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Venus has a rendezvous with Mars; but Moon disapproves!

(January 30, 2017)

For the past several months, Venus has been steadily rising higher in the evening sky heading to join Mars above the western horizon. But on January 31, her advances come to an end when the young crescent Moon passes by the pair as if to discourage their celestial rendezvous.

By the time the crescent Moon passes the two planets again at the end of February, Venus is substantially further to the west of Mars and beginning to fade. She will also be moving steadily lower each night. And when the Moon is back in the evening sky at the end of March, Venus will no longer be visible. (She'll be in conjunction with the Sun). But in her place, look for the elusive planet Mercury, at its best for viewing in 2017.

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If you have the opportunity to travel this summer, you won't have to go too far to see the Moon completely block your view of the Sun's bright disk during the total solar eclipse on August 21. The path of totallity goes through the upper United States from Oregon to South Carolina. But you need to make your travel plans soon, as many of the hotels and motels along the eclipse path are already full booked!

If you stay here in the GTA, you'll only get to see about two-thirds of the Sun's disk being covered by the Moon. The sky and ground won't seem that much darker, and the Sun itself will still be much too bright to observe without using a special filter or method to safely create an image of the Sun. Normal sunglasses are *totally inadaquate* and using them could lead to perminent eye damage or even blindness!

The DDOD astronomers will be providing classes this spring to explain what to expect and how to watch and photograph the eclipse safely from here or along the path where the eclipse is total.

Wishing everyone clear AND DARK 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. The 190-acre oasis of mature forests, pastures and springs is 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 represents 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 the discovery 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 to represent the public and inform all levels of government about what will be lost if 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 in March 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.

Donating by Phone

Call us at (905) 762-0072