Virtual Cosmic Nights: Earth Day

Join us for our first-ever virtual Cosmic Nights and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with us. Our host Michael Unger will be joined by our astronomer Rachel Wang for a planetarium-style talk, and by guest lecturer Johanna Wagstaffe from the CBC.

Apollo astronauts captured images of our home planet that allowed us to see the Earth in its entirety for the first time. These captivating images inspired the birth the modern environmental movement in 1970, and now Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd.

Tune in on YouTube during the live stream for a chance to ask questions and take part in the discussion. We’ll also have a craft activity that you can take part in from the comfort of your own home. Grab your favourite beverage and we’ll see you online!


“Earth’s Place in the Universe” with Rachel Wang
Our understanding of Earth’s place in the universe is an ever-evolving one, which has been shaped by centuries of telescopic observations. In the vastness that is the universe, Earth is home to the only source of life as we’ve come to know it -- but what about Earth makes it so special and rare? We’ll talk about Earth’s physical location in space and follow the footsteps of astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake in the discussion of a ‘Rare Earth’ that is teeming with complex, intelligent life. 

Rachel Wang is the astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and recent UBC graduate in physics and astronomy. Her formal role is being the content knowledge expert, while also striving to educate and inspire students of all ages that walk through the Space Centre’s doors. At UBC, she researched blazars using the UBC CTIO telescope in Chile and completed her undergraduate thesis on ultra-cold neutrons at TRIUMF. In her spare time, she dreams of discovering what dark matter is made of and becoming a CSA astronaut. 

“Crisis on Past and Present Earth” with Johanna Wagstaffe
It's hard to look too far forward in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic. But there are lessons to be learned by examining the natural disasters that have rocked our world in the past. Wagstaffe will use historical earthquakes and climate change disasters to remind us how humans can mobilize to work together to find solutions. And how communities around the world have changed for the better after a crisis. 

Johanna Wagstaffe is the on-air meteorologist, seismologist and scientist for CBC News. She has been covering national and international weather and science stories since the summer of 2007. In addition to the seven-day Vancouver forecasts, Wagstaffe provides insight into breaking science news stories, as well as providing context to weather patterns and science stories in her “Science Smart” series.  You can catch 'Science Smart’ on CBC’s Our Vancouver and online. 

Download the PDF, and gather your art supplies.

 All registrants will be emailed a link to join the YouTube live stream two hours before the event starts on April 22nd.

We are hosting the event from Vancouver, BC, Canada and will be starting at 7:00pm PST.


 Send us your original prose, images, art, music or anything you’ve created that is inspired by the Earth, and we’ll share some of the entries during the live broadcast of Virtual Cosmic Nights: Earth Day.  

Email your submissions to [email protected] along with your name and location. Providing your work gives us permission to share it during the broadcast, and on the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre’s social media accounts. We will only share your first name and location publicly.  

Event Details

April 22, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Virtual Cosmic Nights: Earth Day -- YouTube Live Stream