More photos from the DDO Restoration

Hi All,

We’ve taken more photos from the DDO! Preparations for restoration are underway, as scaffolding is still being erected. As depicted in these photographs, the Administration building is nearly entirely encapsulated by the scaffolding, which is not yet fully complete (as of the second week of June 2020). Restoration of the facility is currently planned to continue until December 2020. We will continue to bring you updates here!

-DDO Defenders

Venus passes Sun, now entering morning sky

This snap-shot of Venus was taken using a telescope in full daylight on June 7th, 2020, just a few days after Venus appeared to pass just below the Sun*. The planet was just a whisper-thin crescent on this date, with just 0.3% of its illuminated hemisphere visible. It’s during these “inferior conjunctions” that Venus looks biggest to us, because this is when Earth is passing closest to Venus. But Venus still appears at least 30 times smaller than the Full Moon.

One clear difference between seeing a thin crescent Venus through a telescope and seeing a thin (“young”) crescent Moon by eye is that Venus remains very bright, whereas the crescent Moon is much fainter compared to when it is a Full Moon. That’s because we never get to see the surface of Venus, only its very reflective white clouds. In fact, at the time of conjunction, we can catch a glimpse of Venus’ cloudy atmosphere faintly glowing all the way around the planet’s silhouet, making its crescent extend beyond just a half circle like for the Moon. The picture here shows a tiny bit of that extension.


If you want to see Venus for yourself, you will now need to get up just before Sunrise, as Venus has become the Morning Star.

Wishing everyone Clear Skies!

— Dr. Ian Shelton

* Venus was still travelling along its almost circular orbit 50 million km closer than Earth orbits the Sun; but as seen from Earth, Venus was almost perfectly lined up with the Sun 100 million km beyond Venus.

Restoration underway at the David Dunlap Observatory

We hope you all are safe and well! We miss having programs at the DDO and we know you miss them too!

Restorations have begun on the Administration Building of the observatory and they are planned to continue for about 6 months. These restorations will focus on the outer facade (including stonework and paint). We will continue to update you about the work being done as information comes our way.

Hopefully, not too far in the future, we will be back doing our programs at the DDO. When this time comes, the  restoration efforts will not affect our programming.

We look forward to seeing you all again! Until then, please enjoy our online content via YouTube!

-DDO Defenders

Happy 85th Birthday! 🥳 David Dunlap Observatory! ✨

We just finished our second livestream! Thank you everyone for attending! It was lovely to talk with Prof. Stefan Mochnacki and share our memories with all of you! If you missed it, don’t worry! It’s posted on YouTube!

Prof. Stefan Mochnacki

We covered the past ~100 years of Canadian Astronomy History, and got to hear a personal account of what it was like to work at the DDO as a professional astronomer! We hope to hold more interviews in the future, so let us know if you have any topic suggestions or questons!

We’re happy to celebrate together, and look forward to celebrating again in the years to come! Happy 85th DDO!

-DDO Defenders 😁

*Photos by Chris Robart*

Astronomy Nights Online! 🌟

Enjoy a virtual astronomy night on Victoria Day! 🌙✨ May 18th, 2020, 7:30pm EDT! Astronomy Nights Online Episode 1: Venus Going, Going with Dr. Ian Shelton will be broadcast live on YouTube!

Find it here!

Come join us for an evening of Space News and Observing Challenges from the comfort of your home! DDO Defenders welcomes you to participate and ask questions, just make sure to sign in with your YouTube account! Please share and join in on the fun!

Photo by Chris Robart

-DDO Defenders : )

Happy International Astronomy Day!! 🌟⭐🌟💫

Today is a day of celebration! Amidst the seriousness and caution we are all practicing to protect one another, let us take a moment to be thankful for the many achievements that were accomplished within the field of Astronomy.  

We are ever thankful for the three decades we’ve been able to share with the Hubble Space Telescope, generating spectacularly beautiful images and revealing our universe like never before. For example, the Hubble Deep Field image shown below shows galaxies so far away that we are just now seeing the light they released 12 billion years ago. We are seeing them the way they looked 12 billion years in the past, about the same time when our own Milky Way Galaxy was just coming into existence!

This is the 25th anniversary of the landmark SOHO satellite, which has been providing us with a continuous view of the Sun in X-rays, UV and visible light and giving us an advanced warning of approaching solar storms. This feat is even more remarkable when you realize the spacecraft is too far away to receive any repairs and was only intended to last three years! And this is the 30th anniversary of the almost tragic Apollo 13 mission, where dedication and human ingenuity turned a disaster into triumph.

Speaking of weather, two years ago when Mars was last passing nearest to the Earth, an early summer on Mars kicked up a global dust storm that ruined the view. This October, Mars will be passing nearby again and we expect the view to be much better. Mars is already getting brighter in the predawn sky, where you’ll also currently find Jupiter and Saturn. All three planets are rising earlier each morning and will be up all night this Summer. Venus is that brilliant “star” seen high up in the West after sunset, where it is outshining everything except the Sun and the Moon.

Though we are all actively practicing social distancing and have had to give up our usual festivities, the DDO Defenders hope these small reminder of past astronomical accomplishments and upcoming events can bring us all hope for the future. We will continue to plan and prepare for when we can all meet again in person! Until then, stay healthy and intrigued!

~DDO Defenders 🙂

Happy Discovery Day, SN87A!

It’s been 33 years since you first captured our attention! We’ve been learning from you ever since! Can’t wait to see what other new discoveries you will set into motion!

To learn more about SN87A, please visit here and here!

-DDO Defenders : )

Happy Birthday Pluto! 🛰

Happy 90th Birthday Pluto! Hope you’re having a lovely time in the Kuiper belt! ✨

It was 90 years ago on this date that the world learned there was a ninth major planet in our solar system, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, a 23-year-old researcher at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. But in 2006, following the recent discovery of many more Pluto-sized bodies orbiting in the same region of our solar system, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided to reconsider the way “Major Planets” are defined, and Pluto was reclassified to now belong to a new designation, the “Dwarf Planets”.

Note that a similar reassessment was made back in the 1850s following the discovery of Ceres in 1801, which was the first-known ninth planet to be discovered in our solar system. But within a few years, many other planets had been subsequently discovered all orbiting in the same region between Mars and Jupiter. And so it was decided that Ceres and all these other planets would be given a new designation: they are now all called “Asteroids” or Minor Planets.  — Today Ceres also meets the criteria and therefore is also classified as being a dwarf planet for the same reason that Pluto is. Ceres is the first dominant object to be discovered orbiting in the Asteroid Belt; and Pluto is the first dominant object to be discovered orbiting in the Kuiper Belt.

To learn more about Pluto, have a look at the following:

And to learn more about Ceres, have a look at:

-DDO Defenders 🙂

After Apollo

Hi Everyone,

Fifty years ago, humanity made the first successful attempt to personally visit another celestial body. But since then, we have ventured no further than near-Earth orbit, one thousand times closer than going to the Moon. So when WILL humanity finally follow up on its first step towards being a truly space-faring species? Join us as we explore this and other questions on Saturday, July 6th at the David Dunlap Observatory.

July 6th 9:00pm – 11:30pm 

July 6th 10:00pm -12:30am

Hope to see you there!

-DDO Defenders 😊