Our Wonderful Universe

An Easy Introduction to the Study of the Heavens

Clarence Augustus Chant

Originally published to huge acclaim in 1928, Our Wonderful Universe was written to inspire and excite the wonder of young people, to fire their imaginations, and to convey to them some notion of the majesty, the mystery, and the sublimity of our Universe.

130 × 170 mm

192 pages


ISBN: 978-1-906506-62-9


Subjects: Astronomy / Space / Gift

Publication April 2017

Astronomy is one of the oldest branches of science, fascinating humans from the earliest times. Huge advances have been made since Clarence Augustus Chant’s acclaimed work Our Wonderful Universe was first published in 1928. We have sent humans into space and walked on the Moon. Spacecraft have landed on Mars, and the International Space Station, a joint project among five space agencies, has been continuously occupied by humans since November 2000. We are using telescopes and satellites to observe the skies, studying planets, moons, stars, galaxies, and comets, as well as supernovae explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic microwave background radiation. Today’s and tomorrow’s challenges reach ever further, with key questions such as is there other life in the Universe, and what is the nature of dark matter, and what is the ultimate fate of the Universe? Astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs can still play an important active role, especially in the discovery and observation of variable stars, tracking asteroids and discovering transient objects, such as comets and novae. Written in a clear and charming style, Our Wonderful Universe is developed in the form of a talk, presenting the fundamental facts of astronomy in a simple and logical style and language. It is illustrated with the complete set of drawings and plates that accompanied the original edition. Its purpose and approach is as relevant today, and we hope that readers will enjoy the way in which Chant leads us on his journey of discoveries of the Universe.

Clarence Augustus Chant

Clarence Augustus Chant (May 31, 1865–November 18, 1956) was a Canadian astronomer and physicist. He is considered by many to be the “father of Canadian astronomy”, and indeed, five of his former students went on to become directors of astronomical observatories. Educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard, he taught at the University of Toronto from 1891 until his retirement in 1935. Chant was notable for his early work on X-ray photographs, but especially for his development of Canadian astronomy. He organised the department at the University of Toronto and built up the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (est. 1890) into one of the world’s most successful organisations of its kind. In 1907, during his last year as President of the Royal Astronomical Society, he created the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Observer’s Handbook. He would remain the editor of both publications until his death in 1956. Chant participated in five total solar-eclipse expeditions, the most important being the one he led to Australia in 1922 to test Einstein’s theory of the deflection of starlight by a massive body. In 1928 he published Our Wonderful Universe with enormous success; it was translated into five languages. Through his efforts, the dream of a great observatory near Toronto came to fruition in 1933, when Mrs David Dunlap presented to the University of Toronto an observatory with a 74-inch (1.88 m) telescope. It remains to this day the largest optical telescope in Canada. He died at 91 during the November 1956 lunar eclipse, while still residing at the Observatory House. Asteroid 3341 is named in his honour, and in 1940, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada created the Chant Medal, awarded each year to a Canadian amateur astronomer in recognition of their work in astronomy.

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Those who know nothing of the world of nature about them or of the heavens above them miss many of the intellectual and spiritual pleasures of life.
Clarence Augustus Chant

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.
Stephen Hawking