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Connecting with stars

Stargazers wrapped up 100 soggy hours of astronomy yesterday, ending with a telescope clinic at Halifax’s Dresden Row Market.

Stargazers wrapped up 100 soggy hours of astronomy yesterday, ending with a telescope clinic at Halifax’s Dresden Row Market.

“The first thing about buying a telescope is: Don’t buy one. Come and talk to us first,” laughed David Chapman of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. “If people just rush out and buy one, they tend to be a bit junky.”

Amateur and professional astronomers caught a few hours of clear sky Saturday night to explore the Andromeda galaxy and other treats from the Wanderers’ Grounds. The 100 hours was part of the International Year of Astronomy and last week’s focus was the tools you need to see the stars up close.

A good telescope can cost from a few hundred dollars up into the billions, but Chapman said a nice pair of binoculars costing about $150 will get you started. “You can see a lot (with binoculars), especially if you’re city-bound.”

Astronomy Nova Scotia will hold another telescope clinic at the Saltscapes Expo at Exhibition Park at the end of April. People can get advice on what to buy, or bring their telescopes in to learn how to better use them.

“We’re just trying to get people to connect with the sky,” Chapman said. “This is the No. 1 thing people come to us with: They’ve bought a telescope, but they can’t see anything. There’s so much (sky).”

Astronomy Nova Scotia is holding a series of public talks this year. Go to Astronomynovascotia.ca for details.

The UN-declared IYA celebrates the 400th anniversary of one of the great intellectual revolutions in human history. In 1609, Tuscan scientist Galileo Galilei peered into the newly invented telescope and turned millennia of thinking on its head by proving the Earth isn’t the centre of the universe.

 
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