Volume 32, Number 1
In January, I attended the AAS TRADE SHOW - er, um, I mean MEETING. It was a combined meeting with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and, with 3000 participants, it certainly felt like a trade show for exhibitors, who seemed to outnumber the astronomers. Astronomy is Big Business these days. With several large telescopes already operating and more to come, it isn't difficult to figure out why the vultures are gathering. In the long run, it is probably a good thing, but in the short term it feels as though something has been lost.
When I go to an AAS meeting, I go to discuss projects with colleagues and to learn something new from the plenary sessions. While those are my top priorities, I do also enjoy the posters because I can choose either to study them at my own pace or to skip over them. In general, I avoid the five-minute papers of the oral sessions, because I find that it is too difficult to switch gears so fast. Thus I find myself either thinking about the previous paper or about something else more interesting. I do sometimes attend the fifteen-minute dissertation sessions because the gear change isn't so rapid and because the graduate students are generally reporting on the major work of their lives (to date at least), so they are more engaging. There was a higher percentage than usual of posters about student research on stars. It is comforting to know that not all students are going into cosmology careers and that everything is balancing out.
My classification work covers the entire HR diagram, so general
meetings like the AAS or the IAU General Assembly are more useful for
connecting with co-authors than specialized IAU Symposia. The meeting
in San Diego was especially good for connecting because three of my
former students were there (Chris Corbally, Rick Crowe, and Richard
Gray). The meeting would have been more manageable without the AAPT;
3000 people is just too many. There were some people who were at the
meeting, but whom I either didn't see at all or only saw once briefly
across the room. I hope the AAS doesn't make a habit of large joint
Last October, the week before the Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin Centenary Celebration, I had the great pleasure of viewing at Harvard College Observatory an exhibit of photographs of Harvard's first recipients of a PhD in astronomy. Included in the Astronomy Department's historic display, created by Barbara Welther, were delightful pictures contributed by David Hogg of his parents as undergraduates. Frank Hogg is in his UofT gown and Helen Sawyer, in her Mt. Holyoke graduation dress. I thought DDO/UofT astronomers would enjoy seeing these memorabilia. At the CPG Centenary UofT alums were also well represented: Wendy Freedman was a speaker and Dimitar Sasselov chaired a session.
Fernie 8875 J. Donald Fernie, Canadian astronomer
(8875) Fernie = 1992 UP10
Discovered 1992 Oct. 22 by E. Bowell at Palomar Mountain Observatory. J. Donald Fernie (b. 1933), professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of Toronto and former director of the David Dunlap Observatory, is known for his work on variable stars, galactic structure, photoelectric photometry, and the history of 19th and 20th century astronomy. Citation by H.H. Guetter.
Regards, Edward Bowell
In a dramatic process which saw bits of chad strewn around the conference room, GASA managed to hold its first ever November elections. Kevin Blagrave made his first foray into the political arena as GASA Secretary, Allen Attard took control of the Treasury Department and I managed to hang on to the Presidential slot in a tough acclamation process. Many other GASA members are contributing in elected positions as well, and MSc students are participating in larger numbers this year, now that elections are towards the beginning of the academic year. Special commendation should go to Tim Rothwell who swiftly took over the all-important Juice Guy position upon Dave Whipps' departure (bye Dave, good luck!).
The DDO Countdown on December 15th was a success again this year, with extensive refreshments coordinated by Toni and Lillian, setup from students and staff, musical entertainment provided by Jennifer, Kris, Kevin, Mike G, Lawrence and myself, and laughs and incredulous gasps provided by the anonymous (natürlich) editor and contributors to the Y2K Droppings. Look for the musicians to strike again as "A Stropella."
We're currently looking forward to Wendy Freedman's visit for the second-ever Helen Sawyer Hogg Visitorship at the end of February - we've filled the tight schedule to the brim with meals, meetings and talks.
Finally, there will be some goodbyes soon - a large batch of our
senior students is finishing up this year - first to go was Ming Zhu,
who successfully defended in January. Good luck to all of you in the
job search and completion stages.
|There was the expected flurry of last-minute phone calls from the media preceding the Christmas Day eclipse. Calls were received at both the DA and DDO from local radio and television stations, most of whom were looking for some quick facts, but some wanted a live person to interview. An informal survey of the members of our Department showed that most of us watched the eclipse but no one planned a public event around it. Observing implements ranged from projected images of the Sun using binoculars to someone who used a cheese-grater as a pinhole camera, and watched dozens of little eclipses. The image here is provided courtesy of Rosemary McNaughton, who observed the eclipse from her home in California. The person in silhouette (right of centre) is Rosemary's father.|
The following statistics were compiled by the Institute of Scientific Information, at web address: http://www.isinet.com/isi/hot/research/200036/a
The numbers indicate that Canadian Astrophysicists have a larger impact within their discipline on the international community than does any other science! Something to be proud of.
Canadian Science, 1995-99
(Canada's world share of science and social-science papers over the last five years, expressed as a percentage of papers in each of 22 fields in the ISI database. Also, Canada's relative citation impact compared to the world average in each field, in percentage terms.)
