proposals. There is a call for cycle 7 proposals out with a deadline of April 9. A new call for legacy proposals will follow later. Canadians are eligible for a 5% share of observing, and the information is available here. Joe Postma continues to be available for advice and assistance in proposal submission. CSA will continue to support Astrosat science with their grant program. We encourage you to make use of this excellent facility.

Many astrosat results were reported at the ASI meeting (Indian equivalent of CASCA) in February, and a 3 day conference at IIA was devoted to Astrosat research. See the image below for an example of UVIT’s image capabilities.

NGC 300 is a spiral galaxy that lies beyond the local group that contains the Milky Way and Andromeda. Its size in the sky is about that of the full moon, and is considered to be similar to the Milky Way. The UV image from UVIT (bottom image, from our observations with the Astrosat space telescope) reveals the many regions of young star-formation and nebulae within the spiral arms, whose details and ages tell the story of how this galaxy is evolving.
For comparison, the top image is in visible colours, from the ground, and includes the older, redder stars as well.

Long Range Plan 2020 / Plan à long terme 2020

By / par Pauline Barmby and / et Bryan Gaensler (LRP2020 Co-Chairs / co-présidents PLT2020)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

La version française suit

LRP2020 will review the Canadian landscape for astronomy and astrophysics, and will produce a list of recommended priorities for the next decade. The resulting plan will serve as a single unified vision for the highest priority projects in astronomy in Canada over the period 2020 to 2030. See here for details and terms of reference. The process for Long Range Plan 2020 has begun, with appointment of the author panel and call for white papers. The panel members are:

  • Pauline Barmby (Western University) – co-chair
  • Matt Dobbs (McGill University)
  • Bryan Gaensler (University of Toronto) – co-chair
  • Jeremy Heyl (University of British Columbia)
  • Natasha Ivanova (University of Alberta)
  • David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
  • Brenda Matthews (National Research Council) – ex-officio
  • Alice Shapley (University of California Los Angeles – international member

The panel can be contacted at and the co-chairs at

White paper expressions of interest are due at UT 2300 on Apr 15th, 2019, via this link. Further information, including the LRP2020 timeline and statement of task, is available on this webpage, as well as on the Slack workspace.

Le PLT2020 fera un compte rendu des activités canadiennes en astronomie et en astrophysique et dressera une liste des priorités recommandées pour la prochaine décennie. Le plan qui en résultera servira de vision unifiée pour les projets d’astronomie les plus prioritaires au Canada entre 2020 et 2030. Voir ici pour obtenir des détails et le mandat. Le processus pour le Plan à long terme 2020 a commencé, avec la nomination du groupe d’auteurs et l’appel aux livres blancs. Les membres du panel sont :

  • Pauline Barmby (Western University) – co-président
  • Matt Dobbs (McGill University)
  • Bryan Gaensler (University of Toronto) – co-président
  • Jeremy Heyl (University of British Columbia)
  • Natasha Ivanova (University of Alberta)
  • David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
  • Brenda Matthews (National Research Council) – ex-officio
  • Alice Shapley (University of California Los Angeles – membre internationale

La groupe peut être contacté à et les co-présidents à

Les soumissions des manifestations d’intérêt pour livres blancs sont dues à 2300 UT le 15 avril 2019 , via ce lien. Vous trouverez des informations complémentaires, y compris le calendrier et l’énoncé de la tâche PLT2020 sur la page Web et à Slack.

Dissertation: Multiwavelength, Machine Learning, and Parallax Studies of X-ray Binaries in Three Local Group Galaxies

(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

by Dr. Robin Arnason
Thesis defended on December 7, 2018
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Western University
Thesis advisor: Prof. Pauline Barmby


X-ray binary stars are rare systems consisting of a black hole or neutron star and a main-sequence companion star. They are useful probes of galaxy properties and interesting laboratories for extreme physical conditions. In this thesis, I investigated the X-ray binary population of three galaxies in the Local Group.

The Sculptor Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy offers the chance to study a primordial low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) population in an isolated, low-metallicity environment. Combining X-ray, optical, and infrared observations, I have studied nine previously-identified and discovered four additional LMXB candidates in this galaxy. Of these candidates, all but one are either background galaxies or foreground stars, meaning that Sculptor is presently effectively devoid of bright LMXBs. If Sculptor is able to retain primordial LMXBs at a similar rate to globular clusters, it is likely that bright XRBs in globular clusters observed in the present day were dynamically formed.

The Andromeda Galaxy has the largest catalogue of Chandra-studied X-ray sources of any nearby galaxy. I have used this population to test a proof-of-concept method for identifying X-ray binary candidates using machine learning algorithms trained on known sources. After testing a variety of commonly used algorithms, I find that the best-performing random forest algorithm can identify X-ray binary candidates with 85% accuracy. I have identified 16 new strong X-ray binary candidates and find that 4 sources classified as X-ray binaries by this method coincide with star clusters identified by the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury project.

