Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

National Research Council Canada, Victoria, British Columbia
What the facility does

Astrophysical observatory that hosts long-term observing programs with long blocks of uninterrupted observing time, and provides training for next-generation astronomers

Areas of expertise

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) offers capabilities in optical imaging, spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry, and currently operates two research telescopes: the 1.8-metre Plaskett Telescope and the 1.2-metre telescope, which features the high resolution McKellar spectrograph.

Since becoming operational in 1918, the Plaskett has accumulated nearly a century of upgrades that make it 10,000 times more sensitive than when it was first built. The 1.8-m Plaskett Telescope can perform optical imaging as well as spectroscopy.

The 1.2-m telescope is equipped exclusively for optical spectroscopy. Built in 1961, it has been extensively modified and upgraded to internationally competitive standards. Development efforts have allowed for up to 70% of the telescope's observations to be fully automated. Based on the National Research Council Canada (NRC)'s success with the 1.2-m telescope, automated capabilities are being added to the Plaskett Telescope operating system.

Research services

Both of DAO's telescopes are available to qualified Canadian and non-Canadian researchers, with time allocated through a peer review process. They are scheduled quarterly and we continue to welcome long-term and thesis projects.

Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
1.8-metre Plaskett TelescopeCan perform optical imaging as well as spectroscopy
1.2-metre telescopeEquipped exclusively for optical spectroscopy


Applying for DAO observing time