Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Naturalists of the Night: Observing the Universe From our Home in Space

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

April 6, 2009

Field naturalists reach for the stars with astronomy retrospective: Observing the Universe from our Home in Space

By Cathy Keddy

Did you know that this year is IYA2009 or International Year of Astronomy? Four centuries ago, Galileo first recorded astronomical observations using a telescope. His telescope magnified the view by just three times. Today, cameras aboard unmanned spacecraft send back observations at a dizzying pace as they travel towards distant planets. It does not seem like so long ago, but how long ago was it that Neil Armstrong touched the lunar surface? Where were you?

This month the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) reach for the stars as they present their final lecture in the series From the Ground, Up-Celebrating MVFN’s First 20 Years. On Thursday, April 16 Brian McCullough, astronomy and space science educator with the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, will present Naturalists of the Night – Observing the Universe from our Home in Space. Brian saw his first satellite as it passed over his family’s back yard around 1960 and was 15 when he received his first telescope – the same year Apollo 8 astronauts made their historic first voyage to the Moon. Kanata is now the home base for Brian’s backyard “Brightstar Observatory.”

As past president of the Ottawa Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Brian received the RASC Ottawa Centre Observer of the Year award in 2001 for his observations of Pluto, which at that time was still classed a major planet (and dwarf planet Eris was yet to be classed). He received the award again in 2006 for his extensive lunar observations and entertaining presentation series “The Ten Minute Moon.”

In this special International Year of Astronomy, Brian McCullough will offer highlights from his years immersed in the fascinating world of amateur astronomy. In recognition of MVFN’s 20th anniversary lecture series, his presentation promises to include some exciting astronomical developments from the past 20 years and the importance of Mississippi Mills’ outstanding leadership in controlling light pollution of the night sky.

Please join the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists for Naturalists of the Night – Observing the Universe from our Home in Space, Thursday, April 16 at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. Cost for non-MVFN members $5. For further information contact Cathy Keddy (613-257-3089), MVFN Program Chair.