RASC Fellowship Award to Dr. Alan Batten.

Posted by as News

 

Dr. Alan Batten receives the RASC Fellowship Award
Dr. Alan Batten receives the RASC Fellowship Award

Dr. Alan Batten joined the Victoria Centre in 1962, three years after his 1959 arrival in Canada as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) following his undergraduate (St. Andrew’s University) and graduate (University of Manchester) studies in astrophysics. After a highly productive scientific research career, Dr. Batten retired from the DAO as a Senior Research Officer in 1991 to pursue very actively his interests in promoting the development of astronomy and astronomy education in developing countries, studies in the history of science with emphasis on astronomical topics, and the intersections of science and religion in society at large.
His scholarly works over 60 years have been numerous and well referenced (>2,400 citations according to NASA’s ADS). His 89 JRASC contributions span a 47-year period from 1961 to 2008. Besides numerous original research findings on multiple stars and stellar astrophysics, Alan documents many contributions to astronomy by Canadians, as well as the major issues faced by the Society during his leadership years.
Throughout his DAO research career Dr. Batten was an active life member of the Victoria Centre, which continues to this day. He served as Centre president in 1972 and his most recent turn as a featured speaker was December 2015. His experiences at the local level were then elevated to the national level where Dr. Batten served as the RASC President (1976-1978) and then as Editor of the Journal (1980-1988), for which he was recipient of the national Service Award (1988). Reading his many JRASC contributions on Society affairs in those years provides unique insight into the evolution of Canadian astronomy. That 20 of his 89 JRASC contributions were published following receipt of the 1988 Service Award is testimony to his ongoing respect of, and support for, the Society’s publications. That support includes contributing The Nearest Stars section to 40 editions of the Observer’s Handbook (1970-2009). His appointment to a four-year term as the Society’s Honorary President (1993-1997) highlights the Society’s high regard for Dr. Batten.

His presentations are exemplary expositions on his most recent studies in history of astronomy and his reflections upon developments in society at large as viewed from the unique perspective of a distinguished astronomer. He also delivers lectures on astronomy-related topics organized through other organizations to the benefit of members of the Victoria Centre and the public at large. Dr. Batten’s generosity has been a great benefit to many with whom he has willingly shared his time and expertise over nearly six decades of active participation in, and leadership of, Canadian astronomy.
The experiences of leading both CASCA and the RASC as national, bilingual, astronomy organizations in a geographically challenging country prepared Dr. Batten well for representing Canadian astronomy in the broadest sense during subsequent decades of forefront service to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Following his role in organizing the first-ever IAU General Assembly to be held in Canada (1979), he served as an IAU Vice President (1985-91). During that period and for many years subsequently, Dr. Batten shared his accumulated experience from RASC, CASCA, and scientific research collaborations to promote the development of astronomy education and research in countries previously missing it from their educational systems. Over a decade he travelled extensively to work closely with national leaders and extensively documented the lessons learned. His success reflects his abiding interests in people, their diverse cultures and world views.

Warmest congratulations to Dr Batten from everyone at RASC-Victoria Centre!

President’s Message June 2016

Posted by as President's Message, Uncategorized

June! It started off more like Juneuary, but as I write this, it’s full-on summer heat outside, and
the first clear Saturday evening for our summer star parties at the DAO since we opened.
Despite the first three Saturdays being clouded out, we still had more than one hundred visitors
join us at the DAO for our terrific indoor activities. Nice! That’s due entirely to the efforts of
volunteers from RASC-Victoria, and also FDAO, and UVic-Science Venture, and our guest
speakers.
I take a break from writing this report, and head off to the DAO; it was wonderful! Warm, clear,
evening, lots of visitors, and of course RASC members to wow them with their enthusiasm and
knowledge. We needed a night like that! It also gave us our first real test of our new EventBrite
ticketing system and gate procedures, which worked as planned. Let’s hope the rest of the
series goes as well. We have an incredible lineup of guest speakers this summer, so if you
can’t help out as a RASC volunteer, tell your friends and family and come on up as a visitor!
http://victoria.rasc.ca/summer-star-parties-2016-dao/
One more Saturday evening on the hill before we take a break for two weeks, due to the lack of
darkness in the evening. This is where I’d really like to see a return to Standard Time all year;
most people like the lingering light in the evening, but it’s a bane to astronomers, and especially
for public outreach events. Also, for the same reason, most of our scheduled events for RASC
members are -or will soon be- on hiatus for the summer.
Of course, one highlight of the year is the RASCals Star Party, which will be on the weekend or
August 26-28 this year, and again will be held on the cricket field behind the district offices here
in Metchosin. I’m pleased to report Maan Hani and Dr. Rita Mann will be reprising their
presentations at the star party, and we will also have our usual activities and door prizes. There
is never a fee to attend, and you can camp on the field all weekend, or drop in as you wish.
Our Victoria Centre member Dr Chris Gainor reports that at the recent RASC National General
Assembly, Dr. Alan Batten (past President of the Victoria Centre, past President of RASC
National, former director of the DAO, and many, many other professional accomplishments) was
proclaimed a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Warmest congratulations to
Dr. Batten for this well-deserved honour!
This is my final monthly message until September. It’s been quite a year so far, marked by
frustrating weather, amazing public outreach (in spite of the frustrating weather!), terrific
meetings and guest speakers. Thank you all so much for all you do for RASC-Victoria and
astronomy in Victoria, and I wish you all a gentle summer filled with clear, sparkling skies.
Sherry.

