Looking to the stars
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May 01, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Looking to the stars

Hamilton Mountain News

Thousands expected at astronomy and telescope show this weekend

 By Mark Newman, News staff 

Stargazing has never been so popular.

“What used to be the land of geekdom is now moving into mainstream,” said Andy Blanchard, past president of the Hamilton Centre chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. “We’re finding more and more people 55 and up are taking it on as a hobby and we’re finding a lot more youth are coming into astronomy at a lot earlier age than has ever happened before.”

Blanchard said thousands of astronomy buffs and those looking to do some casual or serious star watching are expected to visit the 2014 AstroCATS Canadian astronomy telescope show and conference at the David Braley Athletic Centre at the Fennell campus of Mohawk College this weekend.

“You’re going to be seeing everything from beginner telescopes which will probably cost $50 top $70 (and) there’s going to be one telescope here with a mount combined would probably be (worth) $100,000.”

Blanchard, who is co-chair of the event which is open to the public, said along with the vendors there will be a variety of seminars and speakers discussing astrophotography, astronomy and buying a telescope for beginners.

He noted even with a basic, lower priced telescope there is much to see in the night sky.

“(You can see) the rings around Saturn, the bands around Jupiter and Jupiter’s moons and Mars right now is quite spectacular as well.”

Blanchard said there are telescopes in the $700 to $1,000 range that can automatically find what you are looking for and with the right attachments you can reflect the image onto a laptop computer, TV screen or your smart phone.

He noted there are narrow band filters available that can eliminate artificial light from the city.

Blanchard said there will quite a show in the night sky in the coming months.

“What’s starting pop up on the horizon right now is the Andromeda galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy takes up an area five times bigger than the moon and you really can’t see it with your eyes unless you’re far up north, but with a telescope you can see it very nicely,” Blanchard said. “There’s going to be lots of meteor showers this summer, there’s another lunar eclipse coming and Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are gorgeous right now…when you see a planet through a telescope, you’re hooked, it’s just beautiful.”

The telescope show and conference runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

See www.astrocats.ca for admission costs and other information.


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