Cover Story

UTSO Update

Bob Garrison

On July 1, 1997, the Resident Observer at UTSO locked the doors and left the mountain. Since then, the Helen Sawyer Hogg Telescope has been sitting idle under the fantastic skies of Chile.

In November, Brian Beattie and I will travel to Las Campanas either to revive UTSO or to prepare for moving it. There are a couple of alternatives for disposition of the telescope and equipment. We are no longer thinking of simply abandoning the site. Which alternative we choose depends on the amount of funding available.

To justify reviving UTSO at its present location, we need a commitment of private funding of order half a million spread over five years. Users' fees will be increased to cover the remainder. We have had a serious, but tentative, proposal to cover a bit more than one year, but in that case we would have to go through the same stressful process each year, which is not a pleasant prospect.

An alternative, fallback position has been proposed by the Director of the Argentine Observatory at El Leoncito, which is just on the other side of the Andes from Las Campanas. (See photo on cover.) The site is good, though inferior to Las Campanas. They currently have a 2.1m telescope, which is very oversubscribed, and need one of smaller size for projects which don't need a large telescope.

Negotiations are underway with Argentina to move the telescope and metal dome from Las Campanas to El Leoncito. They would maintain and operate it. Under their proposal, 25% of the telescope time would be guaranteed to the University of Toronto. Other Canadians would be welcome to join the competition for the remaining time.

While this latter solution is not ideal for us, it is better than abandoning the telescope on Las Campanas. It is clear that we cannot depend on users' fees alone to finance UTSO. It would be best if we could find an angel, with cash in hand, to provide a base budget which would be supplemented by increased users' fees.


This is a bumper issue, so there no need for a long editorial! It is nice to see the variety of contributions made by so many members and friends of our department. Please continue to support The Doings with your submissions, and if you have never done so before, consider becoming a first-time contributor next issue.

The Editors would like to thank Sandra Scott for her help in compiling a list of recent departmental events and Lillian Lanca for her help in requesting information from the new students.

Comings and Goings

In late July the department had a small reception to say goodbye to Slavek Rucinski. Slavek has taken up a post at CFHT after several years at Toronto and ISTS. Slavek has contributed a great deal to the department over the years and we wish him well at CFHT.

Marlene Cummins attended the Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association, held in Seattle, June 7-13.

John Percy attended the IAU General Assembly in Kyoto, Japan. After presiding over the business meetings of Commission 46 (Teaching of Astronomy), he was pleased to turn the presidency over to Julieta Fierro of Mexico. He spoke at (and helped to organize) Joint Discussions on: Stellar Evolution in Real Time, Research and Education Needs of the Developing Countries, and Preserving the Astronomical Windows. He also gave keynote addresses at two satellite meetings: the Joint International Forum on the Teaching of Astronomy, and the annual meeting of the Variable Star Observers League of Japan.

John Percy addressed The Ontario Skeptics on September 16 on the topic of Science Education and Literacy.

The reception for the Fieldus Award on Sept 17th was dual purpose. (See the Congratulations section for more.) We also had the opportunity to say goodbye and give our best wishes to Guddi Gambhir. Guddi has been with the department for many years, and with the University for about 20. Guddi's job fell victim to the department's restructuring plan, which was implemented after severe budget cuts were imposed. We wish Guddi well, and agree with Ernie Seaquist's comments at the reception that life will not be the same in the department without Guddi's smile in the office.

Lillian Lanca has accepted the newly-created position of departmental secretary. Most of you have met Lillian as she has been working in the office for several months as a temporary employee. Her good humour and cheery disposition greets everyone who enters the main office. As Ernie Seaquist wrote in his e-mail announcing Lillian's appointment "we look forward to having her with us on a permanent basis".

August saw the arrival of a team of researchers from Jate University, Hungary. Dr. Jozsef Vinko and two graduate students, Gabor Kaszas and Laszlo Kiss, will be conducting research at DDO for the next few months with the 1.88m telescope. Many people in the department will remember Jozsef and Laszlo from their previous visit.

Bob Garrison was an invited speaker at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Historical Session celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Yerkes Observatory, held in Chicago on 29 June 1997. The title of his talk was "W.W. Morgan: Patterns in the Universe."

Bob Garrison attended the triennial General Assembly of the IAU held in Kyoto, Japan, during the last half of August. He was re-elected Chair of the Standard Star Working Group at its business meeting. Chris Corbally (Toronto PhD 1983 and now Vatican Astronomer) will continue as Editor of the quarterly newsletter. The business meeting was brief and a lively scientific meeting followed. Also at the IAU, an all-day workshop was held to explore the status of Automated Classification. Richard Gray (PhD 1986 and now Associate Professor at Appalachian State University), Corbally, and Garrison presented an invited paper entitled "Automated Classification and the MK Process."

