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Starry Nights

Excited kids gaze into the heavens during an SFU Starry Nights party at the Burnaby campus.

Starry Nights delight star-mad kids of all ages

February 4, 2010

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The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) celebrating Galileo Galilei’s historic first telescope observations in 1609 may have ended, but that’s not slowing Howard Trottier down one bit.

On the contrary, the SFU physics professor and his 800-member strong Starry Nights @ SFU group are planning to continue and even exceed their celestial celebrations and education for Lower Mainland kids and adults this year.

"We easily surpassed our goal of hosting more than 2,009 elementary school-aged kids at our daytime astronomy workshops in honour of IYA2009," says Trottier, who teaches SFU’s Physics 190 introductory astronomy class.

"In fact, we hosted more than 2,150 kids along with 300 adults from 70 different groups and we and our generous funding partners donated 85 high-quality ‘Galileo Moment’ starter telescopes to groups and families.

"Plus we had more than 1,000 guests at our evening star parties and events."

The daytime workshops at the Burnaby campus provide students, their parents, guardians and teachers with training in the use of the telescope, along with the basics of observing the Moon, planets, stars and other extraterrestrial wonders.

The workshops include free educational materials including a star wheel produced by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RSAC) and astronomy trading cards.

The Starry Nights team, which includes volunteers from the physics department and the student astronomy club, hold their stargazing evenings at the Burnaby campus, and occasionally at community locations with their partners at the RASC-Vancouver Centre.

Students, their teachers, and families can use either the department’s impressive eight-inch portable telescope or bring their Galileo Moment telescopes to use under the guidance of experienced astronomers.

For directions, blogs and pics, a digest of all IYA2009 activities and the latest on upcoming Starry Night events—which are free and open to the public—visit www.sfu.ca/starrynights.

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