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Toronto Astronomy Festival 2009 – Not Bad but Not Great for Kids January 10, 2009

Posted by showmescifi in scifi.

The Ontario Science Centre hosted the Toronto Astronomy Festival today – a kickoff to the year long festivities for the International Year of Astronomy.

A key theme of the event – and the year – is to get more people interested in Astronomy – especially children. If the event at the Science Centre is an indication – there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Here’s a quick review of what we saw/did today at the event.

(read more after the jump)

We started off with the “Astronomy for the Whole Family” session run by Randy Attwood, President Mississauga Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. And yes we went with kids, expecting that that the session would be Kid-friendly.

It wasn’t

Attwood seems nice enough – but he held up a small piece of paper – the sky map and that was his principal method of discussion for 30 mins. His delivery was boring and monotone and it lost the attention of the children in the audience very quickly. Might have worked for an adult only crowd – but SORRY this totally sucked as a Family presentation that would get kids interested in any way. As an adult I was ok with the presentation – for myself – but that’s not what the session was billed as.

Worlds Beyond: The Diversity of Extra-Solar Planets – by Ray Jayawardhana of the University of Toronto – was an awesome session. This wasn’t billed as a family event (so no kids came with us) – but for the adults this was a fantastic overview of planetary bodies beyond our solar system Did you know that in 1995 we knew of only 5 or so extra-solar planets but today we know of over 300? Amazing stuff and the presentation had the right mix of high science with a delivery that the layperson could follow.

Michael Hiltz, MDA
Canadarm’s Role in Space Exploration  – This was a really awesome presentation about what Canada is doing in space – with a particularly good section about the upcoming (May 2009) mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope. I wish Hiltz would have had more time to talk, as his presentation had so much great detail about the International Space Station that we had never seen before it was astounding.

Peter McMahon, Discovery Channel
Canada’s Star Stories: A guide to campsite astronomy in our nation’s wild spaces – This was a garbage presentation and easily the worst thing we saw at the entire event. He started 30 minutes late after not being able to get his Microsoft Powerpoint slide show to work – then when he finally got started it was just about him and his dog – with some lame pics of a few places he’d been too. It WAS NOT a guide to campsite astronomy – he had no advice – it felt like it was just a dude at the front of the room showing off his travel pictures.

The exhibit hall itself had some interesting stuff from the Royal Astronomical Society including a free kids book and some really helpful people talked to us about solar observing and the astronomy in general.

The Canadian Space Agency gave out free puzzles to the kids – and the University of Toronto had a neat little table too where they helped people put together star maps.

This event was not properly tailored overall to be more kid friendly and but for the adults and those (like us) that have an interest it was great fun.


1. g - April 5, 2009

saw the camping astronomy presentation and will be heading out to some of the localles mentioned – LOVED the look at this new way to enjoy the night sky

2. jill v - August 29, 2010

I caught the astro camping guy in Banff. groundbreaking talk, made me want to get out there. His site (wish I could go on all these adventures) is http://www.wildernessastronomy.com

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