Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics

The National Research Council's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics (HAA) Division is headquartered in the office below the Plaskett Telescope. It runs two programs on-site:

  • The Astronomy Technology Program, and
  • The Optical Astronomy Program

HAA also runs the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, which is co-founded by the Canadian Space Agency. Additionally, HAA is responsible for the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton.

Both Optical and Radio astronomy programs participate in international observatories located in Chile and Hawaii that include telescopes sensitive to infrared and millimeter & submillimeter radiation.

Canadian Astronomy Data Centre

Founded as one of three Hubble Telescope Space Telescope Data Archives, the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC) is now an archive for data from more than a dozen telescopes.

Astronomers perform data mining to extract new information from existing observations. Resources include deep surveys of the sky at different wavelengths. Astronomical objects often change over time, meaning that data from earlier periods also has special value.

The CADC played a key role in the establishment of CA*NET, the precursor of the Internet in Canada. The network was needed by astronomers to move large amounts of data from the Hubble Space Telescope to researchers across Canada.

Engineering in Victoria

Engineering performed in Victoria includes optical, mechanical and electrical engineering.

Innovative instruments designed to get the most from telescopes are created in Victoria as part of the Astronomy Technology Program. Some of these devices include adaptive objects, which sharpen images by correcting for our atmosphere's turbulence.

The Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) is an instrument which can acquire hundreds of spectra at once. It was built in Victoria and Durham, UK, for the Gemini Telescopes in Chile and Hawaii. It took Plaskett and his colleagues years to collect 40 spectra in the 1920's!

Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory

The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) was established in 1960 near Okanagan Falls, BC. The major facilities include a 26-meter dish, telescopes that monitor solar weather, a mesh synthesis telescope, and an array of smaller dishes that work as an interferometer to simulate a larger telescope.

Major DRAO projects include a multi-year effort to gather data about the Milky Way, called the Galactic Plane survey. A new project, the Canadian Intensity Hydrogen Mapping Experiment (CHIME), will map the distribution of hydrogen deep into the universe.

Like its optical counterpart in Victoria, the DRAO is involved in large international projects like the Expanded Very Large Array, the Square Kilometer Array, and with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.