media release

Supermoons and celestial activity prompt rising interest in SFU’s ‘star party’

September 08, 2023

Thanks to a summer of notable celestial activity, including a third supermoon, interest in SFU’s weekly star party—Starry Nights—is about to rise to new heights with plans to expand the program online, inviting even more to join. Organizers say the sky’s the limit when it comes to welcoming an increasingly enthusiastic crowd to learn more about astronomy.

The program has been attracting crowds of more than 200 star-enthusiasts to the SFU Burnaby campus and its Trottier Observatory on clear-weather Friday nights, and hundreds more are expected to join in a new monthly online event starting September 29.

“People everywhere continue to be captivated by astronomy and the activity of the moon and stars, particularly over the past year, and we hope to open the window to that world a little wider,” says Joanna Woo, a lecturer in SFU’s Department of Physics.

“Hosting Starry Nights via a livestream lets us expand the audience and provide what is equivalent to front-row access to all our viewers, using cameras that see much more than the human eye. And no one has to wait in line; everyone gets to look through the telescope at the same time.”

A Starry Nights facilitator, Woo’s own research involves observing compact groups of galaxies to determine whether or not they significantly grow their core densities as a result of their group environment and interactions.

Led by SFU Science Outreach and volunteers from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Vancouver, Starry Nights is a free event that takes place every clear-skied Friday night for community members to discover the many celestial objects visible to the human eye or through small telescopes, including the moon, distant stars, constellations, and planets in the solar and elsewhere in the cosmos, without the need for their own equipment or any previous knowledge of astronomy. 


CYNTHIA HENSON, manager, Outreach and Engagement, Faculty of Science 

JOANNA WOO, lecturer, Department of Physics; facilitator, Starry Nights


RAY SHARMA, SFU Communications & Marketing 
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