The Milky Way’s X-ray binary population is the easiest to study but the most challenging for which to accurately measure distance. I have crossmatched Galactic X-ray binary catalogs to the second data release of the Gaia mission, finding candidate counterparts for 86 Galactic X-ray binaries. Distances to Gaia candidate counterparts are systematically smaller than those measured using Type I X-ray bursts, suggesting that these bursts do not consistently reach the Eddington limit. High-mass X-ray binaries are correlated with the Galaxy’s spiral arms and low-mass X-ray binaries are anti-correlated with the Galaxy’s spiral arms at a low level of significance.

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By / par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

TMT Instrumentation Beyond First Light

Instrumentation for large telescopes takes a long time to develop, typically 7-10 years between start of conceptual design to first light. Work must start now if TMT is to realize its goal of introducing a new capability every two years after first light, and to remain competitive with ELT.

The Science Requirements Document (SRD) for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) describes a range of capabilities (instruments and facility systems), and their requirements. The TMT Science Advisory Committee (SAC) last presented a preferred phasing of these capabilities in March 2011, and it is certainly time to revisit this. It is important that we in Canada give careful consideration to our own priorities so these can be clearly communicated to the SAC. US planning, for example, is being done in the context of possible access to both TMT and GMT, while Canadians and other partners will not have direct GMT access.

In late 2017 the SAC solicited, reviewed and ranked white papers from the TMT community. These rankings have not been made public, but the concepts under consideration are available here. This list represents a mild evolution of the original descriptions in the SRD.

A summary of the instruments under consideration for all three extremely large telescopes is given in the following table, with first light capabilities in boldface:

CATAC is preparing a review of these concepts and their phasing, with the aim of making recommendations that reflect Canada’s priorities. Your input is needed for this process! A draft for comment has been made available on our web page. Our March 26 CATAC Zoom meeting (3-4pm EDT) will be open to the public for discussion of this draft report. We encourage you to participate in that meeting, and/or send your feedback directly to

Wide Field Optical Spectrograph Progress

If you’d like to keep informed about the progress of WFOS, consider signing up to the mailing list here. The instrument team will be sending out occasional updates as the instrument’s specifications and science capabilities become increasingly defined.

Recent and Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • The next TMT Science Forum will be early November 2019, in China. The theme will likely be around multimessenger astronomy, and/or synergies with other facilities. Please consider attending! CATAC expects some funding will be available to help subsidize travel costs; stay tuned for a future announcement.
  • The CATAC meeting at 3pm EDT on March 26 will be open to CASCA members. We will discuss our draft recommendations on TMT instrumentation.
  • Extremely Big Eyes on the Early Universe, Sept 9-13, 2019 in Rome, Italy. This is the last of a three-part international conference series. Abstract submission deadline is April 15, and registration deadline is June 15.

Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update

By / par Patrick Hall (MSE Management Group Member)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

New Project Scientist, Deputy Project Scientist, and Project Spokesperson

The MSE project welcomed a new Project Scientist in January and a Deputy Project Scientist in February. Prof. Jennifer Marshall (Texas A&M) was appointed Project Scientist, and Dr. Andreea Petric (IfA/CFHT) was appointed Deputy Project Scientist.

Prof. Jennifer Marshall is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University.  Prof. Marshall’s scientific interests include the detailed kinematics and chemistry of satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, particularly those that have been discovered by the Dark Energy Survey.  As an astronomical instrument builder she led Texas A&M’s involvement in the Dark Energy Survey, producing the calibration systems that enable the unprecedentedly precise photometric measurements produced by the survey, and also in the HETDEX project, building the VIRUS spectrographs.  She is the co-PI of GMACS, the wide field multi-object spectrograph that will be a first-light instrument for the Giant Magellan Telescope. She is also the director of the REU Site in Astronomical Research and Instrumentation at Texas A&M, which brings talented undergraduates from other universities to conduct scientific research with Texas A&M astronomers each summer.

Dr. Andreea Petric is the Institute for Astronomy’s (IfA) resident astronomer at CFHT, where she is the instrument scientist for the wide field optical imager MegaCam. Dr. Petric obtained her PhD from Columbia University and was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Caltech and a Science Fellow at the Gemini Observatory before joining IfA. Dr. Petric’s research focus is on the formation and evolution of galaxies. She uses X-ray to radio data to study the impact of mergers and AGN feedback on the star formation rates in nearby galaxies and to study the interstellar medium content of quasars to understand the relationship between type 1 and type 2 QSOs. 

