Nov 27 (This Friday): Dr. Ernie Seaquist – Canada’s engagement in the new “World Observatories”

Seaquister.jpgThe November 27th meeting of the RASC Mississauga Centre will feature a talk on Canada’s involvement in the development and use of new large telescopes.

In recent years Canada has become part of the international club participating in a series of what we might call “World Observatories”. These are astronomy facilities which are unique, or nearly so, and which are sufficiently costly ($1B or more) that they are affordable only by relatively large international consortia.

Examples are the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), and the forthcoming facilities: the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Canada is participating at some level in all of these.

Ernie will discuss the impact of these projects on Canadian astronomy and on our understanding of the universe and its origins. Ernie will also touch on the economic benefits and the politics, both national and international, underlying the achievement of membership in such partnerships. Of particular interest is whether engagement in such large projects leaves any room for smaller and less expensive national initiatives. Another important topic is the role of the RASC in this new era, and an examination of the mutual benefits of the current initiatives to both professional and amateur astronomers.

Ernie is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto. Until his retirement in 2004 his field of research was radio astronomy with emphasis on star formation in starburst galaxies and radio emission from active stars. He was Chair of the Department and Director of the David Dunlap Observatory between 1988 and 1999. Since retirement he has been involved various aspects of Canada’s engagement in the TMT and the SKA. He is currently Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the organization responsible for spearheading the successful effort to get funding for Canada’s role in TMT. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of the TMT International Observatory (TIO) which owns the TMT and will oversee the construction and ultimately its operation.

The meeting will be held from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. at The University of Toronto,Mississauga Campus, in lecture hall SE2082 in the William Davis Building. The meeting is open to the public and is free.

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