Field Percentage of Relative impact papers from compared to world Canada Geosciences 8.59 +7 Ecology/Environmental 7.94 +13 Psychology/Psychiatry 7.64 +4 Plant & Animal Sciences 7.10 +16 Economics & Business 6.77 -8 Neuroscience 6.50 Even Social Sciences 6.08 -7 Education 5.98 +7 Molecular Biology 5.82 -3 Mathematics 5.42 +8 Computer Science 5.17 +14 Biology & Biochemistry 5.04 +5 Engineering 4.94 +6 Astrophysics 4.83 +38 Agricultural Sciences 4.77 +21 *---Canada's overall percent share, all fields---------4.74 Pharmacology 4.46 +14 Immunology 4.40 +6 Clinical Medicine 4.37 +30 Microbiology 4.32 Even Materials Science 3.57 +24 Chemistry 3.30 +28 Physics 2.75 +25
I attended the meeting CFHT-21 in Kona, Hawaii. In addition to contemplating about the past, ideas have been presented about the future of the CFHT. They ranged between closure and replacement by a 15-25m telescope to running the present CFHT for many years to come as - arguably - the best among the 4m-class telescopes (this route would involve more narrow specialisation plus convincing other 4m communities to close or specialise their telescopes in "orthogonal" directions to the CFHT). Ray Carlberg presented one of the three exciting concept studies of a large (15-25m) telescope at the present CFHT site.
I limit my impressions to a few things which interested me the most and are not really related to the conference, but rather to my present (DDO) and previous (CFHT) duties.
Regarding the telescope control program, in relation to our plans to simplify operations of the 1.88m: Over the last months, we have been discussing new ways of getting good coordinates by direct access to Web sites such as Simbad, Vizier, etc.. Stefan Mochnacki has been a strong proponent of this visionary approach. I witnessed operations in the CFHT dome and was surprised to see that the newest Telescope Control System IV at CFHT does not have the Web-access option. The TCS-IV has taken some 4 years and 3 programmers to get to a point that it works really well. They tried the coordinates-from-Web approach and apparently found that the formats of data in the Web sites are too diversified: It is still easier for the Telescope Operators to cut-and-paste the numbers between the respective windows. An important lesson for us.
The fiber-feed to the coude (CAFE): Some of you may know, I was in charge of building a fiber feed system connecting the Cassegrain environment with the coude spectrograph ("Gecko"). This project had been started and re-started several times by successive Resident Astronomers well before my "stint" at the CFHT. I was the last one to try to push it past the design stage; the current Canadian Resident, Nadine Manset, finished the project. The system, which was built at the Paris-Meudon Observatory by a team led by Jacques Baudrand, in the laboratory of Paul Felenbok, consists of:
As you should read in the latest CASCA e-newsletter (www.casca.ca/ecass/issues/winter2000/), a new Canadian astronomy EPO initiative has started, with partial support from CASCA and NSERC's PromoScience program. CASCA and the RASC are the partners in this project. The important EPO activities of the undergraduate and graduate students in our department show that these two groups should also be part of the partnership. The program will be targeted to students and teachers at the grade 6-9 level (where astronomy is now being taught in most provinces), and to the attentive public. A cross-country Advisory Board is presently being formed. Input is welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the recent joint meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers, in San Diego, I chaired and presented in a panel on "What I Learned from a 'School of Education' Collaboration". This is a topic that increasingly interests the AAS, so I feel quite avant-garde! I also presented a paper, on behalf of the Project, on "'Frames of Reference' as an Element in Learning Astronomy". See BAAS 32, #4, 1573 (2000) for an abstract (#98.02). We are preparing to submit the text of this paper to "OISE Papers in STSE Education". We have also received a small grant to carry out a study of "multi-cultural astronomy" in the classroom: using references to the calendars and other astronomy of cultures such as Chinese, Islamic, Mayan, and Maori as a way of building further interest in and understanding of basic astronomy.
The following list of papers is not necessarily comprehensive. For others, refer to:
Barkhouse, Wayne A.;Hall, Patrick B. Quasars in the 2MASS second incremental data release. January 26, 2001. Preprint No. 2001-0002
Gladders, Michael D.;Yee, H. K. A new method for galaxy cluster detection : I. The Algorithm. November 17, 2000. Preprint No. 2000-0103
Rothwell, Timothy A.;Shegelski, Mark R. A. Tomographic reconstruction of composite small-screen in-line holograms. October 23, 2000. Preprint No. 2000-0101
Seaquist, E. R.;Clark, Jason. Observations of CO J=3-2 in the outflow of the starburst galaxy M82. January 16, 2001. Preprint No. 2001-0001
Shegelski, Mark R. A.;Rothwell, Timothy A. Lateral tomographic reconstruction of multiple in-line holograms. October 23, 2000. Preprint No. 2000-0099
Shegelski, Mark R. A.;Rothwell, Timothy A. Rotational tomographic reconstruction of multiple in-line holograms. October 23, 2000. Preprint No. 2000-0100
Shegelski, Mark R. A.;Whitwick, Michael B. Tomographic
reconstruction of multiple in-line holograms for multiple scattering
in low energy electron holography. October 23, 2000. Preprint