Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada began in 1868 when 8 amateur astronomers founded an astronomical club in Toronto. An expanded group obtained a charter in 1890, and the name "The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada" was adopted in 1903 with Edward VII's permission. As membership increased, the meetings were moved from the homes of individual members to the University of Toronto, and in 1906 a branch was formed in Ottawa. There are now 29 RASC Centres located across Canada with over 4500 members of the RASC.

Astronomy has a special appeal for many people, from children to hobbyists to professional scientists. The observational and educational work of amateur astronomy is of tremendous value to the science of astronomy. Some members take part in regular observations of variable stars and other phenomena, while others develop special skills in astrophotography. Many RASC Centres have built their own observatories for these purposes. Members of the RASC receive 2 publications: the Observer's Handbook, which is a daily guide to the night sky, published annually; and SkyNews magazine, aimed at the novice astronomer with star charts and current information. The Journal, which contains articles of general interest to educators, amateurs and professional astronomers as well as articles about RASC activities, is available as an electronic publication or optionally mailed as a hard copy for an additional fee.

Most RASC Centres have programs of public education, including special star nights, when hundreds of people have an opportunity to look through telescopes, many for their first time.

When the RASC's national library was dissolved, a portion of the 19th and 20th century books were gifted to the CANADA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM in Ottawa. The RASC National Office in Toronto retained all of the former library's manuscript material and the significant astronomical publications dating from the late 17th century to the 20th century, as well as its collections of historical lantern slides, globes, meteorites, some antique scientific instruments, and 20th century audio-visual media. The books now form the RASC's Rare Book Collection in the archives in Toronto. All of the material in the archives is accessible to bona fide scholars upon application to the RASC's archivist. The originals of the RASC's earliest minute books are in the collections of LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA.