Vancouver Island’s oldest telescope celebrates a century of discovery


WATCH: You could say the scientific invention has been watching the skies for nearly a century. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

Perched on top of Little Saanich Mountain is a piece of technology that would discover a world of possibilities.

“It’s been used every night,” said Dr. Greg Fahlman from the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre. “It’s still used even today.”

On May 6, 1918, the first observational data was recorded from the telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich.

The 1.83 metre telescope was the brainchild of astronomer John Stanley Plaskett.

The design was so successful it was copied in seven telescopes around the world.

“It was the first publicly funded major science project,” Dr. Fahlman explained.

The observatory was instrumental in launching the field of astrophysics in Canada and helped shape early knowledge of the Milky Way.

Other discoveries include the study of stellar X-ray sources, stellar-mass black holes and advanced instrumentation for clearer pictures of our universe.

Today, a plaque was unveiled that recognized the observatory as a national history site.

Still in operation, the telescope represents a future of possibilities for the next century and beyond.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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