Welcome to the Montreal Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of
following information will give you a general overview of the Montreal
Centre, its resources and activities. The intent is to inform you
of the various programs and services that the Centre offers. We
encourage all new members to make use of the Centre facilities. These
resources will go a long way towards promoting your development as an
Curious About Astronomy?
long-running lecture series presents major talks by professional
astronomers, graduate students in astronomy as well as the Centre’s own
members on various aspects of astronomy. Talks are scheduled on meeting
nights as speakers become available. Approximately twelve lectures are
presented during the year.
Montreal Centre maintains one of the finest libraries devoted to
astronomical literature in Canada. There are over one thousand books and
bound volumes of magazines as well as a growing collection of videotapes
of Centre lectures and commercial programs.
the volumes are of a historical nature; indeed we have a few books that
were first published in the nineteenth century! At the same time,
our librarian strives to acquire some of the very latest books on
cutting-edge astronomy of both the professional and amateur variety.
books that deal with every aspect of astronomy from studies of the moon
to research on galaxies and quasars at the frontiers of the universe.
library is organized by topic. If you are interested in books related to
amateur studies of the planet Jupiter, for example, you will find what
you are looking for in the planetary section.
books from the library, you MUST be a member in good standing. Books may
be taken out for a period of one month and may be borrowed for a longer
period of time so long as you return the volume and request an extension
from the librarian. The extension will be granted unless someone else
has asked for the book. Fines for overdue books are $1.00 per book per
month. Please note that some of the books in the library are on our
restricted circulation list and may not be removed from the premises.
Always check with the librarian first!
Montreal Centre offers a program whereby binoculars or small telescopes
can be rented at a nominal charge. Currently two pairs of 7x50
binoculars, a three-inch refractor, four-inch and six-inch reflectors
and a 5-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope are part of the program.
Information on current rates can be obtained by contacting the Centre
directly or by e-mail.
Montreal Centre publishes a newsletter six times a year chronicling
events and activities at the Centre. Its name is Skyward and it has the
distinction of being the oldest, continuously published astronomical
newsletter in Canada.
find a broad range of articles in its pages; everything from articles
relating to events at the Centre through to articles offering tips on
observing and getting the most out of your astronomical equipment. And
the best thing is, all the articles are written by the Centre’s own
month around full moon, the Centre presents the Observers Group Meeting.
The meetings are chaired by our Director of Observational Activities,
who presents a brief overview of observing events visible during the
month, as well as tips on how to get the most out of your observational
activities. Members are encouraged to give short presentations related
to various aspects of observational astronomy including
astrophotography; visual observing; equipment acquisition, use and
maintenance; or observing programs they are involved in.
outings are organized on a regular basis. The Centre has
access to several observing sites in the surrounding region, the Morgan
Waterloo, and St-Chrysostôme in Quebec as well as Coopers Marsh and Williamstown in Ontario. These
outings encourage observers to experience the full splendour of the
night sky in a secure and comfortable environment. A warm house is
available at these sites with all the usual facilities. The Montreal
Centre always has experienced observers present at these outings to help
out novice observers.
outing dates and locations are published on this web site, by e-mail, in the pages
of the Centre’s newsletter Skyward, or at scheduled meetings.
not the only observing outings organized by the Centre. Occasionally,
astronomical events, such as lunar eclipses, may be observed in the
Montreal area. In cases such as these, activities are organized.
In August each year, the Montreal Centre also makes a
pilgrimage to Stellafane in Vermont, the oldest telescope-making convention in the
world, where one can join thousands of other amateur astronomers from
all over the world to experience the latest trends
in amateur astronomy.
coming to an observing outing from May to September?
recommend that you bring the following items:
b) Flashlight with a red filter
d) Warm clothing
e) Snacks and beverages
f) Bug repellent
Montreal Centre recommends that novices do not rush out and buy a
telescope right away. Wait until you know what kinds of observing you
are interested in making, as well as which type of telescope will best
suit your needs, mode of transportation and pocketbook! Take advantage
of our friendly members who will be more than willing to let you observe
with their telescopes and explain their good and bad points. Then, when
the time comes for you to make a telescope purchase you can make a
The Polar Bears
Winter Observing Group
the hardier members of the Montreal Centre still go observing throughout
our longest season: winter! The nights are long and the sky full of
wonders. Interested? Here is now to prepare to enjoy yourself and not
suffer from frostbite or hypothermia. Keep in mind that you are not
moving much when you are observing. Clothing is critical to the
success of your evening out.
Gear: The Essentials
the name of the game. Start with undergarments made of wool or of a
synthetic fabric such as Hollofil or Thinsulate. These
fabrics retain their insulating qualities against the cold even when
wet. Cotton does not. The synthetic fabrics are great insulators, light
and soft but pricey. The next layer should be loose fitting and fluffy.
Example: something made of Polartech or even wool would do. Many
thin layers are better than a thick one. If you get hot you can remove
clothes and stop the perspiration that will get you cold in the end. Wet
clothes equal one frozen person in no time.
layer should protect you from the wind. A long coat that will cover you
down to your knees is great at keeping air from travelling up your back
as you bend to look at star charts, for example. Gore Tex is a good
example for this layer but again, expensive. Duvet also does the job.
DO NOT FORGET
You will otherwise find out that 80% of body heat escapes via your head,
and will find it impossible to stay warm regardless of the number of
layers you are wearing.
Thin gloves under mittens are great, and even better when worn under
mittens with cut-off fingers. Still cold? Places like drugstores,
Canadian Tire, camping supply stores or "La Maison d’Astronomie" on
St-Hubert Street sell pouches that you can insert in your mitts (they
are also available for the feet). At one dollar a pair, they generate up
to six hours of warmth and can keep you quite toasty!
Start with polypropylene socks or another type of wicking material and
add wool socks. Plastic bread bags also double as a layer one sock! If
that is not enough, add the warming pouches to your boots. If the above
fails in keeping your toes toasty, you can buy battery-operated socks at
a cost of about $40. They can be found at Canadian Tire and camping
They should be warm, waterproof and go up to your knees. Consider buying
them a size or two larger, so you can fit thick socks without being so
tight that your toes will get cold from the compression.
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, they are all great at keeping your insides
Do not overdress as you are driving to the observation site. You will
perspire, get wet and find it impossible to remain warm as you observe.
It is a good idea to bring many pairs of socks so you can change as
needed, as well as wear a pair of boots other than the ones you will be
using to observe, while in the car. Whenever possible, bring a friend
along and if you notice that your telescope refuses to move anymore, GET
INSIDE! It is too cold!!!
Montreal Centre and the RASC offer certificates upon completion of the
Binocular Observing Certificate:
Offered by the Montreal Centre. A list of 40 objects visible in 7x35 or
larger binoculars over a period of one year. A great way to familiarize
yourself with the night sky and the constellations.
Offered by the Montreal Centre. Presented to observers who locate and
identify the 119 lunar surface features identified on the chart
published in the RASC Observer’s Handbook.
Offered by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 110 objects first
catalogued by the French comet hunter Charles Messier in the 18th
century. These deep sky objects range from naked eye to telescopic
targets. Included are galaxies, open clusters, globular clusters,
nebulae and asterisms. Looking for a challenge? Then this is for you!
NGC 100 Certificate:
Offered by the Montreal Centre. Presented to observers who locate and
record any one hundred objects in the New General Catalogue of Clusters
Finest NGC Certificate:
Offered by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Presented to
observers who locate and record 110 specific New General Catalogue
objects listed in the RASC Observer’s Handbook.
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