Canadian Skywatchers


[] Carlyle Smith Beals [] Clarence Agustus Chant []
[] William Edmund Harper [] Frank Scott Hogg []
[] Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg-Priestly []
[] William Brydone Jack [] William Fredrick King []
[] Andrew McKeler [] Joseph Algernon Pearse []
[] Robert M. Petrie [] John Stanley Plaskett []
[] Otto Julius Klotz [] John Lambourne Locke []
[] Sidney Van den Bergh [] Reynold Kenneth Young []

Carlyle Smith Beals

Carl Beals was born in Canso, Nova Scotia, on June 29, 1889, and died in Ottawa on July 2, 1979. He was an astronomer and assistant director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, BC until 1946. While there, Beals made important contributions to the observation and interpretation of emission lines in the spectra of certain hot stars, to the understanding of the nature of the gas clouds in interstellar space, and to the development of instruments for astronomy. He guided the positive development of astronomical and geophysical research in Canada. He initiated a highly successful program in the identification and study of meteorite craters in Canada. In September 1987, minor planet 3314 was named in his honour.


Clarence Agustus Chant

Chant was born in Hagerman's Corners, Ontario on May 31, 1865, and died in Richmond Hill on November 18, 1956. He is known as the "father of Canadian astronomy," because he trained so many young astronomers. He organized the Astronomy Department of the U of T, and built up the Royal Astronomical Society into the world’s most successful organization of its kind. Chant participated in five solar-eclipse expeditions, the most important being the one he led to Australia in 1922 to test Einstein's theory of the deflection of starlight by a massive body.

Chant was co-author of two widely used textbooks on astronomy. His popular OUR WONDERFUL UNIVERSE written in 1928 has been translated into five languages. In September 1987, minor planet 3341 was named for him.


William Edmund Harper

William Harper was born in Dobbington, Ontario on March 20, 1904, and died in Victoria, BC, on June 4, 1940. In 1918, Harper became director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria. His field of specialty was measurement of distances and motions. It is said that he computed more orbits for these systems than any other astroscientist. It is likely that he did, until the advent of computers. The U of T awarded him an honourary doctorate in 1935.


Frank Scott Hogg

Frank Hogg was an astrophysicist born in Picton, Ontario on July 26, 1904. He died in Richmond Hill on New Years Day 1951. In 1929, Hogg received the first doctorate in astronomy at Harvard where he pioneered in the spectrophotometry of stars, and the study of the spectra of comets. During World War II, he developed a two-star sextant for air navigation. He was the head of the Department of Astronomy at U of T and director of the David Dunlap Observatory form 1946 until his death. Hogg researched the motion of faint stars in the line of sight.


Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg-Priestly

Helen Sawyer was born in Lowell, Mass. on August I 1905. She married Dr. Frank Hogg who died in 1951. In 1985, she married Professor F. Priestly. She began research in the field of globular star clusters while still in graduate school. In 1931, she received a doctorate is astronomy at Radcliffe. She taught at U of T form 1936 until 1976. She became a leading expert in her field of specialization and received numerous honours. She is well known for the clarity of her lectures, radio, and television presentations. She has numerous articles published, and is the author of THE STARS BELONG TO EVERYONE, a book popular among her peers and young astronomers. For thirty years she wrote a column for the Toronto Star. Minor planet 2917 has been named Sayer-Hogg to honour this outstanding lady.


William Brydone Jack

William Jack, mathematician, astronomer, and educator was born in Trailflatt, Scotland on November 23, 1886, and died in Fredricton on his birthday in 1917. Jack built an astronomical observatory on the campus of King's College, U of New Brunswick in 1951. It bears a plaque that identifies it as the "First Astronomical Observatory in Canada." In 1954, Jack introduced an engineering program to train students in practical surveying. Twenty years later, he established the first "standard laboratory" in Canada for surveying instruments. Under his presidency, the U of NB became a center of excellence and produced many outstanding Canadian scholars.


William Fredrick King

Astronomer William King was born in Stowmarket, England on February 19, 1854. He died in Ottawa on April 23, 1916. King worked as a land and topography surveyor in western Canada. With Otto Klotz, he founded the astronomical branch of the Department of the Interior. In 1905, he was named first director of the Dominion Observatory. He directed plans for the 1.8 m telescope in Victoria BC, but died before its completion. King served as superintendent of the Geodetic Survey of Canada, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.


