Videos: RASC/AAVSO 2019 General Assembly

RASC GA 2019

Here are recordings of the talks given at the RASC/AAVSO 2019 General Assembly which was held at York University in Toronto from June 13-16, 2019.

Please check back over the next several weeks as more videos are added.


The Zooniverse
Dr. L. Clifton Johnson / CIERA Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University 

Zooniverse has become the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research since its modest inception in 2007 as Galaxy Zoo. Zooniverse research is made possible by volunteers hundreds of thousands of people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. The goal of Zooniverse is to enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. Zooniverse research results in new discoveries, and datasets useful to the wider research community.

This presentation highlights the history and highlights of the Zooniverse, as well as presenting some personal perspectives of a researcher who has benefited from citizen science work on star clusters in the Andromeda Galaxy and Local Group. It also highlights future efforts regarding variable stars and upcoming all-sky surveys.

Dr. Johnson’s current research focuses on understanding star formation behaviour at spatial scales ranging from that of galaxies down to individual star-forming complexes, through the combined study of stellar populations and the interstellar medium. Citizen science and crowdsourcing are important tools in his research. He is currently a member of three survey teams: the SMIDGE survey, analyzing Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the Small Magellanic Cloud; the SMASH survey, analysing DECam imaging of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds; and the PHAT-M33 survey, analysing Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the Triangulum Galaxy.


The BRITE Constellation Mission
Prof. Gregg Wade / Head of the Department of Physics and Space Science, Royal Military College, and Professor at the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, Queen’s University

The BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) Constellation mission was described, as were some of the results to date. A collaboration between scientists in Canada, Austria, and Poland, BRITE is a network of five nanosatellites investigating the stellar structure and evolution of the brightest stars in the sky, and their interaction with the local environment. Forms of stellar variability—Micropulsation, and wind phenomena among others—are recorded via high-precision photometry in two colours (red and blue). The massive BRITE target stars are extremely important in producing the chemical elements in our universe, and recycling them in winds and supernovae. They are “laboratories” that help us to understand a wide range of the astrophysical processes in our universe.

Prof. Wade’s work concentrates the structure, evolution, origin and impact of magnetic fields in stars. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Magnetism in Massive Stars (MiMeS) collaboration, co-PI of the Binarity and Magnetic Interactions in Stars (BinaMIcS) project, and Chair of the international BRITE Executive Science Team (BEST) for the BRITE-Constellation mission.


Dorner Telescope Museum

Rudolph Dorner presented the rationale for a major new gift to the RASC, which will enable it to tell the story of the telescope in Canada through a world-class institution.

Randall Rosenfeld, Director of the Dorner Telescope Museum, discussed the potential of the museum, its purpose and contemplated programs, some of the challenges to be overcome in its realization, acquisitions achieved and acquisitions to come, what the museum could look like, telescope museum precedents and the unique nature of the Dorner vision, and the potential place of the Dorner Telescope Museum in the cultural landscape of the country.


First Man – The Life of Neil Armstrong
James R. Hansen / Professor of History & Director, The University Honors College, Auburn University 

Neil Armstrong – the first human to set foot on the Moon – made history and inspired an entire planet. James R. Hansen, author of the acclaimed biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, upon which the recent film was based, and professor of history at Auburn University, spoke about the amazing life of Neil Armstrong as we reflect on the 50 years since Apollo 11.

Following his talk, Prof. Hansen was interviewed by RASC member and CBC science journalist Nicole Mortillaro.

James R. Hansen is a professor of history at Auburn University in Alabama. His book From the Ground Up won the History Book Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1988. For his work, The Wind and Beyond (NASA) – (six-volume series), he was awarded the Eugene Ferguson Prize for Outstanding Reference Work by the Society for the History of Technology in 2005.