Come join the Magical Milky Way tour on Mount Revelstoke Friday

Larry Pawlitsky
Larry Pawlitsky

The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is a yearlong celebration of astronomy, taking place in 2009 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations with a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

In 1609, Galileo Galilei first turned his primitive telescope to the night sky and made astounding discoveries that changed humankind’s understanding of our position in the Universe, including mountains and craters on the Moon, countless stars invisible to the naked eye, and moons around the planet Jupiter.

The main idea of the International Year Of Astronomy is to create a Galileo Moment for each participant … a moment of personal discovery and wonder that inspires further exploration.  Throughout 2009, people all over the world are being introduced to astronomy, in one way or another.

With that in mind and in conjunction with the Homecoming I have been asked by Rick Reynolds of Parks Canada to conduct an evening of sky watching near the summit of Mount Revelstoke National Park.  Parks Canada is giving us a wonderful opportunity to get away from the city lights by keeping the Mt Revelstoke road open up to Balsam Lake on Friday night, July 24.  I will be there with my telescope and binoculars and I invite you to join us. here will be no charge to people going up the mountain for the Milky Way Tour because Parks Canada waives the fee after 8 p.m.

Let me introduce you to some of the highlights of the summer night sky.   I’ll be your guide as we explore the marvellous starlit Milky Way.  Starting in the NE with Perseus, the Milky Way runs high overhead and down the length of the sky to Scorpius in the far southwest.  In between these points are many wonders to be seen…  like Star Clusters, Star Clouds, Nebulae, Jupiter and its moons, Messier objects, the far away Andromeda Galaxy, double stars as well as several constellations.  Binoculars are great for picking these objects out and if you want a closer look, I’ll have my telescope.  We may even see meteors, as the annual Perseid Meteor Shower will be slowly starting up and building to its peak on August 11-12.

It’s not often we get a chance like this — to be at the summit of a mountain with a clear and dark sky above us!  Bring your binoculars… and telescope if you have one, but it’s not necessary.  A lot of sky watching is best done with binoculars and the naked eye!  Binoculars will be provided by Parks Canada to those who don’t have them.  To make your experience more comfortable, bring a reclining lawn chair… and the high mountain air will be cool so dress warmly.

If Friday is cloudy we will try again on Saturday.  The show starts in deep twilight!  Roll up for the Magical Milky Way tour!

Clear Skies!