This year we have a large number of Astronomy undergraduates conducting 4th year research projects. The Editors hope they enjoy their year and and we convey our welcome to the department. The names of the undergraduates are:

Jeremy Bailin
Jason Broersma
Aaron Lawrence
Joe Lobianco
Branko Miskov
Michael Parkes
Bart Pindor
Sara Poirier
Taunia Samoylof
Neil Scanlan

Six new graduate students also joined the department in September. Lillian encouraged the new students to write something about themselves, so that we would have some material to share with our readers. They sound like an interesting group of people. These brief introductions should be reciprocated with gestures of welcome from all staff and students.

Mark Brodwin (MSc program)

The Past: I'm originally from Montreal and did my B.Sc. in Physics (minor in math) at McGill University. The curriculum was stronly theoretical with an emphasis on quantum mechanics (with an eye to applications in solid state physics). As my research interests did not lie in that area, I did my final year research project under the tutelage of Professor Rene Racine at the University of Montreal. Using the Mont-Megantic telescope I confirmed the work of Rubin and Ford and also of John Kormendy by using long slit spectrography to measure the rotation curve (and hence deduce the mass distribution) in the center of M31. I found kinematical evidence for the existence of a supermassive (> 10,000,000 solar masses) black hole in the center of M31.

The Present: I'm beginning my M.Sc. here at U of T hoping to catch up on all the astronomy I might have learned in an undergraduate astronomy degree while I tackle the prescribed graduate courses.

The Future: I believe I want to work in observational cosmology, though I'm leaving my options open at this time. Gravitation lensing is another interest of mine, both from the observational and theoretical points of view. Finally, I'd like to incorporate some of my knowledge of quantum physics into my research, perhaps in the area of black hole physics.

Jason Clark (MSc program)

I was raised on a farm located about 3 miles north of a town called Somerset in southwestern Manitoba (about 100 miles southwest of Winnipeg). After graduating from high school in Swan Lake, Manitoba, I went to the University of Manitoba where I obtained my B.Sc. (Honours) in physics. I should note that I have no background in astronomy besides what I have read on my own. All of the courses I took at the U. of M. were in physics with the exception of a few math courses. At this time, I am not sure in what area of astronomy I would like to do a research project, but I am interested in nuclear physics. So perhaps a project involving some experimental (or maybe observational) nuclear astrophysics would most likely be one I would be willing to persue. However, I would probably be interested in most projects involving observational astronomy.

Rosemary McNaughton (MSc program)

I'm from Santa Cruz, California where I was able to pursue my hobbies of scuba diving and marine biology, and where I took my first astronomy class (at UCSC), though at the time I was planning to study either math or oceanography. During my four years at MIT I studied a broad range of subjects with physics as the nexus, and graduated with a SB in physics and an SB in Humanities and Science in the areas of Music and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science (EAPS). My undergraduate thesis was "Numerical Evidence on the Validity of the Titius-Bode Law," and I worked with Jack Wisdom of EAPS on that project (building on work done by Matt Holman, who, I believe, has just finished a post-doc appointment here at UofT). My current research interests lie to the analytical/numerical side of things, especially in dynamics. I'm also interested in the history of science, and the human factor in scientific observation and interpretation.

I forsee my future career requiring a professional scientific training merged with the ability to communicate technical subjects to a general audience. I spent a summer in Washington, D.C., working on information technology policy and research funding issues for the higher education community. My perspective as a "techie" added clarity (I hope) to some of the more obscure considerations in these areas. Unfortunately, many of the legislators are not yet living in the information age, so it's still an uphill (Capitol Hill) battle. I also hope to explore science education and science writing/journalism along the way.

As for my current personal interests, I'm continuing my involvement in music at a non-academic level: I am singing with the UofT MacMillan Singers, and studying voice (I'm a mezzo-soprano) privately. When I need a break from studying hard-core science I turn to popular science writing, hard-core feminist theory and good novels.

Marcelo Ruetalo (MSc program)

My name is Marcelo Ruetalo and I come from (and actually was also born in) Montevideo, Uruguay. There I studied Astronomy at the undergraduate level at `Universidad de la Republica' where I got the degree of `Licenciado'. Now I am one of the new M.Sc. students in the Department of Astronomy at U of T.

