York star gazes this Saturday to mark International Year of Astronomy

York University will host a day of astronomy-related events marking the International Year of Astronomy and the impending 52nd anniversary of the Sputnik satellite launch.

The STAR Symposium will take place Saturday, Oct. 3, starting at 11am, on the University’s Keele campus, and will offer interactive activities for families, guest speakers, rooftop star viewing and tour of the York University Observatory.

Interactive astronomy demonstrations will take place in Vari Hall from 11am to 4pm. York’s cosmic ray detector will be on hand as will the York University Rover Team, showcasing their award-winning Mars rover. Visitors will be able to quiz the ask-an-expert panel, watch a chemistry magic show and pet a comet. In addition, Vari Hall will be filled with photos and diagrams of planets, galaxies and nebulae.

Learn about cosmic rays and high-energy particles, how craters are formed, what a planet’s magnetic field looks like and what would happen if someone went into space without a spacesuit.

Evening events include talks from science journalist Ivan Semeniuk (left) of the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Bob McDonald (right), national science commentator for CBC Television and CBC Newsworld and host of CBC Radio’s "Quirks & Quarks".  

Semeniuk is a former US bureau chief for New Scientist magazine and a columnist and field producer for Discovery Channel’s science show "Daily Planet". In 2007, he was named a Knight Fellow in Science Journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Visitors can take part in a free star-viewing party on the rooftop of the Arboretum Parking Garage (weather permitting), from 10pm to 1am. Tours of the University’s observatory will depart from the arboretum garage every half hour.

Above: A YouTube video of a prototype of the cosmic ray detector showing particles that have been hit by high energy cosmic rays, the white streaks appearing in the mist

For more information, including ticket information for talks by Semeniuk and McDonald, visit the Star Symposium Web site.

The symposium is a collaboration between the York University Astronomy Club and the Department of Physics & Astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering.

Admission to the daytime events, star viewing and observatory tours are free. The evening event with Semeniuk and McDonald is free to York students and $10 for the general public. To register to see the speakers, click here.

For more information on the observatory, visit the York University Observatory Web site.