Kitchener - Waterloo Centre
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About Us

A brief history of the K-W RASC


Our local astronomy club is part of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a national organization with 29 local centres from St. John's, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. The Society, which celebrated its centennial in 1990, is devoted to the advancement of astronomy and allied sciences and has members from all walks of life.

A Brief History of the K-W RASC

The club we know today as the K-W Centre of the RASC (or simpy the K-W RASC) was founded by Carl Arndt around 1952. Originally called the K-W Telescope and Mirror Grinders Astronomy Club, the club later changed its name to the K-W Amateur Astronomers Club. During this early period of the space age, the primary interests of club members centered on the solar system.

In 1972 and 1973 members with the necessary skills came together and the construction of an observatory was planned. A relatively dark site was found 20 km south of Kitchener near Ayr, Ontario. With an “Opportunities of Youth” grant from the Trudeau government, the observatory building and its 12.5 inch telescope were up and running by 1976. By that time the club's name had been changed once again, to the Grand Valley Astronomers (GVA).

In 1980 the GVA was accepted as the 20th RASC Centre. A gala event was held at Waterloo Lutheran University (now Wilfrid Laurier University), where the club's monthly meetings were held, with 200 members of the public attending. The late Dr. Helen Sawyer Hogg, guest speaker, got things off to a promising start.

In 1997, meetings moved to the 2nd Friday of the month.

In 1999, the observatory facilities were refurbished, including the installation of new fencing and an outhouse. In 2004, several modern telescopes purchased using a generous grant from the Tula Foundation were installed.

As of June 2007, we now have a permanent mailing address:
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Kitchener-Waterloo Centre
133 Weber Street North, Suite #3-127
Waterloo, On N2J 3G9

In July of 2007, The Kitchener-Waterloo Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, became incorporated as a non-profit organization, under the laws of the Province of Ontario. We continue to be known as the KW Centre of Rasc.

Meetings

Meetings of the K-W Centre are open to all who wish to attend. We usually have a feature speaker or a presentation on a topic of interest to amateur astronomers. Past topics have included black holes, telescope making, cosmology, how the human eye observes, and astrophotography, to name just a few. A short talk on objects worth observing in a particular constellation or on practical aspects of observing and equipment may be presented as well. Also, there is always some free time for attendees to talk about what they have seen in the sky or read about in the last month.

We usually meet at 7:30 p.m. on the second Friday of each month in a lecture hall within the Bricker Acedemic Building of Wilfrid Laurier University. The building is located on the corner of King St. and Bricker St. in Waterloo, Ontario (see map). The meeting may be moved to another day and/or room in the event of a holiday or special University event (such as exams). The specifics of the next upcoming meeting are posted on this web site. Most meetings run to about 10:00 p.m. Parking is free on Friday evenings in the main parking lot facing the tennis court. By long tradition, many of the attendees meet up at the Lion Brewery Restaurant, in Waterloo after the meeting.
There are no formal meetings in July or August but we do hold occasional summer gatherings at various observing sites,including the annual club picnic.

Observatory

We are presently actively searching for a new dark sky site for a new observatory. We do not have an active observatory at this time. We have a list of numerous observing sites available through the StarGazing 101 site. Some of the club's equipment is available through the Equipment Management Group for the use of qualified club members.

Publications

A number of high-quality publications are included with RASC membership. First, there is the Observer's Handbook. Published each fall, it is an indespensible observing aid jam-packed with information on celestial events for the coming year. Second, The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which is published bi-monthly, contains an eclectic mix of articles written by amateurs and scientific papers written by professionals; access to it in electronic (pdf) form is included with membership. A mailed (paper) copy is optionally available for a fee. Members also receive a mailed copy of Canada’s own astronomy magazine, SkyNews, another bi-monthly publication.

Last, but hopefully not considered least, our club newsletter Pulsar informs about activities within the club and other topics of interest to members. It is published electronically in pdf form and can be downloaded from the Newsletter page of this web site.

Activities and Programs

Club members are involved in a wide range of activities and programs, so numerous that we've devoted a special page to them. To mention only a few: The club's popular StarGazing 101 group formed for beginners and for people who enjoy observing holds its own monthly meetings. At the other end of the experience scale, a number of our members often meet on new-moon weekends at a site near Mount Forest where the sky is relatively dark, to do astrophotography. Each year a contest open to all members honours the best images.

One of the club's most important programs is Education and Outreach. True to the primary mission of the RASC, club members often visit local public schools to deliver astronomy talks and hold viewing nights for the students. We also hold star parties for the Scouting and Guiding movement, and recently have expanded our programs into the community centres, within the City of Kitchener.

Special Club Events

We often have impromptu observing nights for club members, particularly when there are interesting celestial phenomena (meteor showers, for example). We also hold public star nights at local parks. Early in the year we hold a well-attended annual dinner in a banquet room at a local restaurant.

Membership

Membership in our club is open to anyone with an interest in the night sky. You don't have to know much about astronomy or own a telescope to join. In fact, club meetings are a good place to talk to experienced observers to get recommendations on equipment or observing techniques. The membership year starts whenever you join and members receive all RASC publications for the following year.

If you would like to become a member or to find out about current membership fees please contact our Treasurer by email, by telephone at (519) 763-0184 or in person at a club meeting.
For more information see our Join or Renew page.