Canadian astronomy has enjoyed a reputation for excellence ever since the Government built the 1.82-m Plaskett telescope in Victoria in 1918. This telescope, which was the largest in the world for a few month, catapulted Canada into the modern era of astrophysics. Canada completed the 1.88-m David Dunlap Observatory telescope in 1935, which at the time was the world's second largest telescope.
Canada had to wait until 1979 when the 3.6-m Canada-France-Hawaii telescope was constructed for a new world-class telescope. Canada joined the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, which works in the high frequency radio domain, in 1988. Canada's newest large astronomical telescopes are the twin Gemini 8-m telescopes, one located in Hawaii and one in Chile.
The Institute for Scientific Information is a world leader tracking the impact of scientific research using citation statistics. The basic idea behind using citations is that people will refer to previous work that is relevent to their own work. A higher citation rate for a research paper means that more researchers find the work relevent and thus the work has more impact on the field.
The ISI study of Canadian science that ranks Canada #1 in the field of astronomy in the world using citation rate is http://in-cites.com/countries/canada_2005.html. This study looked at the productivity and impact of Canadian science over the past 10 years. The true impact of scientific research is not realized until afew years after the research is published. Note: Astronomy is called 'Space Science' by ISI.
ISI also tracks the most highly cited individual researchers, the "science superstars". ISI identifies the 250 most highly influential scientists worldwide in each of 21 categories. Canadian astronomy does very well here as well. Of the 154 Canadian scientists identified by ISI as science superstars, 11 are astronomers, a disproportionately high number given the small size of the Canadian astronomy community. The highly cited Canadian astronomers are:
ISI's highly cited researchers website is http://www.isihighlycited.com/
Canada's offshore telescopes are amongst the most powerful on the planet. These include the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) the Gemini Observatory, and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT). CFHT and Gemini are optical telescopes while the JCMT is a high-frequency radio telescope.
A layman's guide to the Canada-France-Hawaii Redshift Survey, a ground-breaking study performed at CFHT in the mid-1990's, can be found at "Lifting the veil on a younger Universe"
The Gemini Deep Deep Survey studied the formation of galaxies in the distant Universe and made the surprising discovery that big galaxies existed earlier than most people realized.
Information on Canadian astronomy's Long Range Plan for Astronomy (LRP) can be found on the Canadian Astronomical Society's website: http://www.casca.ca/lrp/. The Mid-Term Review of the LRP which was completed early this year can found here (Warning: this is an Adobe Acrobat document - you will need the Adobe Acrobat reader, which can be found here).
|The LRP, and its mid-term review, chart a plan agreed upon by the countries research astronomers. The highest priority goal of the LRP is to secure funding to guarantee Canada a 25% share in the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), a project which is currently in the design and development phase. Canada has secured a 25% share in this phase of the project and is now seeking funds to be a partner in construction of the world's largest optical telescope.||
|Canada is also leading the development for one of the concepts for the 'Square Kilometre Array', a future radio telescope that will be used by all of the world's radio astronomers. The Canadian Large Adaptive Reflector (LAR) concept, is one of several competing designs for what will be the world's largest radio telescope in the year 2020.||