More than 1,000 science fans from across the Lower Mainland enjoyed the StarryNights@SFU Forever science extravaganza last month at the Burnaby campus.

New SFU observatory $8,000 closer

October 7, 2010

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"Before the Big Bang there was nothing. No clouds, no stars, no planets and no peanut butter."

That’s how one young boy summed up the lessons he learned from an action-packed program of science activities during StarryNights@SFU Forever, a science extravaganza held in September at the Burnaby campus.

The event attracted more than 1,000 science fans from around the Lower Mainland and raised almost $8,000 towards the remaining $2 million required to build a $4-million astronomical teaching observatory and science outreach centre.

Physics professor and co-organizer, Howard Trottier, says about 80 per cent of those who attended the event were families, and many said it was their first visit to an SFU public science event.

Says Trottier: "I was stopped countless times in the ‘Cosmic Hall of Science’; at points along the route of the student-led ‘Amazing Solar System Race"; and at the barbecue by kids and adults beaming with joy and full of gratitude for our collective efforts."

The physicist-cum-astronomer was also pleased with community response to the event. The Burnaby Mountain Business Association hosted a family barbecue with support from SFU Community Trust, generating $2,174 in donations, while the Vancouver Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada matched individual member contributions, donating $4,540. The remaining donations came from a silent auction, t-shirt sales and direct gifts.

While Trottier and co-organizer Sophie Lavieri have plans for further fundraisers, there is an ongoing public series of evening star parties at the Burnaby campus (, as well as daytime Science in Action workshops for grade-school students (


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