An Astronomical Observatory for Toronto

An outline of a project prepared by a committee representing the University of Toronto and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada




THE UNIVERSITY has no equipment for the teaching of practical astronomy, much less for making astronomical investigations and discoveries. This great want has been felt for years. - Indeed it would be hard to find a university with a standing comparable to that of the University of Toronto, so poorly equipped in this regard.

THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA needs suitable headquarters where it can hold its meetings and can put its library and instruments at the service of the public.

FROM THE PUBLIC there are numerous and continued requests for the opportunity of viewing the celestial bodies through a powerful telescope. These requests come from pe-ople of all ages, including Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and similar organizations which demand an acquaintance with the sky as a part of their training.

- In 1914 a committee was appointed by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada to consider means for meeting the above needs. It brought in a report, the chief provisions of which were:

1. That the City should provide a site for the observatory.

2. That the University should maintain it.

3. That the Astronomical Society should have accommodation for its library, instruments and other purposes.

4. That the public should have easy' access to the institution. .

Before any substantial progress in the campaign for the new institution had been made, the War broke out and prevented an appeal for assistance. However, it was thought advisable to prepare plans for the building. On explaining the project to a well-known firm of architects they offered to make the sketch-plans, and these were sent to various astronomers during, the War for their consideration and criticism.

The plans provide for a lecture-room, a visitor's room, a library, as well as offices, laboratories, and computing rooms. In the equipment is included a large telescope, not less than twenty inches in diameter, to be devoted chiefly to astronomical research, but to be placed at the service of the public on one evening each week. Another instrument of considerable size (nine inches in diameter) is to be given over almost exclusively to amateurs and the citizens generally. Indeed it is intended to have it employed in a special department for interesting and instructing the public.

In the spring of 1919 it was decided that the time was come to revive the project. A strong deputation met the Board of Control and asked that a ten-acre lot on Bathurst St., belonging to the City, be made a public park and that some three acres of it be alloted as a site for the observatory. After a conference with the Commissioners of Finance, Parks, and Assessment, and the City Solicitor, an agreement was drawn up embodying the proposal, and in' due time it was approved by the Board of Control and the 'Crty Council.

Thus an admirable and valuable site has been secured.

The University is willing to maintain the observatory, and the Astronomical Society is willing to place its valuable library, which it has been accumulating for thirty years, in the observatory and to maintain it open to the public. All that is now needed to complete the scheme is the building and the equipment.

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