SPEAKER: Exploring exoplanetary systems with the Gemini Planet Imager – Zach Draper

Posted by as Meetings

June 8, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Exploring exoplanetary systems with the Gemini Planet Imager” – Zach Draper, UVic Astronomy

An accurate artist impression of the kind of planetary systems I'll be talking about
An accurate artist impression of the kind of planetary systems I’ll be talking about

The Gemini Planet Imager is an instrument designed to directly image exoplanets and circumstellar disks around nearby stars. Partially built here in Victoria, it is now conducting a 600 hour survey at the Gemini-South observatory in Chile. I will discuss how the instrument works and highlight some of its recent discoveries.

Bio: Zack Draper is a second year PhD student at the University of Victoria, where he also received his Masters in 2012. His focus of study are debris disks (collisionally active, asteroid belts) around other stars. He is also member of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey.

Astronomy Day 2016

Posted by as Events, Special Events

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal BC Museum present

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum

Saturday, May 14, 2016 10AM to 4PM

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

2016-IAD-MediaRelease (59k PDF)

Event Details


Stephen Courtin and his astro VW bus
Stephen Courtin and his astro VW bus

All Astronomy Day activities are FREE and available to the general public. Membership in RASC is not required.

Regular admission applies to Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre. A Beautiful Planet – an IMAX® 2D and 3D Experience – Take a Journey on the International Space Station! – starting at 11AM (every 2 hours).

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 4PM

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

  • Interactive activities and displays both inside and outside
    • View the Sun safely through solar telescopes on the plaza
    • “Walk Among the Planets” display on the plaza
    • Telescope mirror grinding – inside
    • Astrophotography – inside
    • Historical displays – inside
    • Hands-on activities for the kids – inside
  • Lectures
    • 1PM – Death Stars in the Orion Nebula: Recent Observations of Planet Formation – Dr. Rita Mann
    • 2:30PM – Baby Galaxies in a Grown-up Universe – Maan Hani

Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PM

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Lectures
    • 8PM – Journey to the Edge of the Solar System. New Horizons: The First Mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt – Ivar Arroway
    • 9PM – The Greatest Show on Earth: Solar Eclipses – Michael Webb
  • Only holders of (free) tickets will be admitted to this evening event!
  • Reserve your tickets (one week prior to the event) – sorry, all tickets are gone!


Press


 

What a day! Absolutely first-rate effort by RASC-Victoria members for a successful International Astronomy Day at the Royal BC Museum and Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

Huge thanks to our incredible RASC volunteers, as well as those who generously donated their time and knowledge from NRC, FDAO, UVic, Pearson College, the Planetary Society, and our guest speakers Rita Mann, Maan Hani, Ivar Arroway and Michael Webb. Special thanks go to David Lee and Nelson Walker who arranged the volunteers and guest speakers, and made the whole event look amazing.

We had fun, and the public LOVED it.
Well done, and THANK YOU everyone!

Sherry Buttnor, President, RASC Victoria Centre

Congratulations and thanks to everyone from RASC, FDAO, Science Ventures, Planetary Society, NRC-HAA, and the RBCM who made two extraordinary events possible. The community commitment to engaging, quality outreach and to support of the work of the Herzberg staff at DAO is phenomenal. That we have come so far since CU closure is the result of sustained effort by so many people, for which my gratitude is boundless!

Jim Hesser, former Director of the DAO

Thanks to all the volunteers during the day and at night at the DAO who made it a very worthwhile day.

