Presidents Message February 2015

Posted by as President's Message

How about that comet, eh? Nothing like a lovely comet to make winter skies seem less gloomy, and Comet Lovejoy put on quite a show over the last few weeks. I think, after auroras, comets are my favourite night-sky things to observe and photograph, and we were lucky to have three separate arctic outbreaks this winter, bringing clear sparkling skies for observing. I hope you were able to get out and enjoy them.
As you may know, March is Messier Marathon month; this year the new moon is on March 20, so that weekend should be great for anyone who wants to try this challenging event. If you do, please let our Observing Chairs, Jim Stilburn or Michel Michaud know as soon as possible by email at: obschair@victoria.rasc.ca and we will set up a session. If there isn’t the interest, we will let it pass for this year.
Plans are well underway for various upcoming events, such as Astronomy Day, and the RASCals Summer Star Party in Metchosin. We will pass along details as they become available.
We have good news for those of you you cannot make the monthly meetings, yet would like to see them: we will begin broadcasting them live over the Web starting immediately with February’s meeting. . After a false start, much discussion about privacy and personal comfort levels -not to mention many emails in favour of live broadcasts- Council has decided to give it a try. Our Admin will send out an email to the Skynews email list each month with instructions on how to view these broadcasts. See you at the meetings. Or at least, you will see us!

Clear skies, everyone.

Sherry.

Jan 14, 2015 Speakers: John McDonald & Reg Dunkley – Rare Meteor Manifestations

Posted by as Meetings

RASC Victoria Monthly Meeting – Jan 14, 2015, 7:30PM at University of Victoria, Bob Wright Building A104

 

Speakers: John McDonald & Reg Dunkley – Rare Meteor Manifestations

 

While photographing the Geminid meteor shower this year, John McDonald managed to capture part of a very bright meteor track and smoke plume near the Orion Constellation. Subsequently, John and Reg Dunkley have analyzed the data and speculated on this rare phenomena.

Meteor Plume – online gallery

Video of meteor plume
RASC Victoria Centre: Recent Astrophotos &emdash; Meteor smoke plume expanding

President’s message, January 2015

Posted by as President's Message

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to 2015, the International Year of Light. We are working on a number of public events to celebrate IYL 2015, in collaboration with Natasha Van Bentum. You may remember Natasha; she and her husband Henri participated with us in IYA 2009. I know we’re all looking forward to working with her again!
John McDonald (Victoria Centre) and Russ Robb (UVic) have reinstated the UVic observing sessions, so watch for upcoming email announcements and mark your calendars; they’re scheduled for Jan 16, Feb 13, Mar 13, Apr 10, and May 8. These sessions are primarily visual (although you’re welcome to bring a camera to try a little focal photography). We will be able to view and study lots of great celestial objects with the university’s 32” telescope. These sessions are open to ALL Victoria Centre members, not just those on the Active Observer’s list. Big thanks to John and Russ!
And speaking of great celestial objects: don’t forget Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2). Rising rapidly in the south, it will pass just to the west of Orion, Taurus, and into Perseus this month. It’s a little brighter than predicted and is already a lovely sight in binos and backyard telescopes. Go out and have a look!

Wishing you clear skies, and a wonderful year ahead,

Sherry.

Speaker: The Construction of the DAO – Dan Posey

Posted by as Meetings

RASC Victoria Monthly Meeting – Dec 10, 2014, 7:30PM at University of Victoria, Bob Wright Building B150

 

’Astronomers’ Work is of Great Value’: The Construction of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and the Foundations of the Modern Canadian Astronomy Program, 1905-1930 by Dan Posey

 

daoThe Canadian astronomical program rapidly expanded under the guidance of William King and John Stanley Plaskett at the turn of the twentieth century. The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, constructed between 1914 and 1918 was considered an engineering marvel in its time, that radically departed from traditional designs, and was briefly the world’s largest operating telescope upon its completion. This presentation will examine how the construction of the observatory represented a shift in the commitment to scientific programs by the Canadian federal government, and the observatory’s place within a growing national identity during the First World War. Further, it will assess the cultural implications of the project for British Columbians and the establishment of an astronomical tradition for the province.

