Don Fernie reminds us that the Doings is celebrating an anniversary. Vol 1, No.1 of the Doings appeared on January 31, 1968, almost exactly 30 years ago.
Don also adds that he has a complete set of the DDD and he is starting on a
part-time project to produce an index to all of the Doings. A trial version
will be produced in WordPerfect and include items of historical interest
to the department.
The University of Toronto Southern Observatory was closed on 1 July, 1997, 26 years after first light. A series of budget cuts by NSERC had left the UTSO infrastructure grant with only 40% of the minimum grant needed to keep it in operation. The university continued to supply its portion, but Provincial cuts to the university left no funds for filling the gap. However, an interesting offer from Argentina will enable the telescope to continue as a research instrument on the other side of the Andes.
At the IAU meeting in Japan, Hugo Levato, Director of the Argentine observatory at El Leoncito, and I initiated an agreement whereby Argentina will move the telescope, operate it, maintain it, and reserve 25% of the time for the University of Toronto. In principle, the telescope and dome are on loan. The name "Helen Sawyer Hogg Telescope" will be retained. The agreement was signed in November and ratified by the Argentine Consulate in Toronto.
In late November and early December, Brian Beattie and I spent 3 weeks sorting through 27 years of equipment, supplies and memories. Books were given to the University of Concepci˘n, photographic equipment and supplies were given to amateurs in La Serena, some useful items not needed for operation of the telescope were packed into ten crates and shipped back to Toronto, furniture was given to one of the Chilean workers, and three truckloads of leftovers were discarded.
While we were there, three engineers from Argentina came to make essential measurements and plan the move, which is scheduled to take place in March. The telescope should be functioning again by the end of the year.
The site at El Leoncito in Argentina is a good one, though not as good as Las Campanas in Chile. The are the same numbers of clear nights, though differently distributed, but the seeing is not as good (average of 1.5 arcsec instead of less than 1 arcsec).
The first week of December was a wonderful time to be in
Casa Canadiense, with its panoramic view of the western sky.
From the deck each night, we could see all five naked-eye planets
(seven if we counted Earth and Moon, which is almost as big as
Mercury). The crescent Moon waxed its way past Mercury, Mars,
Venus, Jupiter and Saturn on successive nights and the sight was
a joy to behold.
Some of you may remember Bob Gauthier (Ph.D. 1984). We had lost contact with him, but reconnected when Jim Thomson told rG that he had seen his name on the web, with an email address. A letter was written; his replies (slightly edited) are reproduced here with his permission.
My God, I can't believe you still remembered me! I'm very flattered, of course. I've been away for the last week and just read your e-mail last Friday. This is kind of psychic because in my wanderings on the WWW (the world has changed since I was your student n'est-ce pas??) just before Xmas, I stumbled onto the U of T Astronomy site. I was overjoyed to see the Doings on-line. It was the most recent issue (from October) and as the first page scrolled up I saw the acronym UTSO and then this photo of what looked like at least a 2metre telescope dome. I immediately thought: "He did it!! U of T built a 2meter in Chile!!!". Then,the crushing news of the actuality brought all the memories flooding back and I was lost in a reverie that lasted quite a while....
I must say that my two trips to Chile to use that fabulous telescope are at the very top of the turning point experiences of my life (especially the first one!). I think it is ludicrous that such an excellent facility should be closed.
However, I too have fallen victim to the rather large cuts imposed in the February 1995 budget. The research program I was working in was terminated after many years of effort by a team of ten excellent physicists and astronomers (always the best in anything they do!!!) and tens of millions of dollars investment without so much as a "howdee-doo".
Fortunately this organisation was not stupid enough to let the talent go and we were "re-assigned". The new scene is a definite step down (for researcher types that is), in that we are so closely tied to the whims and "needs" of the Canadian private sector that we can't even turn around without seeing if it fits into a "business plan". What nonsense! However, we all are in the same boat, as most of my university colleagues have experienced similar events.
My career as a remote sensing scientist (specialising in optical radiometry, instrument calibration and radiative transfer) has been enjoyable and fulfilling. It shares many of the attributes of astronomical research, i.e. challenging and necessitating intuition and insight, lots of field work, travel and a close-knit scientific community. However, what it does NOT share is the incredible fascination of subject matter! I do not regret my career choice (there are many other reasons for doing what I did) but when I check out the HST pictures or read about discoveries like Ian Shelton's at UTSO, my brain does tend to go into a MUCH higher gear. Astronomy was, is and always will be the most intellectually stimulating of scientific pursuits for me, but alas.... I still have "sessions" where I sit down with Chandra's Radiative Transfer or Mihalas' classic stellar atmospheres book and do a little "doodling".
As you can see I am capable of ranting and raving like this ad infinitum! I think it would be neat to get together at some point and "shoot the breeze". I expect to be in Toronto sometime in March or April. Are you coming up to Ottawa at any time????
It was sure great to get your e-mail and hope you are well. Give Jim Thomson my regards. I was shocked to see his picture, with that beard....
The news of Karl's death just two days ago is staggering, to say the least. I did not know he was battling cancer.
Karl was a model for me as a student and he gave me a great deal in terms of friendship and as a mentor. I can't believe this happened to him.....
Basu, S. The formation of protostellar disks in magnetized cloud cores. 20-Jan-1998. Preprint No. 98-0075
Frayer, D.T.; Seaquist, E.R.; Frail, D.A. OH satellite line masers in the nucleus of NGC 253. 24-Oct-1997. Preprint No. 97-1234
Gladman, B.; et. al. The discovery of two distant Uranian Moons. 2-Feb-1998. Preprint No. 98-0104
Gladman, B. J. Destination : earth martian meteorite delivery. 21-Jan-1998. Preprint No. 98-0081
Johnstone, D.; Hollenbach, D.; Bally, J. Photoevaporation of Disks and Clumps by Nearby Massive Stars : application to disk destruction in the Orion Nebula. 5-Jan-1998. Preprint No. 98-0021
Johnstone, Doug; Bertoldi, F. Ultraviolet radiation and circumstellar environments. 20-Jan-1998. Preprint No. 98-0076
Percy, J.R. Astronomy in the Pan-Canadian science project. 19-Dec-1997. Preprint No. 97-1334
Percy, J.R.; Bakos, A. RV Tauri stars in the AAVSO photoelectric photometry program. 13-Nov-1997. Preprint No. 97-1272
Percy, J.R. Teaching astronomy: a brief review. 29-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-1084
Yee, H.K.C.; et al. The CNOC2 field galaxy redshift survey.
31-Oct-1997. Preprint No. 97-1247