Looking to the stars

People study a constellation chart at the Oldman River Observatory.

The Lethbridge Astronomy Society seeks to help local astronomy lovers in pursing various interests within the field of astronomy.

“These interests include observing the night sky, astrophotography and deepening their knowledge with the aid of our extensive library,” says Tom Anderson, a long-standing member of the Lethbridge Astronomy Society. "We also provide extensive public education programs to cubs, brownies, guides, school groups as well as the general public.”

Currently located in an observatory in Popson Park with 40 members, the Astronomy Society was founded in 1984 when a group of six astronomy lovers began meeting at Fleetwood Bawden School. That group, Anderson says, was named the Lethbridge Stargazers Club and the first viewing session was held on Astronomy Day in April 1985 at Nicholas Sheran Park. 

In 1986, Anderson says, the group moved to meeting at the Helen Schuler Coulee Centre in Indian Battle Park and also had an increase in members. The club became incorporated under the Societies Act in 1988 and the group was renamed the Lethbridge Astronomy Society.   

“We are now located at Popson Park and run a permanent observatory with a substantial inventory of astronomical equipment,” Anderson says. “We deliver education programs to 1,000-1,500 individuals each year.”

Another long-time member, Nathan Wihnan, says that the Lethbridge Astronomy Society currently has a lease agreement with the City of Lethbridge for their main building and that the city has been very supportive in leasing this facility to the group. 

“The City of Lethbridge is also supporting our large scale model of the solar system project (encouraging us to apply for grants, etc) to build this within the city.” Wihnan says.

Anderson says that the Society’s primary source of funding flows from staffing Casino nights (under the ALGC) as a qualified charitable organization, and from providing tutorials to astophysics students attending the University of Lethbridge.

“Our main goals  have been public education, along with education and support for members in the pursuit of astronomy,” Anderson says. “We also support educational and research initiatives through the University of Lethbridge and Athabasca University. Most of our members really enjoy participating in the Society; we have a passionate membership who are eager to share knowledge!”

For more information about the Lethbridge Astronomy Society, visit: https://www.facebook.com/LethbridgeAstronomy/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

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