As an undergraduate student I was involved in two small `research projects' (needed to fulfill the degree requirements): one dealing with the implementation of an algorithm based on the Hough Transform for detecting asteroid trails on CCD images and another dealing with calculating large separation gravitational lensing probabilities in cosmological scenarios modelling CDM halos with Navarro, Frenk & White's halo density profile.

Anne Sakamoto (MSc program)

I was born and partially raised in Tokyo. Besides Toronto, I have also spent some time living in London, England. I did my undergraduate work at U of T, completing (whew!) a joint specialist program in physics and astronomy. In my final year, I worked with Prof. Howard Yee, analyzing data from a gravitational lens survey carried out using CFHT. Prof. Yee did the observations, of course. I have never set foot on Hawaiian soil, although I would like to visit Hawaii some day! My future plans are uncertain at this point.

Arno Dirks (PhD program)

Despite the international community at the top floors of the Burton Tower, I appear to be the only representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (henceforth known as Holland). Yes, we do have a royal house, and yes, they do speed too,one of them takes a liking towards Ferraries. Other than that they are a plain old bunch and no competition for the Windsors.

I have lived about half my life in Holland, where I arrived after enjoying such tropical climates as the Caribbean (my first four years were spent crawling about on Curacoa) and Nigerian. An exchange year in Australia boosted my taste for the overseas and upon returning quickly finished my secondary-education in Holland. Then I stored away my wooden shoes and said goodbye to the tulips and windmills.

The new freedoms concerning mobility in Europe made the possibility of studying in another member state very easy and my choice was the United Kingdom. At this time I was still full of ideals (silly me) and believed in this wonderful creature the European Union (EU). So I choose to study Law at Edinburgh University, with the idea of directing all my efforts towards making the EU work. To cut a long story short, during an EU meeting in Edinburgh it dawned on me that all my efforts would not matter one iota in reaching the goal of a unified Europe, and gave this whole idea a miss. Now Law no longer had any appeal to me (what else was there to do, become a company lawyer and earn the equivalent of a U of T Open Fellowship a day?) and after one year in Edinbrugh moved southward to London to study Physics. Whether this was a reaction to my shattered ideals or not, it soon became apparent that this was a more suitable choice.

For my Physics studies I enrolled at Imperial College. It seems that my first tutor there has had the most influence on my choices regarding physics, I was by then too interested in cosmology and tried to avoid experimental courses as much as I could. In the year 1993 when I started, the UK government had just okayed a new degree type called a Master IN Science, MSci. This is a four year undergraduate degree, as opposed to the three year BSc, and more in line with the physics degees in other European countries. During the MSci students have to do one major project and follow advanced courses, or so they call them. My desire to experience different cultures had not diminished and I grasped with both hands the opportunity to spend my third year abroad. And so it was back across the North Sea Channel, this time to Germany (the very fact that my degree is officially called 'MSci with a year in Europe' -the Brits obviously do not consider themselves Europeans- proves my point of forgetting about a unified Europe). At the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, in Bavaria, my home was the Hadron Physics group and I did my project with them. They were among other things involved in an experiment at LEAR (Low Energy Antiproton Ring, last year it had its last operational run) in CERN and my task was to simulate some proporties of the associated strangeness production channel proton-antiproton -> lamda-antilambda to help with the data reduction (ever since I talk in German to my computer). My fourth year back at Imperial was trying, after one year of concentrating almost exclusively on my project, it was hard to sit whole days in the lecture theatres again. It was also my first year tutor who advised me to apply to U of T with the idea of working in CITA, and here I am.

My scientific interests lie with structure formation and CMB studies, but, as was pointed out at the CITA jamboree, my z value is still uncertain. Dick Bond has been so kind as to be my supervisor, all I hope is that he won`t loose a night's sleep because of it.


Late breaking news as we go to press: The editors have just learned that Ian Shelton has been offered and has accepted a PDF with the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.

Congratulations to Ian Shelton and Tuba Koktay on the birth of Victoria Buse Shelton in early June. Weighing in at 3.25 kg at birth, Victoria has been seen at DDO over the summer helping Mom and Dad with IRAF reductions.

James Wadsley and Tara became the proud parents of a baby girl at North York General Hospital on June 18. Baby, mother and father were reported as doing fine following the birth.

Marlene Cummins was a recipient of the first Achievement Award of the Physics Astronomy Math Division of the Special Libraries Association. The award is to honour those "whose professional work is marked by distinction and dedication to librarianship in astronomy, mathematics and/or physics. ...[and] who have made outstanding contributions to the Division." The award was presented at the Annual SLA conference in June.

On September 11, John Percy received the School of Continuing Studies' 1997 Citation for Exceptional Committment and Achievement "for sustained dedication to the delivery of adult learning".

