Young, R.K.

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Reynold Kenneth Young (1886-1977) was born near Hamilton, Ontario, and educated at the University of Toronto (BA 1909) and at the Lick Observatory of the University of California (PhD 1912). After a brief stop at the University of Kansas, he joined the staff of the Dominion Observatory (DO) in Ottawa in 1913, then moved in 1918 to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Victoria BC (which briefly had the largest telescope in the world). In 1924, he joined Professor C.A. Chant as Professor of Astronomy at the University of Toronto. Two years later, they began the planning for the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) which, when it opened on May 31, 1935, housed the second-largest telescope in the world. It should be noted that, although Chant was a prolific and effective teacher, public lecturer, and writer, he was not an active researcher. After Chant's one-day tenure as Head of the Department of Astronomy and Director of DDO, Young assumed these positions, and held them until 1946 (having steered the Observatory through the difficult war years), when he became Professor Emeritus, and Director Emeritus. He died in 1977.

Young's first research papers were on the orbits of comets and asteroids but, at the DO, he specialized in the spectroscopic measurement of the radial (line-of-sight) velocities of stars using the Doppler effect, and the determination of the orbits of binary stars using the same technique. He continued this research at DAO and DDO, publishing dozens of papers on these and other topics related to the properties of the stars. He was also a skilled instrumentalist; as well as contributing to the planning and operation of the DDO 1.88m (74") telescope, he hand-built a 19" telescope in the 1920's which was installed in a smaller dome at DDO and used for various purposes, including photoelectric photometry of stars, starting in 1947.

Professionally: he contributed to the work of the International Astronomical Union, served as President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1923.

Peter M. Millman. ‘Reynold Kenneth Young, 1886-1977.’ The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 72:4 (August 1978), 181-188.