Pat Jeffery writes a monthly column called "Stargazing with Pat J" for the various Calgary Community Newsletters which shed light on the many amazing objects that inhabit the black void above our heads.
An amateur astronomer and councilor for the Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Pat Jeffery has always had a love for astronomy, remembering back to 1986 when she tried, unsuccessfully, to see Halley’s Comet through a pair of binoculars. She reconnected with the hobby a decade ago and credits joining the local Calgary chapter of the RASC, especially its NOVA program for novices, with renewing her passion.
It’s really humbling. Planet Earth is the most incredible rocket ship that has ever been constructed and yet we often lose sight of that fact. I think in this day and age; when people get so stressed about everyday things, what they really need to do is grab a lawn chair, head for the backyard and just look up.
What breaks my heart is when I hear someone has a telescope hidden away in the closet or basement because they got frustrated trying to use it. Learning to operate a telescope on your own can be daunting, and that’s where belonging to a club can really help. Our members have experience with all types of telescopes and love passing that knowledge on to budding stargazers.
Joining the Calgary club taught me how to get the most from my ‘scope and that has made all the difference. Now my nocturnal observing sessions are frequently punctuated with murmurs of ‘Oh my God, look at this’ or ‘Oh my God, look at that.’ I mean, how many times can you say, ‘Oh my God’?
RASC is trying to encourage younger people and women to get involved with astronomy at the grassroots level and offer many events where members of the public can take a peek through a telescope. Astronomy is something that has to be seen to be believed.
Every pinpoint of light you can see with the naked eye, is part of the Milky Way Galaxy. It takes a pair of binoculars or a telescope to reach beyond the edges of our home galaxy to unmask the true splendor of the Universe.
I just want people to enjoy the night sky. Sometimes we get so focused on ourselves, we miss the incredible beauty that’s all around us; a beauty that extends upward, to infinity and beyond.
Pat recently retired as an intensive care nurse, which included more than three decades as a helicopter flight nurse with Calgary’s STARS Air Ambulance. She’s an accomplished author, having written two novels and three screenplays, and was a Canadian champion luge athlete. In 2017, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, she was named to a list of 150 people from her hometown of Okotoks who have made the world a better place.