astronomers love to get together to learn more about astronomy. There
are over a hundred clubs and RASC
chapters (called "centres") scattered
across Canada. Some meet in small groups
in church basements or private homes; others
meet in university lecture halls or Science Centres.
do you find a group you might want to join? SkyNews
magazine has a list
of clubs in
Canada; or astr.onomyclubs.com lists
clubs in countries around the world.
Astronomical Society of Canada also has
many centres. They
have often formed from independant clubs who wanted the increased
benefits of RASC
as a subscription to SkyNews,
Handbook, an electronic subscription to the RASC
Journal and more opportunity to
contribute to the advancement of astronomy in Canada.
Astronomy clubs offer
lots of programs, including regular "observing
nights", where members get together at night with their
telescopes and binoculars, and watch the stars together! It's
a fun way to learn, and newbies are always welcome! (Many
clubs even offer special member fees for students). It
is not necessary to own a telescope to join a club.
are some activities and services offered by astronomy clubs:
meetings, usually with speakers or presentations by club
observing sessions, often around the new Moon when the
brightness does not prevent us from seeing many faint objects
gatherings, sometimes after meetings, sometimes on other
outreach at shopping plazas, fairs, or public observing
parties from a site with little light pollution
of an observatory in a dark-sky area
email list to share ideas and send last-second information
such as a cancellation of an observing session due to
on purchases and photography by experienced people.
Some RASC Centres run the NOVA (New Observers to Visual
Astronomy) course, a nine-week program designed by Brian
Battersby of the Prince George Centre.
and Binocular Purchase
NOT need a telescope to get into astronomy. Inexpensive
telescopes are available, but some models can be very frustrating
to use. In addition, it's best to know what you can see
through a telescope before spending any money. Some people
are disappointed when they can't see amazing detail like
those taken by the Hubble Telescope.
worthwhile to look carefully before making a purchase.
Beyond asking advice from club members, there are several
sources of information below.
With digital cameras, excellent astrophotos can be taken.
A tripod photo for 30 seconds with a wide-open lens will
show many stars, if the ISO is about 800. Experiment to
get the best setting for your site and its light pollution.
Two photos of a constellation taken days apart can show
movement of planets (even Uranus and Neptune), asteroids,
For digital cameras, the automatic focus will not work for
astronomical objects. Change to manual focus and turn the
focusing ring to focus (while wearing any distance glasses)
on a sharp distant object, such as a light a few hundred meters
away. If such an object
is not available, turn the focusing ring to the "infinity" setting.