Tours of the dome hosting the Plaskett telescope are included in admission to the Centre of the Universe. Black Press Media file photo

Tours of the dome hosting the Plaskett telescope are included in admission to the Centre of the Universe. Black Press Media file photo

Centre of the Universe reopens for astronomy enthusiasts in Saanich

Release of first images from James Webb Space Telescope has people excited

Astronomy fans and those curious about space are celebrating the reopening of the Centre of the Universe visitor centre in Saanich, just outside Victoria.

Operated by the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, the centre has been closed since March 2020, leaving the region without an interpretive connection to the night skies for the layperson.

The timing of the reopening is perfect, with cosmic photos coming from the James Webb Space Telescope inspiring people worldwide to wonder further about the nature and history of the universe.

READ MORE: 10 things to see and do in Greater Victoria for summer 2022

Friends board member Lauri Roche said the findings of the Webb telescope have ignited people’s curiosity.

“Everybody has been really made aware of it, that there’s some very different and new astronomy being done and that Canada is a part of it,” Roche says. Scientists with the Saanich-based Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre are also doing project management for the Webb project and are sharing what they’re learning, Roche added.

“We hope that by opening the centre here we’ll be able to showcase some of astronomy that’s being done in Canada, and just to show people that people that we’re on the world stage.”

READ MORE: Saanich observatory to include local First Nations history

Star parties continue Saturdays through Sept. 3, with a special finale scheduled for Sept. 17. The events feature children’s programming with an engaging presentation, dome and planetarium tours and astronomy-related crafts. Each week sees a new speaker and theme with two talks along with two tours of the Dome. Tickets are by donation, with a list of events available at centreoftheuniverse.org.

Through the week the centre is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and offers self-guided gallery tours, a short film documenting the site’s history, and tours of the domed home of the Plaskett telescope. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and $25 for small groups of up to two adults and three students or seniors.

READ MORE: Victoria’s architecture steeped in history

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