Dominion Astrophysical ObservatoryListen

Dr. Dennis Crabtree

Dr. Dennis Crabtree, Director (2014-2018) of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and of Optical Astronomy, speaks about a day in the life of a typical astronomer 100 years ago. He explains how astronomers used photographic plates to obtain spectrums of stars (properties of light that radiates from stars). This information could be used to calculate the radial velocity (the speed at which a star moves away from or toward us). Read more about J.S. Plaskett, the first director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.RBCM

Dr. Samantha Lawler

Dr. Samantha Lawler, Plaskett Fellow at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, explains her work on computer simulations of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) and the Kuiper belt (a ring of icy objects, including the dwarf planet Pluto, around our solar system).

She describes how she uses computers to code and run simulations and to participate in video conferences with international astronomy teams. Contrast her work with the daily work of an astronomer 100 years ago, described in the interview with Dr. Dennis Crabtree.

We also asked Dr. Lawler’s advice for a student interested in studying astronomy. Her reply:

Any part of astronomy will require using computers. So, get very familiar with a computer—any kind of software. Make sure that you are comfortable with maybe even different operating systems, if you have access to that. And if you can learn a little bit of how to write computer code, it's never too early to start learning that!

Dr. J.S. Plaskett

The life of J.S. Plaskett was the subject of this 1956 episode of the CBC radio program Voices of BC, aimed at inspiring students toward a career in science.RBCM T4022_56_004 / CBC

The Universe of John Plaskett

Patrice Dutil, talks with Peter Broughton about John Stanley. Broughton is the author of Northern Star: J.S. Plaskett (University of Toronto Press, 2017). This podcast was produced by Sumeet Dhami and Pernia Jamshed in the Allan Slaight Radio Institute at Ryerson University. Listen to more  Champlain Society's Witness to Yesterday podcasts here.The Champlain Society