The Société d’Astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal (SAPM) held an open house of sorts on September 3, during which Elgin residents were invited to visit the observation site in their area for a close-up look at the sky.
The Elgin site was established in 2020, after members of the astronomy club were forced to find a new location when a site in Hemmingford closed. Convinced by the dark skies and low light pollution in Elgin, the club partnered with a local farmer, Matthew Wallace, to create a new site on the 3rd Concession just east of the Paul Sideroad, on what locals refer to as the Hogsback.
Elginites of all ages took the SAPM up on its offer. During the day, visitors looked through a refracting telescope equipped with a hydrogen alpha filter and were able to see solar prominences larger than the earth explode off the surface of the sun. Enthusiastic participants were also able to see sunspots while using another refractor set up with a white-light filter.
Clouds rolling in over the early evening threatened to hamper night viewing, but club members were equipped to search for galaxies if conditions allowed. There are over 600 members of the SAPM club, and when the weather is nice, a number of them can often be found setting up their equipment at dusk.
“They don’t come when there is a full moon,” says club member Pierre Tournay, who now lives in Elgin. “People in the city are afraid of the dark, but people in the country embrace it,” he laughs. “Elgin is a treasure.”