CBC Digital Archives

Algonquin Radio Observatory

In 1609 Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei unveiled his first telescope. To mark the occasion, the United Nations declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. It is a year "to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the universe through the day and nighttime sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery." The CBC Digital Archives looks at Canadian contributors to astronomy and our own trip through the cosmos.

Optical telescopes make up only half of the large instruments used to study the cosmos. Radio telescopes receive waves from space revealing things an astronomer "can't see". In this 1969 profile from CBC's The Day It Is, we learn about the Algonquin radio telescope. Patrick Watson then interviews three astronomers who use it and share their enthusiasm for the stars.
• The Algonquin Radio Observatory was completed in 1965. Located in one of Canada's national parks, the 46m-diameter (150ft) antenna is the largest radio telescope in the country. Freeman Fox constructed it on a commission by the National Research Council of Canada. This company also built the Parkes Observatory in Australia, considered the sister-station of the Algonquin.

Arthur Covington (1913-2001), Canada's first radio astronomer, founded the observatory.

• In 2012, it is expected that the Atacama Observatory will be fully operational. Located in Chile, the array has 62 parabolic antennas measuring 12 metres across and spread out over 14 kilometres in the desert. These antennas will act as one giant radio telescope and offer detailed information about the formation of planets, galaxies, stars and other inter-stellar objects. Canada is a leading partner in this project, contributing 64 ultra-sensitive receptors and image processing software.

Medium: Television
Program: The Day It Is
Broadcast Date: July 15, 1969
Guest(s): Philip Kronberg, Wilfred Meddy, J.A. Roberts
Host: George Finstad
Interviewer: Patrick Watson
Duration: 8:02

Last updated: February 10, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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