William Edmund Harper

William Edmund Harper, astronomer (b at Dobbinton, Ont 20 Mar 1878; d at Victoria 4 June 1940). After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1906, Harper joined the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa and later conducted a national search for a site for a proposed new observatory. In 1918 he transferred to the new institution, the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, becoming its second director in 1936. His field was the measurement of distances and motions of stars, and especially the study of spectroscopic binaries. He is said to have computed more orbits for these systems than anyone else and, such was his industry, it is likely that he did, at least until the advent of electronic computers. He was an active popularizer of astronomy and was awarded an honorary doctorate by U of T in 1935.