James Di Francesco, astronomer with the National Research Council Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, will give a free lecture at Vancouver Island University on Canada’s contributions to astronomical research and plans designed to achieve research goals in the coming decade. (Photo submitted)

VIU hosts lecture by National Research Council astronomer

Free lecture reveals Canada’s contributions and future plans for researching origins of the universe

Canada’s contributions toward answering leading questions in astronomy over the past decade, plus programs and technologies on the research horizon will be discussed at an upcoming presentation at Vancouver Island University.

James Di Francesco, astronomer with the National Research Council Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, will explain how Canadian contributions to astronomy produce some of the world’s most cited research when he presents We Aim for the Stars: A Look at Canada’s Ambitious Astronomy Goals.

Di Francesco, originally from Ontario, earned his PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin and did post doctoral work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and University of California, Berkeley before he joined the NRC in 2002. Di Francesco studies the earliest stages of star formation and supports Canada’s participation in large radio interferometric telescope arrays, including the Atacama Large Millimetre Array in Chile and the Next Generation Very Large Array in New Mexico, a young project to be evaluated as part of a long range research planning exercise sometime in the next two years.

“I’m actually going to be talking about Canada’s involvements in cutting edge facilities as we seek to understand the universe better,” Di Francesco said. “The emphasis there is going to be about these new ideas that are being considered by our professional astronomy community that will help guide Canadian astrophysics in the next decade or so.”

Di Francesco will discuss how the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in 2019, the Thirty Metre Telescope, currently under construction and the proposed Square Kilometre Array can be tied together to further investigations into the origins of galaxies. Canada has developed leading-edge hardware and software for all of these projects.

“So for ALMA, we built in Victoria, a set of radio receivers that are in very wide use today,” Di Francesco said. “They are the best in the world for these kinds of observations. We built them here. It took about 10 years, but we produced about 73 of them for ALMA and they are in use every day.”

Developing new technology to support new research projects and facilities development are just some of the spin-off benefits that can offer career opportunities.

“Students at this talk, from an engineering side and from a science side, might be inspired to see astronomy as attractive option for their future careers,” he said.

Ultimately the technological breakthroughs in the newest generation of telescopes will combine to create a composite picture of the universe from observations made across the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing astronomers to see deeper into the universe to the earliest formations of galaxies and even look back far enough to observe hydrogen gas before even the formation of stars and galaxies.

“I think astronomy plays a very interesting role in that it provides everybody with a very clear view of the universe that we all live in,” Di Francesco said. “It gives us a sense of our origins and how we connect to the larger universe … we always wonder where did we come from and where are we going and astronomy helps provide some of those answers by looking out into the universe and seeing our place in it.”

Di Francesco’s lecture is free to the public and happens Wednesday, Feb. 7, at VIU Bldg. 355, Rm. 203.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Crews called to fire along Nanaimo laneway

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishing garage fire on Pythian Lane

Beban Pool closure idea no longer under consideration

Nanaimo city council removes 10 core service review recommendations

Nanaimo RCMP seize suspected stolen bike, look for rightful owner

Anyone missing a Nakamura Monster mountain bike asked to call police

Editorial: Byelection will bring ideas and representation

Nanaimo-Ladysmith will be better served with an MP than with no MP

Rotary gets the go-ahead for a peace garden at Maffeo Sutton Park

Club will fully fund $200,000 project in a corner of the park looking out on Newcastle Channel

Prime Minister Trudeau comes campaigning in Nanaimo

A day after announcing a May 6 byelection date for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Justin Trudeau visits city

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

Rock group comments on modern love on debut album

Calgary rock group the Northern Coast make Nanaimo debut at the Cambie tomorrow

Candidates hit the campaign trail as Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection called

Trudeau announces that voters will go to the polls May 6

Howard the giant gnome finds new home on Vancouver Island

Iconic attraction will move from Nanoose Bay to Galey Farms in Saanich

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Most Read