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Top 10 Canadian Astronomy Stories of 2011!

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Written by Deborah Thompson on
Post Date: 
Mon, 2012/01/09

Top 10 Canadian Astronomy Stories of 2011!

Toronto, Canada (January 9, 2012) – The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) and its more than 4,000 members from coast to coast looked back on 2011 and voted on which stories, that were not just newsworthy, but ones which were fundamentally important to Canadian astronomers. Here are the Top Ten Astronomy Stories of 2011 as voted by the RASC members:

  1. Higgs Boson "cornered."  Tantalizing hints from two different experiments at CERN suggest that the hunt for this fundamental particle may end within the year.
  2. Fundy National Park Dark Sky Preserve Jasper National Park Dark Sky Preserve, and Canada's first urban star park, Irving Nature Park in St John, all designated by the RASC in 2011.
  3. Kathryn Gray becomes world's youngest supernova discoverer at age 10 by participating in collaborative RASC supernova hunt.
  4. RASC youth member, Holly Ayles and her colleague, Emily Baxter, both 14 years old, win gold at the International Statistical Literacy Poster Competition held in Dublin, Ireland with their light pollution study.
  5. Antimatter trapped in greater quantities and for longer periods.
  6. 300m diameter Trojan asteroid discovered by Canadian scientists.
  7. NRC scientists reported a way to directly measure a photon’s “wavefunction” — and thereby know everything there is to know about this quantum-mechanical system.
  8. Western Canada saw a beautiful sunrise eclipse December 10, 2011, which will be the last total lunar eclipse seen anywhere until 2014.
  9. Commander Chris A. Hadfield chosen as the first Canadian to command the International Space Station (2012/2013).
  10. The end of the NASA space shuttle program and hence, the role of the original Canadarm in space, in July.  It is important to note that ‘DEXTRE’ continues the robotic tradition aboard the International Space Station.

 Just out of the running for the Top Ten are significant stories, including three involving important research at Canadian universities:

  • Dawn mission to Vesta gives an unprecedented look at a "protoplanet," a large asteroid whose geological evolution was "frozen" billions of years ago.
  • University of Guelph's rock and soil analyzer headed to Mars on board the Curiosity rover.
  • University of British Columbia and The Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars (MOST) space telescope involved in study of densest known solid planet.
  • Very high energy pulsed gamma rays detected from the Crab Nebula pulsar by a team that includes McGill University researchers.

For more information on these stories go to: http://calgary.rasc.ca/2011_top_ten.htm

These news-making stories feature science from the extremely small to the solar system or intergalactic scales and include work by both professionals and amateurs.  Significantly, two of the top four stories involve careful work carried out by young women.  Also notable is the environmental focus of two of the top four stories.

Be sure to check out the RASC website at www.rasc.ca to learn more about astronomy in Canada, astronomy activities and membership information.

Founded in 1868, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is Canada's leading astronomy organization bringing together 4,000+ enthusiastic amateurs, educators and professionals. RASC and its 29 Centres across Canada offer both national and local programming and services. The RASC’s vision is to inspire curiosity in all Canadians about the universe, to share scientific knowledge, and to foster collaboration in astronomical pursuits.

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For more information contact:

Deborah Thompson, Executive Director

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

888-924-7272 or thompson@rasc.ca