Carlyle Smith Beals

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Carlyle Smith Beals
Carlyle Smith Beals receives Honorary Doctorate (cropped).jpg
Carlyle Smith Beals (left) receives an honorary doctorate from Queen's University.
Born(1899-06-29)June 29, 1899
Canso, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedJuly 2, 1979(1979-07-02) (aged 80)
Citizenship Canadian
Education Acadia University (BA)
University of Toronto (MA)
Imperial College London (PhD)
Known forResearch on Wolf-Rayet and P Cygni stars, the Interstellar Medium and meteorite impact craters.
Assistant Director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Dominion Astronomer at the Dominion Observatory.
Awards Henry Marshall Tory Medal (1957),
Leonard Medal,
Order of Canada,
Fellow of the Royal Society [1]
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy
Doctoral advisor Alfred Fowler

Carlyle Smith Beals, OC FRS [1] (June 29, 1899 July 2, 1979) was a Canadian astronomer.

Order of Canada order

The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order and the second highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada. It comes second only to membership in the Order of Merit, which is the personal gift of Canada's monarch.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.


Early life and education

Carl Beals was born in Canso, Nova Scotia to Reverend Francis H. P. Beals and Annie Florence Nightingale Smith, on June 29, 1899. [2] He is the brother of artist and educator Helen D. Beals. [3]

Canso, Nova Scotia Community in Nova Scotia, Canada

Canso is a community in Guysborough County, on the north-eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia, Canada, next to Chedabucto Bay. In January 2012, it ceased to be a separate town and as of July 2012 was amalgamated into the Municipality of the District of Guysborough.

Nova Scotia Province of Canada

Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).

Helen Dorothy Beals was a Canadian artist and educator. She is known for her involvement with the Maritime Art Association and the publication "Maritime Art Magazine".

Beals received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Acadia University in 1919, specializing in physics and mathematics. [4] [1] Although he wished to continue his studies, he was forced to postpone those plans due to poor health. He taught at a small country school in Nova Scotia during the winter of 1920. [4]

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

Acadia University university in Canada

Acadia University is a predominantly undergraduate university located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada with some graduate programs at the master's level and one at the doctoral level. The enabling legislation consists of Acadia University Act and the Amended Acadia University Act 2000.

He began his Ph.D. studies in physics at Yale University in 1921, but was forced to return home in the winter of 1921 when his health failed again. He resumed his graduate studies in 1922 at University of Toronto and received a master's degree in Physics in 1923. [4] [1] His master's thesis work on triboluminescence spectra, the frequencies of light generated by breaking chemical bonds, was done under the supervision of John Cunningham McLennan, one of the leading physicists in Canada at the time. [1]

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. It is a member of the Ivy League.

University of Toronto university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, located on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in the colony of Upper Canada. Originally controlled by the Church of England, the university assumed the present name in 1850 upon becoming a secular institution. As a collegiate university, it comprises eleven colleges, which differ in character and history, each with substantial autonomy on financial and institutional affairs. It has two satellite campuses in Scarborough and Mississauga.


Triboluminescence is an optical phenomenon in which light is generated through the breaking of chemical bonds in a material when it is pulled apart, ripped, scratched, crushed, or rubbed. The phenomenon is not fully understood, but appears to be caused by the separation and reunification of electrical charges. The term comes from the Greek τρίβειν and the Latin lumen (light). Triboluminescence can be observed when breaking sugar crystals and peeling adhesive tapes.

Beals spent one year as the Science Master at the High School of Quebec in Quebec City, before enrolling in a graduate programme in physics in 1924 at the Royal College of Science at Imperial College London. [2] Working under Alfred Fowler, he studied the Zeeman effect and the spectra of palladium, copper, and ionized silver. [1] During this time Beals became acquainted with observational astronomy by using the small observatory in the Royal College of Science building. He received a Ph.D. in 1926. [1]

Quebec City Provincial capital city in Quebec, Canada

Quebec City, officially Québec, is the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec. The city had a population estimate of 531,902 in July 2016, and the metropolitan area had a population of 800,296 in July 2016, making it the second largest city in Quebec after Montreal, and the seventh largest metropolitan area and eleventh largest city in the country.

The Royal College of Science was a higher education institution located in South Kensington; it was a constituent college of Imperial College London from 1907 until it was wholly absorbed by Imperial in 2002. Alumni include H. G. Wells and Brian May and are distinguishable by the letters ARCS(Associate of the Royal College of Science) after their name. Organisations linked with the college include the Royal College of Science Union and the Royal College of Science Association.

Imperial College London public research university located in London, United Kingdom

Imperial College London is a public research university located in London, England. In 1851, Prince Albert built his vision for a cultural area composed of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Colleges, and the Imperial Institute. In 1907, Imperial College was established by Royal Charter, bringing together the Royal College of Science, Royal School of Mines, and City and Guilds College. In 1988, the Imperial College School of Medicine was formed through a merger with St Mary's Hospital Medical School. In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Imperial College Business School.


After obtaining his PhD, Beals returned to Acadia University as an Assistant Professor of physics, but left one year later for an Assistant Astronomer position at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), Victoria, British Columbia. [1] [4] Beals worked at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory from 1927 until 1946, becoming Assistant Director of the DAO in 1940. [4]

Dominion Astrophysical Observatory observatory in Saanich, British Columbia

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, located on Observatory Hill, in Saanich, British Columbia, was completed in 1918 by the Canadian government. The Dominion Architect responsible for the building was Edgar Lewis Horwood. The main instrument is the 72 inch aperture Plaskett telescope, proposed and designed by John S. Plaskett in 1910 with the support of the International Union for Cooperation in Solar Research. It was planned to be the largest telescope in the world but delays meant it was completed and saw "first light" on May 6, 1918, 6 months after the 100-inch Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory.

