Today we had the opportunity to take part in a guided tour of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory with our Learning Circle. Our guide was Ryan Ransom, a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Okanagan College. This professor is passionate about teaching astronomy and his enthusiasm was contagious. We started our tour outside and tried out the whisper dishes. The the children were given special glasses to view the sun but we only got a small glimpse of it before the clouds decided to be uncooperative. Ryan talked about the solar system and so many fun facts were shared. For instance, isn’t it amazing that we perceive the sun and moon to be the same size and yet the sun is gigantic and 150 000 000 kms away and the moon is small and 384 000 kms away. Coincidence?
The wind was chilly so we moved indoors. The children sat in a classroom and Ryan discussed the different between radio telescope versus an optical telescope. The children had many questions, all of which the professor answered with enthusiasm. We learned about the spectrum of light, how the eye works, what a galaxy looks like, black holes, dwarf planets, whether life existed on other planets and many other things. Did you know the sun is actually green? That the human body emits visible light? I didn’t. It was a fun experience and even if my eldest doesn’t remember all the details of what we learned today, I hope he remembers the enthusiastic professor of astronomy.