Funding for Mont-Mégantic Observatory secured for five years

Ottawa and Quebec announce $4M in funding for the world-class observatory through 2023.

The observatory’s telescope. Credit: Rémi Boucher.

With a shower of shooting stars expected in the coming days, the Mont-Mégantic Observatory has even more reason to celebrate: it has now secured funding for the next five years.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, MP for Compton-Stanstead and Minister of International Development, and David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy McGee and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister Responsible for Higher Education, made the announcement today, accompanied by Université de Montréal rector Guy Breton, Université Laval vice-rector of research, creation and innovation Eugénie Brouillet, Observatory director and UdeM professor René Doyon, and Haut Saint-François prefect Robert G. Roy.

The federal government confirmed funding of $500,000 a year for the next five years, while the provincial government is adding $300,000 a year over the same period. The Mont-Mégantic Observatory, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is a partnership between Université de Montréal and Université Laval.

The Observatory is a unique research and training site: it is the only place in Canada where future astronomers and astrophysicists can be trained using a telescope, and this telescope is the best in the country. Researchers are also developing cutting-edge astronomical instruments. For example, one of the four scientific instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched by NASA in 2021, was developed at the Observatory, in close collaboration the Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Industry and the National Research Council of Canada. 

“This observatory is a key that opens the door to space for all Canadians,” Breton said. “It is one of the tickets we have to continue to access and participate in space exploration as a nation.”

“This five-year funding recognizes the national and international nature of our Observatory, and will allow Canadian and Quebec astrophysicists to remain at the forefront of astrophysics on the international stage,” said Doyon.

About the Mont Mégantic Observatory

  • The Mont-Mégantic Observatory is one of the largest experimental astrophysics centres in Canada and the only one on the east coast of North America.
  • Its main missions are the training of highly qualified personnel, technological development and dissemination of scientific culture to the general public.
  • Annual operating budget: $1.5M.
  • Has a 1.6m telescope built on the summit of Mont Mégantic and an experimental international astrophysics laboratory.
  • Participated in the historic discovery in 2008 that provided the first images of a planetary system outside the solar system.
  • Key to the development of world-class scientific infrastructures, including Canada’s $200M contribution to NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
  • Led to the creation of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (IREx) in 2015.
  • Gets more than 20,000 visitors a year.

 

Jeff Heinrich
International Press Attaché
Bureau des communications et des relations publiques
(+1) 514-343-7593
jeff.heinrich@umontreal.ca8