Astronomy Day

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Victoria Centre) will host the celebrations for International Astronomy Day. Join us and explore the mysteries of the universe!

Exhibitors – Clifford Carl Hall
Grind a mirror and build your own telescope at the telescope making station, try out telescopes and ask questions, learn how to take photos of the night sky with your own camera, get pointers on how to reduce your own light pollution, cruise the night sky during the day from a comfy seat and more!

Telescopes – Front Courtyard
Safely view the sun through a solar telescope (weather permitting)

Kids’ Area – Community Room
Kids can make their own astronomy and space souvenirs

Presentations – Newcombe Conference Hall

11:00 AM - Exploring a new world on the Edge of the Solar System, New Horizons and 2014 MU69
By Dr. JJ Kavelaars, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, NRC Herzberg

On January 1st, 2019 NASA's New Horizons spacecraft executed a flawless encounter of the small world 2014 MU69 also known as “Ultima Thule”. Our understanding of the nature of the outer solar system and processes of planet formation have been transformed by the very first resolved images of 2014 MU69. Now, four months after encounter, the imaging and spectroscopy from 2014 MU69 continue to trickle in. Dr. Kavelaars will describe the processes that enable this historic encounter to occur and the initial results from the spacecraft imaging.

Dr. JJ Kavelaars received his Ph.D. from the Department of Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston ON in 1998. He is an Astronomer at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria and is a member of the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre. His areas of interest include the outer solar system including the Kuiper belt. This specialty enabled him to assist in selecting a followup target for the New Horizons spacecraft after it flew by Pluto. While studying irregular planetary satellites JJ and his team discovered 23 moons surrounding Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In 2016 he discovered the sixth dwarf planet in the solar system.


12:00 PM - Space Suite I

1:00 PM - Observing Planet Formation around Young Stars
by Dr. Ruobing Dong, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria 

Planets form in gaseous disks surrounding newborn stars. The most direct way to learn how they form is to watch them forming in disks. In the past, this was difficult due to a lack of observational capability, and planet formation was a subject of theoretical research. This has now all changed thanks to amazing new instruments with unprecedented resolving power that have come online within the past decade. We are now able to to actually obtain images of proto-planetary disks and features such as gaps and spiral arms that are most likely associated with embedded planets. By comparing observations with theoretical models, the properties of these still forming planets may be constrained. Such imagery helps us understand how planets form. 

Dr. Ruobing Dong is an assistant professor in physics and astronomy at the University of Victoria. He specializes in the study of how planets form. He obtained his B.S. from Peking University in China, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Before joining UVic, he was a NASA Hubble Fellow at UC Berkeley, and a Bart J. Bok fellow at the University of Arizona.


2:00PM - Space Suite II


2:30 PM - Science & Storytelling: How discoveries of new worlds help tell stories of family
By Ria Voros and Dr. Elizabeth Tasker

Ria and Elizabeth seem to be authors of a very different type: Ria is a “Young Adult” novelist, while Elizabeth writes popular science. The first part of this talk will tackle a crucial question: why are they presenting together? The two authors will discuss how they came to work together unexpectedly through Ria’s novel. Ria will then explain the process and research for her novel, The Centre of the Universe and how the use of space metaphors help explain relationships between the characters. Elizabeth will then cast a scientific eye over these same metaphors, before moving on to talk in more depth about her own research and book, The Planet Factory.

Elizabeth Tasker is an astrophysicist at Japan’s national space agency, JAXA. Her research uses computer models to explore how stars and planets form. She is a keen science communicator, writing principally about planets and space missions for publications that have included Scientific American, Astronomy Magazine and Room, and she is a regular feature writer for the NASA​ NExSS  ‘Many Worlds’ online column. Her popular science book, The Planet Factory, comes out in paperback in Canada this April.

Ria Voros is a Young Adult author whose latest novel, The Centre of the Universe, explores the relationship between mothers and daughters and also explores a teen's passion for astronomy. Ria has an MFA in creative writing from UBC and her books have been nominated for several awards across the country. She writes, teaches and lives in Victoria.

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