Meanwhile, former MSE Project Scientist Dr. Alan McConnachie was appointed as Project Spokesperson, responsible for developing and promoting an international base of support for MSE among partners and prospective partners. The MSE MG thanks Alan for all his work as Project Scientist and looks forward to working with Prof. Marshall, Dr. Petric and Dr. McConnachie in their new roles on the MSE project.

New MSE Website

The MSE project has a newly redesigned website. Keep an eye on the website (and on ArXiv) for an update to the MSE Detailed Science Case, coming soon!

Massively Multiplexed Spectroscopy with MSE: Science, Project and Vision

A very successful MSE meeting was held Feb. 26-28 in Tucson, AZ, hosted by NOAO in collaboration with MSE and CFHT. Copies of all the presentations from the meeting are available here. The meeting agenda covered the full range of scientific and technical aspects of MSE, including plans for the Design Reference Survey and for the development of the MSE Science Platform and the MSE partnership model.

Among the over 90 participants were scientists involved in the full range of current and upcoming wide-field spectroscopic surveys including SDSS, LAMOST, 2dF S^5, DESI, 4MOST, WEAVE, PFS, and more. Several fruitful discussion sessions focused on sharing lessons learned from the planning and execution of these surveys.

The eight MSE Science Working Groups held breakout sessions and presented summaries of their scientific and programmatic discussions to the full meeting. Numerous white papers discussed at the meeting have now been submitted for consideration by the Astro2020 decadal survey in the US; for example on tests of dark matter, on stellar astrophysics and exoplanet science, on cosmology, and on quasar reverberation mapping.

The Canadian community is encouraged to submit MSE-related white papers for the Long Range Planning exercise now underway (expressions of interest due April 15, 2019; white papers due September 30, 2019).

MSE Management Group and CFHT Board and SAC Meetings

The MSE Management Group (MG) held its annual full-day face-to-face meeting in Waimea, Hawaii, on December 10, 2018, with representatives from existing partners and two observers from prospective partners: Adam Bolton (NOAO) and Darren DePoy (Texas A&M). The MG heard a remote presentation from Richard Barvainis (NSF) about the Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure initiative, and discussed how MSE can best propose to this opportunity. The MG also held a useful discussion of possible partnership models for the construction, and operations phases of the project. Further details of the draft partnership model can be found in the Tucson meeting presentation by MSE MG Chair Andrew Hopkins.

Last but not least, the CFHT Board approved the following statement at its December 2018 meeting: “The Board resolves that the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) is the scientific future of CFHT and affirms its intention to work towards an expanded MSE partnership to design, build and operate this transformational spectroscopic survey facility.” In addition, the CFHT Science Advisory Committee approved the following statement at its November 2018 meeting: “SAC endorses MSE as the scientific future of CFHT. SAC supports proceeding to the Preliminary Design Phase.”

CFI Proposal

Work led by U. Victoria Prof. Colin Bradley continues on a substantial request for University and industry partners to complete design work on many subsystems including the enclosure, the telescope structure, the fibre transmission system, the science calibration system, and others.

ALMA Matters


By / par Gerald Schieven (ALMA)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

Cycle 7 Call for Proposals

The Call for ALMA Cycle 7 Proposals has now been issued. Deadline for proposals is Wednesday 17 April at 13UT. It is anticipated that 4300 hours will be available for the 12m Array and 3750 hours for the Morita Atacama Compact Array (ACA). See the Call for Proposals for more information about the call and for links to useful documents. The Proposers’ Guide contains more information about the capabilities offered in Cycle 7.

If you’re relatively new to proposing for ALMA, you may be interested in attending an ALMA Proposal Writing Workshop at the University of Toronto on April 1. See below for details.

ALMA Proposal Writing Workshop

An ALMA Proposal Writing Workshop, to be held at the University of Toronto on April 1, is designed for all astronomers (including graduate students), in particular for those who do not regularly propose for time on r­­adio ­­telescopes but might be interested in one day using ALMA for their research.

The workshop will provide an overview of ALMA’s latest capabilities, a (very) brief discussion of interferometry fundamentals, ALMA-focused science talks, and a walkthrough of proposal preparation and ALMA simulator tools. The workshop is more than 2 weeks before the ALMA Cycle 7 deadline on April 17th. To register for the workshop, please visit the workshop website. Registration is free and lunch will be provided for registered participants. For more information, please see the workshop website, or feel free to email ALMA Ambassador Toby Brown.

Canadian ALMA Publication Statistics

By early 2019, barely 8 years since the start of Early Science, ALMA had already featured in over 1300 refereed publications. Canadian astronomers are continuing to make strong use of the facility and to make their mark in publications. In calendar year 2018 there were 49 refereed publications (13% of the total 380 in 2018) with authors/co-authors from Canadian institutions, of which 7 had a Canadian first author. Since 2012, when the first ALMA publication was released, 13% of ALMA publications have had at least one author/co-author from a Canadian institution, with 2.4% as first author.

