Double Awards for Dunlap’s Transit of Venus at Varsity Stadium Event

9 June 2013 – Bronze and Silver CASE Awards for astronomy public outreach.

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics has won two CASE awards for its 2012 Transit of Venus at Varsity Stadium public outreach event. The gathering was one of the largest astronomy outreach events ever, attracting 5000+ spectators eager to watch the June 5th transit of Venus.

Some of the 5000+ spectators at the Transit of Venus at Varsity Stadium event on June 5th 2012.

Some of the 5000+ spectators at the Transit of Venus at Varsity Stadium event.

Excited transit-watchers filled the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium to near-capacity to watch Venus pass in front of the Sun for the last time this century. The weather co-operated and everyone witnessed the transit through solar-viewing glasses, telescopes and live on the stadium Jumbotron.

The event was a veritable “Transit-palooza”, with free shows in the university’s portable planetarium, a public talk, and a performance from the play “Transit of Venus.” Plus, astronomers and graduate students from the Dunlap Institute, the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics (DAA) and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) were on hand to answer questions from the public.

For leading the U of T team that organized the event, the Dunlap Institute has received a CASE Silver Circle of Excellence Award in the category of Public Relations and Community Relations Projects; and a Bronze for Individual Special Event. The awards are a program of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. CASE is an international association, head-quartered in Washington D.C., that serves advancement professionals in educational institutions who work in alumni relations, communications, development and marketing.

“The CASE awards are gratifying recognition of the Dunlap Institute’s commitment to engaging the public in appreciation of the wonders of the Universe and our place in it,” says Dunlap interim director, Prof. Peter Martin. “We look forward to continuing to fulfill our mandate, through existing programs like our planetarium and initiatives like the transit event, and by staging many stimulating events and activities in the coming years.”

The Dunlap’s Public Outreach Coordinator, Michael Reid, led the large team that pulled off the event. “We were very happy,” says Reid, “that so many people came to to see the transit with their own eyes and had a chance to interact with our astronomers. We hope that everyone who enjoyed the event will stay tuned to the Dunlap Institute for more great events of this type. We’re already working hard on more surprises.”

The Transit of Venus at Varsity Stadium was organized by the Dunlap Institute with the support of the Department of Alumni Relations at U of T, and in partnership with the DAA, CITA, the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science & Technology, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Fédération des Astronomes Amateurs du Québec.

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics continues the legacy of the David Dunlap Observatory of developing innovative astronomical instrumentation, including instrumentation for the largest telescopes in the world. The research of its faculty and Dunlap Fellows spans the depths of the Universe, from the discovery of exoplanets, to the formation of stars, the evolution and nature of galaxies, dark matter, the Cosmic Microwave Background, and SETI. The institute also continues a strong commitment to developing the next generation of astronomers and fostering public engagement in science.