The Hall

Helen Sawyer Hogg 1905–1993

From the beginning, I wanted to become a chemist, but the total eclipse of the Sun on January 24, 1925 changed my mind. The glory of that spectacle seems to have tied me to astronomy for life.

In 1931, I moved to British Columbia with my husband, Frank Hogg, a fellow astronomer. Although Frank was a paid staff member at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, I was initially an unpaid volunteer. If my husband had not been willing to chaperone my observing sessions in the dome I would not have been allowed to observe, for it would have been improper at that time for me to be alone with the male technicians. Observing became a family affair when our daughter Sally joined us in her baby basket.

When we moved to Toronto in 1935, I was able to continue observing. The following year I became a research associate at the David Dunlap Observatory. I observed. I published. I attended conferences. I taught and I lectured. It took 21 years, but in 1957 I became a full professor. By then I had taken over the writing of the weekly column called "With the Stars" for the Toronto Star. Frank had written it until he passed away in 1951. I continued the column for 30 years, not giving it up until 1981.

Did you realize that with the naked eye, the world over, you can see only about 6,000 stars? With a three-inchtelescope, however, you can see more than 100,000! The early stargazers did have one great advantage over us however: dark skies. In 1984, Asteroid 2917 was re-namedSawyer Hogg, so my name has now joined my heart up among the stars.

Back to top