Dan Posey is a second-year graduate student in the University of Victoria’s History program. He completed his undergraduate degree from the same institution in 2012. His thesis focuses on the history of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and its contributions to both Canadian Astronomy and British Columbia throughout the twentieth century.

President’s message December 2014

Posted by as President's Message

I would first like to start off by thanking the previous Victoria Centre Council and committees for their outstanding work during their terms, and to welcome the new Council to their positions for the upcoming one. Looking at the names of those who served before us makes me realize we have some pretty big shoes to fill, but we definitely are ready for the challenge.
The coming year looks exciting, and we are already working on events such as our own summer star party, Saturday night public observing at the DAO, various outreach events, and even the total solar eclipse in 2017. It will be a fun year!
There is, however, something you can help me with. We are now just at around 200 members, and many of those are new to the RASC, and astronomy. I would like to know what we can do for you to make your experience in astronomy positive, and enjoyable. This is YOUR Centre. Please always feel free to bring your ideas and comments to Council by email, phone, or at a Council or general meeting.
So let’s make the beginning of the Victoria Centre’s second century as great as its first!

Clear skies,
Sherry.

AGM, Awards & Elections

Posted by as Meetings

Victoria Centre’s Annual General Meeting and dinner was held on Nov 16, 2014 at Moon Under Water Pub in Victoria, BC, Canada.

After enjoying a delicious dinner, and a fascinating presentation by Dr. James Di Francesco on the latest discoveries coming out of the Atacama Large Meter Array in Chile, awards were presented, reports were given, and an election of officers was held.

Nelson Walker presented Certificates of Appreciation to the whole key General Assembly 2014 team:

  • John McDonald – Registration
  • Chris Purse – Registration
  • Reg Dunkley – Registration
  • Deb Crawford – Hospitality
  • Nelson Walker – Finance
  • Lauri Roche – Papers and Presentations
  • Jim Hesser – Papers and Presentations
  • David Lee – Audio / Visual
  • Sherry Buttnor – Audio / Visual
  • Charles Banville – Transportation

David Lee was presented with the Award of Excellence in Astrophotography for his photos of the Partial Solar Eclipse Oct 2014.

Jim Stillburn was presented with the Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award in Amateur Telescope Making for the fabrication of his custom 10 inch Optical/Reflector Tube Assembly

Mark Bohlman and Paul Schumacher were presented as co-winners of the Newton – Ball Service Award 2014 for their management of the 2014 National General Assembly.

Outgoing President Nelson Walker was presented with a Certificate of Excellence for his excellent leadership of Victoria Centre.

A new slate of officers were all elected by acclamation. Congratulations to all!  See list here.

President’s Message – November 2014

Posted by as President's Message

 

Of the organizations that I have belonged to in my life, professional associations, sports clubs, conservation groups, and neighborhood associations, this one, RASC Victoria Centre, has been one of the best, if not THE best. I am honored that for two years I have been its president.

Let me explain why. In my experience, most such groups feature an impenetrable inner circle, a leadership that cannot separate its own interests from the group’s interests, and a mission that is largely ignored in practice. Not so with Victoria Centre. Its leadership positions are easily available to all, and rotate regularly. Its culture is one of inclusion, not exclusion. Best of all, its mission, public outreach, modest though it may seem when compared to the more important sounding missions of larger, but less successful groups, is front-and-center, and is practiced with enthusiasm by most of the members.

This last year stands as a testament to this club’s strength: an enviable national convention held at a first-class university, an astronomy day event held in a downtown Victoria landmark, and the successful resurrection of public tours and night-sky viewing from the DAO after they appeared to be lost among government budget cuts which seem to have become so common today. Most remarkably, these “signature” events were held in addition to our usual array of outreach events.

I could go on, but I won’t. Thanks to everyone in the club that makes its success possible. The energy and competence of our members is, well, amazing.

