Astronomy and astrophysics

The NRC's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre is Canada's gateway to the universe. We operate Canada's national observatories, a national astronomy data centre and develop advanced astronomical instruments in collaboration with industrial partners to bring out-of-this-world technology back down to Earth.


The Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre operates three research programs:

  • Astronomy Technology Program (ATP)
    Driven by the scientific needs of the astronomy research community, the Astronomy Technology (AT) program develops and delivers innovative technology, instrumentation and next-generation observatory facilities in support of NRC's mandate to operate and administer astronomical observatories on behalf of the Government of Canada. As Canada's gateway to the universe, the AT program produces instrumentation to the demanding specifications of many of the world's major observatories which supports Canada's goal to be a world-class provider of astronomical instrumentation. By delivering contributions to shared observatories, the program also facilitates proportional access to observatory time for Canadian astronomers.
  • Optical Astronomy Program (OAP)
    The Optical Astronomy (OA) program creates value for Canada by providing operational leadership and scientific support for Canadian access to world-leading optical, ultraviolet and infrared telescopes. By enabling Canadian researchers to make the most effective use of astronomy observatories, the OA program meets the needs of the Canadian Astronomy community's priorities as indicated in Canada's Long Range Plan (LRP2010) for astronomy. The program also operates the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC) which provides access to high-capacity digital infrastructure that furthers astronomical research.
  • Radio Astronomy Program (RAP)
    As part of NRC's mandate to administer astronomical facilities on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Radio Astronomy (RA) program maintains access to forefront astronomical observatories for Canadian researchers, enabling a prominent role for Canada in major international scientific endeavours. The RA program develops concepts and specifications for new capabilities at the observatories in conjunction with NRC's Astronomy Technology program and in collaboration with Canadian industrial collaborators. It further provides operational support to Canada's engagement in forefront millimetre/submillimetre and centimetre observatories around the world, ultimately advancing human knowledge of the universe.

The NRC advantage

The Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre manages Canada's participation in major astronomical observatories worldwide and at home, thereby ensuring Canadian astronomers have full access to world-class facilities spanning the entire sky.

In astronomy, scientific progress is closely linked to technological innovation. That's why instrumentation experts at HAA develop new, state-of-the-art devices that are critical for research at world-class observatories.

We are also a leading force in data management, archiving and distribution, thanks to the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre.

From providing support to users of our world-class observatories, to developing instrumentation for new research, and comprehensive data management, HAA provides wide-ranging expertise and services to researchers and industry clients who work with us.

Working with us

The Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre is Canada's foremost authority on astronomy and astrophysics, maintaining Canada's largest and most powerful observatories, as well as representing Canada in some of the world's foremost astronomy initiatives. We welcome leading researchers from around the world to undertake research at our facilities, to better understand the universe.

Industrial collaborations and technology transfer are high priorities for us. We have helped several industry partners win major contracts and establish a competitive presence in the world market. Contact us to learn more about potential opportunities to work together.


Kevin Farris
Telephone: 250-363-6951

Online request form

Submit an online request for information about our programs and services.

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