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News > ODs Around the World > “Dr Hutchings has followed a remarkably interesting career in astronomy" - John Heuton OD.

“Dr Hutchings has followed a remarkably interesting career in astronomy" - John Heuton OD.

After leaving Bishops in 1958, Dr John Hutchings followed a career in Astronomy or which he has received world recognition. He also writes works of fiction.
Dr John Hutchings, at Bishops from 1955-58, as was his father John Percival Hutchings.
Dr John Hutchings, at Bishops from 1955-58, as was his father John Percival Hutchings.

John Hueton (Gray House, Matric 1947; Post Matric, 1948) - a member of the ODU since 18 November 1948, the Secretary of the ODU Branch first in Canada (from 1976) and afterwards of East Canada, sent in a note on an OD, Dr John Hutchings, who was at Bishops from 1955-58, as was his father John Percival Hutchings (1926-7). 

John says that: "Dr Hutchings has followed a remarkably interesting career in astronomy which reflected here will certainly be an inspiration for ODs and particularly students at Bishops.” 

A brief account of Dr Hutching's career follows, with the intention of a much fuller article for one of the forthcoming editions of 'The Old Diocesan'.   


John Hutchings studied physics at Wits where he earned his MSc in 1964, based on research at the then Radcliffe Observatory in Pretoria. (That telescope, was then the largest in the Southern hemisphere and is now located at Sutherland along with other SAAO facilities).  From there he went on to do his PhD in astronomy at Cambridge university.  His Postdoc in 1967 at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, BC, Canada led to a staff job where he has worked ever since.

As a retired Emeritus researcher, he still works there. 

His research over the years includes black-hole binaries, local galaxies, quasars, and aspects of cosmology.  This involved working with large telescopes in Chile, Hawaii, Arizona, Canary Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as developing and using space telescopes  - beginning with the first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory launched by NASA. He later participated in the design and operation of other space missions, which included NASA teams for two generations of Hubble Telescope instruments.

After the Canadian space agency was created in 1989 John became Canadian project scientist for international projects FUSE (Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer), Astrosat, and the James Webb Space Telescope, working with other space agencies, high tech industries, and scientific colleagues in many countries. John is currently co-lead in developing a new Canadian-led space telescope which will complement or exceed the ageing Hubble. 

John has served on a number of related teams and committees across the globe, including the SKA radio telescope array under way in South Africa. He is the recipient of many awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  He has authored some five hundred scientific publications.       

In recent years, John has published several non-scientific novels and short stories, which you may find on Amazon.  He still travels widely for work and fun, from his home in Victoria.


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