Prairie Post (East Edition)
Medicine Hat Astronomy Club calling out to all stargazers
`The Medicine Hat Astronomy Club is opening its doors to potential new members on Oct. 8 for its Membership-Drive Night event.
Founded in 1979, the club has long been a meeting place for amateur astronomers in southeast Alberta. Over the past 43 years of operation, the club's membership has fluctuated, reaching as many as 100 in the early 2000s, though membership now sits at 15 – a number club secretary-treasurer James Paulson is looking to increase.
“For the past 14 months, we've made a lot of changes,” Paulson told the News. “COVID was hard on all organizations, especially organizations like ours that rely on interactions with people. (This is) an opportunity to get together and interact, see the facility, see the telescope, learn about the club and find out if you would be a good fit.”
Paulson invites anyone interested to join in the event being held at the clubowned Sunridge Observatory, even those without a background in astronomy.
“We've got people from a variety of backgrounds,” said Paulson. “Some of us are astro-imagers – so we take photos of the night sky – some are visual observers, some are working on certificates with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and there are some people who probably aspire to professional careers as a result of being involved in our group.”
Paulson says club members participate in an array of activities across the region -like the annual Southern Alberta Star Party held recently in the Cypress Hills – but also spend a large amount of time at the observatory, where a 16-inch, computer-controlled Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope was recently installed.
“With this telescope, 10 or 20,000 objects in the sky are visible at the push of a button,” said Paulson. “It's very humbling. And it can be very relaxing to (look through the telescope and) just be alone under the night sky. You forget about your troubles and focus it on things that are much larger than yourself.”
Paulson's passion for astronomy is evident as he speaks. And he admits he is looking forward to sharing such with others during the Membership-Drive Night event.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m. at the observatory. Entrance fee is $10 per person, however the fee will be deducted from the club's annual membership fee for anyone who signs up during the event.