Northcott, Ruth Josephine

From Senior College Encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search



Ruth Northcott was a graduate of the University of Toronto in Astronomy (BA 1934, MA 1935) and a member of the staff from then until her death in 1969. She was initially appointed as a “computer” (research assistant) at the University's David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, and subsequently appointed Lecturer in 1944, Assistant Professor in 1954, and Associate Professor in 1962. Her research was on the measurement of the radial (line-of-sight) velocity of stars, by photographing their spectra and applying the Doppler effect, and on the determination of the orbits of “spectroscopic binary stars” using the same technique. During WWII, she played an important role in continuing the Observatory's work while most of the male staff were away on wartime duties. Her teaching was in two areas. One was the introductory astronomy course in the Division of Extension, which catered to part-time students, including schoolteachers. The other was the supervision of undergraduate laboratory classes. In both, she combined rigorous standards with a genuine interest in students as individuals. She also made significant contributions as assistant editor (1951-1956) and editor (1956-1969) of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canadaa (RASC) and of the RASC's annual Observers Handbook. She was elected RASC National President in 1963-1965, and served on the RASC National Council for many years. Outside of astronomy, she was an avid photographer and naturalist, and a skilled painter in the style of the Group of Seven. She travelled widely, both for astronomical business, and for pleasure.


Heard, J.F. 1969, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 63, 225-6.