Star sightings at UTM


While most students were relaxing during reading week, University of Toronto staff and students, along with members of the Mississauga community, gathered for the bi-monthly get-together of the Royal Canadian Astronomical Society.

The event started inside the CCT Building, outside of which was a display of different telescopes that allowed the participants to observe the various constellations, planets and the moon. Inside, a member of the society distributed a free astronomical device called the Star-Finder. This device allows users to turn the dial on the particular time and day of the year and follow coordinates to find the major constellations on the night sky. Alongside the Star-Finder, the society provided event-goers with free hot chocolate. One highlight of the event was moon-gazing, whereby various members observed a close-up shot of the moon and its craters.

“I’ve never seen the moon up that close, it looks like a photograph except it is real-time and the fine details on the surface are remarkable on a night when the moon is not in its full-phase,” said attendee Christie Sanders.

Another highlight was the unusual appearance of what looked like a red star in the sky but was actually the planet Mars. Many spectators gathered outside the South Building’s courtyard to observe the planet, which appeared distinct and bright red from the other surrounding celestial bodies.

Back inside, the audiences watched the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Steven Spielberg.

RCAS executive John Marcese thanked the University of Toronto Alumni association for supporting the Royal Canadian Astronomical Society and its events. Marchese also bought attention to the society’s free meetings and purpose of offering free beginner level information on astronomy for all university students and astronomy amateurs. He encouraged the UTM students to turn out to the society’s meetings and take advantage of the group’s services.

In his closing remarks, Marchese also brought attention to the next activity of the society at the Riverwood Conservatory Area several blocks away from UTM, where the society members observe stars and planets in a more suitable setting for star-gazing.

The RASC is a national not-for-profit organization devoted to the advancement of astronomy and the allied sciences founded in 1903 under the Charter of King Edward VII. It’s headquarters is located in Toronto, with local chapters in Mississauga and other sections of Canada. The society is composed mostly of astronomy enthusiasts and beginners who attempt to educate the local public of the age old science of star-gazing. The society has been holding its meeting at UTM for the past few years and caters to people of all professional and educational backgrounds who have a hobby or curiosity about the sky and the celestial heavens.