An aurora storm is photographed over Victoria as observed from Taylor Beach in Metchosin. The annual Star Party on the nearby municipal grounds this weekend is expected to attract experienced and novice astronomers alike.

Great weekend to gaze into the heavens in Metchosin

Stargazing enthusiasts will gather in Metchosin to observe and listen
to presentations

A group of stargazers is hoping for warm evenings and clear skies this weekend as Metchosin hosts the annual Star Party, put on by the Victoria branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).

There’ll be presentations by guest speakers, door prizes and of course, plenty of stargazing to highlight the weekend-long event, which starts Friday (Aug. 26) and ends on Sunday.

While organizer Sherry Buttnor expects the majority of those in attendance will be experienced astronomers, everyone is welcome. She believes the weekend will serve as a great introduction for anyone looking to get into the hobby. Some of the society’s telescopes will be available for anyone who doesn’t have their own equipment.

Rita Mann, a researcher with a PhD in astronomy, will deliver the first presentation of the weekend, Friday at 8:30 p.m. Her talk will centre around the origins of the solar system, answering questions about the system’s genesis using a powerful telescope that is sensitive to the conditions in which planets are born.

Maan H. Hani, a PhD student at the University of Victoria, will present on Saturday night and discuss some of his research about the formation of galaxies and super massive black holes.

Buttnor, a Metchosin resident and space enthusiast for the better part of four decades, has seen an increased interest in outer space in the digital age, but said many are using the Internet, rather than telescopes, to observe the wonders of the universe.

While she admits that orbiting telescopes are taking amazing deep space photos, they are no replacement for observing the sky for yourself. “There’s nothing like looking at it in real time … You can look at glorious pictures of Saturn from any number of satellites or spacecraft that have gone out that way. But when people actually look at it live in a telescope and realize that the light they are looking at in the telescope left Saturn earlier when they were having dinner, it’s a real feeling of connectedness,” she explained.

Metchosin remains one of the best places in the region for stargazing, although Buttnor believes that continued development in the West Shore, particularly in Langford, has affected the quality of the viewing opportunities.

“It’s hurting us big time. I moved out here in 1992 and the sky was black, it was really nice, and now the sky’s kind of a light, muddy brown colour,” she said.

Even with all her years of learning and observation, Buttnor continues to discover new aspects of the vast night sky.

“There’s so much out there to see and learn about. It’s a lifetime thing and you could never get to the end of it. It’s so much fun,” she said.

Buttnor believes that some remnants of the Perseid meteor shower should be visible this weekend, along with a host of planets.

The Star Party will take place at the Metchosin municipal grounds. The event is free, but a $20 donation is suggested for those who choose to stay overnight.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Most Read