• describe the major astronomical organizations in Canada
  • identify the some of the principal contributors to astronomy in Canada
There are three main astronomical organizations in Canada: The Canadian Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency.


The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) is a society of professional astronomers from across Canada. These are the professors and academic students of the study of astronomy. They are the primary instigators and developers of astronomical research and the best sources of detailed knowledge about any particular topic in Astronomy.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) is an organization of amateur astronomers who perform many public outreach activities, and simply love to go out and observe the skies. They have 28 local centers across the country, in most major cities, and have more than 4800 members. They also involve themselves in some research, assisting the work of professional astronomers.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is the governmental organization that supervises all aspects of Canadian government activity in space. This includes selecting and training astronauts, putting Canadian satellites in orbit and maintaining them, working with professional astronomers, and of course, public outreach.

Did You Know ?

The oldest Astronomical Organization in Canada is the Royal Astronomical Society, founded in 1902. It actually existed before this but as the Astronomical Society of Toronto, and previous to that, the Physics and Astronomy Society of Toronto.

As a country, Canada has been very successful in making contributions to the field of astronomy, and we have a strong reputation worldwide. A complete list of major Canadian contributors to astronomy is not possible, however a few of the major contributors throughout history are listed below:

  • John S. Plaskett (1865-1941): First director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and known for research on radial velocities in galaxies.

  • Helen Hogg (1905-1993): Known for her work on globular clusters, publications on the history of astronomy, and her astronomy column in the Toronto Star which lasted for 30 years. (University of Toronto)

  • Sidney van den Bergh (1929-): Known for his work on the structure and evolution of galaxies. (University of Victoria)

  • Dr. Jim Peebles (1935-): Known for his pioneering work in cosmology and the origin of the universe and the Big Bang theory. (Princeton University)

  • Dr. René Racine (1938-): Known for his work on globular clusters and the invention of some astronomical instruments. (University of Montreal)

  • Dr. Ian Shelton (1958- ): Discovered the first visible supernova in modern history, supernova 1987A. (Athabasca University)

  • Terrence Dickinson (1943-): Foremost amateur astronomer in Canada, editor of Skynews magazine and many excellent books on astronomy. (St. Lawrence College) See Unit 10, Lesson 3

  • David Levy (1948-): Discovered a large number of comets including comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that collided with Jupiter in 1994.

  • Dick Bond (1950-): Known for his study of the structure of the Universe. (University of Toronto)

  • Dr. Jaymie Matthews (1958-): Chief researcher with the MOST space telescope program. (University of British Columbia) See Unit 7, Lesson 1

  • Wendy Freedman (1958-): Known for her work on measuring the Hubble constant, and other research into the expansion of the universe. (Carnegie Observatories)

Did You Know?

Most of the major contributors have comets, asteroids or craters on the moon named after them! It is one of the perks of being influential within a field where there are new, unnamed things still being discovered!

Check It Out!

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, founded in 1868 is Canada's leading astronomy organization.

Launch the RASC website!

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467