The dome of the Plaskett telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, located on top of Observatory Hill off West Saanich Road can be seen for miles around the area. The observatory will host its first public star party since the pandemic began as part of a full slate of International Astronomy Day celebrations on May 7 in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)

The dome of the Plaskett telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, located on top of Observatory Hill off West Saanich Road can be seen for miles around the area. The observatory will host its first public star party since the pandemic began as part of a full slate of International Astronomy Day celebrations on May 7 in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)

Astronomy day events in Greater Victoria to launch a summer of star parties

Royal B.C. Museum hosting day events May, evening viewing shifts to Observatory Hill

Greater Victoria residents have an opportunity to learn about space and take in its spectacular views for the first time in two years this May 7 as International Astronomy Day activities make their return.

The Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is hosting a full day and evening of events at the Royal B.C. Museum and Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich.

“This is the biggest astronomy outreach event in Canada, and we have really been missing it,” Victoria Centre president Randy Enkin said of the day’s significance. “There is a real hunger and interest for learning about the skies and things like the new James Webb telescope.”

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The day kicks off at 10 a.m. just outside the RBCM, where volunteers will be making solar telescopes available for safe viewing of the sun. Inside the museum’s Clifford Carl Hall there will be astrophotography and history displays, hands-on activities for children and a series of lectures by society members and University of Victoria researchers.

The astronomy events at the museum are free of charge and run until 3 p.m., however, regular admission fees apply to the rest of the museum.

From 7:30 to 11 p.m., the Friends of Dominion Astrophysical Observatory will be hosting a lecture by Chris Gainor on the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, as well as tours of the observatory and – weather permitting – views of the night sky through various telescopes on site.

“To be a good citizen of the world, it’s important to not just know the facts of science, but also the methods,” said Enkin. “We ask the questions, we develop methods to answer them, and we usually make our lives better for it. We use the methods of science to make our lives better. Astronomy is just one example.”

Due to COVID protocols, only 100 people will be able to attend events at the observatory, and free admission tickets must be obtained online ahead of the event.

While admission is limited, Enkin said those who miss out on a spot shouldn’t worry too much. The event is just the beginning of what is expected to be a summer full of “star parties” at the observatory.

They are planned for every two weeks until July, and will be expanded to weekly events from July on should everything go to plan.

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@JSamanski
justin.samanski-langille@goldstreamgazette.com

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