In March of this year, Rudolph Dorner, the founder of the Dorner Telescope Museum (DTM), passed away. It was Rudolph’s generosity of spirit, generosity of conception, and generosity of pocket which is bringing forth the museum. He had a long-standing fascination with the optical devices which reveal something of the universe to us, and that interest was far from an armchair one. He also had great respect for the combination of ingenious minds, discriminating eyes, and skilled hands which crafted those instruments.

A strong believer in the power of narrative, he was concerned that much of the story of the telescope in Canada was in danger of not being told, particularly the stories of many resourceful amateur telescope makers. The solution he envisioned was an institution devoted solely to telling that story, and preserving the materials for doing so. His vision of a Canadian telescope museum is one which enables visitors to experience the real physicality of the artifacts, which means as much as possible dissolving the display cases separating viewers from the objects, and permitting them where possible to observe through the instruments. Working out how to do that is one of the challenges in realizing his legacy, but it’s a challenge very much worth meeting.

Rudolph honoured the RASC by choosing us as the organization to realize his vision.

His loss is keenly felt by those who enjoyed his companionable presence when observing, by the innovative telescope makers who enjoyed his active patronage—enabling them to take on new challenges, and by the many observers who benefitted from his generosity. The museum he created will allow something of his characteristic approach to astronomy to live on.


eNews date: 
Thursday, March 17, 2022