In our basement in downtown Toronto, and hooked to a joystick, are a computer and a projector inside a dark inflatable igloo.
This gear allows Mike Williams —and the crew of Teaching Assistants he has trained— to fly students, visitors and schoolchildren (25 of them at a time) through the Universe.
Along the way, the audience gets an idea of how the Universe all works and fits together.
The software and joystick make for an interactive experience, as the show can be modified on the fly
Over 2,000 people have already been through the experience, and so can you, if you book a free seat for a show during the next Public Tour!
On the first Thursday of most months, you can access our rooftop observatory, thanks to the dedication of about a dozen Astronomy graduate students.
They will be your guides, pointing the telescopes in the right direction for you, and explaining why the objects you see are the way they are.
But remember: one thing our crew cannot control is the weather. And because optical telescopes don′t let you to see through the clouds, you should check the weather forecast.
You will also need to dress according to the outside temperature, because the telescope domes are not heated in winter and not conditioned in summer.
On the evening of the first Thursday of most months, two of the Astronomy graduate students run the show on our downtown Toronto campus.
Jamil Shariff and Ilana MacDonald give you an hour with a young researcher —enough to answer all your questions about black holes and 2012, or to give you an idea of life in Antarctica.
Because the speakers themselves are often students, they still remember how hard it is to get your head around these concepts the first time.
Ilana and Jamil also coach their crew, so they think anybody can follow these talks, and they encourage everyone to attend them.