Meet Astronomer Dr. Ian Shelton

Dr. Ian Shelton was raised in Winnipeg, Canada. In 1987, while he was working at an observatory in Las Companas, Chile, he developed a photograph of the Tarantula Nebula and saw something unusual in the picture. He and several others went outside to check, and they saw a shining light in the Large Magellanic Cloud (the galaxy that encompasses the Tarantula Nebula) that wasn’t there before. It was a supernova-a giant star that blew itself apart at the end of its life.

Dr Shelton’s discovery was the first supernova visible to the naked eye in almost 200 years. It was called "SuperNova 1987A Shelton," and for the several months that it lasted, it was among the most studied phenomena in the night sky.

"Growing up in Winnipeg, we had lots of dark sky-it was always in your face, and I was curious about it. Then we got a small telescope as a gift from an aunt. With that telescope, I got my first view of Saturn. That got me hooked, and it just snowballed from there.

"I like studying the oldest objects in the universe. I do this by looking at individual stars and things that are close by. Stars seem to be real places-you can put a name to them and everybody can see them.

"My advice to anyone who is curious about astronomy is to start with a good pair of binoculars. They’ll give you far more detail than if you spent the same amount of money on a telescope."
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

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