The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO) and RASC Victoria Centre will be hosting nineteen Saturday evenings at the DAO, featuring guest speakers, solar and nighttime observing with telescopes provided by RASC Victoria Centre volunteers, tours of the historic Plaskett telescope, and more! Rain or shine, we will have something for everyone to experience.
Dates begin with International Astronomy Day on April 29th. Here are all the dates:
- May 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th
- June 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th
- July 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th
- August 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th
- September 16th and 23rd
PLEASE NOTE: due to the extreme traffic congestion in previous years, admission is now by ticket ONLY. Tickets are FREE and will be available during the week preceding each Saturday evening from our EventBrite site: http://daostarparties.eventbrite.ca
See you there!
Summer Star Parties at the DAO run every Saturday evening from April 29th to September 23rd with some exceptions as noted in the schedule above. To enhance your experience please note the following venues before you arrive. Activities are broken up in to seven main areas,
- Lecture Hall – This summer we have a full slate of topical presentations from the astronomy community which includes researchers, authors and passionate amateurs. There are possibilities of surprise guest speakers. Come early most presentations start at 8 p.m. and some though not all repeat in the evening.
- Plaskett Dome – The dome is a heritage site, and not to be missed. Tours are approximately 45 minutes long and start at 7:45 p.m. Two other tours start at 8:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
- Planetarium – Planetarium shows run 6 times during the evening and are approximately 30 minutes in length. Come inside and learn about the constellations, and even a little sky lore!
- 16” Telescope – This research-grade telescope was originally located on Mt Kobau near Osoyoos for site testing towards potentially building an observatory there. It was then moved here to the DAO, and then from another area on the DAO property to this site when the Centre of the Universe building was constructed in the early 1990s. It is now available for viewing “live” through an eyepiece. The telescope is open subject to weather conditions most of the evening.
- RASC Member Telescopes – Royal Astronomical Society of Canada members have been long standing participants at Saturdays nights at the DAO for nearly 100 years. Weather permitting, members will take you on a telescopic tour of the evening sky.
- Information Area – There are volunteers available to help you with your evening visit and if you’re interested they can let you know how you can get involved in astronomy activities in Victoria. Look for kid friendly displays from Science Ventures in this same area.
- Interpretive Centre Displays – The displays from the former interpretive centre show Canada’s role in astronomy and contain a number of historical artifacts of interest.
Summer Star Parties at the DAO 2017 Presentations
Summer Saturdays’ Children’s Programmes
7:45-8:00 p.m. “Out of this World” Interactive Presentation – Auditorium
8:00-8:15 p.m. “Stories in the Skies” – Planetarium
8:15-8:30 p.m. “Meet the Telescope” Tour – Plaskett Dome
8:30-10:00 p.m. Children’s Activities – Information Area
- Make and Take Craft Tables
- Family Scavenger Hunt
- IPad Interactives
- Night Sky Viewing
July 15th, 2017 – Sketching Astronomical Objects – David Lee and Dr. Dorothy Paul
8 – 9 p.m.
Abstract: Today media shows us beautiful images of astronomy created from the data of digital sensors. The origins of science show us that we have documented natural events well before the digital age using analog tools. Tonight we will talk about the history of scientific observation and the role of drawing what we see as it relates to astronomy.
My love of dark skies traces back to pre-school summer nights, when my Mother took us out to look up at the star-studded sky from the middle of a hayfield and pointed out constellations with Greek names, names I already recognized from children’s story books! Later, I found that sketching helps me look more closely and remember better than composing words in a journal or snapping photographs, neither of which conjures up the object or scene as vividly as my amateurish drawings. Plus, a sketch can be corrected and added to when the opportunity arises to look at the subject again. Doing this can deepen your understanding and reinforce your memory of the object and the whole experience. – Dorothy Paul
Bio: David Lee is an amateur astronomer who has supported public outreach for astronomy and the sciences for over two decades. He is also an avid photographer who has found himself becoming more and more a tourist of the night sky.
July 22nd, 2017 – Peering through Nature’s Telescope – Gravitational Lensing as a Window into the Distant Universe – Karun Thanjavur
8 – 9 p.m.
Abstract: Gravitational lensing, the “bending” of light in a gravitational field is one of the many awe inspiring phenomena predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, and which have since been unambiguously borne out by observations. Since the first confirmation of a gravitational lens in 1979 -nearly 45 years after it was hypothesized- the catalog of confirmed lenses now runs to a few hundreds. Aided by the rapid advances in telescope and instrumentation technologies, the magnification boost provided by gravitational lensing – Nature’s telescope – is now being harnessed to probe astrophysical processes in extremely distant, faint objects even in the very early universe with a level of detail that would otherwise be exceedingly challenging. My presentation aims to explain the principles of gravitational lensing using basic physics, trace its development as a powerful observational tool, and present two applications and related results drawn from my own research.
Bio: As an observational cosmologist, discovering new gravitational lenses and developing innovative techniques to harness them as observational tools are amongst my research interests. As part of my doctoral thesis at UVic in 2009, I developed an automated technique to search for lenses in wide-field, pan-chromatic images. These explorations of the distant universe come after a full career as a mechanical engineer, specializing in control systems and robotics. Born and raised in a small town in South India, I completed my education up to a Bachelors degree in engineering there, before emigrating to Canada to pursue graduate studies first in Robotics, and later in Astrophysics. Even though undergraduate teaching is the focus of my current position as a senior lab instructor in astronomy at UVic, I enjoy sharing the excitement of science and my research efforts with the public through these outreach initiatives.
July 29th, 2017 – Journey to the Edge of the Solar System – Dr. JJ Kavelaars
8 – 9 p.m.
Abstract: Starting in the 1990s astronomers began discovering a vast population of small planets in distant orbits around the Sun. This reservoir of material, orbiting some 6 billion kilometres from the Sun, claims Pluto as its largest member. In this lecture I will explore the early discovery of this new region of our solar system, discuss some of the implication for planet formation that have been gleaned from studying this group of objects. I will also present some highlights from observations taken with the New Horizons spacecraft during its encounter with Pluto and describe what we hope to learn when New Horizons flies-past 2014 MU69, a much small member of this population, in January 2019.
Bio: Dr JJ Kavelaars received his PhD from Queen’s University in 1998 and is now a Research Officer at the National Research Council Herzberg Institute for. While training as an extra-galactic astronomer who was mostly concerned with the size and scale of the Universe, Dr Kavelaars became interested in the structure of the outer solar system.
Since 1997 JJ has discovered over 20 small satellites of the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and over 1000 minor planets (Kuiper Belt Objects) in the far reaches of the outer solar system. He is a world expert on the dynamical structure of the outer solar system and the processes of planetary system formation. Dr. Kavelaars is a co-Investigator on NASA’s New Horizons space mission that is currently exploring the Kuiper belt.