Sidney van den Bergh
Born in the Netherlands, son of businessman and politician Sidney James van den Bergh and grandson of Unilever co-founder Samuel van den Bergh, he showed an interest in science from an early age, learning to read with books on astronomy. In addition to being interested in astronomy, he also liked geology and archeology. His parents got him science books, a telescope, and a microscope, although they wished him to pursue a more practical career and only follow astronomy as a hobby. He went to Leiden University in the Netherlands from 1947–1948. He then attended Princeton University on scholarship where he received his A.B. in 1950. In December 1950, he was living in Columbus, Ohio and evidencing an interest in Astronomy. He obtained an M.Sc. from Ohio State University (1952) and a Dr. rer. nat. from the University of Göttingen (1956).
He took a faculty position at Ohio State University from 1956-1958 before moving to Toronto in 1958 where he spent the first part of his career at the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) of the University of Toronto. At the DDO, he led innovations that included: expansion of the facilities, utilization of computers, and multicolor photometry. While his areas of focus have included the moon and other parts of our solar system, he is best known for his work in extragalactic astronomy in which he has published original findings and reviews of nebulae, star clusters, variable stars, supernovae and more recently, an update to the estimated age of the universe. He discovered Andromeda II.
The second part of his career began in 1978 in Victoria, British Columbia, at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory where he was appointed director in 1977 and took office in 1978, remaining in that position until 1986 when he semi-retired and took the new role of principal research officer. He has served as President of the Canadian Astronomical Society and as Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union from 1972 to 1982.
- Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1988)
- First National Research Council President's Science Medal (1988)
- Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (1990)
- Killam Prize (1990)
- Appointed officer of the Order of Canada (1994)
- Carlyle S. Beals Award (1998)
- Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal (2008)
Named after him
- "Deaths", New York Times 96 (32,393), 2 October 1946: 29, ISSN 0362-4331
- "Suit Names Dutch Aide", New York Times 108 (37,075), 28 July 1959: 6, ISSN 0362-4331
- McNicholl, Martin K., Van den Bergh, Sidney, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Foundation, retrieved 2008-12-16
- Profile: Sidney Van den Bergh, GCS Research Society, 2007, retrieved 2008-12-17
- Van den Bergh, Sidney (5 January 1951), "Solar Distances", New York Times 100 (33,949): 20, ISSN 0362-4331
- McConnachie, A. W.; Irwin, M. J.; Ferguson, A. M. N.; Ibata, R. A.; Lewis, G. F.; Tanvir, N. (2005), "Distances and metallicities for 17 Local Group galaxies", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 356 (4): 979–997, arXiv:astro-ph/0410489, Bibcode:2005MNRAS.356..979M, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.08514.x
- "Illusion May Shed Light On Fate of the Cosmos", New York Times 140 (48,546), 21 March 1991: B10, ISSN 0362-4331
- Canadian Asteroids, The Royal Astronomy Society of Canada, July 22, 2008, retrieved 2009-01-19