David G. Turner, Professor Emeritus

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

Former Director of Burke-Gaffney Observatory

(Photograph by David Richardson, 2004)

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


Teaching Responsibilities (2013-2014):

  • Astronomy 1100.2 Introduction to Astrophysics

  • 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.


    Honours:

    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:

    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, in press
  • Turner, D. G. 2014, An Eclectic View of our Milky Way Galaxy, Canadian Journal of Physics, 92, in press
  • Bartlett, D. J., and Turner, D. G. 2014, Einstein versus Schwinger: Who is Right About Gravity?, Canadian Journal of Physics, 92, in press
  • 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, 565, in press
  • 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
  • 2012

  • Carraro, G., Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., and Baume, G. 2012, The Distance to the Young Open Cluster Westerlund 2, in Advancing the Physics of Cosmic Distances, ed. R. de Grijs, Proceedings of IAU Symposium, 289, Cambridge University Press, Poster 1, pp. 14, arXiv1209.2080, 2012
  • Turner, D. G. 2012, A Current Application of the Methods of Secular and Statistical Parallax, Odessa Astronomical Publications, 25, 29-31
  • Turner, D. G., van den Bergh, S., Younger, P. F., Majaess, D. J., Pedreros, M. H., and Berdnikov, L. N. 2012, A Search for OB Associations Near Long-Period Cepheids. V. AQ Puppis and V620 Puppis, Astronomical Journal, 144, 187, 1-10
  • Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., and Lane, D. J. 2012, Recent Observations of HDE 344787, the Smallest Amplitude Classical Cepheid, in Stellar Pulsations: Impact of New Instrumentation and New Insights, ed. ed. J. C. Suárez, R. Garrido, L. A. Balona, and J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, 31, 291, Poster 8, 1-2
  • Turner, D. G., Moncrieff, K. E., Short, C. I., and Wing, R. F. 2012, The Nature of the Variability in the M Supergiants: The Forgotten Type C Semiregulars, in Stellar Pulsations: Impact of New Instrumentation and New Insights, ed. J. C. Suárez, R. Garrido, L. A. Balona, and J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, 31, 115-119
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., and Gieren, W. 2012, Identifying Contaminated K-band Globular Cluster RR Lyrae Photometry, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 124, 1035-1041
  • Turner, D. G. 2012, Classical Cepheids After 228 Years of Study, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, 40, 502-515
  • Zagury, F, and Turner, D. G. 2012, The Extinction Curve in the Visible and the Value of Rv. II. Addendum to AN 333, 160, Astronomische Nachrichten, 333, 640-643
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Gallo, L., Gieren, W. P., Bonatto, C. J., Lane, D. J., Balam, D. D., and Berdnikov, L. N. 2012, Anchoring the Distance Scale via X-Ray/Infrared Data for Cepheid Clusters: SU Cas, Astrophysical Journal, 753, 144, 1-4
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Gieren, W., and Lane, D. J. 2012, The Impact of Contaminated RR Lyrae/Globular Cluster Photometry on the Distance Scale, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 752, L10, 1-6
  • Turner, D. G., et al. 2012, Understanding Pulsation in Luminous M Supergiants with the Aid of Archival Observations, in New Horizons in Time-Domain Astronomy, ed. R. E. Griffin, R. J. Hanisch and R. L. Seaman, IAU Symposium No. 285, Cambridge University Press, p. 449 (abstract)
  • Turner, D. G. 2012, Why Visual Observations of Mu Cephei are Important, Proceedings for the 31st Annual Conference of the Society for Astronomical Sciences, Symposium on Telescope Science, edited by B. D. Warner, R. K. Buchheim, J. L. Foote, and D. Mais, pp. 69-73
  • Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., Lane, D. J., Balam, D. D., Gieren, W. P., Storm, J., Forbes, D. W., Havlen, R. J., and Alessi, B. 2012, Alessi 95 and the Short Period Cepheid SU Cassiopeiae, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 422, 2501-2509
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Gieren, W., Balam, D., and Lane, D. 2012, Discovery of the Host Cluster for the Fundamental Cepheid Calibrator Zeta Geminorum, Astrophysical Journal Letters,748, L9, 1-5
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., and Gieren, W. 2012, A Cluster of Class I/f/II YSOs Discovered Near the Cepheid SU Cas, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 421, 1040-1042
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., and Gieren, W. 2012, New Evidence Supporting Cluster Membership for the Keystone Calibrator Delta Cephei, Astrophysical Journal, 747, 145, 1-5
  • Turner, D. G. 2012, The Color-Magnitude Diagram of NGC 2264, Astronomische Nachrichten, 333, 174-181
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Moni Bidin, C., Geisler, D., Borissova, J., Minniti, D., Bonatto, C., Gieren, W., Carraro, G., Kurtev, R., Mauro, F., Chené, A.-N., Forbes, D. W., Lucas, P. W., Dékány, I., Saito, R. K., and Soto, M. 2012, Strengthening the Open Cluster Distance Scale Via VVV Photometry, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 537, L4, 1-4
  • Turner, D. G. 2012, WR 38/38a and the Ratio of Total-to-Selective Extinction in Carina, Astrophysics and Space Science, 338, 303-312
  • 2011

  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Lane, D. J., and Krajci, T. 2011, Deep Infrared ZAMS Fits to Benchmark Open Clusters Hosting Delta Scutis, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, 39, 217-239
  • Turner, D. G., Rosvick, J. M., Balam, D. D., Henden, A. A., Majaess, D. J., and Lane, D. J. 2011, New Results for the Open Cluster Bica 6 and its Associated Planetary Nebula Abell 8, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 123, 1249-1261
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., and Gieren, W. 2011, Concerning the Classical Cepheid VIc Wesenheit Function’s Strong Metallicity Dependence, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 741, L36, 1-5
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Moni Bidin, C., Mauro, F., Geisler, D., Gieren, W., Chené, A.-N., Minniti, D., Lucas, P. W., Borissova, J., Kurtev, R., Dékány, I., and Saito, R. 2011, New Evidence Supporting Membership for TW Nor in Lyngå 6 and the Centaurus Spiral Arm, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 741, L27, 1-4
  • Turner, D. G., MacLellan, R. F., Henden, A. A., and Berdnikov, L. N. 2011, Space Reddenings for Fifteen Galactic Cepheids, Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofisica, 47, 345-356
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., and Lane, D. J. 2011, Securing the Distance Scale via a Universal VIc Wesenheit Template and Deep Infrared ZAMS, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 43, Meeting 218, 322.08 (abstract)
  • Turner, D. G., Rosvick, J. M., Balam, D. D., Henden, A. A., Majaess, D. J., and Lane, D. J. 2011, Membership of the Planetary Nebula Abell 8 in the Open Cluster Bica 6 and Implications for the PN Distance Scale, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 43, Meeting 218, 126.08 (abstract)
  • Turner, D. G., Moncrieff, K. E., Short, C. I., Wing, R. F., and Henden, A. A. 2011, AAVSO Estimates and the Nature of Type C Semiregulars: Progenitors of Type II Supernovae, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 43, Meeting 218, 96.06 (abstract)
  • Turner, D. G. 2011, The Usefulness of JHKs Photometry for Open Cluster Studies, Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofisica, 47, 127-137
  • Turner, D. G. 2011, Visual Observations of Delta Cephei: Time to Update the Finder Chart, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, 39, 148 (abstract)
  • Majaess, D. J., Turner, D. G., Lane, D. J., Henden, A. A., and Krajci, T. 2011, Anchoring the Universal Distance Scale Via a Wesenheit Template, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, 39, 122-140
  • Papers Published 1973-2010

    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. 2008, The Dynamical Challenges of the Polaris System, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, in preparation
  • Turner, D. G. 2008, The Reddening of Classical Cepheid Variables, Astronomical Journal, in preparation
  • Efremov, Yu. N., Berdnikov, L. N., Kniazev, A. Y., Dambis, A. K., Rastorguev, A. S., Glushkova, E. V., Kravtsov, V. V., Turner, D. G., Majaess, D. J., Sefako, R., and Melnik, A. M. 2013, The Grand Design of the Galaxy as Traced by Cepheid Positions, Astronomische Nachrichten, submitted
  • Majaess, D., Turner, D. G., Gieren, W., and Ngeow, C. 2014, Concerning the Impact of Crowding and Metallicity on Cepheid Distances, Astrophysical 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):

  • 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 2312.1(.2) Foundations of Astrophysics
  • AST 2313.1(.2) Properties of Stars
  • AST 316.1(.2) Stellar Astronomy
  • AST 3412.1(.2) Interstellar Matter and Stellar Evolution
  • AST 416.1(.2) Astrophysics II
  • AST 445.1(.2) Solar System Astronomy
  • AST 602.1(.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
  • AST 696.1(.2) Graduate Seminar II
  • AST 697.0 Research Project in Astronomy
  • AST 698.0 Thesis
  • PHY 210.1/211.2 University Physics I, II (various lab sections)
  • PHY 305.1(.2) Newtonian Mechanics
  • PHY 500.0 Research Thesis

  • Updated January 2014.