On September 15, 2007 the RASC hosted a fall Astronomy Day. Seven Centres officially participated: le Centre francophone de Montreal, London Centre, Mississauga Centre, Montreal Centre, Prince George Centre, Quebec Centre and Toronto Centre.
The low number of Centres participating was due to the "last minute" nature of hosting the Astronomy Day. Most Centres simply couldn't organize an event within the time frame given. The late announcing of the fall Astronomy Day by National was due to the switching of responsibility for organizing Astronomy Day events from the Astronomy Day Coordinator to the Education Committee. The early September timing of the event meant that plans had to be made during the summer months when most Centres were in their "shut down" period. If we wish to attempt a fall Astronomy Day event again announcing and planning should, obviously, commence earlier.
The events offered by the various Centres consisted mainly of mall displays, public lectures, solar observing, telescope workshops, telescope displays, observatory open houses and public evening observing sessions.
Most of the public viewing sessions met with cloudy and raining weather and were therefore not overly successful. The public lectures on the other hand seemed to have been well attended by the public and greatly enjoyed.
Montreal Centre had an extremely successful Astronomy Day event hosting approximately 3000 members of the public. They set up at a Chapters bookstore in an open air shopping mall. They had information tables, solar viewing from the sidewalk, a kid’s activity table with meteorite displays and colouring activities and telescope display area. Throughout the day Montreal Centre members offered 15 minute audio-visual presentations with topics such as: Hubble discoveries and The Sky Tonight. The event ran from 10 am to 10 pm and had good weather. They report that next year they will expand their Astronomy Day activities to other Chapters bookstore locations across the Montreal region.
In summary the experiment to run a fall Astronomy Day fell a little short this year but the success of Montreal shows that with a little more time and planning a fall offering of Astronomy Day could be a great way for Centres to increase their public profile at a time of year when they are "winding up" their public events for the fall observing sessions.
I’d like to extend a big “thank you” to the volunteers across the RASC who made the offering of fall Astronomy Day events possible.
The next Astronomy Day will be held in May 2008. Astronomy Week will run from May 5th to 11th and Astronomy Day will fall on Monday May 12th. Now is the time to start planning your Centre’s events. Keep an eye on the National Astronomy Day website pages for updates as we draw closer to Astronomy Day 2008.
Good luck and clear skies to your spring events everyone!
RASC Education Committee