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RASC's Toronto Centre to Operate Dunlap Observatory

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Written by Denis Grey, Toronto on
Post Date: 
Thu, 2009/04/23

TORONTO, April 22 - The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre and Metrus Development Inc. feel that Earth Day is an appropriate moment to celebrate the imminent return of one of Canada's most beloved astronomy landmarks to active service.

Canada's largest amateur astronomy club has come to an agreement with Metrus to ensure that the David Dunlap Observatory remains an active, vital part of the Richmond Hill community. Metrus Development purchased the Observatory and surrounding land from the University of Toronto last July and had been actively seeking an astronomy club to occupy the 74-year-old facility. The Club has put forward a proposal that will see the Observatory offer an exciting new range of space science activities beginning early this summer.

"The Toronto Centre has been affiliated with the Observatory since it first opened its doors in 1935," said Dr. Ralph Chou, President of the RASC, Toronto Centre. "We're delighted by this agreement, which will see the Observatory re-open to the community during 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. It has been a pleasure to work with Metrus to achieve this milestone agreement."

"Our strength is creating great communities. We do not know how to operate telescopes or outreach programs related to astronomy," said Michael Pozzebon, Project Manager for Metrus. "The RASC, Toronto Centre will deliver a program that we will all be proud of." RASC, Toronto Centre will provide public viewing nights, special event programs, educational programming and education-based research using the Observatory's 74-inch (1.88 metre) telescope - the largest in Canada.

"We're especially pleased that Metrus, as the owner of the Observatory, has a keen interest in seeing us develop new science education and community activities," said Paul Mortfield, Chairman of the Centre's Observatory Committee. "Many of our Club members have extensive backgrounds in education and outreach and we'll be drawing on their expertise as well as looking at best-practice models in science facilities across North America."

"One of our main concerns was that the Observatory Dome would not be utilized; becoming a museum that no one could see. Having this partnership with the RASC, Toronto Centre breathes life into this very important building and engages the public to get excited about astronomy," said Michael Pozzebon.

The Toronto Astronomy Club was founded in 1868 and received a royal charter to become the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The RASC has grown to become a national organization with 29 centres across Canada. The Toronto Centre is the country's largest astronomy club with more than 550 members. The Toronto Centre has long been known for providing public stargazing opportunities and science outreach programs around Toronto. Toronto Centre members have been setting up their telescopes outside the Observatory since it opened in 1935.

The Toronto Centre and its members conduct approximately 100 public astronomy education and outreach events annually. Locations include the Ontario Science Centre, schools, parks and local community events. Club members include both amateur and professional astronomers with a wide variety of professional backgrounds.

Metrus Development Inc. was established in 1981. A subsidiary of the Con-Drain Team of Companies, Metrus Development, along with its sister company, Metrus Properties, is one of southern Ontario's leading developers of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Metrus prides itself on building master-planned, award-winning communities, which include Macleod's Landing in Richmond Hill, The Beach in Toronto, and Lakeshore Woods in Oakville.

For further information:
Metrus Development, Michael Pozzebon - Project Manager, (905) 669-5571, www.observatoryhill.ca;
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre, Karen Mortfield - Public Affairs Coordinator, (647)808-3803, Karen@industrialstars.com