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Clarence Chant

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(1865-1956) Professor of Astronomy at University of Toronto, President of the Society (1904-07), editor of the Journal and Handbook for 50 years, and an important figure in the creation of the David Dunlap Observatory.


CLARENCE AUGUSTUS CHANT (1865-1956) grew up in a village near Toronto. A school book entitled Geography Generalized, by Robert Sullivan, first aroused his interest in astronomy. After high school, Chant taught for a couple of years as a means of earning some money, then entered the University of Toronto and graduated in mathematics and physics in 1890. After a short stint working for the Finance Department in Ottawa, he accepted a position as Lecturer in Physics at the University of Toronto. Soon, as he recalled, he joined the A&P Society where he "met a number of practical observing astronomers who further stimulated my interest in astronomy."

Though his Ph.D. was in Physics (earned during a year's leave of absence at Harvard in 1901), Dr. Chant became a highly respected and influential teacher of astronomy at the University of Toronto. For thirty years, nearly all Canadian astronomers were trained by him. Ironically, though, his heroic efforts to obtain an observatory for Toronto were only realized with the opening of the David Dunlap Observatory on the very day of his seventieth birthday and his official retirement from the university.

Chant's connection with the Society spanned sixty-four years, and for fifty of these he edited the Journal and the Handbook, building them into internationally recognized publications. He was national President for four years and Librarian for sixteen years. He contributed countless papers to the Journal, the last being published when he was ninety-one. He was a great popular educator and in the words of J.F. Heard, "lived for the public lecture platform." Chant's introductory book Our Wonderful Universe, was translated into five languages. He co-authored physics texts which sold in the hundreds of thousands. Undoubtedly, royalties contributed to his large estate of $250,000 which he left to his daughters and to the David Dunlap Observatory.

Peter Broughton (from Looking Up)


Further Reading

  • Obituary, JRASC (February 1957)
  • The Growth of the R.A.S.C. and its Guiding Mentor C. A. Chant, JRASC (October 1967)
  • The Legacy Continues: C.A. Chant and the David Dunlap Observatory, JRASC (February 1999)
  • Asteroid (3315) Chant
  • RASC Chant Medal

 

There are 6 related documents & images in the RASC Archives.
Description: 
Chant, Clarence A.
Type: 
Person