Telescope contest for Manitoba’s kid astronomers

An upswing of interest in space and rocketry, spurred in part by private space flights making the news in recent months, means the Winnipeg chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) is continuing its campaign to get kids excited about astronomy.

The RASC is embarking on its second-annual ‘Telescopes for Kids’ contest, something young astronomy buffs under the age of 18 can enter between now and Dec.

The society’s Gord Tulloch told Global News the initiative began last year when RASC received telescope donations from a benefactor who asked they go to kids.

“We ran an essay-writing contest,” said Tulloch. “We got some excellent entries, and it was a lot of fun for everybody, so we decided to make it an annual thing.”

In August, the RASC started collecting donations of used and new telescopes and accessories, as well as cash, so it could buy different accessories for telescopes, said Tulloch.

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“Now we’re looking for kids to participate. There’ll be a judging panel made up of RASC members, and we’ll be evaluating the entries. We have telescopes that are suitable for little kids and big kids.

The entries will be evaluated based on age. The winners will be award the telescopes around Christmastime, said Tulloch.

Read more: Winnipeg woman pays $200K to join Virgin Galactic flight to space

While the contest’s first year involved essay writing, the way kids can participate is far more varied this time around. Essays are still welcome, but so are songs, poems, stories, videos, skits — really any type of creative expression that centers on “why I love astronomy and would like a telescope.”

Tulloch said it’s important to foster excitement about the hobby among younger generations.

“I’m a child of the Apollo age, and that was a very exciting time for space,” he said.

“It got a lot of kids interested in astronomy — we have a lot of people my age in the club.

“With the recent excitement around rocketry and potentially having boots on Mars in 5-10 years, there’s a lot of excitement around space and astronomy. Actually the pandemic has created a huge demand for astronomy products. Vendors can’t keep them on the shelves.”

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Full contest details are available on the society’s website.

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