Canadian Astronomers Making History
Canadian astronomers not only play an important role in today's scientific community, but have also made significant contributions to the field in the past. Below you'll find just some of the names who helped Canada lead the way during the "early days" of modern astronomy.
Apart from his work as a researcher, it was Beals who set the original wheels in motion for Canada to have its own professional astronomical organization, which later became known as the Canadian Astronomical Society/la société d'astronomie canadienne (CASCA). The Carlyle S. Beals Award was established by CASCA in 1981 in recognition of his groundbreaking work, for which he was also awarded the Order of Canada. Past winners of the C.S. Beals award and their profiles can be found here.
With astronomy courses now available, Dr. Chant worked endlessly to erect a well-equipped observatory to be used by the students. His work culminated in the 1935 opening of the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill. The 74" telescope was (and still is) the largest in Canada, and was at the time of building the second largest in the world. It is primarily due to this gentleman that many generations of Canadian students have been able to study astronomy and observe the cosmos without leaving the country.
Dr. Chant was also president of the newly-established Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for 3 years. The Chant Medal, awarded by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, is presented annually to an amateur astronomer who participates in orginal astronomical investigations.
more information: http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/ddo.rasc.html
This was actually the first calculation of the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, and was confirmed through observation over 20 years later. He is also known for his discovery of evidence for the energy source of carbon stars and his work in molecular spectroscopy. Throughout his career, he published 73 papers.
To honour Dr. McKellar, the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory's 1.2m telescope has been named the McKellar Telescope, and a crater on the Moon has also been named after him.
Dr. Millman was a world expert on meteors, using visual, radar, and spectroscopic techniques. In the late 1930s, Dr. Millman established a meteor observation program at Toronto, which connected the amateur and professional astronomical societies at the time. He laid the groundwork for a whole series of important projects on meteors, meteorites, and meteorite impact craters, as well as the study of meteor photographic spectra, from which he was able to determine the composition of meteors.
Throughout his career, he published over 175 papers. He was associated with the David Dunlap Observatory (University of Toronto) and the Dominion Observatory (Ottawa), as well as the National Research Council.
He was awarded the J. Lawrence Smith Medal in 1954 for investigations of meteoric bodies, and has had a crater on Mars named after him, as well as a minor planet.
With access to a more powerful telescope (72 inches, compared with the Dominion Observatory's 15 inch telescope), Plaskett was able to continue his studies with greater accuracy and even began finding new binary star systems. In 1922, he discovered a massive binary star system, which was the heaviest on record for many years - a discovery which gained him international respect as an astronomer.
The Plaskett Medal was created by the Canadian Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society in recognition of Plaskett's role in the establishment of astrophysical research in Canada. The medal is awarded annually to a doctoral candidate from a Canadian University in astronomy or astrophysics.
more information: http://www.casca.ca
She also wrote a number of articles on historical astronomy however, to most Canadians, she was probably best known for her work in public education. For thirty years, she wrote a weekly column entitled With the Stars for the Toronto Star. She was also the founding President of the Canadian Astronomical Society when it formed in 1971.
Throughout her distinguished career, Professor Hogg received many awards and honours, including the first Canadian to be awarded the Rittenhouse Medal of the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Philadelphia, in 1967 - the same year she received the Radcliffe Graduate Achievement Medal and the Centennial Medal of Canada. In 1968, she was awarded the Medal of Service of the Order of Canada and in 1976 was promoted to Companion of the Order. In 1992, she was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.
Two facilities have been dedicated to her: the observatory at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, and the telescope at the University of Toronto's southern site in Chile. Asteroid 2917 was named Sawyer Hogg in her honour in 1984.
compiled by the
CASCA education Webteam, (2008)