Happy birthday OMM!


This year, the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) turns 40. More precisely, during the night of 27 to 28 of April 1978, at 9:30 PM, the first photons officially “touched” the 1.6 m mirror of the Richtey-Chrétien telescope. This moment was immortalized by opening a Magnum bottle of “Cordon Rouge”, still present at the Pavilion of astronomers. It is with eyes reddened by emotion, that the pioneers of astrophysics in Quebec: the professors of the Université de Montréal, and Université Laval, along with the night assistants and the “engineer-astronomer”, harvested the first glimmers of their efforts through the telescope eyepiece.



Over the last 40 years, the OMM has become more than a telescope. Jointly managed by the Université de Montréal and Université Laval, the telescope is reserved for basic research in astrophysics. Apart from the telescope on top of mount Mégantic, the OMM also includes experimental astrophysics laboratories located on the campuses of both universities. The telescope itself is the core of the first International Starry Sky Reserve, established in the Eastern Townships in 2007.

In addition to its research and instrument development missions, the OMM welcomes many graduate students and trains highly qualified personnel active in the industrial, academic and governmental research, education and communications sectors. Public outreach is also one of the main mission of the OMM. Along with the ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Park, it attracts more than 20,000 visitors each year in this region of Quebec. The economic benefits (especially recreational tourism) are estimated at several million dollars. Over the last 40 years, the OMM and the Astrolab have welcomed almost a million people.

The OMM staff is dedicated to the operation and development of state-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation for its telescope, as well as for large national and international observatories, both ground- and space-based. These projects are carried out in close collaboration with high-tech companies in Quebec (ABB Bomem, INO, nüvü Cameras, etc.) and Canada (COM DEV), the Canadian Space Agency, the National Research Council of Canada, Canadian universities and various international partners: NASA, the European Space Agency and several academic institutions in the United States and Europe. OMM researchers are leaders in major international basic and instrumental research projects. As an example, let us mention the first image of a system of extrasolar planets in 2008, a major scientific breakthrough that takes its roots with instrumental development of OMM. The development of infrared astronomy, of which OMM was one of the pioneers, has contributed significantly to Canadian participation in the James Webb Space Telescope.

It is impossible to dress the complete list of people, men and women of science, who have contributed to the success of the OMM. To all of you, your expertise, research, dedication and passion for OMM are invaluable and OMM will always be grateful to you. Finally, we would not want to overlook the many astronomy enthusiasts who literally saved the OMM in 2012 by expressing their dissatisfaction as our main source of funding disappeared. Clearly, astronomy in Quebec has a place of choice in the heart of the population. Thanks to this support, the OMM finds the strength to continue its mission of teaching, training, public outreach and research.

Over the course of the next few weeks, a list of activities, conferences, exhibitions, etc., surrounding the 40th birthday will be available on the OMM website.

As a final note, please raise your glass and sing with us… Happy birthday OMM, happy birthday to you, …

Source :
Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic