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Joint Colloquium presented by The Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

“The UofT and J.S. Plaskett” by R. Peter Broughton

Abstract: John Stanley Plaskett (1865-1941) did not show any interest in astronomy until 1903 when he embarked on a career that would blossom into one of the most illustrious of his time. By 1913, he convinced the Canadian government to fund the largest telescope in the world. As director of that observatory near Victoria, BC, he carried out research on O- and B-stars that led him to establish, in 1935, the dimensions and rotation of our Galaxy. This presentation will focus on the formative role that the University of Toronto had on Plaskett during his employment there (1890-1903) and the lasting effect that his career had on astronomy at UofT.

R. Peter Broughton is the author of Northern Star: J.S. Plaskett, University of Toronto Press (2018).


“Clarence Augustus Chant (1865-1956) and Astrophysics at U of T — The legacy of an extraordinary academic in a new era of scientific research” by Andrew Oakes

Abstract: To date, Professor C.A. Chant’s legacy of scientific development has not been documented in any meaningful or rigorous detail, despite the extensive archives that he left behind at the U of T. Other than short articles chronicling some of his achievements, no book-length scholarly treatment based on archival material exists of his seminal role in advancing science-education and, in effect, securing professional astronomy in Canada as a dedicated field of study. Chant developed early Canadian professional astronomy through his teaching at the U of T, where he subsequently established the undergraduate astronomy program.

He was instrumental in the building of the David Dunlap Observatory, then one of the largest research and teaching observatories in the country. As an educator, Chant mentored his students in mathematics, physics and astronomy, and assisted in placing them either at professional observatories (in the U.S.A. and Canada) or steering those wishing an even higher education, to post-graduate studies in astronomy at more advanced universities outside of Canada. His determined efforts led to the creation of the first cadre of professional astronomers representing a Canadian generation of researchers who became astrophysicists, some with significant international reputations. This presentation explores several aspects of his achievements, and how he brought them about.

Andrew Oakes is a PhD student at the IHPST, researching the history of astronomy.

Cody Hall, AB 107

R. Peter Broughton and Andrew Oakes (IHPST, University of Toronto)

November 28, 2018
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm