If you can’t travel to Mars, going to this weekend’s Star Party in Metchosin might be the next best thing.
Astronomers from across Greater Victoria are gathering at the Metchosin municipal ground for a weekend of gazing at stars, watching solar storms and camping out.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada-Victoria Chapter hosts the party, which is open to the public.
Metchosin astronomer Sherry Buttnor leads a workshop called Astronomy 101 for anyone wanting to learn the basics. She’ll also host a guided telescope walk on Friday night (Aug. 17).
During the day, Buttnor said many members will have their telescopes set up to watch magnetic storms on the sun.
“It’s absolutely true you are never supposed to look at the sun unless you have the proper equipment. You can do it safely if you know what you are doing,” she said, explaining that she uses a neutral density white light filter on the end of her telescope.
Buttnor has been involved in astronomy for 30 years and has even built her own telescopes.
In the early mornings, the Andromeda galaxy is one of Buttnor’s favourite sights.
“It’s our nearest neighbour. It’s 2.1 million lights years away, but as far as astronomical distances go, it’s right next door,” Buttnor said. “I like to take what I’ve learned and share with others.”
Families and children are encouraged to come out and learn about all types of astronomy.
“Kids look through the eyepiece and they are wide-eyed at what they see,” Buttnor said.
Saturday afternoon, from 4 to 6 p.m., children’s activities include crafts involving planets and comets as well as face painting.
“It’s best if people bring their own telescopes,” Buttnor said. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, even if it’s just a drug store telescope, everyone’s welcome.”
Throughout the weekend there will be series of workshops and lectures as well as plenty of time to look into the universe. All flashlights must have tape over the end to dim the light.
The star party runs from Friday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. to Sunday, Aug. 19 at noon. There is no charge to attend the star party, but donations are appreciated. Food and drink is not provided. For more information, go to victoria.rasc.ca/events/StarParty. The Metchosin muncipal grounds is located at 4450 Happy Valley Rd.
Friday, Aug. 17
• 8 p.m. door prizes
• 8:30 p.m. Speaker Dr. J.J. Kavelaars Senior Research Officer at the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
• 9:30 p.m. Guided telescope walk and Astronomy 101
Saturday, Aug. 18
• Solar viewing all day
• 1 p.m. astronomy swap meet
• 2 p.m. workshops on spectroscopy and observing lists and awards
• 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. activities for kids
• 8 p.m. door prizes
• 8:30 p.m. Speaker Dr. Cassandra Fallscheer, Postdoctoral, University of Victoria, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
• 9:30 p.m. Guided Telescope Walk and Binocular Tour of the sky by Scott Mair