Outreach Event of the Year: “Mars in Opposition”

This July, as most of you know, Mars was at its closest approach to Earth since 2003. And the Hamilton Centre wanted to share this special event with the general public. So, on July 27 and 28, several volunteers from the club and from the general public set up their telescopes at Spencer Smith Park, Burlington on the shore of Lake Ontario, in the hopes that they could fulfill one of RASC’s primary missions and goals, i.e. provide outreach to further people’s interest and knowledge of the universe.

By most accounts, the event was a great success, with hundreds of passers-by being treated to looks through a variety of telescopes. But it was not just Mars that they saw. In addition, viewers were fortunate to see our Moon, along with Venus, Jupiter and Saturn and their oohs and awes were a huge vote of confidence for those who volunteered to help and made the event both rewarding and lots of fun.

On Friday, July 27, the weather was not fully cooperative. However, people were more than happy to wait for periodic breaks in the clouds to get spectacular views of all 5 celestial objects. In fact, when we set up at 7:45 PM people were already curious and began asking questions even though it would not be dark for another hour or so. Many waited for more than an hour to have a chance to see one or more of the planets or the Moon and they were not disappointed. There were long lineups, of both adults and children, at all 6 telescopes and  many exclaimed that they had never seen objects through a telescope and asked if the event was a regular occurrence.


On July 28, we held a second night of viewing and the sky was simply perfect. Both adults and children were in awe at views of Jupiter and the Galilean moons, Saturn with its rings and a few moons, Venus with its crescent shape, Mars looking so bright and reddish and of course the very bright, almost full Moon, that had an orange glow as it rose above the lake.


Both evenings lasted until around 11 PM. And some people from Friday returned on Saturday because they were so enthralled by what they saw.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to stop by, wait in line and take a look through one or more scopes.

Special thanks to all those who brought their telescopes to help share these wonders with others, including Bob Prociuk, Eric Golding, Erin Vassair, Muhammad Basil Ahmad, Ed Mizzi, Shane, Ryan Ffrench, Muhammad’s  friend, a gentleman who rode down on his bicycle, carrying his scope in his backpack and a young lady who brought her telescope in a little red wagon and asked us to help her set it so she could use it for the first time and share with others. Just an amazing outpouring of generosity and volunteerism.


So, we encourage those of you who want to have fun and be rewarded in a special way, to volunteer for future outreach events. You will not be disappointed and you will go home knowing that you have shared the wonders of the Universe with others.

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