Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

City of Sunshine

When it first opened, thousands of tourists visited the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich. Here it is in two early tourism films: Victoria (1919) and City of Sunshine (1928–29). Credit: BCA RBCM V1988_01_003_02 BCA RBCM V1987_57_002_02

Telescope Arrival

In 1961 a new telescope arrived at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich on Vancouver Island. This 1.2 metre telescope was smaller than its predecessor (the Plaskett Telescope) but had a spectrograph with higher resolution. It made its own contributions to astronomy. This film shows its arrival and assembly.

Credit: National Research Council Canada

Telescope Mirror

The 1.8 metre mirror was originally coated with silver, which tarnished over a few months and had to be recoated. Aluminum coatings used today last several years. This 1950s film shows staff removing, recoating and reinstalling the main mirror. Credit: National Research Council Canada

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

From 1974 to 1979, Roy Dancey and National Research Council Canada staff at the DAO worked on grinding, figuring, testing and polishing the 14-ton, 141-inch (3.6 metre) Cer-Vit ceramic-glass mirror for the new Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Canada and France contributed equally to cover 85 per cent of the cost of building it. The machine used to work on the telescope was custom built in Vancouver. Photographs at the end of this video show DAO staff in 2009 and an image of the Orion Nebula captured by the telescope.   Credit: RBCM BCA AAAA3615 / CHEK-TV fonds / National Research Council Canada