David G. Turner, Professor Emeritus

B.Sc. (Waterloo, 1968), M.Sc., Ph.D. (Western Ontario, 1970, 1974)

(Photograph by David Richardson, 2004)

Email: turner(“at”)ap.smu.ca
Phone: 902-420-5635
Home: 902-435-2733
Fax: 902-496-8218

Teaching Responsibilities (2015-2016):

  • Astronomy 3500.1 Galaxies and Cosmology, MW 10:00-11:15
  • Astronomy 5500.1 Galactic Astronomy, MW 13:00-14:15

  • Academic interests:

    Astronomical phenomena that can be viewed with the unaided eye, such as sunrises, sunsets, auroral displays, planetary conjunctions, first sighting of the thin crescent of the Moon following New Moon (occasionally Ramadan in North America begins as a result of a sighting through my office window), etc. A lot of astronomy can be done without telescopes or binoculars. To view a sample selection of images and drawings, click here.

    The Star of Bethlehem, a subject in which I became interested during the six years I spent as Director of the Doran Planetarium, Laurentian University, where each year I scripted and produced Christmas Star shows for the general public. The mystery of the Star of Bethlehem is an historical, as well as astronomical, puzzle. To read a fictional article on the Star of Bethlehem that I wrote for the Saint Mary’s Maroon and White, click here.

    The stars of St. John’s Church Lunenburg, a mystery that I unwittingly discovered and solved after being approached in June 2004 to provide assistance in designing a replica of the original star scene that graced the chapel ceiling of the Church. The story had a long life on the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet feature, but the full details were described in a story I wrote for Cassiopeia, the newsletter of the Canadian Astronomical Society. To view an expanded version of the story, click here.

    Research interests:

    Young to intermediate age open clusters. Most of my research involves very sparse clusters and groups associated with Cepheid variables, but I am also interested in very young clusters that contain Wolf-Rayet stars or pre-main-sequence objects. Steve Shorlin, who recently (1998) completed his M.Sc. thesis under my supervision, searched a field in Carina as part of his thesis research, and discovered a previously undetected young cluster associated with two Wolf-Rayet stars, one of type WN6 and the other of type WC4. It is the first instance of both types of objects being found in the same cluster. To view a sample of open clusters of interest to me, click here.

    Intrinsic properties of pulsating Cepheid variables and the galactic distance scale. Click here for a list of open clusters and groups that contain Cepheids as potential members. In recent years, undergraduate students working with me (Andrew Horsford, Joseph MacMillan, and Stephen Goobie) have observed Cepheids with the CCD camera on the 0.4-m telescope of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory, and have added valuable data on period changes for these pulsating stars. The derived period changes primarily reflect stellar evolution through the Cepheid instability strip, but also help to specify the pulsation modes of the stars. For more details on our use of the campus telescope, click here.

    Observable properties of interstellar and circumstellar extinction. Much of my early work focused on the use of the variable-extinction method to derive values for the ratio of total-to-selective extinction, R, in open clusters and associations. Roughly 60 or so open clusters yield fairly normal values of R = 3.1, plus or minus 0.4, but there are a few regions where anomalously large values of R, i.e. 4 or 5, seem to exist.

    Galactic structure, when I can find time for it.


    Clockwise from upper left: President’s Award for Excellence in Research presented by President Dr. Kenneth Ozmon at Saint Mary’s University’s Fall Convocation (October 1997), Service Award of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada presented by Randy Attwood (June 2001), Founding Member Special Award of the Sudbury Astronomy Club presented during the Club’s 20th Anniversary celebrations (November 2001), Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award by Renison College (University of Waterloo) at its 45th Founders’ Day ceremony (January 2004), Asteroid 27810 Daveturner (= 1993 OC2) (not exactly as illustrated) named by Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy (November 2003).

    (Hi Brandi!)

    David Turner is now ex-Editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, but continues as Review Editor for the Journal. He also serves on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Physics.

    Email: turner(“at”)ap.smu.ca
    Phone: (902) 420-5635
    Fax: (902) 496-8218

    Recently Published Research Papers:


  • Majaess, D., Turner, D. G., Dékany, I., Minniti, D., and Gieren, W 2016, Constraining Dust Extinction Properties via the VVV Survey, Astronomy and Astrophysics, xxx, in press
  • Turner, D. G. 2016, The Scale of Reddening for Classical Cepheid Variables, Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica, 52, 223-239
  • Carraro, G., Seleznev, A. F., Baume, G., and Turner, D. G. 2016, The Complex Stellar Populations in the Lines of Sight to Open Clusters in the Third Galactic Quadrant, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 455, 4031-4045
  • 2015

  • Dambis, A. K., Berdnikov, L. N., Efremov, Yu. N., Kniazev, A. Yu., Rastorguev, A. S., Glushkova, E. V., Kravtsov, V. V., Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., and Sefako, R. 2015, Classical Cepheids and the Spiral Structure of the Milky Way, Astronomy Letters, 41, 489-500
  • 2014

  • Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., and Balam, D. D. 2014, Testing New Ideas Regarding the Nature of Interstellar Extinction, Canadian Journal of Physics, 92, 1696-1702
  • Majaess, D., Turner, D. G., Gieren, W., and Ngeow, C. 2014, Evidence for Photometric Contamination in Key Observations of Cepheids in the Benchmark Galaxy IC 1613, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 572, A64, 1-5
  • Turner, D. G. 2014, An Eclectic View of our Milky Way Galaxy, Canadian Journal of Physics, 92, 959-963
  • Bartlett, D. J., and Turner, D. G. 2014, Einstein versus Schwinger: Who is Right About Gravity?, Canadian Journal of Physics, 92, iii
  • Majaess, D., Carraro, G., Moni Bidin, C., Turner, D. G., Bonatto, C., Moyano, M., Berdnikov, L., and Costa, E. 2014, On the Crucial Cluster Andrews-Lindsay 1 and a 4% Distance Solution for its Planetary Nebula, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 562, A1, 1-6
  • Berdnikov, L. N., Turner, D. G., and Henden, A. A. 2014, A Search for Evolutionary Period Variations of Cepheids Using the Harvard Plate Stacks: FF Aql, Astronomy Reports, 58, 240-248
  • Moni Bidin, C., Majaess, D., Bonatto, C., Mauro, F., Turner, D. G., Geisler, D., B., Chené, A.-N., Gormaz-Matamala, A. C., Borissova, J., Kurtev, R. G., Minniti, D., Carraro, G., and Gieren, W. 2014, Investigating Potential Planetary Nebula/Cluster Pairs, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 561, A119, 1-14
  • 2013

  • Turner, D. G. 2013, Towards a Determination of Definitive Parameters for the Long Period Cepheid S Vulpeculae , Odessa Astronomical Publications, 26, 115-119
  • Majaess, D., Carraro, G., Moni Bidin, C., Bonatto, C., Berdnikov, L., Balam, D., Moyano,M., Gallo, L., Turner, D. G., Lane D., Gieren, W., Borissova, J., Kovtyukh, V., and Beletsky, Y. 2013, Anchors for the Cosmic Distance Scale: the Cepheids U Sgr, CF Cas and CEab Cas, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 560, A22, 1-8
  • Turner, D. G. 2013, Deriving Definitive Parameters for the Long Period Cepheid S Vulpeculae, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, 41, 390 (abstract)
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., and Gieren, W. 2013, On the Form of the Spitzer Leavitt Law and its Dependence on Metallicity , Astrophysical Journal, 772, 130, 1-6
  • Majaess, D., Sturch, L., Moni Bidin, C., Soto, M., Gieren, W., Cohen, R., Mauro, F., Geisler, D., Bonatto, C., Borissova, J., Minniti, D., Turner, D. G., Lane, D., Madore, B., Carraro, G., and Berdnikov, L. 2013, Anchors for the Cosmic Distance Scale: the Cepheid QZ Normae in the Open Cluster NGC 6067, Astrophysics and Space Science, 347, 61-70
  • Turner, D. G., Kovtyukh, V. V., Luck, R. E., and Berdnikov, L. N. 2013, The Pulsation Mode and Distance of the Cepheid FF Aquilae, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 772, L10, 1-5
  • Carraro, G., Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., and Baume, G. 2013, The Distance to the Young Open Cluster Westerlund 2, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 555, A50, 1-9
  • Turner, D. G. 2013, Deriving Definitive Parameters for the Long Period Cepheid S Vulpeculae, American Association of Variable Star Observers, Spring Meeting
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Gieren, W., Berdnikov, L. N., and Lane, D. J. 2013, On the Metallicity Dependence of Classical Cepheid Light Amplitudes, Astrophysics and Space Science, 344, 381-388
  • Turner, D. G., Kovtyukh, V. V., Usenko, I. A., and Gorlova, N. I. 2013, The Pulsation Mode of the Cepheid Polaris, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 762, L8, 1-4
  • Papers Published 1973-2012

