1st-Ever Yukon Star Party

Photo Credit: David Cartier Sr.


A star party is a gathering of amateur astronomers for the purpose of observing the sky. Local star parties may be one night affairs, but larger events can last up to a week or longer and attract hundreds or even thousands of participants. Many regional star parties are now held annually and are an important part of the hobby of amateur astronomy. Typically a dark sky site, away from light pollution, is chosen as a location. Participants bring telescopes and binoculars of all types and sizes, and spend the nights observing astronomical objects such as planets, comets, stars, and deep sky objects together. Astrophotography and CCD imaging are also very popular. At larger star parties, lectures, swap meets, exhibitions of home-built telescopes, contests, tours, raffles, and other similar activities are common. Commercial vendors selling a variety of astronomical equipment may also be present. As with any other hobbyist gathering, there is much camaraderie and discussion of various aspects of the hobby at any star party.

The idea of a star party is not new, and allegedly goes back at least as far as George III of the United Kingdom, who was passionately interested in astronomy and mathematics. On nights when poor weather blocked the view of the real stars and planets, attendants are said to have hung paper lanterns marked with drawings in the trees around the royal palace to provide something else for the King and his guests to spot through their telescopes.

The Yukon Star Party objectives are two-fold:

  1. To bring the stars of the Yukon sky down to the people of the Yukon, and to offer the Yukon sky to the world.
  2. To promote the Yukon and its Societies, its cultures, and its people.

This year’s October event will be held at the Takhini Hotsprings. A FREE public panel-discussion on the future of Astronomy and Space Sciences will be held at The Old Fire Hall on October 22nd, Sunday evening between 6 and 9:30 PM.

Our Sponsors



Our Guest of Honour is Dr. Philip Plait:

Philip Cary Plait (born September 30, 1964), also known as The Bad Astronomer, is an American astronomer, skeptic, writer and popular science blogger. Plait has worked as part of the Hubble Space Telescope team, images and spectra of astronomical objects, as well as engaging in public outreach advocacy for NASA missions. He has written two books, Bad Astronomy and Death from the Skies. He has also appeared in several science documentaries, including Phil Plait’s Bad Universe on the Discovery Channel. From August 2008 through 2009, he served as President of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Additionally, he wrote and hosted episodes of Crash Course Astronomy, which aired its last episode in 2016.


  • Plait, Philip; Weinersmith, Zach (2013). Nerd Disses: A Significant Quantity of Disrespect. ASIN B00GI25TSC. 
  • Plait, Philip (2008). Death from the Skies!: These are the Ways the World Will End. Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-01997-7. 
  • Plait, Philip (2002). Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax”. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-40976-6. 

Awards and Honors

  • The 2007 Weblog Awards – Bad Astronomy was awarded “Best Science Blog,” having tied with Climate Audit.
  • In March 2008, Plait had an asteroid named after him by the late astronomer Jeff Medkeff. Asteroid 2000 WG11 was renamed 165347 Philplait.
  • In 2009, Bad Astronomy was named among Time.com’s 25 Best Blogs.
  • In 2013, Plait received the National Capital Area Skeptics’ Philip J. Klass Award
  • In 2016, Plait was awarded the David N. Schramm Award for High Energy Astrophysics Science Journalism by the American Astronomical Society for his 2015 article entitled “A Supermassive Black Hole’s Fiery and Furious Wind.”

Our Special Guests will include:

Dr. Ian P. Griffin

Ian P. Griffin (b. 1966) is a British astronomer, discoverer of minor planets and a public spokesman upon scientific matters. He is currently the Director of Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand. Griffin was the CEO of Science Oxford, in Oxford, United Kingdom, and the former head of public outreach at NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute.

Significant achievements

Discovered minor planets: 25
10924 Mariagriffin 29 January 1998 MPC
11678 Brevard 25 February 1998 MPC
13376 Dunphy 15 November 1998 MPC
14179 Skinner 15 November 1998 MPC
17020 Hopemeraengus 24 February 1999 MPC
23988 Maungakiekie 2 September 1999 MPC
23990 Springsteen 4 September 1999 MPC
25273 Barrycarole 15 November 1998 MPC
27120 Isabelhawkins 28 November 1998 MPC
31239 Michaeljames 21 February 1998 MPC
31268 Welty 16 March 1998 MPC
33179 Arsènewenger 29 March 1998 MPC
(44527) 1998 YC6 22 dicembre 1998 MPC
(49291) 1998 VJ 8 November 1998 MPC
(53109) 1999 AD5 12 January 1999 MPC
(66856) 1999 VW22(*) 13 November 1999 MPC
85773 Gutbezahl 25 October 1998 MPC
(101461) 1998 WU7 25 November 1998 MPC
(101462) 1998 WW7 25 November 1998 MPC
(101491) 1998 XA 1 December 1998 MPC
(108736) 2001 OG32(*) 24 July 2001 MPC
(134483) 1998 WK2 19 November 1998 MPC
(135045) 2001 OF32(*) 24 July 2001 MPC
(155487) 1998 WP8 27 November 1998 MPC
(192609) 1999 GY3 12 April 1999 MPC
(*) in collaboration with N. Brady

In his time at Space Telescope, Griffin contributed to the observation and study of a scientifically significant binary asteroid system, known as 1998 WW31. This was only the second such binary system discovered in the Kuiper belt (the other being the Pluto and Charon system) and provided valuable data helping astronomers understand the mass and behaviour of objects in the Kuiper belt.

