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Welcome To Rothney Astrophysics Observatory

Submitted by wcm on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 11:56am

Answer it at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Teachers please click here to learn more about our school programs

Mysterious Space Open House

October 25

8pm to 11pm

Entrance fee: $20 per car*

M31 Andromeda Galaxy

Fact is more incredible than fiction and there is so much to discover in the universe beyond our little blue planet. Mr. Roland Dechesne will guide us through our interstellar neighborhood, and Dr. Phil Langill will explain the challenges of interstellar travel.  For the first time ever at the RAO, using amazing new interactive technology and your smartphone, we will find out what Calgarians really think about the possibility of interstellar travel.  Come to this talk and share, anonymously, your take on star-hopping.

A fun evening of science fiction readings is also planned. Wear your Sci Fi costume and enter the costume contest. Join us for Sci Fi fun.

In the sky – The 'eye of Medusa' will be watching you from the Perseus constellation.  If the skies are clear then we will have the telescopes operating and astronomers ready to answer your astronomy questions.

*all proceeds go towards our educational programming.

No need to pre-register

Sky viewing is out of doors, so please dress for the weather.  You are welcome to bring a flashlight (red or dim is preferred).

If the sky is cloudy then we will not be able to operate the telescopes.  If very poor weather conditions persist then the observing event is canceled. Watch this website for sky conditions and updates.

Upcoming Talks

Preserving the Wilderness of Night Sky

Roland Dechesne

(Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Calgary Chapter)

Talk at Okotoks library

Tuesday, November 4 - 6:45pm to 8:15pm

Life has evolved in a world with a regular day-night cycle. For the last 100 years, man-made illumination has intruded into the naturally dark night. Light's negative effects on animals involve both behavioral and molecular changes. Rationing our use of light and using it effectively will save money, minimize its impact on ecosystems and may even improve our health.

Finding the Milky Way in Southern Alberta

Dr. Phil Langill

(Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary)

Talk at Village Square Library

Saturday November 22. 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Collecting and understanding light is fundamental to astronomy. Join Dr. Langill as he discusses the search for the Milky Way in Southern Alberta skies using the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory's radio and optical telescopes. Learn more about the research conducted at the observatory and the importance of dark skies.

Maintaining the wilderness of the night time sky for all to enjoy!

Learn about 'Smart Light' and become a dark sky Citizen Scientist with the RAO's new Dark Night, Star Light project.

Guess who has recently been named the Southern Alberta Chapter of the International Dark Skies Association  ??

   International Dark Sky Association

The Rothney Observatory was featured on Telus TV click here for link

Donations to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory are hugely appreciated.  We endeavour to make astronomy accessible to the public, and inspire scientific thinking and literacy.  If you would like support us in this endeavour, you can help by making a donation.  Click on this link, and choose "Friends of the RAO" from the Designation drop-down box.

The University of Calgary issues tax receipts for donations of any amount.  Thank YOU!

Current Sky over the RAO:  RAO All Sky Camera




  Read more about this cool image, and see the latest data from our new Sky Quality Meter, by visiting the Skywatch page.

Successful Launch!


The University of Calgary Swarm mission, which consists of a constellation of three satellites orbiting in two different near-polar orbits at 450 and 530 km altitude, is intent on providing the best-ever survey of the Earth's geomagnetic and its temporal evolution. Data gathered will allow for new insights into the Earth and its surroundings by improving understanding of our planet's interior, near-Earth space environment and the sun’s influence on the planet. Swarm will be the first mission to make global, multi-point measurements of magnetic and electric fields simultaneously.

RAO is Operations Headquarters for amazing Canadian satellite research mission: 

artists conception of the CASSIOPE satelliteOn September 29th, 2013 the Canadian Space Agency launched the CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer also known as CASSIOPE.  You may have noticed a new cube-shaped structure and dome to the south of the big ARCT dome.  This is a high-tech satellite tracking installation.  The data that the satellite collects while soaring over and inside the Earth's aurora and space weather is beamed down to the RAO for study by U of C scientists.  An animation of the satellite orbiting the Earth is here.  Stay tuned for an announcement about the official launching celebration of the RAO's e-Pop ground station.


RAO Sky Scanner Extrordinare, Rob Cardinal, discovers comets in 2008 and 2010:

Discovery images of C/2010 B1 CardinalTo see Rob's actual discovery images click here.  The stars, being in the distant background, are stationary while the comet dashes across the field of view.  Congratuations Rob Cardinal!

In Oct. of 2008 and Jan. 2010, using the specialized Baker-Nunn Telescope and its very sensitive CCD camera detector, astronomer Rob Cardinal discovered never before seen comets, now named "C/2008 T2 Cardinal" and "C/2010 B1 Cardinal".  read more >>

In 2008 the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory won prestigeous ASTech Award for Excellence in Science and Technology Public Awarenes:            read more >>