Clarence Augustus Chant, professor of astrophysics (b at Hagerman's Corners, Ont 31 May 1865; d at Observatory House, Richmond Hill, Ont 18 Nov 1956). He is often called the "father of Canadian astronomy" because he trained so many young astronomers. Educated at University of Toronto and Harvard, he taught at U of T from 1891 until retirement in 1935. Chant was notable for his early work on X-ray photographs, but especially for his development of Canadian ASTRONOMY
. He organized the department at U of T and built up the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (established 1890) into one of the world's most successful organizations of its kind. From 1907 through 1956 he edited its Journal
(published monthly or bimonthly) and its annual Observer's Handbook
as well as writing many of the articles.
He participated in 5 total solar-eclipse expeditions, the most important being the one he led to Australia 1922 to test Einstein's theory of the deflection of starlight by a massive body. Through his efforts the dream of a great observatory near Toronto came to fruition in 1933, when Mrs David Dunlap presented to U of T an observatory with a 74-inch (1.88 m) telescope (still the largest optical telescope in Canada). Chant was coauthor of 2 widely used textbooks. His popular Our Wonderful Universe (1928, new ed 1940) has been translated into 5 other languages, and he described the early days in Astronomy in the University of Toronto (1954). In September 1987 Minor Planet No 3314 was named for him.
HELEN S. HOGG