2014 General Assembly in Victoria

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President's Message - April 2005

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April 2005

Scott Mair

I'm looking forward to April. Not only will the wildflowers be out, and some of my favorite birds will back in town after their winter vacation; I get to set-up my telescope at the Centre of the Universe!

A big part of the experience is the chance to show visitors the stars. To listen to the squeals of delight when they figure out that's really Saturn they're looking at; to help them discover where the Ring Nebula hides in Lyra; to be cloaked in their awed silence when they realize how long starlight from the Andromeda Galaxy has been traveling to reach them.

I also go to enjoy the company of our fellow amateurs that regularly set-up on the summit of Observatory Hill. It's an entertaining collection of people. Some, who are just starting out, are there to pick-up pointers on how to get the most out of their new telescopes. They don't realize that I get as much from them as they remind me what it was like to see M13 for the first time. Some come to test-out their new equipment - and I get the chance to tryout all the different types of telescopes my next scope could be. I get practical experience on the difference between long focal lengths and short; refractor and reflectors; Telrads and Rigel Finders; Go to and push to�

Most of all I go for the ghosts. In the silent spinning of the great white dome I'm reminded of all the astronomers that reached back into space and time to unravel the story of the Universe from this site. JS Plaskett and Pearce confirmed the rotation and size of our galaxy; McKellar discovered molecules (including organic ones) in interstellar space; Beals showed that interstellar matter is clumpy not spread evenly through space; and in the search for potentially hazardous near-earth asteroids the Plaskett Telescope has played a vital role.

The creaking of the shutters doors of the Plaskett dome remind me of the squeals all the pajama clad kids that scrambled up rickety ladders to peer through the eyepiece of what was once the largest telescope in the world. Saturday public telescope viewing has been part of the DAO since the telescope was completed in 1918.

How many chances to you have to be part of history? Each Saturday I set-up my telescope I continue a tradition that began 87 years ago.

Feel free to join the fun yourself (if you don't already). Saturday public viewing (from 7 - 11 pm) begins in April and lasts until the end of October. If Saturday's don't work for you, CU expands their night time hours to 7 days/week from May 21 to September 30. 


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Last updated: December 12, 2013

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