At the end of October, the Takhini Hot Springs, a short 30-minute drive north of downtown Whitehorse, will be turned into a hub for astronomy lovers. The Yukon Astronomical Society (YAS) will be hosting its first annual Star Party from October 20 until October 26.
The week long event will feature multiple presentations, stargazing, and special guest speakers. Anthony Gucciardo is the President and one of the three founding members of the YAS. “Star parties are typically designed as social events, for anyone in the community to come out and learn,” said Anthony Gucciardo.
On Friday, October 20, the star party will kickoff with a wine and cheese event from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The following six days will have many different activities that will bring out your inner astronomer.
The majority of events will be taking place at Takhini Hot Springs. A viewing tent, the Pegasus Tent, will be set up with special telescopes to view the Sun from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“One of the most fascinating sights I’ve seen is the surface of the Sun,” Gucciardo said. “It’s almost like looking at an ocean of plasma.”
From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. telescopes will be set up to view the stars. During the evening, star party goers can enjoy French and English tours of the sky. A full detailed schedule will be provided upon entry.
Beginning on October 21, the star party will also feature the Young Astronomers’ Program, a series of events for children aged 5 and up. This event will continue October 23 to 26 and will include themes such as Rocket Juice, Mini Planitarium, Making a Sundial, and more.
In the afternoon, the society will be entertained by the Company of the White Wolves, who will be demonstrating medieval combat. The White Wolves are sponsored by Takhini Hot Springs and often provide demonstrations for major events held on location.
The star party includes a free event in town at the Old Fire Hall on Thursday, October 22. The Yukon Astronomical Society has invited three guest speakers to discuss their passion: American astronomer Phil Plait, who has worked for NASA and is the author of two books; Christa Van Laerhoven, a professor from the University of British Columbia with a degree in planetary sciences; and Pierre Paquette with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
This presentation takes place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and includes an opportunity to check out the telescopes that will be set up outside for people to use.
There will also be a grand prize up for grabs on Oct. 26: two plane tickets from Air North to fly anywhere Air North goes.
The Yukon Astronomical Society is selling day and week passes for the star party – and passes include entry into the hot spring pools. For more information go to www.YukonAstronomicalSociety.com or their Facebook page.
For those not able to make it to this year’s event- all is not lost. “The star party is going to be an annual event. We already have guest speakers lined up for next year,” said Gucciardo.