Friday, August 21, 2009
Doings at the DDO and
Fun in Sudbury
You might think that Toronto and Sudbury don’t have much in common, but in fact, they do. For instance, they both have great science centres, and there are also wonderful IYA activities taking place in both cities.
Two blogs ago, I gave you the good news that the RASC Toronto Centre has taken over the David Dunlap Observatory and relaunched it as an educational facility. As part of their outreach program, the RASC folks are holding public viewings on most Saturday nights this summer and early fall.I’d like to tell you about their first viewing night on July 18 (with many thanks to Paul Mortfield, Chair of the Observatory Committee). Dr. Bob Abraham, an astronomy professor at the University of Toronto, started off the festivities with a very entertaining talk, “The Origin of the Galaxies.” Paul then gave a short talk in the 74-inch dome about the history of the DDO and the 74-inch telescope.Galileo (as channelled by Scott Masterton) also stopped by to talk about his observations and show off his telescope. Around 11 p.m., there was a marvellous opportunity for visitors to watch the International Space Station pass over the dome; this was the first time that two Canadian astronauts (Bob Thirsk and Julie Payette) were in space at the same time.
After the ISS excitement, visitors were delighted to view M13 and M57 through the 74-inch telescope and other celestial objects through smaller telescopes brought by Toronto RASC members. Paul Mortfield says: “It was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of adults and children when they saw the big scope and had a chance to gaze at celestial objects through the largest telescope in Canada.” Eighty visitors got to take part in this inspirational event, thanks to 27 Toronto RASC members who volunteered their time to make the evening a huge success. To find out more about the public viewing nights and to book tickets, go HERE.
Next we go to Sudbury. In a previous blog, I told you about Dr. Stéphane Courteau’s Galileo lecture in Nunavut. On May 14, Stéphane and M.Sc. student Melanie Hall (both from Queen’s University) gave lectures at Science North. Stéphane gave his talk “What’s the Matter With Our Universe?” to 50 people in the Inco Lecture Hall, while Melanie captivated 30 youngsters in a presentation on the beauty of the solar system and the heavens. Host Howie Mende at Science North organized this very successful visit to Sudbury. But, wait, there’s more happening in Sudbury … Science North is also running star parties this year, and Passport to the Universe is now playing in its planetarium. Clearly, Sudbury is a great place to be this IYA year.
Our third and last stop is my hometown, Kingston, Ontario, where a small but passionate group of astronomers from the RASC Kingston Centre, Queen’s and RMC is organizing IYA events in the area. One fun activity we have done is to show up with telescopes at some of the Kingston outdoor “Movies in the Square.” On August 13, we arranged for Contact to be shown. We were blessed with clear skies all night, and it was tremendous seeing the IYA trailer on the big screen! After the movie, about 50 people looked at Jupiter and its moons through a C5 telescope and binoculars, and we handed out star finders, astro cards and other information. All in all, an excellent night. Upcoming Kingston IYA activities can be seen on our website. Our next event is a talk and public observing session at Lake Ontario Park on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 7 to 11 p.m.
I also want to let you know that SkyNews editor Terry Dickinson will be at Charleston Lake Provincial Park. Starting at 8:30 p.m. each night, he’ll be giving a talk in the amphitheatre, followed by telescope viewing (weather permitting!). Admission is free, but you will have to pay for entry to the park. Terry is a great speaker and always has stunning pictures, so this is not to be missed. You should also have a look at Terry’s SkyNews blog.
And that’s a wrap. I’d love to hear from you, so send me an email. We at SkyNews also want to hear about your IYA events, so send us your stories and pictures. SkyNews has a regularly updated Canada-wide listing of star parties and events.
Clear skies and happy trails.
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