'Astronomy on Tap': Dunlap Institute's most popular event is back

If you like learning about astronomy and drinking pints of beer, you can soon do both at the same time! After a three-year, pandemic-driven hiatus, Astronomy on Tap has returned.

Everyone has a story about how COVID-19 closures of March, 2020 affected their day-to-day life. School and office shutdowns may have led to a new work from home setup for you. Maybe you had a concert you were looking forward to that spring, or an exciting trip planned. For fans of astronomy, one of the big disappointments of March, 2020 was the cancellation of Astronomy on Tap — the Dunlap Institute's most popular event series.

During the pandemic, the outreach team at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics switched gears, and began to move their events online. “A great advantage of having online events is that they reach a wider audience outside of the Greater Toronto Area,” says Ilana MacDonald, outreach coordinator at the Dunlap Institute.

But everyone still missed Astronomy on Tap.

“There really is nothing like chatting about astronomy with members of the public face to face in a chill environment, with a cold beer,” MacDonald says.

And that’s exactly what “Tap” is. Organizers bring in the smartest astronomers at U of T, who also have the most compelling stories about their work. These astronomers present their science to attendees, with fascinating facts about the cosmos that you’ve probably always wondered about — like whether the universe is expanding, or what are black holes, really?

Lit with beautiful colours, standing on one of the most beautiful stages in the city, scientists entertain a laid back, interested crowd by breaking down the mysteries of the universe.

“And they make it easy and fun,” explains long-time Tap attendee Kevin Sylvester. “Not to mention, you get to drink beer.”

Sylvester has been attending Tap since its early days in 2013. He says one of his favourite things about it is its accessibility.

“I think the fact the Tap events take place outside the campus sends a message that the event is for everyone,” Sylvester says. “Even if the event were exactly the same, but held at Sid Smith, for example, I’m not sure I’d feel the same welcoming vibe.”

MacDonald says this has been the goal all along. “A lot of people love the concepts behind the study of astronomy, but are intimidated by the complicated physics and math,” she explains. “By hosting Tap in an environment that’s removed from the classroom — geared towards a general audience — we make astronomy accessible to anyone with an interest.”

“We can just focus on the cool ideas!”

Astronomy on Tap T.O. will take place at The Great Hall in Toronto on Friday, November 11. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the event starts at 8 p.m. Join the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto to play games, win prizes, hear talks, drink beer, and learn all about astronomy. Pre-event tickets have been sold out, but we will be releasing a small number of free tickets after doors open. Visit the Astronomy on Tap T.O website for the latest updates.