Luc Simard – “From backyard astronomy to Extremely Large Telescopes”

Planetary Nebula NGC 2818, Hubble Space Telescope

Luc Simard – “From backyard astronomy to Extremely Large Telescopes”
by Andrew Bryant, 22 Sept 2015

Dr. Luc Simard wears several hats.  He’s an astronomer with the Herzberg Astrophysics group of the National Research Council of Canada, an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy  at the University of Victoria, and a key member of the Thirty Metre Telescope Project.

He took time out from his research to visit Powell River, where he shared his lively wit, passion and expansive knowledge of all things astronomical.

Like many talented speakers, Luc provided a marvellous mixture of humor, detail, and surprising tidbits.  I liked the way he introduced the universe as an endless series of “pointers”, with Ursa major (the Big Dipper) helpfully pointing out Polaris (the North Star), or Orion’s Belt pointing out the wondrous Seven Sisters (Pleiades Star Cluster).

I was amused to learn that Galileo’s telescope was not constructed with astronomy in mind.  Rather, telescopes were in common usage by Venetian merchants who used them to estimate the volume of incoming cargo-laden ships!  Wow.

The “stars are time machines” metaphor was wonderful, and I was equally impressed to learn that modern telescope designers enjoy roller-coasters as much as I do!  There’s lots more to learn about this ambitious international scientific endeavor at the project’s webpages at  …make sure you check out the wonderful videos on the “animations” page!