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Victoria Centre is part of the national Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which is dedicated to bringing information about astronomy to the general public.

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April 2003

Chris Gainor

A recent newspaper article promoting an event at the Centre of the Universe proclaimed that staff from the Dominion Astrological Observatory would be present, and went on to inform us that the Earth is only 150,000 kilometres from the Sun. Fortunately, the cool temperature that day reassured me that we were not experiencing the ultimate case of global warming.

Incidents like this, and many casual conversations with our friends and associates, tell us that ignorance about our hobby, and indeed about the universe we live in, is rampant. That�s why events such as Astronomy Day on Saturday May 10 are so important.

RASC members who bring their telescopes or their enthusiasm to Astronomy Day and to observing sessions at the Centre of the Universe are always struck by the wonder and enthusiasm of people when they get their first glimpse of the lunar surface, the rings of Saturn, or a far-off galaxy.

Those experiences give people new knowledge about where they live, and in some cases, inspires them to join our ranks. Our outreach efforts strike small but important blows against the low level of astronomical knowledge that leads to things like excessive street lighting and poor support for astronomical research.

To keep institutions like the Dominion, er, Astrophysical Observatory going, people need to know about the importance of the work that is done there. In the absence of public knowledge and support, politicians won�t fund such research.

When we go to municipal councils in an effort to halt wasteful and unnecessary lighting at night, they and the voters who elect them need to know that astronomy is a great hobby, and that the work amateur and professional astronomers do contributes to better things right here on Earth.

As we learned again in February, space exploration can be dangerous and frustrating. The great discoveries made by astronauts and researchers are now regularly denigrated by nonsense such as the current Moon landing hoax stories.

Events like Astronomy Day give us the opportunity to inform the public about the importance of astronomy and space. And on top of that, Astronomy Day is lots of fun.

So when Sid Sidhu and Sandy Barta call for volunteers for May 10, please come and help out. You�ll be glad you did.

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Ed: Please call Sid or Sandy to volunteer for Astronomy Day (contact info) and they will get back to you.

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Last updated: February 26, 2010

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is dedicated to the promotion of astronomy and its related sciences; we espouse the scientific method, and support dissemination of discoveries and theories based on that well-tested method.

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