Lucien Kemble

(1922-99) A keen visual observer; discoverer of Kemble's Cascade.

Father Lucien J. Kemble joined the Society as an unattached member in 1971, shortly after he acquired his first pair of binoculars. He enjoyed the challenge of finding Venus and Jupiter during daylight. Progressing to an 11 cm telescope he watched Mars occult Epsilon Geminorum while the Sun was still well above the horizon, observed details on Jupiter at 9 a.m. and used the long hours of summer twilight to split double stars. With nightfall he moved on to deep sky objects. Kemble’s Cascade is a beautiful chain of stars in Camelopardalis which he originally drew to the attention of observers in 1980.¹

Following a transfer by the Franciscan Order from Saskatchewan to Cochrane, Alberta, he became a member of the Calgary Centre in 1981, a year in which he won two awards - one for the best article in the Centre newsletter, the other being the Messier Certificate for which he presented eyepiece impressions of all 110 objects. This latter award was but a step in an ongoing project to study all the galaxies he could find and he got further recognition for this from the American Astronomical League. With his 28 cm telescope installed in his "Roger Bacon Observatory" at the Mount St Francis Retreat west of Calgary, Father Kemble was probably the first in Canada to visually detect Comet Halley as a faint 14th magnitude glow in August, 1985.² His outstanding achievements as an observer won him the Chilton Prize in 1989.³

—Peter Broughton (?)


1. Sky & Telescope, Dec. 1980, pp. 547.

2. NNL, October 1985, pp. L76:

Father Lucien Kemble using a 28-cm telescope reports spotting Comet Halley at 4:15 a.m. MDT on August 6. Using a magnification of 166 ́he estimated the “faint glow” had a brightness of 14.5. This may be the first Alberta (or even Canadian) observation of the comet by an observer in Canada.

3. He also independently discovered two supernovae, ? and SN1989B in M66. NNL, June 1989, pp. 45:

A few days later I got a call from Father Lucien Kemble, a highly experienced observer from Cochrane, Alberta. He had "discovered" the supernova before the news came out, but four or five days after Evans. This was the second supernova that he has independently discovered.

Further Reading

Kemble, Lucien