Victoria, British Columbia Provincial capital city in British Columbia, Canada

Victoria is the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of 85,792, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria has a population of 367,770, making it the 15th most populous Canadian metropolitan area. Victoria is the 7th most densely populated city in Canada with 4,405.8 people per square kilometre, which is a greater population density than Toronto.

At the DAO, he studied emission lines in the spectra of hot stars and gas clouds in the interstellar medium. His work established a reliable temperature scale for hotter stars, based on their spectra. [5] He showed that the broad emission lines seen in Wolf-Rayet and P Cygni-type stars were due to strong stellar winds. [6] [7] Beals was the first astronomer to quantitatively measure the ratio of sodium and calcium absorption lines in the interstellar medium (the gas between stars) and the ratio of the two lines in the sodium D doublet. [1] He also found that rather than being uniform, the interstellar medium was clumpy and moved with different velocities. [8] [9] [4]

During his time at the DAO, he developed several astronomical instruments to analyse astronomical spectra, including a self-recording micro-photometer and a high efficiency grating spectrograph. [10] [4]

During World War II, Beals spent two-year researching defenses against chemical weapons and designed gas masks. [1]

In 1946, he left the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia and began work at the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa, Ontario. He was appointed Dominion Astronomer one year later, and began to rebuild the observatory's scientific programme, which had suffered due to budget cuts during the great depression and a lack of staff during World War II. [4] He also oversaw the establishment of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, near Penticton, British Columbia. [11]

Aerial photograph of the Pingualuit (New Quebec) Crater used in Carlyle Beals' research on Canadian impact craters. Air photo of Pingualuit Crater.jpg
Aerial photograph of the Pingualuit (New Quebec) Crater used in Carlyle Beals' research on Canadian impact craters.

While in Ottawa, he became interested in the geophysical activities of the observatory. He began a study of meteorite impact craters in the Canadian shield, searching for circular features in aerial photographs and organising drill core studies of the most promising targets. [12] [4]

He retired in 1964, but continued his work on impact craters and published several works during his retirement.

Awards and recognition

Beals was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1933. He was president of Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada from 1949-1950 and received the Henry Marshall Tory Medal from the Society in 1957 for outstanding achievement in scientific research. [4] [1]

He served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada from 1951-1952. [13] He also served as President of the American Astronomical Society from 1962-1964, the only Canadian to hold the position. [1] [14]

In March, 1951 Beals was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. [1] [15] In 1966 he was awarded the inaugural Meteoritical Society Leonard Medal for his work on identifying Canadian impact craters. [16] [1] In 1969 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. [17]

He received honorary degrees from Acadia University, the University of New Brunswick, Queen's University and the University of Pittsburgh. [1]

The asteroid 3314 Beals and the crater Beals on the Moon are both named after him.

Personal life

In 1931, Carl Beals married Miriam White Bancroft, a professional musician and piano teacher. [1] She was the daughter of Joseph Bancroft, a longtime Liberal member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. The couple adopted a daughter, Janitza. [1] [4]

Beals died on July 2, 1979, aged 80.

Selected publications

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Herzberg, G. (1981). "Carlyle Smith Beals. 29 June 1899-2 July 1979". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society . 27: 28. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1981.0002. JSTOR   769864.
  2. 1 2 Hockey, Thomas (2009). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Publishing. ISBN   978-0-387-31022-0 . Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  3. Beals, Donald W. "Beals of Distinction". The Beals Family of Annapolis County Nova Scotia. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Locke, J.L. (1979). "Obituary - Beals, Carlyle-Smith 1899-1979". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 73. ISSN   0035-872X.
  5. Beals, C. S. (1932-05-13). "On the Temperatures of Wolf-Rayet Stars and Novae". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 92 (7): 677–688. doi:10.1093/mnras/92.7.677. ISSN   0035-8711.
  6. S., Beals, C. (1953). "The Spectra of the P Cygni Stars". Publications of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Victoria. 9. ISSN   0078-6950.
  7. Beals, C. S. (1929). "On the Nature of Wolf-Rayet Emission. (Plates 7 and 8.)". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 90 (2): 202–212. doi:10.1093/mnras/90.2.202. ISSN   0035-8711.
  8. Beals, C. S. (1936). "On the Interpretation of Interstellar Lines". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 96 (7): 661–678. doi:10.1093/mnras/96.7.661. ISSN   0035-8711.
  9. Beals, C. S.; Oke, J. B. (1953-10-01). "On the Relation Between Distance and Intensity For Interstellar Calcium and Sodium Lines". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 113 (5): 530–552. doi:10.1093/mnras/113.5.530. ISSN   0035-8711.
  10. Beals, C. S. (1936-06-01). "A Self-recording Microphotometer of New Design". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 96 (8): 730–735. doi:10.1093/mnras/96.8.730. ISSN   0035-8711.
  11. Odgers, J. G. (1960). "Official Opening of The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory White Lake, Penticton, B.C., June 20, 1960". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 54. ISSN   0035-872X.
  12. Beals, C. S.; Ferguson, G. M.; Landau, A. (1956). "A search for lunar-type craters on photographs of the Canadian Shield". The Astronomical Journal. 61: 171. doi:10.1086/107406. ISSN   0004-6256.
  13. "Past Officers | RASC". Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  14. "Past Officers and Trustees | American Astronomical Society". Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  15. "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 11 December 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  16. "Leonard Medalists | Meteoritical Society". Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  17. Order of Canada citation

Further reading