Lauri Roche, Past President, RASC Victoria Centre

President’s Message, May 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Off we go! After months of planning, we’re good to go on Saturday May 14th for International Astronomy Day, with public activities at the Royal BC Museum during the day, and our first of thirteen Saturday evening “star parties” at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory that evening.
I want to offer my heartfelt thank you to all the amazing Victoria Centre members who have stepped up once again to volunteer their time at the upcoming events. The public loves what you do, and I deeply appreciate the contributions of each and every one of you. In particular, special thanks go to David Lee (guest speakers and scheduling), Chris Gainor (media relations), Nelson Walker (volunteers and scheduling), Matt Watson and Joe Carr (EventBrite), Matt Watson/Stocksy and Lauri Roche (posters), and Jim Hesser, who is always ready to help us navigate the complexities of working with the NRC/DAO side of things. And speaking of the NRC and DAO, none of this would be possible without the generous assistance of staff on the Hill: Kevin Farris, David Bohlender, Clyde Donnelly, Marilyn Bell, Dave Balam, and Dennis Crabtree. Many thanks also to Kim Gough (RBCM),  Saunders Subaru (posters), and every Victoria Centre member who supports us with their memberships..
THANK YOU, everyone. Let’s have a great summer sharing the universe!

Recently, the Vancouver Island Science Fair was held at UVic, In addition to our guest speaker, we have a special treat for members attending our May monthly meeting (Weds, May 11, UVic): two of the deserving award-winners will be in attendance:

Ines Khouider  Grade 7 St. Margaret’s School   ” Light Pollution: What’s the Solution?”
        Ines’s project was second overall in the Intermediate Division and she also won prizes from the PARC Systems and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC

Nathan Harlan  Grade 6 Home Learner   “Cosmic Ballistics: Trebuchets in Space!”
        Nathan also received a prize from our very own Quarky Science.

They will be set up at the front of our meeting room A104 at 7:00pm. Please come early and congratulate these amazing students!

TRANSIT of MERCURY: don’t forget, Mercury will transit the Sun this coming Monday, May 9th. Unfortunately, the transit will be well underway at sunrise, but several Victoria Centre members will be setting up atop Mt. Tolmie in the pre-dawn hours to observe this transit. All are welcome to join them for this interesting astronomical event.

In other Centre news, Sid Sidhu and Lauri Roche run our school outreach program; Sid reports they have visited local schools 50 times since September, with one more to go, and have shared astronomy with almost 1000 students. Well done!

And just a reminder of our next UVic on Friday, May 13, weather permitting. These sessions are open to all Victoria Centre members, not just VCO Active Observers. The Spring sky is a cornucopia of galaxies; watch for our email notice, and join us!

We welcome new members! If you’re not a Victoria Centre member and would like to be a part of all this fun, or just have a love of astronomy, please join us! Just contact Chris (VP2@victoria.rasc.ca) or myself (president@victoria.rasc.ca) and we will show you how.

Thanks again, everyone, and clear skies!

Sherry.

PS- when you’re talking to people about the Summer Star Parties at the DAO, please remind them that they need FREE tickets for admission this year.
www.summerstarparties.eventbrite.ca

SPEAKER: Hitchhiker’s Guide to Other Galaxies – Maan Hani

Posted by as Meetings

May 11, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to Other Galaxies” – Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy

Abstract:

Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy
Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy

Since the earliest civilizations, we have been trying to understand the night sky. In the past century, following the Great Debate over the nature of “spiral nebulae” (known today as spiral galaxies), we witnessed the rise of extra galactic astronomy. Today, our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution is on the rise owing to revolutionary progress in observations and theory. In this talk, I will share our current understanding of galaxies and their exciting lives.

Biography:

Maan H. Hani is a Astronomy PhD student working with Prof. Sara Ellison at the University of Victoria. After completing a Bachelor of Science with honours in Astrophysics at Saint Mary’s university in 2013, Maan continued working under the supervision of Prof. Rob Thacker and completed a Masters in Science in Astronomy in 2015. Maan is particularly interested in understanding the big picture of how galaxies form, evolve, and interact with each other and their environment. His past research has focused on modelling star formation and BH activity in galaxy simulations. Both, star formation and black hole activity, are thought to be closely tied to galaxy evolution making proper models of such processes essential to our understanding of how galaxies evolve.

Summer Star Parties 2016 at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory!

Posted by as Special Events

Back for 2016! The Victoria Centre will be hosting thirteen Saturday Evenings at the DAO, featuring guest speakers, solar and nighttime observing with telescopes provided by RASC-Victoria Centre volunteers, tours of the historic Plaskett telescope, and more! Rain or shine, we will have something for everyone to experience.

