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November 2003

Chris Gainor

The Plaskett dome at the Centre of the Universe (357k jpg) - Copyright 2003 David LeeOn the last Saturday evening of October, a group of active observing members from the Victoria Centre drove up the winding road to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory for a night of showing the universe to the public.

Because the days had already grown short, that evening�s observing was longer than usual. Observing was in full swing around 7 p.m. and continued until the DAO closed to the public at 11 p.m. The Moon was new, so most of the observing concentrated on Mars, the Double Cluster, and the fuzzy wonders beyond our galaxy, including the Andromeda Galaxy, M13, and the Ring Nebula.

As usual, the members of the public who came up the hill to enjoy the programs at the Centre of the Universe (CU) visitor�s centre at the DAO were impressed by the sights we had to show them. Perhaps some of those people will join our Centre, and maybe some of those younger viewers will work up at the DAO one day, or even venture into space.

That night was the last public observing session at the Centre of the Universe until next April, when the RASCals will resume their weekly (and sometimes even more frequent) treks up Little Saanich Mountain.

RASC members have done public observing at the DAO for many summers, and the last three have been based at the CU. This year was busy with the public interest in Mars� close passage to Earth this summer.

With the CU in its third year of operation, the DAO and the RASC are pausing to take stock in our very successful collaboration. One reason for this dialogue is that the makeup of the staff at the Centre of the Universe is undergoing major change.

In October, a first meeting to discuss the past and the future of the RASC-DAO collaboration was held. A second meeting is taking place this month. I am pleased to report that the discussions have been frank but very constructive.

Work is beginning to upgrade the performance of the 16-inch public telescope at the CU. We are looking forward to working with the new staff on improving observing conditions both for us RASCals and the public.

We all agree that our public observing activities at the CU are vital to both the Victoria Centre and the DAO. We look forward to many more years of successful public observing.

I urge any members who have not taken part in this activity to join us next April when the days are getting longer and warmer, and Jupiter and Saturn will be wowing people getting their first looks through a telescope.

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Last updated: February 26, 2010

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