Congratualations to Paul Wiegert, the 1997 recipient of the Fieldus Award. The Fieldus Award is given to an Astronomy Graduate Student who excels in academic achievement, teaching and service to the department, and is given in memory of Mike Fieldus. The award was presented at a reception on Wed Sept 17th. Paul is currently doing postdoctoral research at York University with Kim Innanen.

On September 22, the town council of Richmond Hill honoured Tom Bolton with a private reception marking the 25th anniversary of his work on the first Black Hole candidate, Cyg X-1. News of the anniversary prompted a flurry of media attention at the observatory.


Some Thoughts on Tuesday Tea

Mike Allen

In January, 1992, the first invitation to Tuesday Tea was issued, and a tradition was born. Now that we're approaching the 6th anniversary of Teatime, it is appropriate to reflect upon its origins.

The year 1992 marked the time when the lounge was moved from the 15th floor to its present location on the 14th floor. At the time there was a general concern that the new lounge serve its purpose and be used most fully. It was then that Dr. Daniel Hudon, then a grad student, was asked to organize a "social/scientific event" (Dan's words).

Dan had spent some time at STScI in Baltimore, where Keith Ashman had organized a Tea event for Monday afternoons, in 1990. Rather than sending out a bland weekly reminder, Keith infused his invitations with bits of wit and wisdom. Dan took up on this idea, and combined it with one of his interests, which was writing. Hence, Dan's tea invitations came with little stories. Writing a story each week was excellent practice - two of Dan's stories were published in the popular Canadian literary journal "Blood and Aphorisms".

Tuesday Tea is a GASA-sponsored event that has become quite popular, with a small but loyal following, attracting members from Astronomy and CITA who enjoy animated conversation on a wide range of topics. It is an excellent way for the staff and students to interact, and get to know each other, especially for new members of the department.

Dan invented a moniker for himself when sending out the tea invitations. He called himself the "Teameister". In that tradition, the next few students who have taken on the position have called themselves the "Tea Buddha" (Michael Allen) and the "Teatotaller" (Robert Reid).

Where do ideas for tea messages come from? Dan says that he tries to be always aware of what is happening in the world around him, and to try to look at events in a humorous or quirky way that would put them in a different light. The tea message that stands out most obviously in my mind came some years ago involving the personality of our newest photocopier. The LCD panel would issue instructions when the machine broke down - Dan envisioned the photocopier instructing the hapless user to "turn himself around three times" in order to fix a problem.

Personally, I find myself inspired in short bursts - often an idea will strike me while I am walking about doing something like shopping, or perhaps reading a book. Then I toss the idea around for a few weeks before finally committing it to print.

Feedback is very important to those people who write tea messages. For a few weeks I was sending out little logic problems to be solved. The competition was fierce, with answers coming back within 30 minutes of the message being e-mailed. These messages tend to be very popular.

Overall, Tuesday Tea has added very positively to the atmosphere in the department, where the workload we assume for ourselves often gets in the way of relaxation, and getting to know our neighbours. It is a regular part of department life that is currently going very well indeed.

[The Editors have reproduced one of Mike's recent tea announcements below. Enjoy! - eds.]

From: The Tea Buddha
Subject: tea, cookies at 3:30


(AP) TORONTO - U of T Grand Poobah Ritchard Probert announced today that the University would be offering a new B.A. in Mafia Arts, starting Sept 1998. Start-up funding for the new program came from an unnamed source, but Probert said "It was an offer we couldn't refuse."

Speaking from the construction site where the new Capone Hall is to be erected, Probert said that he expected the program to attract a lot of foreign students. The program is expected to generate its own funds through regular field trips to local area small businesses. Many independent experts were expected to apply for the new professorial jobs that have been opened up in the new program, including some prominent local politicians.

New courses would include:
MAF 101 Intro to Extortion, Blackmail and Terrorism
MAF 102 Counter-intelligence
MAF 110 Practical Photography
MAF 201 Foundations of Book-keeping
MAF 202 The Phenomenon of Revenge in Western Society
MAF 210 History of the Teamsters and other Trade Unions
MAF 310 Appreciating Italian Opera
MAF 321 Small weapons
MAF 400 Independent Research

The move was welcomed on Bay Street, where many employers were approached about taking on a co-op student from the new program.

However, the program received criticism recently when photographers had been discouraged from taking too close a look at the cement being poured into the foundation for the new building. Local residents were expected to mount a protest rally at the ground-breaking ceremony, but the leaders mysteriously disappeared from the public scene.

For related stories, see the "Lifestyles" section of today's paper.