Andrew McKellar

Andrew McKellar was an astrophysicist and molecular spectroscopist. He was born in Vancouver on February 2, 1910. He died in Victoria on May 6, 1960. McKellar was regarded internationally as Canada's greatest astronomer. He published 73 scientific articles and numerous papers on evidence that the energy of a cool carbon star is a nuclear reaction involving carbon and nitrogen, and the deduction that the temperature of interstellar gas is 23 K. More than twenty years lapsed before his results were confirmed and used to support the theory of the explosive creation of the universe. His final paper, a biography and a list of his publications appear in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1960.


Joseph Algernon Pearse

Joseph Pearse was an astrophysicist born in Brantford, Ontario on February 7, 1893. Together with J. Plaskett, Pearse published the first detailed spectroscopic analysis of the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy in 1935. Using radial velocities of very hot stars, visible from Victoria, BC, they demonstrated that the sun is two-thirds out of the center of our galaxy, and rotates once in 220 million years. He estimated the temperature and diameter of giant eclipsing double stars. He served as director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory from 1940 to 1945.


Robert M. Petrie

Robert Petrie was born at St. Andrew's, Scotland on May 15, 1906, and died in Victoria, BC on April 8, 1966. He came to Canada at age eleven and developed an interest in astronomy during high school. Plaskett encouraged him. His studies of spectroscope binaries (double stars) and the motions and distance of hot stars won international acclaim. When he died, he was planning the construction of a very large Canadian telescope. He was the first Canadian astronomer to become Vice President of the International Astronomical Union, a position he held from 1958 until 1964.


John Stanley Plaskett

John Plaskett was born in Hickson, BC on November 17, 1865. He died in Esgimel, BC on October 17, 1941. In 1903, he joined the astronomical branch of the Department of the Interior in Ottawa. He helped to design and construct instruments for the new Dominion Observatory. He observed a solar eclipse in 1905, and did important work on radial velocities of stars. His request for a 1.8-m telescope was approved in 1918. He devoted his time working on spectral binaries (double stars), and discovered a massive one that bears his name. He teamed up with Pearse, and the two published the first detailed analysis of the structure of the Milky Way. They demonstrated the position and rotation of the sun. Minor planet 2905 is named Plaskett in his honour.


Otto Julius Klotz

Otto Klotz was born in Preston on March 31, 1852, and died in Ottawa on April 23, 1923. With William King, Klotz was responsible for the formation of the Department of the Inteior, and for the building of the Cliff Street Observatory in 1890. Klotz participated in 1885 on the team that determined the longitude of Montreal, W of Greenwich, and in 1903-4 extended the longitude from Vancouver across the Pacific, along the new cable, closing the link previously established from England eastward to Australia.


John Lambourne Locke

John Locke was born in Brantford, Ontario on May 1, 1921. After service in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII, Locke graduated from the U of T in 1946. He recieved a doctorate in 1949, and was appointed astrophysicist at the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa. From 1959 until 1962, he was officer in charge of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penitecton BC.


Sidney Van den Bergh

Van den Bergh, astronomer and cosmologist was born in Wassenaar, Netherlands on May 20, 1929. He completed studies at Princeton U, Ohio State U, and U of T. He moved permanently to Toronto in 1958.

He played a key role in expanding the facility and developed computer techniques at U of T. He has contributed to lunar studies and studies of other aspects of our solar system, but his real work were with extragalactic studies on which he has published original findings. He has studied nubulae, star clusters, and revised the perceived age of the universe. In 1986, he obtained some remarkable images of some of the jets of Halley's Comet. A comet he discovered in 1974 bears his name.


Reynold Kenneth Young

Young was born in Bradford, Ontario on October 4, 1886, and died in Peterborough on Christmas Eve, 1977. His research was primarily in the field of stellar radial velocities., the velocities of stars in the line of sight. His work helped place Canada among the world leaders in this field. His unique contribution was his guidance in the design and construction of the 1.88-m telescope at the David Dunlap Observatory. Copies of his telescope are mounted in Egypt, South Africa, Japan, and Australia.