The primary goal of this proposal is the preservation of artifacts, records, and the legacy of Canadian scientific contributions. The Dominion Observatory is a tangible reminder of the work, data, and vision of Astronomers and Earth Sciences researchers’ to systems of measurement and timekeeping which are foundational to modern society.
The necessary expansion of the Ottawa Hospital does not need to conflict with this goal, and by creating a clear plan and policy around the artifacts and grounds of the Observatory, disruptions to the Hospitals planned expansion can be minimized while preserving this historical site.
The minimum that needs to be done now is the preservation of artifacts and records relating to the Dominion Observatory and preservation of the Dominion Observatory buildings including the environs so that the construction of the Ottawa Hospital does not block the sky and create a sea of parking lot lights. However, much more can be done at very little cost.
The vision is for a Science Museum that specializes in astronomy, earth and environmental science as part of or affiliated with the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology. This museum could tell the story of Sir Sandford Fleming and the establishment of universal time. It could also tell the story of the exploration of Canada’s natural resources and the protection of the environment. This could include survey and mapping and the Canadian explorers that mapped this country, the study of geophysics, including seismology and gravity, and more recently aerial photography and satellite remote sensing. It could also highlight the current challenges to our environment.
The Dominion Observatory could become a center for the teaching of science and technology to the general public, especially those aspects of science related to the earth as a planet. In the 1960’s and before, the Dominion Observatory held weekly Saturday night observations where the public could view the moon and planets through its telescope. It also mounted several smaller portable telescopes on its flat roof for viewing. A similar viewing arrangement could be established again, although some national observatories that do something similar are open for viewing every clear night. At one time the Dominion Observatory had a Spectroheliograph attached to the rear of the building. This was demolished in the 1970’s to increase parking, but a similar instrument could be used to show an image of the sun and sunspots so the observatory could be active all day.
This will be a relatively low cost museum because the buildings already exist and most of the artifacts and records still exist, and it is a natural fit for the current Canadian Museum or Science and Technology to manage.