• DDOD Outreach
  • Why DDOD



This summer will provide an excellent opportunity to see the three bright planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Reddish tinted Mars is now steadily getting brighter as it swings nearer to the Earth and is already almost as bright (V=0.7) as Saturn. By July 4th, it will have become fifteen times brighter and surpassing Jupiter in brightness (V=-2.3). It continues to brighten until July 31st when Mars passes at its close distance from Earth since 2003, a mere 57 million km away(!).

Right now, you can watch these three planets in the early morning sky. Click on the graphic above to see a full resolution animation of where the three planets and the Moon will be each morning from March 5th to 15th at 6 am EST (7 am after we go to Daylight Saving Time on March 11). You'll see Mars is steadily moving each morning a bit further east (with respect to the stars). On April 2 (Easter Monday), Mars passes Saturn and on July 1st it changes direction and starts heads west (the start of its "retrograde motion").

We are planning activities to help the pubic get good views of the planets this summer, both by eye and through a telescope, including the David Dunlap Observatory's huge 74-inch telescope!

Wishing everyone clear skies,

--Ian Shelton, DDOD Chair

The David Dunlap Observatory lies nestled in the heart of Richmond Hill, Ontario, a city of 200,000 just north of Canada's largest city, Toronto. In 2007, the 190-acre oasis of mature forests, pastures and springs was home to two distinct deer herds and an abundance of other wildlife, including a coyote pack, foxes, voles, rabbits, honey bees, many species of butterflies, and birds including hawks, owls, doves, crows and songbirds. The property represented the last and largest urban open green space in southern Richmond Hill.

Originally deeded to the University of Toronto by the philanthropist Jessie Donalda Dunlap in memory of her husband David, the Dunlap Observatory opened on May 31st, 1935. Its magnificent 74-inch telescope was the second largest in the world at that time and has been used through seven decades to conduct much groundbreaking research, including proving the existence of the first known black hole, Cygnus X-1.

In 2007, the University of Toronto wrested control of the land from Jessie Dunlap's heirs through a protracted legal case spanning 4 years. They then broke the public covenant that the land would remain a park and a research and outreach centre in perpetuity by selling the property to a developer intent on replacing most of the greenspace with many hundreds of houses.

The DDO Defenders have been working hard since 2007 to represent the public and inform all levels of government about what would and now has been lost as the developer is allowed to proceed.

On April 12th, 2012, after six long and anxiety-ridden months of Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) mandated mediation following a four year hard-fought and very public battle, an agreement was reached between the mediation parties to the David Dunlap Observatory Lands OMB case.

Minutes of Settlement were drawn up for signing by all parties to the mediation -- the landowner Corsica Development Inc. (a subsidiary of Metrus Developments Inc., now known as 'DG Group'), the Town of Richmond Hill, the Region of York, the Toronto and Area Conservation Authority (TRCA), and the David Dunlap Observatory Defenders (DDO Defenders) Inc.. This historic document was ratified by Richmond Hill Town Council on Thursday, April 12th. All mediation parties had been sworn to absolute secrecy under a strict gag order until Council signed off on the agreement, but now the silence has finally been broken and the details of the settlement agreement can be made public. (read more)

For further information or to offer support, please contact:

Ian Shelton - Chair, DDO Defenders Inc.
sn87a@hotmail.com or (905) 762-0072

The Minutes of Settlement is posted at the Town of Richmond Hill - DDO webpage.

Please support our Community Advocacy

The DDO Defenders are deeply committed to preserving the David Dunlap Observatory, surrounding Lands and the Dunlap Legacy. Our mandate is to ensure that the campus continues to operate as a world-class astronomical and astrophysical research facility and a centre of excellence in public Outreach, Education and Experiential Learning regarding all aspects of Science and the Natural World.

Donating Online

Donating by Cheque or Money Order

Please make your cheque or money order payable to "DDO Defenders" and send it to:

DDO Defenders
240 Bantry Avenue
Richmond Hill, ON
Canada L4B 4H9.

Donating by Phone

Call us at (905) 762-0072