astroMIL 2020: “Together under the same sky”

The fourth edition of our astronomy-themed event at the Université de Montréal’s MIL campus MIL was enjoyed from the comfort of our homes this year. The event took place on the evening of August 12th which coincided with the peak of the Perseids meteor shower. Nearly 500 people answered our call to be together under the same sky during this live online event.

Our host, André Robitaille.

Laurie Rousseau-Nepton and Samuel Rainville.

Hosted by André Robitaille, the evening began with an acknowledgement of the Indigenous land on which the Université de Montréal is located.

The first panel titled “Regards autochtones sur le ciel” kicked things off at 7.30PM, highlighting the knowledge of Laurie Rousseau-Nepton, Resident Astronomer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and member of the Ilnue community of Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, and Samuel Rainville, Coordinator of the Centre étudiant des Premiers Peuples of the Université de Montréal’s Student Services and member of the Innu community of Pessamit.

Marie-Eve Naud, Julie Talbot and Ronald Jean-Gilles.

During the second panel of discussion, “No plan(et)b”, iREx astrophysicist Marie-Eve Naud first reviewed the search for Earth-like exoplanets, then Julie Talbot, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the Université de Montréal, highlighted how irreplaceable our planet is for humans. Ronald Jean-Gilles, Director of the Unité du développement durable at the Université de Montréal, gave us a little hope by presenting everything that is already being done by academic institutions to protect our environment.

Rémi Boucher and Guillaume Poulin.

Finally, Rémi Boucher and Guillaume Poulin, park wardens specialised in astronomy at the Mont-Mégantic ASTROLab, shared their love for Mont-Mégantic’s starry sky and showcased some amazing images obtained live with the telescope at the Observatoire populaire du Mont-Mégantic. Spectators also got to see a live premiere of beautiful new videos of the exterior and interior of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic created by the Université de Montréal during the last conference.

We were very lucky as good weather and clear skies graced much of the province of Quebec during the event!

Listeners were able to continue their evening outdoors by tuning in to the UdeM campus radio station CISM 89.3 at 9PM, guided by iREX’s astrophysicists Frédérique Baron and Nathalie Ouellette. A playlist inspired by the starry sky completed the evening.

The evening was interspersed with short videos where we learned more about celestial events that have marked our listeners and speakers, the new Principal of the Université de Montréal Daniel Jutras, as well as the Director of iREx, René Doyon.

Almost 500 people have watched the event live on the MIL campus Facebook page or iREx’s Youtube account.

Comments and questions appeared in such large numbers that the speakers had to finish answering them later on directly on Facebook, demonstrating the lively interest the panel discussions generated with the public!

Many thanks to Éditions Multimondes, who graciously offered the books Des vagues dans l’espace-temps, Splendeurs des étoiles massives by Laurent Drissen and Objectif Lune, Apollo, la grande aventure scientifique du XXe siècle by Rod Pyle (with a preface by Robert Lamontagne) for our event context.

If you missed astroMIL 2020 live on August 12th, we invited you to watch and rewatch this special evening on the Institute’s YouTube page. We’ll see you next year!