York will help celebrate astronomy at the Ontario Science Centre Saturday

York astronomy faculty and students will be on hand at the Toronto Astronomy Festival to help kick off the International Year of Astronomy at the Ontario Science Centre Saturday, Jan. 10.

The Toronto Astronomy Festival will run from 10am to 5pm at the Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., Toronto.

At the festival, York will highlight its online public viewing program, expected to launch on Monday, Feb. 2 in time to celebrate York’s 50th anniversary and the International Year of Astronomy. The University’s Department of Physics & Astronomy already hosts public viewing times where people can come to the York University Observatory to view the night sky. The online component of the public viewing program will enable people to view the stars through York’s telescopes from the comfort of their home computer. They will also be able to ask that the telescopes be moved so they can view a particular planet or star cluster and ask questions about what they are looking at or general questions about astronomy.

Left: The 40-cm telescope in York’s observatory

The Toronto Astronomy Festival will give York, along with many local and national astronomy organizations, the opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. The festival will also include talks by three renowned speakers in astronomy and space science. Science journalist Ivan Semeniuk will present “Superscope! The Future of Cosmic Exploration”, University of Toronto’s Ray Jayawardhana will discuss “Worlds Beyond: The Diversity of Extra-Solar Planets” and Discovery Channel’s Peter McMahon will present “Canada’s Star Stories: A Guide to Campsite Astronomy in Our Nation’s Wild Spaces”.

In addition, there will be astronomy workshops, displays and demonstrations, breathtaking images by Canadian astronomers and space-themed music, films and art. Visitors will also have the opportunity to observe the sun’s surface through safely filtered telescopes.

Admission to the festival is free, but regular fees apply for the Ontario Science Centre exhibit halls, the Shoppers Drug Mart Omnimax Theatre and parking. Tickets to the festival are limited. For advance tickets call 416-429-4100.

For more information about York’s public viewing program, visit the York University Observatory Web site. A link for the online component will be added in time for the launch.