Damien Lemay was born in 1943 at Saint-Édouard de Lotbinière in Quebec. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1966 from Laval University in Quebec, and became a telecommunications engineer for Québec-Téléphone (now TELUS-Québec).

Lemay made his first forays into astronomy around 1954 at the age of 11. In 1962, he bought his first telescope, a 11.4-centimetre Tasco reflector that he still has today.

From 1971 to 1972, he used 7x50 binoculars to observe all the stars in the Norton Star Atlas, from the North Pole to -35° South. In 1973, he took his first long-exposure photos during a guided tour over the night of May 26. Astrophotography quickly became one of Lemay’s passions and he equipped himself, by the end of that same year, with a 20.3-centimetre Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.

Lemay was probably the first North American observer to see Nova Cygni in the sky in 1975. A nova is a star that absorbs matter from a neighbouring star, which causes the new host to heat up and suddenly brighten. It is a rare and spectacular event.

In 1977, he became the French editor of the National Newsletter of the Royal Astronomical Read More
Damien Lemay was born in 1943 at Saint-Édouard de Lotbinière in Quebec. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1966 from Laval University in Quebec, and became a telecommunications engineer for Québec-Téléphone (now TELUS-Québec).

Lemay made his first forays into astronomy around 1954 at the age of 11. In 1962, he bought his first telescope, a 11.4-centimetre Tasco reflector that he still has today.

From 1971 to 1972, he used 7x50 binoculars to observe all the stars in the Norton Star Atlas, from the North Pole to -35° South. In 1973, he took his first long-exposure photos during a guided tour over the night of May 26. Astrophotography quickly became one of Lemay’s passions and he equipped himself, by the end of that same year, with a 20.3-centimetre Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.

Lemay was probably the first North American observer to see Nova Cygni in the sky in 1975. A nova is a star that absorbs matter from a neighbouring star, which causes the new host to heat up and suddenly brighten. It is a rare and spectacular event.

In 1977, he became the French editor of the National Newsletter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada; he would keep this position until 1989.

In 1978, Lemay began the daunting task of assembling a photographic atlas of the sky using his 14-centimetre Schmidt camera. He completed the work in 1985 after taking 1,182 photographs.

In 1981, he founded the Astronomy Club of Rimouski in Quebec. The club was very active and they twice organized the annual conference of the Amateur Astronomy Federation of Quebec in 1990 and 1997.

In 1983, Lemay initiated the first joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Amateur Astronomy Federation of Quebec, and the American Association of Variable Star Observers. The conference took place in Quebec City, and with over 200 participants it was deemed an unequivocal success.

From 1990 to 1992, he was the National President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

From 1992 to 2000, he was Codirector, with R. Hawkes, of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre. The centre operates from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, and collects statistical data about falling stars that appear over Canadian skies. The primary goal is to help recover meteorites in the short and long term. In 2001, the centre moved to the University of Calgary where it falls under the responsibility of Alan Hildebrand.

In 1996, he was one of the founding members of the virtual group ASTRO & CCD of the Amateur Astronomy Federation of Quebec. The group works solely through the Internet and its members share their digital photos with each other.

From 1997 to 2000, he was Chairman of the Meteorite and Impacts Advisory Committee of the Canadian Space Agency.

Throughout his years as an amateur astronomer, Lemay has helped newcomers in choosing equipment and learning how to observe the sky, and he gives dozens of lectures and presentations each year at schools, scout camps, parks, etc.

He received several provincial and national distinctions in honour of his contributions in astronomy, including the Trophée Méritas ("Méritas Trophy”) from the Amateur Astronomy Federation of Quebec in 1982, and the Chant Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

© 2006 An original idea and a realization of the ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Park

Colour photo of Damien Lemay

Damien Lemay.

Damien Lemay

© Damien Lemay


Paul Boltwood was born in 1943 at Vancouver, British Columbia. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1966 from the University of British Columbia in Victoria, and went on to occupy various jobs before becoming President of his own company, Boltwood Systems Corporation, in 1980.

He became interested in astronomy around 1955 and constructed his first telescope around 1958.

In 1989, Boltwood decided to construct his own observatory, to design his own CCD camera, and to develop software for taking high-precision images of the deep sky (CCD cameras and programs were not available on the amateur market at the time). After training himself in many techniques, he had completed everything by 1992.

In 1993, he constructed his first telescope with the intent of selling it. Boltwood also began his own survey of blazars OJ 287 and 3C 66A. Blazars are galaxies that are tilted such that the jets of radiation emanating from their core are aimed straight at Earth. The observations and data that he gathered with his amateur equipment were of such good quality that he was able to collaborate with professional astronomers.

In 1997, Boltw Read More
Paul Boltwood was born in 1943 at Vancouver, British Columbia. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1966 from the University of British Columbia in Victoria, and went on to occupy various jobs before becoming President of his own company, Boltwood Systems Corporation, in 1980.

He became interested in astronomy around 1955 and constructed his first telescope around 1958.

