On August 11th was held the second edition of the Astronomy Day at the Virage-campus MIL at the Université de Montreal. The event, entitled A Quebec view of the Universe, attracted more than 500 people between 3pm and 11pm.
Learning while having fun
Starting at 3 in the afternoon, participants enjoyed themselves while visiting the many kiosks and learning basic concepts of astronomy. These kiosks were operated by astronomers from the Institute for Research on Exoplanet (iREx), the Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec (CRAQ), the Department of Physics of the Université de Montreal, who organized the event, and by many collaborators: the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic, the Rio Tinto Planetarium, the Laval Cosmodome, Folie Technique and amateur astronomers from the Société d’astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal (SAPM). Visitors of all ages learned how to “move like an astronaut” and had make-up of planets, nebulae and galaxies made, thanks to professionals from Cirkazou.
A Constellation of conferences
After a good meal, available on site thanks to caterers from Guru and Maurín Cuisine, the participants were able to attend a “constellation of conferences”. The Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic, a flagship of Quebec astronomy celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was in honour. First, Réne Racine, an emeritus professor at the Université de Montreal and the first director of the observatory, told us about the establishment of this essential institution for Quebec astronomy. Then Rémi Boucher, animator at the ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Parc, allowed participants to virtually visit the observatory, and then answered the many questions from the audience. Lison Malo, support astronomer at the observatory, and René Doyon, current director, then spoke about the key role of the observatory in the training of Quebec astronomers and the development of high-caliber instruments.
Planets and shooting stars
As soon as it was dark, the SAPM astronomers delighted participants by pointing their telescopes at no fewer than four planets that were visible that day: Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. Another telescope, an antique one gifted by Mayor Camillien Houde to the physics department of the Université de Montreal, was operated by UdeM astronomers and also allowed for these four planets to be clearly seen.
Later in the evening, several hundred people waited to see Perseids meteor showers, the most patient of which observed up to half a dozen shooting stars, despite the light pollution that makes observing difficult on the island of Montreal. Also on site was the Gypsy Jazz quartet of the Agence Musicale Étudiante of the Université de Montreal, which helped brighten the evening and the observations for everyone.