Celebrating 25 Years of the RAO


Event Proceedings

Introductory Remarks

Remarks by: E.F. Milone, Co-Director of the RAO.
University of Calgary. Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Good morning. I'm Gene Milone, a Co-Director of the RAO. This day is dedicated to the celebration of the first 25 years of the RAO. On behalf of my fellow Co-Director, Alan Clark, and myself, welcome to our day-long celebration! I will be your MC for the morning session, and Alan will be your host for the afternoon. There will be two three breaks: mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks for refreshments and for poster viewing, and a luncheon interval from 12 to 1:10 p.m. There are a number of eating places open in the Student Union building for those who have not brought along lunch.

The formal opening of the observatory took place on Jan. 5, 1972, exactly twenty five years and five months ago. Then, as now, the RAO is a memorial to Dr. A R. (Sandy) Cross, a public-spirited citizen, who made the observatory possible and fostered its growth. As much as any purpose for this celebration today, we are here to express our gratitude for his splendid contribution to the university and to the education of a generation of students in that most ancient and instructive of all the sciences: astronomy. Although they cannot be with us here today, the Crosses will be receiving a record of the proceedings, which will also be posted on our web site.

However, that is not the only reason for celebration. The RAO is the observational facility of the astrophysics programme of the University of Calgary, and that programme has developed along with the observatory. As such, we have scheduled two historical talks: one on the development of the astrophysics programme by Professor Sreenivasan, and another on the RAO's growth -- by Alan and myself.

Moreover, since the RAO's telescopes have been optimized for Alberta's capricious climate, we have been able to contribute a significant body of astronomical research, despite the fierce winters, and frequent clouds in this part of the world. Indeed, astronomical research at the University of Calgary has grown in parallel to the RAO's development and embraces the entire electromagnetic spectrum, both ground-based and space research, as well as theoretical studies. This provides us with a third reason for celebration. Many of the poster papers highlight a sample of the work in the many astronomically-related research areas of our department carried out by present staff and students as well as by some of our distinguished former students and associates.

The RAO has received much support since its inception. It would not have been possible for us to continue to grow with out this nurturing. This has come from the University's Presidents and other senior officers, from the Faculty of Science through its Deans (including the present Dean, John Kendall), and especially from the people who have been formally responsible for the RAO in the eyes of the University: the Heads of the Department of Physics & Astronomy: Cyril Challice, Roy Krouse, Titus Matthews, John Bland, George Fritz, briefly, and, now, Sandy Murphree.

Greetings from C.E. Challice

Remarks by: C.E. Challice, Professor Emeritus and former Head, Department of Physics.
University of Calgary. Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Part of Canada's contribution to the 1956-57 International Geophysical Year was a cosmic ray laboratory on Sulphur Mountain in Banff to study extensive air showers. At the close of the IGY, the Natioanl Research Council, which had built and run the lab, was anxious to pass it over to the University of Alberta. This provided the first research facility for the Calgary campus, and determined one of the main research fields for what was to evolve into the University of Calgary.

As the department of Physics expanded, we expanded into related fields -- auroral studies (through Nod Parsons and Cliff Anger), and solar-terrestrial relations (through Doraswamy Venkatesan). The logical expansion was into astronomy in the visible and near visible spectrum; hence, the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory.

The story of how Mr. Cross became involved has been told many times by Alan Clark (and recounted here again by Gene Milone) -- so I will not discuss it again. But Mr. Cross's continued interest has enabled the facility to expand and become not just a teaching facility, but one that produces research results which are valued by the astronomical community.

Research funds are under pressure -- scientists are pressured to demonstrate usefulness in order to be granted funds to further their work. However, astronomy is, and always has been, a pure study -- but since the beginning of recorded time it has been studied, and it remains something of universal interest. We would allow this branch of study to deteriorate at our peril. While the esoteric material that gets published in journals would leave the general public rather cold, that same public looks to its local university to engage in this study. A shining example of the interest of the non-scientist is provided by Mr. Cross.

I am proud of having played a part in the initiation of this facility during my time as Head. And now, 25 years later, I congratulate the group on its achievements, and wish it long life and many many achievements in the future.

Margaret Burbidge prior to the meeting.

Introducing Margaret Burbidge

Remarks by: E.F. Milone, Co-Director of the RAO.
University of Calgary. Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Among our guests today is a distinguished scientist from the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science at the University of California in San Diego, Dr. E. M. Burbidge, who will present the keynote address.

Dr. Burbidge was born in Davenport, England and received her doctoral degree at the University of London in 1948. She has been a Research Fellow and staff member at the Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago, at the Cavandish Laboratory, and at CalTech. She was named Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Center for Astrophysics & Space Science at UCSD in La Jolla, California in 1964. In 1970, she was named director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, returning to California in 1973 to resume her active research career and escape administration.

With Fred Hoyle, William Fowler, and her husband, Geoffrey, she contributed substantively to our knowledge of the chemical composition of the stars, and with Geoffrey, completed the first comprehensive studies of quasars, a field in which she has been active to the present day.

In 1972, she came to officially open the RAO, by unveiling the only astronomical instrument that we had at the time -- a sundial. Now she has returned to help us celebrate the RAO's 25th anniversary.

Although a gentle and self-effacing person, she returns again to the theme of violence in the sky with an address that emphasizes evidence from the Hubble Space Telescope of the violent ejection of matter from a type of galaxy first described by Carl Seyfert in the 1940's: a spiral galaxy with an abnormally bright nucleus, which has been called the low-luminosity cousin of the quasars.