Heady red wine, pasta in the lounge, rm 1422, at 3:30

James Ussher and the 7th Millennium

Ian Elliot

[Thanks to Don Fernie for bringing this note to our attention. Reprinted here with permission of the author. -eds.]

GREETINGS from Dublin on the eve of the Seventh Millennium according to James Ussher, former Fellow of Trinity College and Archbishop of Armagh. Ussher estimated that the universe was created on 23rd October 4004 BC.

Since the Gregorian calendar was not adopted in Great Britain and its colonies until 1752, Ussher used the JULIAN calendar. Hence his date in October 4004 BC refers to the autumnal equinox which was the beginning of the Jewish New Year. To be consistent, the 7th Millennium will begin at the forthcoming autumnal equinox i.e. on Monday, September 22 at 23.56 UTC. Ussher specified the evening before the autumnal equinox (presumably because the Jewish day begins at sunset) so it would seem that sunset on Monday, 22 September will be the appropriate time to mark the occasion (the exact time will depend on your longitude).

Stephen J. Gould makes some interesting points about Ussher in a piece called 'Fall in the House of Ussher' which appears in 'Eight Little Piggies' (Penguin, 1994). One point is that Ussher's main quarrel was with Aristotle's ahistorical notion of eternity. Ussher feared that six days might seem too long in the opinion of his contemporaries for 'why should God, who could do all in an instant, so spread out his work?'

Quote from Trinity College Dublin 1592-1952: An Academic History by R.B. McDowell & D.A. Webb:
'James Ussher towers head and shoulders above the other early Fellows, both by the width and profundity of his scholarship and by the extent of his influence on College policy. His name, if it is remembered at all by intellectuals today, is usually mentioned with a pitying smile as that of the man who taught that the world was created in 4004 B.C. But the smile is misplaced. If one grants the premise that the Pentateuch is a historical record to be interpreted literally (and it is a premise that nobody at the time would deny: Cromwell and Charles I could agree on that, if on nothing else), then 4004 BC. is a more rational deduction from the tangled and sometimes inconsistent biographies of the patriarchs than any other date that had hitherto been suggested. Ussher went very deeply into the problems of chronology, but also of geography, linguistics, church history and controversial theology, and he soon earned for himself the reputation of the most learned man in the realm.'

Dr Ian Elliott,
Dunsink Observatory,

General Interest

Lecture Series at DDO a Success

At DDO, a new "Evenings at the Observatory" Lecture Series premiered on September 18th. The series of five weekly lectures is aimed at introducing Astronomy to the general public. Each evening includes an illustrated lecture, followed by an informal discussion over refreshments. Observing is done on clear nights. Ernie Seaquist is the lecturer for the inaugural series.

A Summer Trip to Singapore and Malaysia

Shen Chew

After 22 odd hours of flying from Toronto, my wife Lee and I arrived in Singapore, a fine city. Another hour of flying took us to the last stop, Kuching, my home town (also known as the friendly "cat" city). This was the height of the dry season and although we were prepared for the high heat and humidity, we were not ready for the haze, smog and poor air quality. Huge forest fires in Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra were burning out of control.

We spent the whole of August in Kuching, meeting long lost relatives and friends. I had a great time with members of my family. The air quality index was hovering about 200, which is considered bad for outdoor activites or exercises. I did not have any incentive to indulge in my regular Tai Chi exercises, and this is something my wife and I would normally do 7 days a week as teachers of Tai Chi at the Tai Shan Tai Chi club in Thornhill. When we left Kuching on September 1st, we really believed that with the coming of the monsoon season, the air quality would improve and everything would soon be normal again.

But as The Doings goes to press, the forest fires are still burning out of control despite a multinational fire fighting effort and cloud seeding exercises. The cloud seeding did not bring the rain. The air quality is so bad that government offices, factories and schools are closed and a state of emergency is declared in the state of Sarawak. Readings of over 800 for the air quality index have been reported in recent days, and there is even talk of mass evacuations. For info and an update of this disastrous situation visit this web site:

News from the Ontario Science Centre

John Percy

Staff astronomer Ivan Semeniuk (well known to TV, radio, and newspaper audiences for his astronomy commentary) has left for Boston, to do a graduate degree in science journalism. Phil Mozel, formerly of the McLaughlin Planetarium, has joined the staff. On November 1, the spectacular documentary "Cosmic Voyage" opens in the Shoppers Drug Mart OMNIMAX theatre. There will be extensive astronomy programming in the rest of the Science Centre to accompany it.