Report from the LRPIC

By / par John Hutchings (Chair, LRPIC)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2019)

LRPIC has welcomed the LRP2020 co-chairs (Barmby and Gaensler), and CSA science advisor (Gallagher) as observers and to participate in the regular telecons.

A recent concern includes the new space strategy, which does not appear to address the urgent need to restore and run a viable space science program. The decision to join the lunar gateway project comes as a surprise, following recent Coalition (ACURA, CASCA, Industry) visits with parliamentary people. We continue to be in touch with the Space Advisory Board, and await further detail from the government.

LRPIC continues to keep updated on LRP related project activities, including the following:

  1. TMT process towards construction
  2. ACURA becoming the Canadian partner in the MSE consortium
  3. Progress with CCAT-prime construction, and Canadian participation
  4. The just-announced pre-LRP radio futures workshop at DRAO in May
  5. SKA imminent treaty formation and Canada’s place in it. Development of an SKA Regional Centre
  6. LSST participation possibilities and connections in Canada
  7. LRPIC will submit a paper to LRP2020 giving a retrospect of LRP2010.

We encourage all CASCA members to communicate issues and concerns to us.

LRP2020: Call for white papers

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the call for white papers for the Canadian Astronomy Long Range Plan for 2020-2030 (LRP2020). Due dates are as follows:
* Expressions of interest: UT 2300 on Apr 15th, 2019, via
* White papers: UT 2300 on Sep 30th, 2019 (instructions provided to those who submit EoIs)

LRP2020 will review the Canadian landscape for astronomy and astrophysics, and will produce a list of recommended priorities for the next decade. The resulting plan will serve as a single unified vision for the highest priority projects in astronomy in Canada over the period 2020 to 2030. See for details and terms of reference.

We now solicit white papers to inform the LRP2020 report. A white paper should be a self-contained description of a future opportunity for Canadian astronomy. A white paper will be most effective and useful if it concisely summarises an option that the LRP2020 panel should be considering for prioritisation.

White papers should adhere to the following guidelines:

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST: An expression of interest (EoI) must be submitted in advance of a full white paper. An EoI submission requires a title, a contact person, a proposed list of co-authors (optional) and a 2000-character summary, and is submitted entirely via a web form (see below).

SCOPE OF EoIs AND WHITE PAPERS: Topics may include (but are not limited to):
* new facilities, experiments and missions
* proposed upgrades to current facilities, experiments and missions
* science programs, science topics and science themes
* instrument design and development
* laboratory astrophysics
* high-performance computing
* data analysis, data management and data storage
* outreach, education and teaching
* state of the profession
* training, careers, demographics and professional development
* equity, diversity and inclusion

AUTHORSHIP: Each EoI and white paper must have a designated contact person. Anonymous submissions will not be considered and all submitted EoIs and white papers will be made public via the LRP2020 web site. Confidential supplementary material (e.g., budgets, proprietary technical information) can be submitted separately to the LRP2020 panel; the relevance of this material  should be described in the public submission. There are no restrictions on the affiliations of co-authors, and no limit on the number of co-authors. Note that the number of co-authors will not necessarily be taken as an indication of the level of community interest.

FORMAT AND LENGTH: Submissions may be made in English or in French.

White papers must be submitted as PDF files, capped at a length of ten 8.5”x11” pages (including figures, tables, references and appendices), with a minimum of 11-point font and 2-cm margins. Submissions must be in PDF format, and should not exceed a file size of 30 MB. Submissions not meeting these requirements will not be considered.

White papers are not required to contain a specific set of sections or headings. Depending on the content, the following topics may be appropriate to include:
* connection or relevance to Canada
* timeline
* cost
* description of risk
* governance / membership structure
* justification for private submission of supplementary information

* EoIs: UT 2300 on Apr 15th, 2019, via
* White papers: UT 2300 on Sep 30th, 2019 (instructions provided to those who submit EoIs)

PUBLICATION: All submitted EoIs and white papers will be posted as public documents on the LRP2020 web page ( Teams wishing to submit supplementary confidential material will be able to indicate as such through the white paper submission process.

DISCUSSION AND QUESTIONS: We encourage open discussion on the coordination of EoIs and white papers using the LRP Slack workspace (see for links). Participants may use the existing topical channels, or to make new channels as appropriate. Questions about any aspect of the LRP2020 process can be posted on the #general channel on Slack, or sent by email to

Pauline Barmby and Bryan Gaensler
LRP2020 Co-Chairs, on behalf of the LRP2020 Panel