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Port Mouton astronomer sharing secrets of night sky

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada member, Dr. Tony Schellinck, will be leading participants through a beginner’s guide to observing the night sky session at the Astor Theatre on April 9 at 8 pm. Guests 12 and older are invited to the flat screen planetarium show followed by a night sky observation session if weather permits.
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada member, Dr. Tony Schellinck, will be leading participants through a beginner’s guide to observing the night sky session at the Astor Theatre on April 9 at 8 pm. Guests 12 and older are invited to the flat screen planetarium show followed by a night sky observation session if weather permits. - Submitted

Special star gazing evening planned April 9 at Liverpool’s Astor Theatre

LIVERPOOL – Next month, Queens County residents can take a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

On April 9, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada member Dr. Tony Schellinck will give a special presentation at Liverpool’s Astor Theatre. The evening begins at 8 p.m. with a flat screen planetarium show.

Schellinck has been taking photographs of the night sky for over a decade at his observatory in Port Mouton and uses them to provide what he calls a “flat screen planetarium show.” He uses fish eye photos to show large sections of the starry sky, helping the audience to llearn to find constellations. Schellinck also has other long exposure photographs of large parts of the sky that have deep sky objects (DSOs) visible in them.

“People in the audience are asked to bring binoculars, or they use one the pairs on hand, and learn to find galaxies, nebulae, open clusters, globular clusters, double stars and planetary nebulae using binoculars,” says Schellinck.

The event is scheduled on a moonless nights so that afterwards, if weather permits, participants can go out and find the constellations and view the DSOs through binoculars.

Schellinck will be joined by his good friend, Wayne Mansfield, who will bring his large telescope so that people can see closeup the objects they find when looking through their binoculars.

The goal is for Schellinck to have participants find their way around the night sky outside, starting with the Big Dipper, Polaris.

“We will locate Cassiopeia, Orion, Taurus, Lepus, Canis Major and Minor, Gemini, Leo and Auriga and then look for DSOs such as the Orion Nebula, the Hyades, Pleiades, and Beehive open clusters, and the double star Mizar and Alcor,” says Schellinck.

Unfortunately, there is no rain date for the event, but Schellinck says if it is clouded over and the next night looked clear, he might invite people to come out the next night, too. However, the main feature is the flat planetarium show, which will go ahead even if the weather outside doesn’t cooperate. The field trip is an addition, which will happen if at all possible, he says.

Schellinck has been putting on shows like this at the Halifax Planetarium for several years, and has done other outreach shows at libraries, provincial parks, at White Point Beach Resort and at star parties, like the one held at Kejimkujik every year called the Dark Sky Weekend. This is the third show he’s held at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool.

Admission to the show is only $5 per person to cover costs, but Schellinck is volunteering his time. The rest is a donation to the theatre. The event is not designed for children, but teens and adults are invited to attend.

Participants will learn they don't have to go out and spend a lot of money on a telescope to enjoy observing DSOs in the night sky, says Schellinck. They will learn how to find their way around the constellations in the sky and where to get information on the internet to help them do so. They will know what the easy targets are to find with binoculars in the winter and fall sky, and Schellinck hopes participants will be motivated to pursue observing.

“I have had many people who have met me afterwards and told me that they now sit in their lawn chairs and use their binoculars to find deep sky objects,” he says. “It’s times like that that keep me going.”

If you go:

Monday, April 9, 8 – 10 p.m.

Astor Theatre, Liverpool

Admission is a $5 donation to the Astor Theatre. Pay at the door.

Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1822210384477979

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