Canadian Astronomy Now and in the 2020s

Alan McConnachie, NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics

Now is an exciting time in Canadian astronomy, with several large-scale projects underway. At optical-NIR wavelengths, the main focus is rightly on TMT, with construction set to begin next year. The ELTs will transform astronomy, in terms of the discoveries they enable, in terms of the way they will impact current facilities, and in terms of the scale of the instrumentation that they require.

These considerations have prompted numerous groups to float the idea of more coordinated usage of existing and future facilities (especially, but not only, on Maunakea) to best use the available resources in a scientifically exciting, rational and sustainable way. But what might that actually look like, and how to we get there from here?

In this talk I will present an overview of many of the ongoing instrumentation development activities at CFHT, Gemini, and elsewhere–including highlighting opportunities for significant collaborations between Toronto and NRC Herzberg. I will give my perspective on how these different efforts can connect to provide a broad base of exciting astronomical capabilities, and I will discuss the opportunities that I see for Canadian astronomers to play a central role in the development of new collaborations that can help shape the international astronomy landscape in the era of the ELTs.

Alan McConnachie is a Research Officer and Instrument Scientist at the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, and holds an Adjuct Assistant Professorship at the University of Victoria. He obtained his PhD in 2005 from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. He then moved to Canada to take up a Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission of the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the University of Victoria, followed by a Plaskett Fellowship at the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics.

His primary research interests are in near-field cosmology (using the resolved stellar populations of nearby galaxies to understand their formation and evolution in a cosmological context) and the development of astronomical instrumentation, particularly at OIR wavelengths. He has significant involvement in instrumentation development for Gemini and CFHT, and is co-developer of the Next Generation CFHT concept.


McConnachie_Dec 2013