Victoria Centre AGM & Dinner – Sunday, Nov 16, 2014

Posted by as Events, Meetings

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria Centre

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

Sunday, November 16, 2014

at the Moon Under Water Brewpub, 350 Bay St, Victoria, BC

6:00pm – Drinks, conversation

  • No host bar
  • If interested there may be a chance to tour the brewery

6:30 – Dinner

Payment -Cost of dinner is $35.00 per person, inclusive of all taxes and gratuities

  • Payment is only required for the meal.
  • Attendance at both the speaker presentation and the business meeting is free of charge.
  • The total number of dinners must be confirmed by Monday, November 10th. Please look over the menu and send your choice of First Course and Main Course to:
    • Lauri Roche – 250-652-2361 or text to 250-893-5277 or
    • By email to pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca
    • Payment at the door – by cheque (preferred) or cash
    • Meals will be pre-ordered and must be paid for, whether you show up or not

Menu: fixed sit-down meal. Choices:

First Course – choice of soup or salad

  • Carrot Ginger Soup
  • House salad

Main Course – choice of entrée

  • Grilled Pacific salmon filet, served with fresh seasonal vegetables and risotto
  • Roast beef served with a Yorkshire pudding, gravy and fresh seasonal vegetables
  • Stuffed Portobello mushroom caps, served with Yorkshire pudding, country cream gravy and fresh seasonal vegetable – vegetarian option

Tea, Coffee (regular and decaffeinated) and Dessert buffet service. Specialty coffees available at cost

7:30pm – Speaker – Dr. James Di Francesco

Dr. Francesco will be describing the newest research that is coming out of ALMA, the Atacama Large Meter Array, down in Chile and the latest advances in planetary formation and will bring us up to date with the James Webb Space Telescope. This talk should not be missed!

8:30 pm Annual General Meeting

The agenda will be sent out closer to the meeting date.

Partial Solar Eclipse – success!

Posted by as Events, News

October 23, 2104

Sid Sidhu – What a day it was for viewing the Solar Eclipse! In the early morning all the weather reports indicated nothing but rain in Victoria for the rest of the day, however the 10 am updates showed some glimmer of hope that we may be in luck. Then, on cue at noon, the clouds parted and – wow a blue sky. I suppose a bit of sacrifice does help.

By 1:20 pm we had 11 telescopes at Mt. Tolmie to view and share the spectacle with the public. There was a continuous stream of people young and old hoping to have a glimpse of the Moon biting a chunk of the Sun. There was one older couple who were one of the first to come and practically the last to leave. From all the responses of their appreciation from everyone it appears that it was a very successful event and they were glad to be a part of it.

Though the main event in Victoria was at Mt. Tolmie, many of our members had their own individual eclipse viewing at their work places. Many thanks for their participation and reporting their GM counts.

After all the tallies, the total GM count is 274. Thanks to all the volunteers for their help.

Betty Hesser – Sid, you can add eight amateur cellists to your list of enthusiastic eclipse viewers! The sky was not very promising in the morning, but I took two pairs of solar viewing glasses to my cello group rehearsal in the early afternoon. One set her watch alarm for eclipse maximum, and then we laid down our instruments, loosened our bows, and headed out to the patio in the bright, clear sunshine. There was much excitement as we passed the glasses around and everyone wanted to know what exactly was happening, why we didn’t see this every month, why didn’t everything get dark, etc.

A wonderful afternoon among friends with music and a public-outreach opportunity, too! By the time our rehearsal was over, it had clouded over again, and we were sprinkled on as we left the parking lot.

Joe Carr – The weather today did not start out very promising for successfully observing the Partial Solar Eclipse in the early afternoon. The morning saw heavy cloud cover and rain squalls, and the forecast was gloomy, which probably also described many RASC Victoria members’ mood for this event. The eclipse was to start at 1:32PM, and about an hour before the skies cleared and the Sun shone, as if some kind of miracle was being given to us. The clear skies held through the first half of the eclipse, and didn’t really deteriorate until midway through the last half.