News from the Royal Ontario Museum

John Percy

The closing of the Museum's McLaughlin Planetarium, a few years ago, was a great blow to astronomy in the Toronto area. Unbeknownst to most people, however, the ROM has redeveloped a strong astronomy program under the direction of Ian McGregor, using small StarLab planetariums, both on site and "on the road". A variety of programs are available to schools and other groups. At the same time, former McLaughlin Planetarium director Tom Clarke has been actively involved in developing a new future for the McLaughlin Planetarium, with funding from the private sector. The exact details of the partnership, and of the future of the facility, are expected to be announced "imminently".

Astronomy in the School Science Curriculum

John Percy

Ontario is not the only province which is in the process of school curriculum reform. There is a Pan-Canadian Science Project, which involves all of the provinces except Quebec, and Ontario is in the process of adopting a version of this curriculum. It appears that it will have compulsory astronomy "units" at the grade 6 and 9 levels, and another for students who take grade 12 physics. In partnership with the Ontario Science Centre, a team of teachers (with me as an advisor) has developed a resource kit for the grade 6 unit. Mindy Kalchman, a FEUT/OISE graduate student working with me, played a major role in developing the rationale for the grade 6 unit; her paper is published in the latest issue of Crucible: the journal of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario.

A Trip to Paraguay

John Percy

Paraguay, you say? Where's that? It's that landlocked country (bordered by rivers, though) in the middle of South America. But why Paraguay? Because it is one of the countries in which the International Astronomical Union has been promoting the development of astronomy. For several years, the IAU Visiting Lecturers Program sent a series of astronomers to that country to give courses over several weeks, and to instill astronomy in the university and the community. One was U. of T. graduate Armando Arellano Ferro, from Mexico. The "lone astronomer" in Paraguay - Alexis Troche Boggino - has worked hard to develop astronomy courses, clubs, newsletters and other infrastructure. Now there are students and former students, teachers and amateur astronomers, and even a few other university faculty who have begun to develop interests in astronomy. The time was ripe for me (as president of IAU Commission 46: The Teaching of Astronomy) to spend an intensive week there, giving lectures, meeting with high-level administrators, faculty members, and especially students, to support the momentum of astronomical development which the locals have started so well.

An exciting new project looms on the horizon. The Ministry of Culture of Japan has a program to donate small telescopes and/or planetariums to developing countries, and Alexis Troche Boggino and his colleagues have prepared a convincing proposal. Knowing the capability and versatility of small telescopes, I was able to talk up the project though formal and informal discussions with almost every segment of the local scientific and educational communities. This facility could have a significant impact on faculty and student research and training at the university, and education of teachers, students, and the general public. It could be a resource for the very active amateur astronomy community in the country. With some simple "hands-on" exhibits and displays, it could be a model for both schools and museums.

Even though I was only in Paraguay for a week, I got a taste of the history and culture: the friendly informality of the people, the art and music, the cuisine, and the diverse geography. It was definitely a place to which to return.

Compute Server Installed for Theoretical Astrophysics Consortium

Peter Martin

[This article has also been submitted to Cassiopeia. -eds.]

During last year's NSERC grants competition, a consortium of theoretical astrophysicists interested in high performance computing was formed, building on a smaller consortium based in CITA that had run two DEC servers for several years. I was pleased to be the PI representing researchers from nine universities and CITA, namely: A. Babul, Victoria; J. R. Bond, P. Martin, N. Murray, CITA; R. Carlberg, C. Dyer, Toronto; D. Clarke, M. West, St. Mary's; H. Couchman, UWO; G. Fahlman, D. Scott, UBC; K. Innanen, York; K. Lake, L. Widrow, Queen's; L. Nelson, Bishops; and R. Pudritz, McMaster. We argued, among other things, that "Theoretical calculations are crucial in supporting spectacular observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Cosmic Microwave Background Explorer satellite, the Panoramic Imaging of the Milky Way at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (NRC, Penticton), and being planned for the 8-m class Gemini optical/infrared telescopes (Hawaii and Chile) in which Canada is a partner. A critical factor facilitating theoretical progress is the availability of computational resources for high performance computing."

The equipment requested was a multi-processor compute server with large memory capable of being used simultaneously for parallel processing. The combined power overlaps the low end of that characteristic of "supercomputers" at a fraction of the cost, and so such servers fill an important niche in the suite of computers required for computational astrophysics, allowing simulations on a grand scale simply impossible on the usual desk-top workstations.

A major equipment grant (i.e., money beyond GSC 17) was awarded in the amount of $225K. During the spring we benchmarked machines from several vendors, focussing eventually on SGI, SUN, and DEC. What ensued, with our encouragement and participation, was a lively series of leap-frogging bids from SGI and SUN. We got an 11th hour aggressively-discounted offer from SGI for a machine well suited to our requirements, and that is the installation being reported on here.

