Donald Fernie

(1933-) DDO Director (1978-88); Society President (1974-76).

J. DONALD FERNIE (1933-) was born and raised in South Africa. After receiving his M.Sc. degree from the University of Cape Town in 1955, he and his wife moved to the United States where he earned his Ph.D. at Indiana University. They returned to Cape Town for three years where he lectured in Physics and Astronomy before emigrating to Canada in 1961. Since that time Fernie has been on the faculty at the University of Toronto, serving as Chairman of the Astronomy Department and Director of the DDO from 1978 to '88. During his earliest years at U of T, he developed photoelectric photometry and was responsible for revitalizing the 48 cm telescope originally built by R.K. Young in the 1920s. His career continues to be very productive with well over a hundred papers mainly on photometry of variable stars, especially Classical Cepheids. He also finds the history of astronomy attractive and has published a number of papers in that field as well as an entertaining and informative book, The Whisper and the Vision, in which he tells some delightful adventure stories of astronomers of the past.

Don Fernie accepted the nomination of First Vice-President of the RASC in 1972, and in his subsequent Presidency, he visited most if not all the Centres of the Society. He served as Book Review Editor for the Journal and wrote a number of reviews himself, and was also Assistant Editor of the National Newsletter, graciously permitting many of his witty articles to be reprinted from the David Dunlap Doings.

Peter Broughton (from Looking Up)


Further Reading


Fernie, J. Donald