The Bruce Medalists


  Photo ca. 1980, courtesy Dr. Van den Bergh
Sidney van den Bergh
20 May 1929 2008 Bruce Medalist  

Sidney van den Bergh was born in the Netherlands and studied one year at Leiden University, after which he transferred to Princeton University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After receiving a master’s degree at The Ohio State University he earned his doctorate at Göttingen in 1956. After two years back at Ohio State, he was a professor at the University of Toronto for nineteen years. Since 1978 he has been at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, as director until 1986, and as a researcher since then (formally retired since 1998). He is an observer who has worked on everything from meteors, comets, stars, and star clusters to cosmology, but the research for which he is best known is in the classification of galaxies, the study of supernovae, and the extragalactic distance scale. He discovered the dwarf spheroidal galaxies orbiting the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the jet in the Crab Nebula, X-ray emission from X Persei, a comet, and the first Cepheid variable stars in open clusters. His DDO Galaxy Catalog, compiled while he was at the David Dunlap Observatory of the University of Toronto, was a valuable tool for the study of galaxies, especially dwarf galaxies. The DDO photometric system, which he devised with Robert D. McClure, was a valuable supplement to the UBV system, allowing the determination of both spectral types and luminosities of reddened stars. Van den Bergh also developed new classification systems for supernova remnants and for galaxies. In 1996 he participated in a debate on The Scale of the Universe 1996: The Value of Hubble’s Constant, serving as spokesman for those who believed that the value of the constant was relatively large. He was a leader in the building of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, serving as president and chairman of the board of the CFHT Corporation.

Presentation of Bruce medal
See the ASP website.

Other awards
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1990.
Canadian Astronomical Society, Carlyle S. Beals Award, 1998.
Canada Council for the Arts, Killam Prize, 1990.
Government of Canada, Order of Canada, 1994.
Gruber Foundation, Cosmology Prize, 2014.

Some offices held
Canadian Astronomical Society, President, 1990-92.
International Astronomical Union, Vice President, 1976-82.

Biographical materials
Gruber Foundation, Biography on award of the Gruber Prize
McNicholl, Martin K. The Canadian Encyclopedia
Van den Bergh, Sidney, “An Astronomical Life,” Comments on Astrophysics 18, 181-90 (1995).

A recent photo, ca. 2005, courtesy of Dr. Van den Bergh and Gibson’s Photography, Victoria, BC, Canada.
Presidential portrait, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 85, 177 (1991).

Named after him
Minor Planet #4230 van den Bergh
Comet van den Bergh, 1974g
[Lunar crater van den Bergh is named for Sidney’s uncle George]

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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