Saturday Night Public Observing Returns to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

Posted by as Special Events

For release June 18, 2014

The Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is pleased to announce that the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory will be open for public observing on seven Saturday nights this summer.

The grounds of the DAO will open from 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for the Saturday night observing sessions on July 5, 12 and 19, August 2, 9 and 16, and September 6. Location: 5071 W Saanich Rd., Victoria, BC V9E 2E7.

Please download the poster (1.8Mb PDF) and stick it on your fridge as a reminder, and take another to your local store to post.

On these evenings, RASC members will use their telescopes to show visitors the Moon, planets, stars and other objects in the sky. As well, these evenings will include audio-visual presentations and astronomy lectures inside the historic Plaskett Telescope. These inside activities will take place regardless of the weather conditions.

The National Research Council of Canada is providing its astronomical facilities for the RASC’s summer viewing activities. While the Centre of the Universe educational centre will not be open during these evenings, the NRC is making it available this summer for space-themed camps for young people from Grade 3 to 8 run by the Science Venture program at the University of Victoria.

“We are pleased that our members will be on Little Saanich Mountain again this summer showing the wonders of the universe to members of the public,” said Nelson Walker, president of the Victoria Centre of the RASC. “Our history of public outreach at the DAO goes back decades.”

After the closure of the Centre of the Universe facility at the end of last summer, various community groups met with NRC officials to examine ways of continuing public access to the DAO. This year, Science Venture and the Victoria Centre of the RASC are offering programs, and it is hoped that in the coming months a new organization will be established to operate programs at the Centre of the Universe.

On Astronomy Day in May this year, we had a highly successful event at the DAO, and more than 200 people visited the Plaskett Telescope despite poor weather that prevented any observing that night,” Walker said. “We would like to thank the NRC for their cooperation, which makes all these activities possible.”

Please be aware that although we are open until 11:30 pm the gate to the hill will close for new visitors at 10:30 pm each evening. The Observatory Hill is restricted to 300 people at any one time so there is a chance that you may be asked to wait at the bottom of the Hill before being allowed to go up. Please follow the directions of the commissionaires for parking. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes and bring a sweater or jacket for cooler times after dark. We welcome all ages. There is no registration or reservations and all programs are free. We hope to see you there.



For more information, contact: Nelson Walker, RASC Victoria Centre, 250-477-4820. See also: RASC Victoria Centre and Friends of the DAO on facebook

11 Responses to “Saturday Night Public Observing Returns to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory”

  1. President's Message - November 2014 - RASC Victoria

    […] day event held in a downtown Victoria landmark, and the successful resurrection of public tours and night-sky viewing from the DAO after they appeared to be lost among government budget cuts which seem to have become so common […]

  2. Lauri Roche- Past President RASC Victoria Centre

    We apologize to those two or three visitor’s cars that were not able to get up onto the hill last Saturday evening. We were remiss in not letting the public know that, although we are open until just about 11:30, the last entry for new visitors is 10:30 pm. As we have to start finishing the tours and taking down telescopes before 11:15 it would not leave new visitors very much time to see anything by the time they parked and then walked up to the observatory on the hill. This information is now on our website and I hope will help our visitors in making plans for their evenings.

    We have three evenings left: August 9th, August 16th and September 6th. Please join us!

  3. Jennifer MacIntosh

    We are thinking about coming to the party on August 9, and are wondering how the super moon will affect viewing of the night sky?

  4. Ms. Brahe

    I am very excited that these events are happening. Unfortunately, I arrived at 10:28, behind 2 cars- only to be told the gate was closing at 10:30 and to turn around go back home. We were the last car in line. Perhaps the public should be made aware of this before driving 45 minutes. Also, if these parties are so popular perhaps we can charge a small donation from the public to ensure these continue!

  5. ryan allison

    does everyone get in who goes we only have one night we can go and dont want to miss it any reservations?

  6. Ian Johnston

    Did the tour last nite – cloudy skies, but just being able to see the scope and learn about the observatory was great! We really enjoyed the evening spent there immensely. Many thanks from a visitor from Yellowknife!

  7. Webmaster

    Observing through the 72 inch Plaskett telescope is weather dependent, as is observing through the amateur telescopes setup in the parking lot. This evening looks cloudy, so tours of the historic Plaskett will be conducted, but the dome is unlikely to be opened.

  8. Nelson Bridwell

    Will the public be able to observe through the 72 inch Plaskett reflector, as well as small amateur scopes?


  9. Trudy Spiller

    My 8 year old just studied the solar system in grade 3 and she is ecstatic about being able to look at what she studied. Thank you

  10. Webmaster

    No tickets required, Judy! Just show up.

  11. Judy Gilliam

    Do we need tickets to get in ? I have wanted to go there for so many years .
    Twice was taken there by friends and both times the gates were locked . So don’t want to miss this . Turning 65 this year would make for a great year if I could get in there .

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