Alan McConnachie

Roles and responsibilities

  • Senior Research Officer
  • Optical Astronomy Technology Program Lead, responsible for a team of 30+ engineers, technologists and scientists developing optical astronomical instrumentation
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria

Current research and/or projects

My current research interests center around galaxies, their formation, evolution, stellar content and the tools we need to understand them:

  • co-Principal Investigator of UNIONS, the Ultraviolet-Near-Infrared-Optical Northern Survey, with 200+ collaborators worldwide
  • Commissioning Scientist for the Gemini High Resolution Optical Spectrograph (GHOST), and co-PI of 200hrs of Guaranteed Time Observing program using Gemini/GHOST
  • Lead and collaborator in multiple initiatives focused on understanding the formation and evolution of the nearest galaxies, including multiple projects with graduate students through the University of Victoria


Research and/or project statements

My research interests cover all aspects of galaxy formation and evolution, particularly in relation to the nearest galaxies and their resolved stellar populations. For the closest systems, we can perform “Galactic Archaeology” and use the positions, dynamics, ages and chemical properties of the resolved stars to reveal the evolution of these galaxies.

I am involved in several large research efforts using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the Gemini Observatories, the Gaia satellite, and other international facilities, aimed at understanding the formation and evolution of our home, the Milky Way, and its neighbours within the Local Group of galaxies.

A major focus of my astronomy interests are in relation to the development of next generation capabilities for Canadian and international astronomy, particularly at optical and infrared (OIR) wavelengths.

In general, I am most interested in any novel ideas that allow for new science to be done that is not otherwise possible using existing instruments, even if these are in areas that are not my primary research interests.


  • 2002 – 2005 Ph.D, Astrophysics, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, U.K.
    Advisor: Dr. Michael Irwin, Thesis: “Satellites and substructure in the Local Group”
  • 1998 – 2002 M.Sci. Astrophysics, First Class Honours, University of St. Andrews, U.K.

Professional activities/interests

  • Optical Astronomy Technology Program Lead: Lead of team of 30+ engineers, technologist and scientists supporting the development of next generation optical astronomical instrumentation for the Canadian and international community
  • Member, Science Advisory Committee, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
  • Member, Ground-based Astronomy Committee, Canadian Astronomical Society
  • NSERC Discovery Grants Program Panel, Astronomy and Space Sciences (Member 2019; Chair 2020, 2021)


  • 2021 - Elected member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists
  • 2019 - Visiting Researcher, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
  • 2018 - Invited participant, Science and Technology Forum, Kyoto
  • 2017 - Invited participant, Frontiers of Science, Okinawa
  • 2016 - Distinguished Visitor, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

Key publications

Peer reviewed publications since 2022:

  • The survey of planetary nebulae in Andromeda (M31) - IV. Radial oxygen and argon abundance gradients of the thin and thicker disc, Bhattacharya, S., M. Arnaboldi, N. Caldwell, O. Gerhard, C. Kobayashi, J. Hartke, K. C. Freeman, A. W. McConnachie, and P. Guhathakurta, 2022, MNRAS, 517, 2343.
  • The Pristine survey - XVI. The metallicity of 26 stellar streams around the Milky Way detected with the STREAMFINDER in Gaia EDR3, Martin, N. F., R. A. Ibata, E. Starkenburg, Z. Yuan, K. Malhan, M. Bellazzini, A. Viswanathan, D. Aguado, A. Arentsen, P. Bonifacio, R. Carlberg, J. I. González Hernández, V. Hill, P. Jablonka, G. Kordopatis, C. Lardo, A. W. McConnachie, J. Navarro, R. Sánchez-Janssen, F. Sestito, G. F. Thomas, K. A. Venn, S. Vitali, and K. T. Voggel, 2022, MNRAS, 516, 5331.
  • The Pristine dwarf galaxy survey - IV. Probing the outskirts of the dwarf galaxy Boötes I, Longeard, N., P. Jablonka, A. Arentsen, G. F. Thomas, D. S. Aguado, R. G. Carlberg, R. Lucchesi, K. Malhan, N. Martin, A. W. McConnachie, J. F. Navarro, R. Sánchez-Janssen, F. Sestito, E. Starkenburg, and Z. Yuan, 2022, MNRAS, 516, 2348.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope Survey of M31 Satellite Galaxies. I. RR Lyrae-based Distances and Refined 3D Geometric Structure, Savino, A., D. R. Weisz, E. D. Skillman, A. Dolphin, N. Kallivayalil, A. Wetzel, J. Anderson, G. Besla, M. Boylan-Kolchin, J. S. Bullock, A. A. Cole, M. L. M. Collins, M. C. Cooper, A. J. Deason, A. L. Dotter, M. Fardal, A. M. N. Ferguson, T. K. Fritz, M. C. Geha, K. M. Gilbert, P. Guhathakurta, R. Ibata, M. J. Irwin, M. Jeon, E. Kirby, G. F. Lewis, D. Mackey, S. R. Majewski, N. Martin, A. McConnachie, E. Patel, R. M. Rich, J. D. Simon, S. T. Sohn, E. J. Tollerud, and R. P. van der Marel, 2022, ApJ, 938, 101.
  • ShapePipe: A new shape measurement pipeline and weak-lensing application to UNIONS/CFIS data, Guinot, A., M. Kilbinger, S. Farrens, A. Peel, A. Pujol, M. Schmitz, J.-L. Starck, T. Erben, R. Gavazzi, S. Gwyn, M. J. Hudson, H. Hildebrandt, L. Tobias, L. Miller, I. Spitzer, L. Van Waerbeke, J.-C. Cuillandre, S. Fabbro, A. McConnachie, and Y. Mellier, 2022, A&A, 666, A162.
  • The survey of planetary nebulae in Andromeda (M31). V. Chemical enrichment of the thin and thicker discs of Andromeda: Oxygen to argon abundance ratios for planetary nebulae and HII regions, Arnaboldi, M., S. Bhattacharya, O. Gerhard, C. Kobayashi, K. C. Freeman, N. Caldwell, J. Hartke, A. McConnachie, and P. Guhathakurta, 2022, A&A, 666, A109.
  • The PAndAS View of the Andromeda Satellite System. III. Dwarf Galaxy Detection Limits, Doliva-Dolinsky, A., N. F. Martin, G. F. Thomas, A. M. N. Ferguson, R. A. Ibata, G. F. Lewis, D. Mackey, A. W. McConnachie, and Z. Yuan, 2022, ApJ, 933, 135.
  • Characterization of low surface brightness structures in annotated deep images, Sola, E., P.-A. Duc, F. Richards, A. Paiement, M. Urbano, J. Klehammer, M. Bílek, J.-C. Cuillandre, S. Gwyn, and A. McConnachie, 2022, A&A, 662, A124.
  • Optimal Differential Astrometry for Multiconjugate Adaptive Optics. I. Astrometric Distortion Mapping using On-sky GeMS Observations of NGC 6723, Taheri, M., A. W. McConnachie, P. Turri, D. Massari, D. Andersen, G. Bono, G. Fiorentino, K. Venn, J.-P. Véran, and P. B. Stetson, 2022, AJ, 163, 187.
  • Evidence of ram-pressure stripping of WLM, a dwarf galaxy far away from any large host galaxy, Yang, Y., R. Ianjamasimanana, F. Hammer, C. Higgs, B. Namumba, C. Carignan, G. I. G. Józsa, and A. W. McConnachie, 2022, A&A, 660, L11.
  • Discovery of strongly lensed quasars in the Ultraviolet Near Infrared Optical Northern Survey (UNIONS), Chan, J. H. H., C. Lemon, F. Courbin, R. Gavazzi, B. Clément, M. Millon, E. Paic, K. Rojas, E. Savary, G. Vernardos, J.-C. Cuillandre, S. Fabbro, S. Gwyn, M. J. Hudson, M. Kilbinger, and A. McConnachie, 2022, A&A, 659, A140.
  • A stellar stream remnant of a globular cluster below the metallicity floor, Martin, N. F., K. A. Venn, D. S. Aguado, E. Starkenburg, J. I. González Hernández, R. A. Ibata, P. Bonifacio, E. Caffau, F. Sestito, A. Arentsen, C. Allende Prieto, R. G. Carlberg, S. Fabbro, M. Fouesneau, V. Hill, P. Jablonka, G. Kordopatis, C. Lardo, K. Malhan, L. I. Mashonkina, A. W. McConnachie, J. F. Navarro, R. Sánchez-Janssen, G. F. Thomas, Z. Yuan, and A. Mucciarelli, 2022, Natur, 601, 45.
  • Ram pressure candidates in UNIONS, Roberts, I. D., L. C. Parker, S. Gwyn, M. J. Hudson, R. Carlberg, A. McConnachie, J.-C. Cuillandre, K. C. Chambers, P.-A. Duc, H. Furusawa, R. Gavazzi, V. Hill, M. E. Huber, R. Ibata, M. Kilbinger, S. Mei, Y. Mellier, S. Miyazaki, M. Oguri, and R. J. Wainscoat, 2022, MNRAS, 509, 1342.
Alan McConnachie

Alan McConnachie

Director, Research and Development
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics
5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9E 2E7
Preferred language: English
Telephone: 250-363-0070


Space sciences, Astronomy, Observational astronomy