Volume 32, Number 1
February 2001

The Doings of the Department of Astronomy
and the David Dunlap Observatory

COVER PICTURE (click for large version, roughly 450k):

Early pictures of Helen Sawyer Hogg and Frank Hogg from
the archives of the Harvard College Observatory

ISSN 1209-0182
Co-Editors: Michael Allen & R.F. Garrison
Associate Editor: Christopher Tycner
Masthead Design: Brian Beattie
© Governing Council, University of Toronto, 2001


  1. Editorial
  2. Cover Story
  3. Comings and Goings
  4. Congratulations
  5. GASA News
  6. General Interest
  7. Columns
  8. Papers Submitted


by Bob Garrison

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 meetings.


Cover Story

This edition's cover story comes courtesy of Nancy Evans
Photograph courtesy of Barbara Welther & HCO

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.

-- Nancy


Comings and Goings





by GASA President Rosemary McNaughton

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.


General Interest

Total solar eclipse, December 25, 2000

by Michael Allen
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.

Canada's International Ranking in the Sciences

Thanks to Slavek Rucinski for alerting us to this information

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

        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

My impressions (somewhat related) to the CFHT-21 conference, December 1-3, 2000

by Slavek Rucinski

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:

  1. a guide camera and calibration lamp environment at the Cass focus,
  2. coupling micro-lenses projecting the telescope pupil onto the fiber input,
  3. coupling lenses to a new slicer of the spectrograph,
  4. a mechanical agitator to spread the image on the slicer to average out the discrete fiber propagation modes,
  5. a Bowen-Wallraven slicer.
The system is now working very well giving unprecedented stability and uniformity of the flat field and permitting very high S/N spectroscopy: Gordon Walker observed some very faint molecular lines at S/N > 3200 (!). The overall transmission is at the same level as the mirror train for >5000A. It is still reasonable (about 50%) at 4000A, but falls sharply for shorter wavelengths. I explain the success of the CAFE (CAssegrain Fiber Environment) by the following early assumptions: (1) it should be simple (no polarisation units, no separate fiber for the sky background), (2) the comparison and flat-field lamps should be at the entrance to the fiber, not at the entrance to the spectrograph. The agitator has been added at the instigation of Jacques Baudrand who knows peculiarities of the fibers very well; it permits lifting the S/N from the level of 300-1000 (limited by fiber propagation modes) to >3000 (actually, it is not known what is the maximum S/N!). Jean-Pierre Maillard thinks about extending the life of his FTS by using the same fiber (with a different output coupling of f/35 rather than f/8, as used for the Gecko) to do asteroseismology in the visual region.

Canadian Astronomy Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Program

By John Percy

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: jpercy@erin.utoronto.ca

OISE/UT Astronomy Project

By John Percy

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.


October 18, 2000 to February 5, 2001

The following list of papers is not necessarily comprehensive. For others, refer to:

You could also try searching LANL astro-ph: the e-preprints archive (the astrophysics bit).

October 18, 2000 to February 5, 2001

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 No. 2000-0102