Her keynote address is entitled, 'Winds Among the Galaxies: Can Outflow from Active Galactic Nuclei Induce Star Formation in 'Seed' Galaxies'.

Please join me in welcoming back, Professor Margaret Burbidge.

Keynote Address: Winds Among Galaxies

Presented by: Dr. E.M. Burbidge, University of California-San Diego

Abstract: A surprising (and serendipitous!) result of an observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope Faint Object Spectrograph shows high-velocity ejection of hot gas from a "mini-quasar" or very active Seyfert1 galaxy at redshift 0.524. In the field around this object is a loose cluster for which our WFPC2 images show about 50 faint galaxies. Narrow-band filter images show that a few have ionised oxygen emission at redshift approximately 0.52. Some are double or multiple. One has a jet. Is this an aggregate of star-forming galaxies?

The Astrophysics Programme at the University of Calgary

Presented by: Dr. S.R. Sreenivasan, University of Calgary

Abstract: The astrophysics programme at the University, like the Observatory, was inagurated more than 25 years ago starting with a graduate programme in 1967 and an undergraduate programme in 1971. Some of the unique features of these programmes will be recalled and the rationale for their institution discussed, so we may consider possibilities for expansion and future development.

The RAO -- Its History and Current Capabilities

Presented by: Dr. E.F. Milone and Dr. T.A. Clarke, Co-Directors of the RAO.

Abstract: The RAO began as a twinkle in the eye of Sandy R. Cross, a local rancher from a Calgary pioneering family. His generosity began with an initial gift of a quarter section of land, continued with two block grants to permit the construction of a building to house a 1.5-m telescope in 1981, and, finally, funding of a new generation honeycomb 1.8-m mirror to replace the orginal 1.5-m metal mirror. The summer of 1996 saw the completion of the 1.8-m replacement and the restoration of all instrumental facilities formerly in use on the 1.5-m telescope. NSERC of Canada provided the funding for the 1.8-m mounting, and for infrastructure grants to assist development and instrumentation; technical salary support to maintain the facility.

The RAO was formally opened by Margaret Burbidge in 1972, and the IRT (now named the A.R. Cross Telescope) was dedicated by George Coyne and Harlan Smith in 1987. In addition to the history, in which we describe the parlay of a leased 1.5-m metal mirror into a million dollar facility, we will highlight the RAO astronomical innovations, which include the development of the Rapid Alternate Detection System and the use of an alt-alt mounting for the 1.8-m telescope.

Massive Stars in the Magellanic Clouds

Presented by: Dr. S.R. Sreenivasan, University of Calgary

Abstract: Considerable improvements in the observational status of the structure and evolution of massive stars have occurred recently due to improved techniques as well as the dramatic event in the Large Cloud. The Hubble Telescope has done its bit as well. The results of theoretical studies of evolutionary models of massive stars incorporating differential rotation will be presented demonstrating that it is possible to understand many features of stellar evolution in this mass range, including the observed distribution of stars across the HR diagram, the filling in of the Hertzsprung gap , the progenitor evolution of SN 1987A as well as some features of Wolf-Rayet stars and the Luminous Blue Variables.

Radio and Infrared Imaging of the Galaxy

Presented by: Dr. A.R. Taylor, University of Calgary

Alan Clark outlines a model of the solar atmosphere.

The Cold Heart of the Sun's Atmosphere

Presented by: Dr. T.A. Clarke, Co-Director of the RAO.

Abstract: The Sun has an atmosphere which extends from its visible surface to the far reaches of the planetary system. Its outer manifestation, the solar wind, influences the Earth through its complex interaction with the terrestrial magnetic field to produce magnetic storms and auroral displays. However, the layer immediately above the visible surface, the chromosphere, presents some of the most puzzling aspects of this atmosphere. On the one hand, many observational parameters indicate that the temperature of the atmospheric gas, after falling from about 6000K at the Sun's visible surface to 4300K just a few 100km above it, then rises very rapidly to reach at least 1 million degrees within 1 solar radius, or 700,000km. There are, however, several other temperature indicators, namely molecular species such as CO and OH, which show no sign of this temperature rise and indeed, demonstrate that they are at temperatures as low as 3500K within the chromosphere.

This talk will outline this extraordinary situation and describe how high-resolution measurements from balloon and jet aircraft as well as those from high-altitude observatories, both during and outside of solar eclipses, have helped to frame a satisfactory model from these seemingly contradictory observations and demonstrate how magnetic fields within the solar atmosphere play a powerful role in its behaviour.

Aspects of the X-ray Universe

Presented by: Dr. Denis Leahy, University of Calgary

Abstract: Many of the objects in the universe are x-ray emitters. This talk will describe how we observe x-rays. Then an overview is given of the different types of x-ray emitters, from within the solar system to distant clusters of galaxies. Some more in-depth discussion will be given for one important class of x-ray emitters: the remnants of supernovae.

The Odin Space Mission:
The Search for Oxygen and Water in the ISM

Presented by: Dr. Sun Kwok, University of Calgary

Abstract: Water and oxygen are two molecules that are essential for the development of life and yet they are difficult to detect in celestial sources because of absorption by the Earth's atmosphere. We will describe the Canadian space mission Odin which will be launched in 1998 to search for these two molecules.

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Posted on 05 January 1998 by: milone@acs.ucalgary.ca.
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