Major observatory donated to RASC

Photo: David Dunlap Observatory
David Dunlap Observatory

Richmond Hill, ON – In what astronomers might describe as “stellar news,” Corsica Development Inc. is donating the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) to the facility’s long-time stewards – the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre. The observatory is 80 years old this year. It houses what is still the largest optical telescope in the country with a mirror measuring 74 inches (1.9meters) across.

The decision was made in 2012 by Corsica to transfer the Administration Building and Dome to an agency that would honor the spirit of the Observatory and ensure its long-term viability. Members of the RASC Toronto Centre have been managing and operating the David Dunlap Observatory for the last six years and are the resident experts.

Corsica, which purchased the 190 acre Observatory property from the University of Toronto in 2008, is also donating nearly 100 acres of the land to the Town of Richmond Hill.

RASC Toronto Centre has been involved in public outreach programs at the Dunlap Observatory since it first opened in 1935. The registered charity took on full responsibility for the Observatory and Administration building in 2009, including maintaining and operating the largest optical telescope in Canada. “We’re honored by this incredibly generous gift,” says Paul Mortfield, President of RASC Toronto Centre. “Fred DeGasperis was very supportive of our work at the DDO and our commitment as stewards of the Observatory and telescope. We will always be grateful for the confidence he showed in us.”

The historic buildings will continue to be a centre for education and science literacy for the community.

For the last six years RASC Toronto Centre member volunteers have managed the facility and provided hundreds of award-winning educational and outreach programs to York Region families and students. They’ve done so without the use of local tax dollars.

Centre members say they’re looking forward to working collaboratively with the town on new programs and projects that will continue to benefit town residents.

Please see the announcement on for more information.

Too much of a good thing?

Photo: Aurora by David Nuti
Aurora as Seen in Canada, August 2013 – David Nuti

CAA member David Nuti was on vacation in backwoods Canada recently. He did a little fishing and, at night, took full advantage of clear, truly dark skies to do a little stargazing. He did note, however, that his view of the stars was obscured at times by bright lights in the sky. No, it wasn’t light pollution in the sense with which we are all too familiar. Nuti’s view of the stars was hindered by the sky itself in the form of brilliant auroras or “Northern Lights!” Too much of a good thing, perhaps? He shared a couple of photographs with us of a display that took place around midnight, Aug. 13 – 14, 2013.

Photo: Aurora as Seen in Canada, August 2013 - David Nuti
Aurora as Seen in Canada, August 2013 – David Nuti

Photographic Notes: Nikon D5000, 18mm lens (27mm equiv.), top image – ISO 450, f/5.0, 30 sec.; bottom image – ISO 3200, f/5.0, 40 sec.

Andromeda from Up North

Photo: Andromeda Galaxy by David Nuti
Andromeda Galaxy with Two Satellite Galaxies

On a recent trip to the back woods of Canada, CAA member David Nuti did a little fishing and a little stargazing. We don’t know how the fishing went, but when it came to sky-watching, the “big one” did not get away. Nuti shared a beautiful astrophotograph with the membership and we’re sharing it here: the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) appears as a beautiful cloud in the center of this image. Closer inspection reveals he caught a couple of Andromeda’s “satellite galaxies” — smaller “island universes” captured by Andromeda’s enormous gravitational attraction. Messier 110 (M110) is seen here as a glowing spot directly above Andromeda’s glowing center. M32 appears as a golden spot little below and to the right of the galactic giant. Some curving structure may be seen in Andromeda’s faint disk of stars and dust.

Photographic Notes: Nikon D5000, f/5.6, 181 seconds, ISO 3200, 300mm lens — 450mm equivalent