Via search programmes using small telescopes, Griffin also discovered 26 numbered minor planets between 1998 and 2001. Three of his discoveries were made in collaboration with Australian astronomer Nigel Brady. His discovery include:

  • 10924 Mariagriffin, named after his wife Maria (b. 1962)
  • 23990 Springsteen, named after American musician Bruce Springsteen
  • 33179 Arsènewenger, named after Arsène Wenger, the manager of Griffin’s favourite football team, Arsenal

However the Mars-crossing asteroid 4995 Griffin is unrelated to him, as it was named after Griffin Swanson the son of its discoverer Steven Roger Swanson.

Dr. Christa van Laerhoven

Holds a postdoctoral fellow at UBC, gained her PhD from the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona in May 2014. She holds a B.Sc. from UBC in Physics and Astronomy (Honours), and was the ex-president of the UBC Physics Society. She is interested in orbital dynamics in general, and that of multi-planet extra-solar systems in particular. She is an OSIRIS-REx Ambassador, and a panelist on reddit.com’s AskScience.

Dr. van Laerhoven is also an active member of the RASC: Yukon Centre.

Pierre Paquette

Editor at Astronomie-Québec (Magazine), and active member of RASC: Yukon Centre.

After receiving a Tasco refracting telescope for Christmas 1984, Pierre joined the French Centre of Montreal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1987. There, he became Librarian (1990–1992), Councillor (1992), Secretary (1992), and eventually President (1993). He then left it to found the Polaris Amateur Astronomers Club (1993–2001). He joined the Laval Amateur Astronomers Club in 2008, of which he was Vice-President in 2010-11. In September 2012, he also joined the Montreal Planetarium Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Montreal Centre (English) for a few years.

Within the Quebec Amateur Astronomers Federation, he was Secretary in 1994 and again from 2010 to 2014, and has been the Editor of the QAAF’s AstroInfo newsletter since 2003.

Pierre was an animator in the E‑Toiles Astronomy Club (2004–12), National Coordinator for Canada of Astronomers Without Borders (2010–12), and member of IDA Quebec from 2010 to 2013 (he had also taken part in a “Dark Sky Committee” of the QAAF, basically an ancestor of IDA Quebec, in 1994).

Pierre launched an e‑newsletter called La Veillée de nuit (“Night Vigil”) for the LAAC in the spring of 2010, then opened it to other amateur astronomers in March 2011. It eventually became Astronomie-Québec in June 2012, the name of a former paper magazine published by the QAAF, then Les Éditions astronomiques, whose former owners were kind enough to let Pierre use the name to publish a free PDF every second month.

Peter Ceravolo

Peter Ceravolo is a professional optician and optical designer from Osoyoos, Canada. Peter has had a life long interest in astronomy and has been active in the amateur astronomical community for 30 years. Peter makes and designs optics for the scientific and industrial communities, he made the optics for MOST micro-satellite, Canada’s first space telescope. In addition to astronomy, Peter and his wife Debra, a fellow pilot, share a passion for aviation and take to the sky in their small airplane. Supernova hunting is a family affair with Debra and Debra’s daughter Jenn Tigner being actively involved.

One of the greatest comets in recent times, comet Hyakutake’s close approach to the Earth in the spring of 1996 allowed Canadian telescope maker and astrophotographer Peter Ceravolo to capture detail in the dynamic tail in hundreds of images spanning a two week period. Fellow astronomy enthusiast Douglas George strung the images together to bring the comet to life in a time lapse sequence that, to this day, still has no equal. While Peter photographed the tail with a wide field telescope from Arizona, Paul Boltwood imaged the comet’s active inner coma at high power from Ottawa to create a stunning time-lapse sequence of the comet’s inner workings.

Debra Ceravolo

Debra Ceravolo has been interested in astronomy since the age of five after experiencing her first total solar eclipse. Debra enjoys teaching children all about astronomy, organizing public displays, workshops, and local star parties. She was President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Ottawa Centre.


Craig Levine

Past-President of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

I am passionate about astronomy and all areas of science, and have been for as far back as I can remember. Sharing that passion is a source of joy in my life, and my joy was amplified 10-fold over 16 years ago when I discovered a like-minded group of people in the RASC. I have always been a “roll up the sleeves and pitch in” type of person, and within a year of joining the Halifax RASC centre, I took on the role of Secretary, and worked my way through various positions until I became President for two terms, 2005 and 2006, before my move to London. The accomplishment that I’m most proud of from that time was the formation of several outreach and observing committees and building a strong culture of volunteerism that empowered the membership to shape the committees and their activities.

When I moved to London in 2006, I found a welcoming Centre and some familiar names and faces. When I saw that there was an opening for the role of Representative on the National Council, I put my name forward and held that role for almost 3 terms. On the National Council I was on the Publications Committee, the IT Committee, and have been asked to be a trustee for the Guest Public Speaker Program.

I have filled executive roles for several organizations including President of the Dalhousie Arts Society, a granting umbrella organization, at Dalhousie University; President of the Political Science Graduate Student’s society, also at Dalhousie; Founding member of the Dalhousie Public Interest Research Group, and a half dozen more.