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Heavenly views at Galilean Nights 

Astronomical celebrations around Halifax commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo using the telescope to watch the stars.

"We just set up our telescopes somewhere and grab people off the street," says David Chapman, an amateur astronomer and organizer of this weekend's "Galilean Nights," a celebration of all things astronomy with an emphasis on spreading the word.

"Quite a few people who come to us have never looked through a telescope before in their lives," he explains. "Some people have an inner scientist just waiting to get out. Other people like it just for the sheer appreciation of the beauty of what they can see through a telescope. For others, there's a personal discovery that comes when they look at the moon or Jupiter."

This year is the International Year of Astronomy, the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning a telescope to the heavens for the first time. A week-long series of events is planned locally (see page 54 or, cumulating Saturday, October 24, 7:30pm with a discussion of amateur astronomy at Cafe Ristretto at Bishop's Landing. Afterwards, weather permitting, the group will set up telescopes on the boardwalk for anyone who wants to peer through.

"We're trying to bring the universe down to Earth," says Dave Chapman.

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