Web-extra (April 12, 2018): Different Ways To Celebrate Astronomy Day;
on April 21/22.
By Mark Narwa.
Astronomy Day was created in 1973 by Doug Berger, an amateur astronomer, who was then the president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California.
Mr. Berger decided that rather than having to convince people to travel far distances to visit observatory open houses, why not bring the telescopes closer to busy locations where the public is, such as shopping malls, parks, and street corners. His idea was a success and Astronomy Day became a hit among the public. Today, Astronomy Day is celebrated all over the world as well as in Canada, including Ottawa, to promote and bring the joy of astronomy to the general public, by professional and amateur astronomers setting up telescopes and hosting educational outreach events in public areas.
The spring Astronomy Day is celebrated between mid April to mid May, depending on when the Saturday closest to the First Quarter Moon occurs. In 2007, the Astronomical League added a fall Astronomy Day which takes place between mid September to mid October on the Saturday closest to the First Quarter Moon. This was done because of seasonal conditions in different parts of the country. This year, the spring Astronomy Day is will take place on April 21, which is the day before the First Quarter Moon. The autumn Astronomy Day will take place October 13, 2018.
In Ottawa, Astronomy Day is celebrated in the spring by the Ottawa Valley Astronomy and Observers Group (OAOG). The OAOG will be hosting a free all day public stargazing event in the parking lot next to Indigo (Chapters) bookstore at the Silver City Shopping Centre (2401 City Park Drive) from 10am to 10pm. The OAOG will have a variety of telescopes of varying sizes and types for the public to look through. Some of the attractions to look at will be the Sun, the Moon and the planets. There will also be educational displays and handouts for visitors to take home.
If one cannot attend a public Astronomy Day event on April 21, there are other things you can do on your own or with family and friends to celebrate the day to become acquainted with astronomy, without any equipment. If the sky is clear at about 7:00pm, go outside and have a look at the 6 day old Moon in the southwestern sky. Once the Sun starts to set, look at the western sky from about 8:00pm to 10:00pm and see if you can spot a very bright object; that object will be the planet Venus. At about 9:25pm turn southeast and spot a bright object rising in the sky; this will be the planet Jupiter. Then, look high in the northern sky and see if you can spot the seven stars that make up the Big Dipper. If you are still awake and the sky is clear in the morning of April 22, from about 2:00am to 5:00am catch a glimpse of some meteors from the Lyrid meteor shower. There could be from 5 to 18 meteors an hour in the northeastern sky. If the weather does not cooperate on the 21st, there is always the next clear night to go out and enjoy the night sky.
If you already have some knowledge in astronomy, you can borrow a telescope from the Imagine Space at the Nepean Centrepointe library for a seven day loan period. In Kitchissippi, both the Rosemount and Carlingwood libraries have a good selection of books and DVDs on astronomy. You can also check out the Ottawa Public Library’s online catalogue for books, magazines and DVDs on astronomy and have them transferred from other libraries to the Rosemount or Carlingwood Libraries. There are many retailers in the Kitchissippi area that sell Astronomy magazines. You can also check out these magazine websites for some free information and sign up for their free e-newsletter.
Sky and Telescope
Here is a list of astronomy groups of amateur astronomers in the Ottawa area that host events and offer information on astronomy.
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Ottawa Centre
Ottawa Valley Astronomy and Observers Group (OAOG)
Ottawa Astronomy Friends (OAFs)