Dates begin with International Astronomy Day on May 14th. Here are all the dates:
May 14, 21, 28. June 4, 11. July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. August 6, 13, 20.

PLEASE NOTE: due to the extreme traffic congestion in previous years, admission is now by ticket ONLY. Tickets are FREE and will be available during the week preceding each Saturday evening from our EventBrite site: https://summerstarparties.eventbrite.ca

See you there!

poster_2016_SAUNDERS-page-001

8:00 – 9:00 July 2nd – Introduction to the Night Sky – David Lee

Abstract: Since the beginning of time we have been curious about the objects in the night sky. Have you ever wondered about that bright star early in the morning or at dusk? Do you know the best time to view the Moon? Do you know which planet was once thought to have ears! What does splitting doubles mean? Learn about what you can see this summer at our Summer Star Parties.

Bio: David Lee is an amateur astronomer who has supported public outreach for astronomy and the sciences for over two decades. He is also an avid photographer who has found himself becoming more and more a tourist of the night sky.

 

8:15 – 9:00 July 9thWhere Baby Stars Come From: A Look Behind Orion’s Dusty Veil – Steve Mairs

Abstract: In this talk, I will examine the birth of a sun-like star and introduce some of the research being performed in Victoria to further our knowledge on this subject. My main focus will be on the Orion Molecular Cloud, a giant star-forming region in the Milky Way which encompasses the famous Orion Nebula. I will present images of what the Orion Nebula looks like at submillimetre wavelengths and show how these often overlooked observations can provide vital information into the young lives of stars. By studying “where baby stars come from”, we can make links to present day observations of star clusters, supernova explosion rates, the formation of planets, and, in effect our very own origin story.

Bio: Steve Mairs is a 4th year PhD student in astronomy at the University of Victoria and the outreach supervisor for the UVIC Observatory. Over the past eight years he has been engaged in astronomy research spanning a variety of fields from supernova remnants to millisecond pulsars. His current interests are centered on the formation of stars in the Orion molecular cloud. Specifically, he is using submillimetre data collected using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Combined Array for Research in Millimetre Astronomy to examine how large scale gas and dust structures in our own galaxy relate to the small scale structure which gives rise to the formation of young stars and stellar clusters.

 

8:15 – 9:00 July 16th – Gravitational Waves and a New Era of Discovery – Nicholas McConnell

Abstract: In February this year, the LIGO experiment announced humanity’s first detection of gravitational waves — the periodic stretching and compressing of space itself — 100 years after Albert Einstein laid out the theory that predicted them.  In this particular event the waves were generated by a collision of two black holes nearly a billion light years away.  This discovery forecasts an entirely new way of examining the cosmos, and particularly its most exotic contents.  I will describe some of the astrophysical problems we may hope to address in a new era of gravitational wave astronomy.

Bio: Nicholas McConnell is a Plaskett postdoctoral fellow at DAO, researching the largest nearby galaxies and their supermassive black holes.  He earned his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 2012 and worked at the University of Hawaii from 2012-2015.  In the past decade he has worn through three laptops and over a dozen pairs of running shoes.

 

9:00 – 9:45 July 16th – The Story of the Hubble Space Telescope – Chris Gainor

Abstract: The Hubble Space Telescope has been operating in space for 26 years since it was launched into space in April 1990. Hubble has been used to make many important astronomical discoveries, and it has operated with the help of astronauts from the U.S. space program who repaired it and installed new instruments. With Hubble nearing the end of its lifetime in space, it will give way to a new and more powerful instrument, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Bio: Christopher Gainor is a historian specializing in space exploration. He has written four books and he is now writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope. Chris is also national vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly.

 

Speakers for this season

May 14th – Journey to the Edge of the Solar System, New Horizons The First Mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt (Ivar Arroway)

May 14th – The Greatest Show on Earth: Solar Eclipses (Michael Webb)

May 21st – Introduction to the Night Sky (David Lee)

May 28th – The Night Sky Hitchhiker’s Toolkit: A Guided Tour of Observing Equipment  (RASC Members)

June 4th – Imaging Other Worlds (Benjamin Gerard)

June 11th – Monsters in the Dark: Black Holes and Their Messy Habits (Nicholas McConnell)

July 2nd – Introduction to the Night Sky (David Lee)

July 9th – Where Baby Stars Come From: A Look Behind Orion’s Dusty Veil (Steve Mairs)

July 16th – Gravitational Waves and a New Era of Discovery (Nicholas McConnell)

July 16th – The Story of the Hubble Space Telescope (Chris Gainor)

July 23rd – The Birth, Life, and Death of Stars (Jared Keown)

July 30th – What is Dark Matter? (Kyle Oman)

August 6th – Observing Planning and Logging Panel Discussion (RASC Members)

August 13th – Light and Life, Sculptors of Earth: The First 2 Billion Years (Dorothy Paul)

August 13th – Voyage to Alpha Centauri (Christian Marois)

August 20th – Astrophotography: Imaging the Sky Panel Discussion (John McDonald, Dan Posey and David Lee)

 

LIGHT POLLUTION ABATEMENT: You can help!

