Canadian astronomers land in London

Astronomers from across the country are gathering in London during the next four days to set the course of Canadian astronomical research for the next decade and celebrate Canada’s role in astronomical and astrophysical research.

The University of Western Ontario’s Department of Physics and Astronomy is hosting the annual meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) at the London Convention Centre. Western successfully bid to host this national event from May 30-June 2, with a goal to showcase London’s growing astronomical community and significantly upgraded facilities.

“Our Western research team has greatly increased since last hosting this conference in 1994,” says astronomy professor Aaron Sigut. “The graduate enrolment in this field has grown tremendously since then. Today, we have nearly 30 MSc and PhD Astronomy students and we are now able to contribute far more on an international level.”

Through a series of research presentations, CASCA delegates will share the latest advances in astronomical science, facilities and educational outreach. “We’re proud and excited to host this national conference,” says astronomy professor Paul Wiegert. “Beyond providing an amazing opportunity for colleagues to exchange ideas and plan for the future, it also serves as a catalyst to greater discovery.”

Meantime, Londoners interested in learning about astronomy firsthand are invited to attend a free public lecture by the director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative on Tuesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Wolf Performance Hall at the Central Library.  In his presentation, The Search for a Sister Earth, Dimitar Sasselov will highlight efforts to discover potentially habitable Earth-size planets. As a co-investigator of NASA’s Kepler mission, Sasselov searches for extra-solar planets by viewing the dimming of starlight, as a planet crosses the face of its star.  This simple and elegant method has led to a bounty of newly-discovered planets and allowed exploration of their properties and atmospheric chemistry.

Visit the conference website for more information.