Alan McConnachie, Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer project spokesperson, will discuss the capabilities of the new 11.25-metre aperture telescope and the scientific discoveries it could unveil, at the Nanaimo Astronomy’s next meeting Feb. 27. (Photo submitted)

Astrophysicist to explain how new telescope turns stars into rainbows

Guest speaker describes 11.25-metre aperture Maunakea Spectral Explorer program Feb. 27 in Nanaimo

As with other technologies, big telescopes sometimes outlive their usefulness or just need to be replaced with something even bigger and more capable.

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, a 3.6-metre aperture telescope that has operated from atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, since 1979, could soon give a last gaze at the stars. Plans call for it to be replaced by the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer, an 11.25-metre aperture device that can make rainbows.

The MSE will be constructed on the CFHT’s existing foundation and when completed will be able to view thousands of stars simultaneously and break down their spectroscopic signatures – split their light emission into their spectra, much as a prism does to visible light – to reveal such things as the elements stars are composed of and the direction they’re travelling through the universe.

When it becomes operational, possibly by 2027, the MSE will be able to survey approximately 1 million objects per month to help answer questions about the formation of stars and galaxies, according to the MSE’s webpage. Canada, from developing the early design sketches to leading the design of the observatory to maturity, has been one of the leaders in the project.

Special guest speaker at the Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s February meeting is Alan McConnachie, one of the originators of the MSE concept who served as project scientist 2014-2018 and is currently the MSE project spokesperson. He will present Into the Future with the CFHT at the Nanaimo society’s February meeting.

McConnachie said in a press release that he will tell the story of the CFHT and its planned transition to MSE.

“I will describe the exciting opportunities for the country and its international partners to tackle key science ranging from the nature of the dark matter particle to the origins of the elements of the periodic table,” he said.

McConnachie received his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge in 2005 and has held post-doctoral positions at the University of Victoria and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and a has been a DAO research officer since 2011. McConnachie specializes in observational studies of nearby galaxies, their resolved stellar populations and the tools needed to understand them.

Chris Boar, NAS president, will also give a short presentation on his recent visit to Houston, Tx., where he took the VIP tour of NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Centre.

The meeting happens Thursday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., at Beban Park social centre.

To learn more, visit
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Colour and culture being painted onto plaza stairs in downtown Nanaimo

City commissions Humanity in Art muralists for ‘artistic intervention’ project

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Nanaimo’s newest skatepark now open for use in Harewood

Harewood Centennial Park amenity opens on schedule

Column: Sustainable society based on foundational services

Services tied to local populations puts sustainability above growth, says columnist

Beefs & Bouquets, July 1

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Most Read