• DDOD Outreach
  • Why DDOD



The Perseids meteor shower is always interesting and became visible in 2018 by the end of the first week of August with just a few meteors seen each hour. But the activity has steadily increased and will peak on August 12, producing about one meteor per minute if you are observing from a dark location on a clear night. So plan to be outside on the night of Saturday August 11th, or Sunday August 12th if you can, especially if you can do your viewing in the early morning hours from 1 am till dawn begins to interfere at 4:30 EDT. That's when the shower will likely be at its best (weather permitting).

[GTA-Skies page]

You don't need any special equipment to view the meteors, but I strongly recommend using a full bodylength reclining chair so you can comfortably be looking almost straight up at the sky for long periods of time. You should also have some snacks, a blanket and some mosquito repellant with you. Give yourself at least fifteen minutes to let your eyes get used to the dark so you can see the most meteors. And try to avoid using your cell phone or any other sources of light, as even a few seconds looking at your phone's display can undo the fifteen minutes it took to get used to the dark. The meteors can and will appear everywhere in the sky, though they will seem to be coming from the direction of the constellation Perseus (hence, their name). The Perseids will remain active for a few days after its peak, but with progressively fewer meteors to see each night.

In the early morning hours around August 12, the Milky Way can be seen in all of its glory passing directly overhead and spanning the whole sky. Use a pair of binoculars to explore the many colourful stars and star clusters embedded in the glow from our host galaxy's hundreds of billions of stars! And this summer, you have four bright planets to grace the evening sky: Venus low in the west, Jupiter dominating the Southwest, Saturn appearing as the bright star above the "teapot" of Sagittarius, and Mars blazing away in the Southeast. Even a very modest telescope should show you the four bright moons lined up on either side of Jupiter; and it should be able to show you Saturn's rings, though it takes something like a 100mm (4-inch) telescope to begin to see real detail in the rings and on the ball of the planet. The Moon will reappear in the West on August 12th and work its war eastward past the planets over the next week. And for a real challenge, the dwarf planet (and still an asteroid) Vesta is not far from Saturn. But you'll need some planetarium software like Stellarium to help you find it.

We are now hosting activities for the Public at the David Dunlap Observatory. To hear great talks and look *through* the HUGE 74-inch telescope, go to: Richmondhill.ca/DDO

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.

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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.

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Call us at (905) 762-0072