Carlyle Beals

(1899-1979) Dominion Astronomer (1946-64); Society President (1951-52); Service Award 1964.

CARLYLE S. BEALS (1899-1979) received his education in his native Nova Scotia and earned his post-graduate degrees at Toronto and in London, England. For one year he taught Physics at his alma mater, Acadia University, and then in 1927 joined the staff of the DAO. Using a mlcrophotometer of his own design (a device which produces a graphical profile of spectral lines), he was able to examine the complex nature of interstellar lines and to study the motion of discrete clouds about the Galactic centre. He also was very interested in stars with emission lines in their spectra and was an authority on particular classes of these bodies known as Wolf-Rayet and P Cygni stars.

On arriving in Victoria, Beals at once joined the RASC and in subsequent years was Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President and President of the Centre. During his years at the DAO, he spoke regularly to the Centre and sometimes to Vancouver Centre as well. His wife Miriam, an accomplished pianist, occasionally provided the entertainment at dinner meetings.

In 1946, Beals was appointed Dominion Astronomer and the family moved to Ottawa. In spite of the heavy demands of his new position, Beals found time to host open houses at the DO, to speak at meetings of the Society in Ottawa and other Centres and to serve as RASC Vice-President and President. As the DO now included geophysics as a major component of its operations, Beals appropriately became very interested in impact craters, both terrestrial and lunar. He received several honorary degrees, medals and other distinctions in recognition of his important work in astronomy, geophysics and administration. He is the only Canadian to have been President of the American Astronomical Society. The RASC presented him with the Service Award in 1964 and CASCA established an Award in his name in 1981.

Peter Broughton (from Looking Up)

Further Reading

Beals, Carlyle S.