New College Alum’s deep space photos are legendary

The 1970s were an exciting time for space exploration. People walked on the moon, satellites photographed close-ups of the outer planets and a teenaged Stuart Heggie attended a lecture by famous astronomer, the late U of T Professor Emeritus Tom Bolton.

The interaction inspired Heggie to study at the Department of Astronomy (now the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics), and so began one astronomer’s journey to become a world-renowned astrophotographer.

“I wanted to be sitting with the best of the best to test my mettle,” says Heggie, about his choice to attend U of T.

Heggie honed his astronomer skills with the telescopes atop McLennan Physical Labs and spent summers analyzing deep space photographs for the department’s research.

Northern Lights in Ontario. A dark blue sky with twinkling stars across the sky, with dancing green and red lights.
Stuart Heggie captured a stunning shot of the northern lights over his home in Flesherton, Ontario in 2002

As an alum and annual donor, Heggie gives back to U of T so future generations can access the same quality of world-class resources he had more than 40 years ago.

“If we want U of T astronomy students exposed to as many important experiences as possible, donors need to be part of the solution.”

After graduating with his honours bachelor of science degree as a member of New College in 1982, Heggie earned his MBA at York University. He built a successful career in business consulting but says sometimes those jobs felt like just a means to fund his true passion — astrophotography.

Heggie captures most of his images via two observatories he built on his farm near Goderich, Ontario. His shots of galaxies, nebulae and mysterious cosmic gases have been featured by the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the American Museum of Natural History, among other esteemed platforms and publications.

“I’ve always felt astrophotography is the marketing arm of NASA and other space programs, building up excitement for what’s out there,” says Heggie, who sits on the board of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Read more about Stuart Heggie’s journey in the world of astophotography by reading the full A&S Story by David Goldberg.