October 11, 2013
Earthshine Astronomy and Space Science Organization
Dear Mr. Attwood:
I very much enjoyed sharing your inspirational plans to develop a multi-purpose planetarium and science facility in the Region of Peel for the Greater Toronto Area with the senior administration of the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). This inspired agenda has been in place for some years, and I am very pleased to see efforts being made to move the program another step forward by means of development of a smaller scale facility. This phased approach will generate interest, confirm interest and demonstrate the potential to create a larger permanent facility.
The closing of the McLaughlin Planetarium in 1995 was a significant loss for the GTA in terms of a resource that stimulated interest and education in science for a broad range of participants. I am aware of the significant popular demand there had been for the McLaughlin Planetarium, and as an educator I know that this facility presented excellent opportunity for encouragement of interest in science. I was amazed when no group stepped up to fill the void, and suspect that it was the limitations of technology of the day, and the decline in the competitive “space race” that played significant roles in the decision to close the facility. Clearly, many other urban centres have flourishing planetariums – this is not a question of numbers of people in the community, but rather one of offering stimulating programming of value. I commend you and your colleagues for mounting this initiative to create a facility to promote astronomy and space sciences in our community. It is good to see this happening as you build upon your success in reaching thousands in the public with your “star parties” and educational programming.
The question of our place in the Universe is fundamental to most every culture, and the consequential outcomes of space science technology across the life and physical sciences, medicine and engineering have impacted the entire world. It is amazing how much for granted we take the weather forecasts from satellites, our global communications connectivity, and simply knowing how to get from point A to B by accessing geopositioning satellites; typically without ever thinking of how these technologies operate or came to be, or the rich tapestry of careers and the economic impact that are tied to these technologies.
The vision of a facility that will offer integration of astronomy with the exploration of space, and the development of related technology, has the potential to integrate the sciences in a manner that is much superior to the programming that was offered at the McLaughlin Planetarium. The emphasis on integration of astronomy, physics, mathematics, engineering, chemistry and biology reflects the present integrated conceptual approach to teaching of modern sciences, and the applications themes will resonate with participants in a way that is never achieved through presentations that rely on the theories of single subjects.
There are a number of members of the faculty at UTM, and also graduate and undergraduate students, who will be quite interested to participate to develop and deliver programming. In fact, some of our faculty and students have interactions with galleries and museums to create digital multi-media programming for the public in other venues. I also note that the Economic Development Office of the City of Mississauga identifies aerospace engineering and related technologies as a major industry cluster in the region. There will be numerous regional industries across the GTA that will have interest in the space science theme, and also from the perspective of imaging, computational and visualization technologies.
I personally stand ready to help this initiative network with members of our community so that partnerships can be explored.
Ulrich J. Krull,
Professor of Analytical Chemistry, and AstraZeneca Chair in Biotechnology
Vice-Principal: Special Initiatives
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road
Canada L5L 1C6