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The Stargazers

The Story


In the first half of the 20th century, Canadian astronomers were seldom heard from beyond the university classroom. But after the Second World War, interest in space travel, the planets and comets was growing. Science fiction was a popular subject in motion pictures, comics, and novels. In this special CBC Radio documentary, first broadcast in 1955, we visit the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia and meet scientists active in the study of the night sky.

Medium: Radio
Program: Canadian Scene
Broadcast Date: Jan. 16, 1955
Guests: Ed Argyle, Graham Augers, Jean McDonald, Andrew McKellar, Bill Milne, Robert Petrie, Anne Underhill, Ken Wright
Host: Don McGiven
Reporter: Bill Herbert
Duration: 29:13
Photo: Photo of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory courtesy of Saanich Archives, 2006-015-208i.

Did You know?


• The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory was completed in 1918 on Observatory Hill in Saanich, B.C. John S. Plaskett, a Canadian astronomer and physicist, designed it. In 1927, Plaskett acknowledged the unique opportunity of building during the First World War: "It is fortunate for the cause of astronomy that the Canadian Government was sufficiently liberal minded and progressive to complete this instrument for research in pure science when so many other practical projects had to wait."

• The location of the observatory, on Vancouver Island, was chosen for the region's moderate temperatures and the stability of the atmosphere.

• Robert M. Petrie lived from 1906 to 1966. He was born in Scotland, but came to Canada at the age of five. Growing up in Victoria, his early interest in astronomy grew as a teen working summers at the Dominion Observatory. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1932, joining the staff of the observatory in 1935. A crater on the moon, known as Petrie, was named after him.

 


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