I was very happy to have observed and photographed this partial solar eclipse, and shared the experience with four others from my front yard location in the city. We must be somehow charmed in this part of the world, since virtually the same miraculous weather circumstances repeated themselves for the Transit of Venus in 2012.

Bill Weir – I skipped out of work early at Victoria General Hospital, drove around to the front entrance, and setup solar gear. I took some really awful shots of the eclipse through my scope so won’t show those. My favourites are of those of people who were nice enough to share the event with me.

Sherry Buttnor – I set up my gear on the Metchosin star party field about 30 minutes before the start of the eclipse. The clouds had almost completely disappeared; it was wonderfully (and unexpectedly) sunny, but windy and cool. My first visitor was a Westshore RCMP K9 officer, who was exercising his service dog in the adjacent field. He enjoyed a look at the pre-eclipse Sun and the huge sunspot complex through my telescope, but couldn’t stay for the main event.

After connecting my camera and laptop, I began taking images of the eclipse. The sky remained clear until just past mid-eclipse. Within moments, the clouds rolled in and I just barely got my gear packed up before the rain came pelting down.

During the two hours I was on the field, I had six other visitors at my scope; all people who came to walk their dogs, and whom I offered a look at the eclipsed Sun on my laptop screen. They were pleasantly surprised, and all of them thought this eclipse was an amazing sight. Seven additional GM’s for the list. Video

David Lee – Prepared to be disappointed I packed my car this morning with my camera and a half made solar filter. I recall the transit of Venus from previous years that we had lost hope for appearing miraculously from behind clouds. Today after days of rain the skies cleared just hours before the beginning of the eclipse. I assembled the solar filter over the lunch hour and made it to my vantage point just moments after the eclipse started.

I was most impressed by the display of sunspots especially the one near the centre which narrowly missed being covered as the eclipse progressed.

I was able to share some of the shots from the hour and half that I was there with a few people that passed by. Just a few minutes before totality the clouds started to appear so I packed up, but with a smile on my face as one of my co-workers observed while passing by.

Constantine Thomas – Partial Eclipse in progress, with monster sunspot! Yay, I got the binocular projector to work!  This was from around 3:30ish, just before the clouds rolled in.

Bill Smith – The sun came out from noon-3:30pm. Thanks to the Gods. Cattle Point was a stunning packed place to watch this moving event.

Chris Spratt – Watching it from home. Can see sunspot group with naked eye!

Gary Seronick – We lucked out at my place — but only just. A little while after mid-eclipse, I had to rush outside to rescue the scope from the rain! My story on Skynews.

John McDonaldVideo event from Fairfield.

 

Solar Eclipse Viewing – Oct 23, 2014

Posted by as Special Events

News Release 14 October 2014

 

RASC Victoria Plans Viewing of Solar Eclipse Thursday October 23

 

RASC Victoria Centre: Joe Carr &emdash; Partial Solar EclipseMembers of the RASC Victoria Centre plan to have their telescopes and viewing equipment out on Mount Tolmie for the solar eclipse that will be visible from Victoria the afternoon of Thursday, October 23.

The Moon will move across the face of the Sun as seen from Victoria starting at 1:32 p.m. that day and ending at 4:19 p.m. At the midpoint of the eclipse at 2:58 p.m., about 55 per cent of the Sun’s surface will be covered by the Moon as seen from Victoria.

It is most important to note that solar eclipses should only be viewed only through specially filtered telescopes or filtered glasses. Looking at solar eclipses without this equipment could result in serious damage to the eyes.

All RASC members will use the proper filters when viewing the eclipse. It should also be noted that even with more than half the Sun being covered, the eclipse will not be noticeable to people who are not viewing the Sun.

RASC Victoria members will gather on top of Mount Tolmie to view the eclipse if weather permits throughout the length of the eclipse, and it is possible that RASC members may set up their telescopes elsewhere around Greater Victoria. Telescopes will be fitted with solar filters, and glasses with solar filters will be available for use.

For more information, contact: Sid Sidhu 250-391-0540

If you are observing on your own, here is an information brochure.