Ontario Science Centre celebrates the Earth's Finest Hour with record crowds

    150 locations from across Canada participated in the StarWatch experiment
    as part of inaugural Earth Hour celebrations at Ontario Science Centre

    TORONTO, March 31 /CNW/ - Over 2,000 people joined in Toronto's Earth
Hour celebrations on Saturday night at the Ontario Science Centre. In addition
to turning off many of the lights in its buildings, parking lots and TELUSCAPE
from 8pm to 9pm, the Science Centre attracted participants with a free Star
Party. Festivities included views of Saturn and Mars through high-powered
telescopes, and numerous activities and demonstrations that centered on energy
conservation and the environment.
    Hundreds of star-gazers also took part in the cross-Canada StarWatch
experiment that asked people to count the number of stars visible in the
Little Dipper during Earth Hour and then again when the lights were turned
back on to see if turning out the lights impacted the quality of the night
sky. So far, participants have submitted data from 150 locations. An
interactive map of the results can be found online at
    "The impact of Earth Hour on the quality of the night sky was higher than
we expected. When the lights came back on, the three stars in the Little
Dipper that we were able to observe were harder to identify and the sky on the
horizon became noticeably brighter. Measurements showed 75 percent more light
arriving from a given patch of sky", said Sara Poirier, Astronomy Researcher
for the Ontario Science Centre. "The great thing about this experiment is that
it provides a quantitative measure that we can compare from year to year and
an opportunity to raise awareness about the important issue of wasted energy.
Light pollution is the result of wasted energy. Every year, billions of
dollars is wasted putting light up into the sky rather than the ground where
it is needed."
    Part of regular offerings on the Ontario Science Centre's interactive
website, www.redshiftnow.ca, the StarWatch experiment is just one of the many
innovative programs the Centre has developed to reach out and engage a broader
audience beyond its walls - onsite, online and offsite.

    The Ontario Science Centre uses science as the lens to inspire and
actively engage people in new ways of seeing, understanding and thinking about
themselves and the world. The Centre is also a leading developer of
interactive exhibitions for science centres around the world. The Ontario
Science Centre is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Ellen Flowers, Media Relations
Officer, (416) 696-3154 OR ellen.flowers@osc.on.ca; Christine Crosbie, Media
Relations Officer, (416) 696-3191 OR christine.crosbie@osc.on.ca

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