    Submitted papers and papers in preparation (for preprints contact author):

  • Turner, D. G., Usenko, I. A., Miroshnichenko, A. S., Klochkova, V. G., Panchuk, V. E., Yang, S. L. S., and Gregory, P. C. 2016, The Dynamical Challenges of the Polaris System, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, in preparation
  • Turner, D. G. 2016, Recovery of the Interesting Open Cluster Collinder 464, Astronomische Nachrichten, in preparation
  • Carraro, G., Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., Baume, G. L., Gamen, R., and Molina Lera, J. A. 2016, Extinction in the Star Cluster SAI 113 and Galactic Structure in Carina, Astronomical Journal, submitted

  • Previous Positions:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto (1974-1976)
  • Assistant Professor, Laurentian University (1976-1978)
  • Assistant Professor, University of Toronto (1978-1980)
  • Assistant/Associate Professor, NSERC University Research Fellow, Laurentian University (1980-1984)

  • Teaching (courses I have taught at Saint Mary’s):

  • ASTR 1100.2 Introduction to Astrophysics
  • AST 202.0 Introductory Astronomy for Science Students
  • AST 205.1 General Astronomy I
  • AST 206.2 General Astronomy II
  • AST 215.1(.2) The Sky and Planets
  • AST 216.1(.2) Stars and Galaxies
  • AST 306.1(.2) Observational Astronomy
  • AST 2100.1 Foundations of Astrophysics
  • AST 2312.1(.2) Foundations of Astrophysics
  • AST 2313.1(.2) Properties of Stars
  • ASTR 2400.2 Physics of Stars
  • AST 316.1(.2) Stellar Astronomy
  • AST 3412.1(.2) Interstellar Matter and Stellar Evolution
  • AST 3500.1(.2) Galaxies and Cosmology
  • AST 416.1(.2) Astrophysics II
  • AST 445.1(.2) Solar System Astronomy
  • AST 602.1(.2) Galactic Astronomy
  • ASTR 5500.1(.2) Galactic Astronomy
  • ASTR 5602.1(.2) Galactic Astronomy
  • AST 607.1(.2) Binary and Variable Stars
  • AST 611.1(.2) Directed Readings in Current Literature
  • AST 695.1(.2) Graduate Seminar I
  • ASTR 5695.1(.2) Graduate Seminar I
  • AST 696.1(.2) Graduate Seminar II
  • AST 697.0 Research Project in Astronomy
  • ASTR 5690.1 Research Methods I
  • AST 698.0 Thesis
  • ASTR 6698.0 Thesis
  • ASTR 8990.0 Doctoral Dissertation
  • PHY 210.1/211.2 University Physics I, II (various lab sections)
  • PHYS 1210.1/1211.2 University Physics I, II (various lab sections)
  • PHY 305.1(.2) Newtonian Mechanics
  • PHYS 2301.2 Newtonian Mechanics
  • PHYS 2305.1(.2) Newtonian Mechanics
  • PHY 500.0 Research Thesis

  • Updated October 2016.