The new SGI machine is dubbed beluga, not original nomenclature, but in keeping with seal and walrus, our existing DEC 4-processor servers. Beluga is an SGI Origin 2000, with eight 195 MHZ IP27 Processors (for afficionados, a total specfp95 rating of 140/152); each processor has a 4 MB cache. There is 4 GB memory in total. A 5-disk farm amounting to 45.5 GB was included. Compared to walrus, beluga has four times the cpu power and memory.

Beluga has been installed in the air-conditioned computer room of the Department of Astronomy, University of Toronto and became available to users on 15th September. There are already reports of users having a whale of a time. Beluga is connected to the CITA ethernet and thence to the campus backbone and the "outside" for ready access to the consortium members from Halifax to Victoria. It is being ably managed for the consortium by Mark Bartelt, systems manager at CITA.

Vatican Summer School

Sara Poirier

This summer I was selected to attend the bi-annual summer school held by the Vatican Observatory in Italy. The sixth Vatican Observatory School in Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics took place at Castel Gandolfo (40 km from Rome) from the 8th of June to the 6th July 1997. In total there were twenty-four students attending from 21 countries around the world.

This year's topics of study were formation of the solar system, comets, asteroids, and meteorites. The faculty were some of the leading experts in these fields, and provided us with an in-depth look at this very exciting area of astronomy. Over the course of the month, the students and the faculty had the opportunity to interact on both professional and social levels. This allowed me to learn about the ways astronomy is being done in other countries around the world. More importantly, my new friends from these 21 countries taught me about their different cultures and ways of life. For a girl from a small town in Nova Scotia, this was a very important lesson indeed!

In addition to our regular classes and research we did a lot of sight seeing, Rome, being only a 30 minute train ride away, was a favorite excursion on Sundays. Additionally we were taken on field trips thoughout the Tuscan region, highlighted by a 3 day visit to Florence.

Finally to top it all off we finished the school by having an attendance with the host of the school, Pope John Paul II, in private audience. Both of my grandmothers now have framed photos of me shaking the Pope's hand - so, saying I am in their good books is putting it rather mildly!

All in all it was an increadible learning experience, leaving me more excited than ever to be studying astornomy.


Dear Doings Editors,

I participated in the ADASS'97 (Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems) conference held in Sonthofen, Germany, between the 14 and 17 of September to present my work "Accessing astronomical data over the WEB using datOZ".

datOZ is a system to create databases which are accessed over the WEB. These databases provide visualization capabilities (plots), exploration of the catalog, and a flexible data retrieval system, which allows retrieval of the database variables as well as mathematical expressions formed with the DB variables for user defined subsets of database elements. This system provides a uniform way of accessing data over the network and presents several advantages over accessing ftp sites.

Several catalogs have been mounted at the Department of Astronomy, University of Chile (Cerro Calan) as well as private databases dedicated to handling the data for on-going projects (QSO searches, SN searches, etc.)

For the duration of the conference, a database was temporarily mounted on one of the machines of the Department of Astronomy at U of T for backup purposes with the help of Sandra Scott, who is also co-author of the hardcopy version of the manual for this system.

It was quite nice to see that this package was superior to similar projects developed in big centers around the world in aspects such as visualization and flexible data retrieval. It is possible that a couple of projects from Parkes and one from Italy will use this system to keep their data.

Tools like this one can also be used for teaching purposes so that students can "play" with real data and try to get some new physical relationships out of the existing data, in a kind of "data recycling" mode.

More details about this project can be found at:

Patricio F. Ortiz (Ph.D. 1992)
Santiago, Chile

Dear Doings Editors,

Give the Doings my regards. Between kayaking, climbing and surfing I am managing to get some work in, but I still haven't got used to the bunny rabbits hopping around campus! Things have livened up aroud here, with the arrival of two new faculty members to the Astronomy group. I am working for one of them, Arif Babul, whom some will remember from his CITA days.

James Taylor (MSc 1994)
University of Victoria


GASA Gossip

Library News

Below is the release schedule for the Hipparcos and Tycho Catalogues:

Volumes 10-13 were shipped 15 September;
Volumes 14-16 are expected to be finalised and shipped late October.
The currently expected availability date of the Celestia 2000 package is November 1997 (this date is to be confirmed).

