The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) on Vancouver Island first caught starlight through the Plaskett Telescope on May 6, 1918. This was an important moment in Canada’s history. At the time, the 1.8 metre Plaskett Telescope was the world’s largest operating telescope.
Dr. John Plaskett, who designed the telescope, was a mechanician turned astrophysicist. Over his years as a director at the DAO, Plaskett discovered much about our galaxy, the Milky Way. With his colleague J.A. Pearce, he became the first astronomer to prove that the galaxy rotates! In 2010 the DAO became a national historic site because of its role in building Canada’s international reputation in astronomy.
Today Friends of the DAO hold summer star parties. Visitors can also attend guest lectures, tour the Plaskett Telescope and observe the night sky.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2018, the DAO collaborated with Royal BC Museum to develop a travelling exhibition, The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory’s First 100 Years, that will be available to communities and museums throughout BC.
Who built the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory? What inspired these scientists and innovators to learn about the universe? Explore this pathway to find out.