Well, that was quite a party we had for Astronomy Day. Even though the day and evening were clouded out it didn’t matter to the nearly 700 people who came to UVIC at some point in the day or evening. A big thank you to everyone who made the day such a success: to Sherry Buttnor who was our fearless leader, Sid Sidhu, the wizard of volunteer recruitment, Russ Robb and UVIC students who worked tirelessly in a multitude of areas all day, Eric Chilsholm from the Centre of the Universe who had everyone enthralled with an infrared camera, and Nazim Aҫar with students from Pearson College who demonstrated how series of lenses worked. Thanks also to Stephen Courtin with his wonderful Planet Walk display in front of the Bob Wright building, to Bruno Quenneville and Scott Mair for their lively presentations on constellations and planetarium programs and our six professional astronomers from HIA and UVIC who fielded all kinds of questions at the “Ask an Astronomer” booth.
April is Global Astronomy Month culminating in International Astronomy Day which we are celebrating here in Victoria on Saturday, April 28th. Last month I asked you to put the date on your calendar so that you would make plans to come and drop by the Bob Wright Sciences building at UVIC for a while or take some time to volunteer for some part of the day. Thanks to all of you who have already signed up (or were pleasantly coerced by Sid Sidhu) to help and I encourage anyone else with some time to contact Sid and get yourself on the list. His e-mail is on the last page of this newsletter.
I hope everybody has been looking up recently. What a show our skies are giving us (if and when the rains cease)! It’s too bad that the skies have not been clearer to see the aurora just lately from the increased solar activity but this spring’s dance of the planets has been good enough to make up for it. Jupiter and Venus are closing in to each other in the south west each night. Mars is shining red in the east. If you were quick enough or lucky enough to have a good western horizon you were even able to see Mercury for a while. No wonder it’s named after the fleet-footed winged messenger. And, of course, the wonderful views of Saturn are just beginning, if you can keep awake long enough to see it rise around midnight. People are fascinated by what is going on and if you happen to be out with friends in the evenings, take time to point out the planets and tell them a little bit about them. It’s an easy way to do sidewalk astronomy.
Happy middle -of -winter in Victoria! Aren’t you glad you live here and not in some other areas of our fair land that are in depths of snow or in a deep freeze right now? We are so lucky here, particularly when the sun finally comes out, even if it is only for a few days. Now that the weather has improved I hope you have all had the chance to get out and view the sky at night under some good conditions or are in the enviable position of having access to a solar telescope to see what prominences and spots there are on the sun.
Happy New Year to everyone. Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? I know I have a list but, unfortunately, some of mine have been broken already. Holiday treats just get the better of me every year. Two resolutions that I do have, though, are to “play” around a bit more with some astrophotography this year and to check off significantly more Messier objects. Here’s hoping the weather improves enough to see these through.