Shen Chew at DDO has compiled the source code utility programs available on the first CD-ROM of the catalogue set for a variety of operating systems. These programs enable the user to search the catalogues and retrieve information. The makefile provided with the programs compiles the source code easily on UNIX platforms, but some tweaking is required with non-UNIX operating systems. Executables are available for Solaris, DOS, Windows 3.1 (16 bit) and Windows 95/NT (32 bit). Contact for further information.

Papers Submitted


May 23 to September 29, 1997

Clement, C.M.; Hilditch, R.W.; Kaluzny, J.; Rucinski, S.M. Evolution of horizontal branch stars in globular clusters : the interesting case of V79 in M3. 4-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-1000

Garcia-Melendo, E.; Clement, C.M. NSV 09295: a double-mode RR Lyrae variable. 25-Jun-1997. Preprint No. 97-0718

Kaluzny, J.; Hilditch, R.W.; Clement, C.; Rucinski, S.M. Search for variable stars in the globular cluster M3. 4-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-0999

Murali, C.; Tremaine, S. Linear response of galactic halos to adiabatic gravitational perturbations. 23-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-1069

Papadopoulos, P.P.; Seaquist, E.R. Physical conditions of the molecular gas in Seyfert galaxies. 29-Jul-1997. Preprint No. 97-0855

Percy, J. Preserving the astronomical "windows" by/for education and culture. 23-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-1072

Percy, J.R. Teaching astronomy: a brief review. 29-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-1084

Percy, J.R. The educational potential of the Hipparcos database. 7-Jul-1997. Preprint No. 97-0745

Percy, J.R.; et al. Photometric monitoring of bright Be stars. III. 1988-89 and 1992-95. 25-Jul-1997. Preprint No. 97-0852

Seaquist, E.R.; Frayer, D.T.; Frail, D.A. OH satellite line masers and an AGN candidate in M82. 18-Aug-1997. Preprint No. 97-0929

Wiegert, P.; Tremaine, S. The evolution of long-period comets. 2-Jun-1997. Preprint No. 97-0657

Wiegert, P.; Garrison, R.F. A search for helium spectrum variables. 19-Sep-1997. Preprint No. 97-1058

Revisionist's Corner

Bumper Stickers for Astronomy

Dan Hudon

For some reason, I decided to give a bonus question on my AST 201 spring and summer final exams: Design a bumper sticker that summarizes an astronomical concept that you have learned in the course. It was either an attempt to send them off onto their summer vacations with a good feeling about the course or possibly to get them to think that I wasn't such a bad guy after all. In any case, although it was worth about 1% of the final exam, at least half of the students chose not to do it -- so, try as I might, I couldn't give marks away. Of those that did it, many took liberty with the question and wrote whatever came into their minds, whether it was related to an astronomical concept or not, so perhaps I should add that not all of the following responses got credit for their efforts.

The bumper sticker seems to offer an urban philosophy which summarizes attitudes about abilities, possessiveness or outlook on life and these all seemed to be represented in the responses. As you might imagine, the responses varied enormously: from the mundane (``Honk if you love: stars/Rayleigh scattering/my main sequence), to the lame (``Champagne Supernova'' -- a song by the detestable UK pop band Oasis) to the offensive (e.g. ``If you don't like how I drive you can kiss my assteroid'') to the humourous (``The Galactic Bulge compensates for Galactic Gas'') to everything in between.

Here is a small sample of the rest, loosely catagorized:

Black Holes:
I brake for black matter.
Black holes=rich people. They all absorb everything.
Black hole or bust.
Don't drive in my event horizon or I'll crush you.
If you can read this you'll soon be in my Event Horizon.
Black holes are serious phenomena. Just look at the gravity of the situation.
If the cops don't catch you, gravity will.
Gravity doesn't stop for anything, so why should I?
Gravity happens.
Long live the sun!
The end of the world is 4.56 billion years!
Never stare at a solar eclipse, it's an X-Ray'ted event.
When you see my car lights become bluer, please put your foot on the brake as you are approaching me!
Honk if you're expanding.
Honk if your electrons are in an excited state.
Big Bang:
The Big Bang: wasn't it a blast?
I'm not fat, I'm expanding with the Universe.
Traffic jams are isotropic in nature, no matter which way you look, you're stuck.
Go with the flow -- 50km/s/Mpc
I'm aging on the Main Sequence and going out with a big bang.
I survived the Big Bang. Meet you at the Big Crunch.
The reason I'm receding faster is because I'm farther away.
I live to see dark matter.
Look Honey, It's a New Moon Tonight.
I may be asymptotic, but I aint dead yet.
Just because the Universe is expanding doesn't mean you have to take up all the space.
Stop riding my axion.
The Universe is made of small matters.