Posted by as News, Uncategorized

                           Help get Light Pollution Abatement on the Federal Government’s Radar

The Federal Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2016-2019 is open for public comment until mid-June. http://www.letstalksustainability.ca/intro

The words Light Pollution and Outdoor Lighting occur nowhere in the current draft of this document. Here is an opportunity for each of us to help get light pollution’s impact on our planet onto the government’s radar! The more individual submissions addressing the destructive effects of lighting up the nocturnal environment, the greater the chance that the message will be heard and heeded. (There will be submission from RASC as well.)

Choose your ‘pet peeve’ (other than in ruining the night sky) about LP – e.g., its impact on ecosystems and the environment, health (all species), quality of life, biodiversity, greenhouse gases, sustainable natural resources, climate change, Indigenous Peoples, etc. (all key words in the Fed’s Development Strategy plan), go to the website, and contribute a few minutes to the planning of a sustainable future for Canada. More information and an explanation of the detrimental impact of bad outdoor lighting are at http://victoria.rasc.ca/night-lighting/ and http://www.rasc.ca/outdoor-lighting.

President’s message April 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Finally some nice weather! I hope you’ve been able to get out there and observe. I had a bunch of astrophotography targets lined up for when (or if!) we had a run of clear weather, but it was so lovely out the past few nights all, I could do was roll out a Dob and just do some good old-fashioned stargazing. It was wonderful.
And it isn’t just me. I’m happy to report that we have had several terrific observing sessions at our own Victoria Centre Observatory (VCO), too. It’s been a long and cloudy winter…we deserve some clear skies!

For our members -new and otherwise- who want to join us at the VCO, you have to be registered as an “Active Observer”. Just shoot me an email, and I’ll tell you how. The VCO is a very cool facility, and we’re fortunate to have it. I encourage you to join us there!

I’m also happy to report that plans for International Astronomy Day on May 14th are coming together nicely, thanks to Nelson Walker and David Lee, who have been working hard at getting volunteers and guest speakers together. Thank you, David and Nelson. You have no idea how much I appreciate you taking on these tasks! Many thanks also to Kim Gough at RBCM for her assistance with IAD.

We also have reached an agreement with the National Research Council and Dominion Astrophysical Observatory to run our summer Saturday public “star parties” for thirteen Saturday evenings, beginning on IAD, May 14. One major change this year will be the requirement for all visitors to have a free EventBrite ticket to get in. For the past couple of years, our summer public star parties at the DAO have been so tremendously popular (and with amazing volunteers like you, how could they not be?) that we have experienced traffic chaos at the main gate. So many visitors show up that traffic at the gate and on W.Saanich Rd has been uncontrollable. So this year, we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that a ticketing system for entry is necessary.

So…if you are talking to friends, family, or the public, please mention they will need a free EventBrite ticket to get in. Our awesome tech guy Matt Watson (or one of our awesome tech guys) is putting the EventBrite site together. Details to come.

And I’m similarly pleased to report that the District of Metchosin has finally approved our request to use their cricket field for our RASCals Star Party again this year. So that’s officially a go for August 26-28.

Lots of happy stuff to report this month! And here are some other great things we have on that you won’t want to miss:
UVic observing session: Friday April 8, 7:45pm. All Victoria Centre members welcome.
Cattle Point observing session: date TBA. All are welcome.
April’s monthly general meeting: Wednesday April 13, 7:30pm ROOM ELL167.  Dr Helen Kirk will be speaking about “watching the birth of stars with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Herschel Space Telescope”. Sounds amazing!  (room ELL167 is in the smaller building directly behind the Elliott Building. That’s the building where we go for coffee and cookies after each monthly meeting. Go through the Elliott lobby and out the far doors to get to ELL167)
And just a reminder that we are still selling raffle tickets, the prize is a very cool Meade ETS-LX 6″ SCT telescope on a LightSwitch goto mount with some accessories. See Sid, and buy lots! The draw is at out June monthly meeting.

Clear skies!
Sherry.