In 1989, Boltwood decided to construct his own observatory, to design his own CCD camera, and to develop software for taking high-precision images of the deep sky (CCD cameras and programs were not available on the amateur market at the time). After training himself in many techniques, he had completed everything by 1992.

In 1993, he constructed his first telescope with the intent of selling it. Boltwood also began his own survey of blazars OJ 287 and 3C 66A. Blazars are galaxies that are tilted such that the jets of radiation emanating from their core are aimed straight at Earth. The observations and data that he gathered with his amateur equipment were of such good quality that he was able to collaborate with professional astronomers.

In 1997, Boltwood produced fantastic footage of the Hyakutake comet nucleus using his own equipment. An even greater accomplishment was yet to follow in 1998 when he participated in a contest organized by Sky & Telescope for the best image of the deep sky using amateur equipment. The idea of the contest was to see just how far amateur astronomers could “see” with their equipment. Not only did Boltwood win the contest, he astonished astronomers with his entry.

Boltwood was deemed to have taken the best image of the deep sky ever obtained using amateur equipment. Using his 40-centimetre telescope (that he built himself), his CCD camera, an exposure time of 20 hours in his backyard near Ottawa, and digital processing of the image using software that he developed, Boltwood attained a magnitude of 24.1, even better than the Mount Palomar telescope! He even managed to improve the image later to a magnitude of 24.5. Needless to say, he won the contest.

Boltwood received the Observer of the Year Award from the Ottawa Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1991 and 1994, the Chant Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1995, first prize for the Sky & Telescope Deep-Field Challenge in 1999, the Amateur Achievement Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 2000, and the Ken Chilton Award from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 2003. Asteroid 8785 is named in his honour.

Boltwood is currently pursuing his collaboration with professional astronomers in the study of several blazars.

© 2006 An original idea and a realization of the ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Park

Colour photo of Paul Boltwood

Paul Boltwood.

NASA Marshall Center

© NASA Marshall Center


Davy Howard Levy was born in 1948 at Montréal, Quebec. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and his master’s degree in 1979 from the University of Queen’s in Kingston, Ontario. Both degrees were in English literature. He is currently writing his doctoral degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, still on the subject of English literature.

Levy’s interest in astronomy began during a partial eclipse of the Sun in 1959 at the age of 11. In 1965, he began to search for novae and comets in the sky. By the end of the 1980’s, he was the most prolific observer in the American Association of Variable Star Observers with more than 10,000 observations per year for meteors, variable stars and Messier objects.

Always looking for a better climate and a darker sky, he moved to Arizona in 1980 where he still lives today. In 1984, after 19 years of fruitless searching, he discovered his first comet. Today, he is the discoverer or co-discoverer of 21 comets and more than 225 asteroids, including the famous Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that crashed into Jupiter in 1994.

Author or edito Read More
Davy Howard Levy was born in 1948 at Montréal, Quebec. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and his master’s degree in 1979 from the University of Queen’s in Kingston, Ontario. Both degrees were in English literature. He is currently writing his doctoral degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, still on the subject of English literature.

Levy’s interest in astronomy began during a partial eclipse of the Sun in 1959 at the age of 11. In 1965, he began to search for novae and comets in the sky. By the end of the 1980’s, he was the most prolific observer in the American Association of Variable Star Observers with more than 10,000 observations per year for meteors, variable stars and Messier objects.

Always looking for a better climate and a darker sky, he moved to Arizona in 1980 where he still lives today. In 1984, after 19 years of fruitless searching, he discovered his first comet. Today, he is the discoverer or co-discoverer of 21 comets and more than 225 asteroids, including the famous Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that crashed into Jupiter in 1994.

Author or editor of more than thirty books, numerous articles and more than 1,000 lectures and interviews, Levy is also involved with a number of magazines: he is Science Editor of Parade (USA), Associate Editor of Sky & Telescope (USA), and a regular contributor to SkyNews (Canada).

Over the years, he has developed numerous educational programs in astronomy for young people and the general public.

He has received more than 20 awards, including the Chant Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1980; the E. E. Barnard Award from the Western Amateur Astronomers and the Leslie C. Peltier Award from the Astronomical League in 1988; the G. Bruce Blair Award from the Western Amateur Astronomers and the Walter H. Haas Award from the Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers in 1990; the Amateur Achievement Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 1993; two Group Achievement awards from NASA in 1995 and 1996; the Simon Newcomb Award from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 2002; and the Benjamin Franklin Citizen Award from the Society for Amateur Scientists in 2003.

In 1998, Levy also received an Emmy Award for co-writing the documentary Three minutes to impact for the Discovery Channel. He was also the recipient of four honorary doctoral degrees and is Honorary President of the Montreal and Kingston centres of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Asteroid 3673 is named after him.

© 2006 An original idea and a realization of the ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Park

Black and white photo of David Howard Levy at a podium

David Howard Levy.

David Howard Levy

© David Howard Levy


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • identify recent contributions, including Canada’s, to the development of space exploration technologies;
  • describe in detail the function of Canadian technologies involved in exploration of space;
  • draw a solar system with all its components;
  • establish the link between atoms and light using different instruments.

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