Clarence Chant

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Clarence Chant
Clarence Chant in 1935.jpg
Chant in 1935 at the opening of the David Dunlap Observatory
Born (1865-05-31)31 May 1865
Ontario, Canada
Died 18 November 1956(1956-11-18) (aged 91)
Ontario, Canada
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto
Harvard University
Known for being the "father of Canadian astronomy"
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy, Physics and Mathematics
Institutions University of Toronto
His book, Our Wonderful Universe has been translated into five other languages.[1]

Clarence Augustus Chant (May 31, 1865–November 18, 1956) was a Canadian astronomer and physicist.

He was born in Hagerman's Corners, Ontario to Christopher Chant and Elizabeth Croft. In 1882 he attended Markham High School, where he demonstrated a mathematical ability. After graduation, he attended St. Catherines Collegiate Institute and York County Model School in Toronto. He left to work as an instructor in 1884, and taught at Maxwell, Osprey Township for the following three years.

By 1887 he began studying mathematics and physics at the University College of the University of Toronto. Upon graduation in 1890[2] he became a civil servant in Ottawa, working as a temporary clerk in the office of the Auditor General. Due to the limited prospects his stay at this job was brief, however, and in 1891 he was offered a fellowship at University of Toronto, where he gained an appointment as a lecturer of physics the following year.

While working at the university he became interested in astronomy, and in 1892 he joined what would become the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He served as president of the organization from 1904 until 1907, and also performed editing duties for the society's journal until 1956. He also contributed articles to the journal and the annual Observer's Handbook.

In 1894 he married Jean Laidlaw, and the couple would have two daughters and a son. He earned his master's degree in 1900, and was granted a leave of absence to study for a Doctorate at Harvard University. He returned to Toronto with his Ph.D. in 1901 as a professor. In 1905 he introduced optical astronomy courses at the University of Toronto, and was the sole astronomer at the university until 1924. He lobbied the city of Toronto for an observatory, but the project was shelved with the advent of World War I.

During his career he joined five expeditions to observe solar eclipses, including the 1922 expedition that tested Einstein's theory that light could be deflected by a massive body. He performed early investigations into X-ray photography. In 1928 he published the book Our Wonderful Universe.

Finally in 1935, after many years of labor and the financial backing of the family of mining executive David Alexander Dunlapes, his dreams of a world-class observatory for Canada were achieved with the opening of the David Dunlap Observatory. He retired from the university when the observatory opened, and moved into the Observatory House, Richmond Hill. He died at 91 years of age during the November 1956 lunar eclipse while still residing at the Observatory House.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • He is considered by some to be the "father of Canadian astronomy".
  • Asteroid 3315 Chant is named after him.
  • The crater Chant on the Moon is named after him.


  1. ^ Helen S. Hogg (1956-11-18). "Clarence Augustus Chant". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-03-06. 
  2. ^ Hockey, Thomas (2009). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-387-31022-0. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]