When I was younger, my next-door neighbour and best friend had a telescope. In earlier days I learned to appreciate the night sky. Stars, moon, satellites and planets. Even in the day with the proper accessories we were able to observe celestial bodies. Everyone should have access to see what’s out there.
We made a return visit to the DDO. This time the administration building was decorated for the Christmas season.
Inside we listened to a lecture from Canadian astronomer Ian Shelton who discovered SN 1987A, the first modern supernova close and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. He talked about the DDO and its early beginnings and traditions of those days at Christmas time performed by professors and students. From the lecture hall we were led to the library to the sounds of Christmas carols being sung by vocalist Sandra Kirby. As she sang many of us joined in to accompany her wonderful voice. As the night went on, we were treated to warm beverages and cookies. We then went upstairs to the Skylab offering a giant screen virtual view of the night sky. Later, in smaller groups we ended our night at the domed telescope. The staff had prepared the telescopes sights on the coldest planet, Uranus. 2.8 billion km from the sun, more than -200*C.
The DDO, David Dunlop Observatory provides us with this opportunity. Look it up online, https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/ddo-programs.aspx
The Observatory opened in 1935 with the domed housing and the administration building.
The dome housing has a 74-inch reflector telescope and the administration building has three smaller telescope domes.
The main telescope was the second largest in the world at the time, and remains the largest in Canada. During its operation the DDO made important contributions to Canada’s astronomical history.
Access to the observatory is at 123 Hillsview Dr. Richmond Hill
But wait, before you go to the DDO observatory I’d suggest you start at the solar system model park at the Elvis Stoyko Arena.
350 16th Ave, Richmond Hill.
Park at the rear of the parking lot and you’ll see a stairway to the parks entrance.
The solar system park features a model of our, solar system! At the park, the sun and planets are plotted on the park grounds surface and tree lines denote orbits.
Walk about the park to find each planet and its relative size, orbit and distance from the sun. The park hasn’t been well maintained. Understandable since it will be part of the DDO redevelopment plan.
Don’t wait too long. Some or all parts of the DDO may become unavailable for a while to the general public.
Plans are in the works for the future development and expansion of the DDO as a large public green space. A restored observatory, restored natural parkland, Elms Lea farmhouse and other features should make DDO an attraction for everyone all across the GTA and beyond.