by Ed Mizzi
Recently, members of Hamilton Centre drove down the road to University of Toronto Mississauga to attend the Mississauga Centre’s monthly potpourri meeting and auction. Dave Dev and Murray Romisher, members of the MRASC club, were there to greet Jeff Booth, Martin Palenik and Ed Mizzi to this event.
The April 7 meeting began with an auction of items donated to the club, or being auctioned by consignment by club members, and the money raised will go to club expenditures. There was a plethora of astronomy-related items, from dovetails to a small telescope and books — and the auctioneer was entertaining and solidly engaged with the audience. Also up for sale under the auction gavel were a mounted astrophotograph of M31 Andromeda, RASC-related clothing and a number of other telescope parts … even some dew heater bands (like new, you know…).
After a short break, we were treated to a talk by a member of MRASC, about exoplanets and the possibilities for extraterrestrial life.
At that point the meeting was officially over and their president, Jo VandenDool, invited everyone to a local pub for refreshments and further discussion.
However, what happened next was the highlight of the evening and I’ve included a very colourful account of that, provided to me by a member of both clubs, Jeff Booth. This was actually sent as a private email the day after, and I asked for permission to reproduce it here. And I quote…
“You know, I was thinking … on the way home …. that what happened there, after that meeting, was really very magical.
Certainly, it was unexpected. Certainly, the night sky cooperated with good visual clarity.
And, for crying out loud … who would expect a group of (ahem) mature adults to go charging off to a relatively isolated and dark spot on a University of Toronto campus, energetically seeking things astronomical.
We naturally struggled a bit with equipment, making things work for us. Astronomers have been doing that for centuries.
Then we communed with the constellation Orion, with his great nebula, with the red supergiant Betelgeuse, with Jupiter our own solar system’s breathtakingly massive wanderer, and with our very own planet’s orbiting Moon, noting in particular an aspect of her silvered landscape.
There was humour. There was community.
To top it off, we had somehow stumbled into a rather remarkable spot, despite being in a lighted urban setting and steps from a roadway and a two storey car park. There was the large pond right beside us, with its well-wintered bulrushes. We had geese, a couple of ducks and a circling bird of the night, repeatedly calling down to all. We even had a rabbit hop right through our huddled group of astronomers then dash off into nearby shadows.
You know, when you think of it, for centuries, on any university grounds, you would have found a similar group of astronomers doing exactly what we were doing last night.
I wonder if Copernicus was watching, approvingly, from the shadows?”
To clarify, both Ed and Jeff had purchased new “grab and go” telescopes that evening and obviously could not wait to test them, so as Jeff pointed out, there we were, right outside the meeting venue, peering into the night sky.
It was an evening to remember!