Monthly Meeting speaker: Sebastien Lavoie-How to Build a Universe.

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Our representation of the Universe has evolved throughout the ages. From the first men to Ptolemy, we have always tried to understand the skies. Modern astronomers have access to tools that their ancestors did not even dream of. This lead to multiple big and small revolutions in our understanding of the Universe in the last centuries. We retrace some of these moments that shaped our knowledge of the Universe.

Bio: Sebastien Lavoie is a second year PhD student at the University of Victoria. Prior to that he obtained his MSc in Quebec City. He studies the evolution of massive galaxies in clusters.

President’s Message February 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Writer’s block! Gosh…I’ve been wracking my (admittedly tiny) brain for days, trying to come up with a positive message. I was hoping to report that we had good crowds at Cattle Point, a great turnout at the UVic observatory, great times at the VCO, that Comet Catalina looked amazing…but I only recall all the crummy weather and cancelled observing sessions lately. I can’t remember such a dismal period as this last few weeks. Even my cats have their paws crossed for better weather; they know mommy’s getting grumpy!
Still lots to look forward to, though! Have a look:
Hobby Show: Feb 6, 7, 8 at Westshore Town Centre mall.
Monthly meeting: Feb 10 (see below)
UVic observing: Feb 12. We will be visiting Orion and the area.

And longer term: International Astronomy Day (May 14th) is also confirmed as the start of our Summer Saturdays at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Still lots of details to work out, but the dates this year are:
May 14, 21, 28. June 4, 11. July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. August 6, 13, 20.
I know I can count on our faithful volunteers to bring telescopes for parking lot duty, but we also need:
-two or three people to train in, and operate the indoor planetarium (it’s fun!)
-one or two people to train on, and operate the Plaskett telescope as a backup to Dave Balam.
-two or three people to give talks in the Plaskett dome.
Please contact me asap is you’re interested in any of these cool opportunities!

In other news: I’ve started an email list for the total solar eclipse in August 2017. At January’s meeting and at Astro Cafe, an interest sheet was passed around, and enough interest was shown to make it feasible to put together some sort of expedition to central Oregon for Victoria Centre members. If you missed the interest sheet but want to join in, please email me at:  popokinui@shaw.ca
I may make a Facebook group for this purpose as well, so stay tuned.
For our February monthly meeting on the both, we are excited to have Sebastien Lavoie as our guest speaker:
How to Build a Universe.
Our representation of the Universe has evolved throughout the ages. From the first men to Ptolemy, we have always tried to understand the skies. Modern astronomers have access to tools that their ancestors did not even dream of. This lead to multiple big and small revolutions in our understanding of the Universe in the last centuries. We retrace some of these moments that shaped our knowledge of the Universe.
Don’t miss it!

Clear (hopefully) skies!
Sherry.

Timo Markkanen, 1951-2015

Posted by as In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Timo Markkanen

It is with sadness that we announce the sudden passing of RASC Victoria member Timo Markkanen on Dec 29th 2015. Timo was frequently found perched on a special stool at Astro Cafe. He made many interesting contributions to the discussion and he was looking forward to mastering the use of his recently acquired telescope. The stool at the Cafe, now vacant, will remind us of Timo. He will be missed by his many friends in the Astronomy Community.

John McDonald, Chris Purse, Reg Dunkley and Joe Carr attended Timo’s Celebration of Life, held on Jan 16, 2016.

 

RASC Victoria Centre: John McDonald &emdash; April 12 2014 at the VCO
Timo operating a telescope with John McDonald at Victoria Centre’s Observatory, April 12, 2014
RASC Victoria Centre: John McDonald &emdash; April 12 2014 at the VCO
Timo enjoying the night sky at Victoria Centre’s Observatory, April 12 2014
RASC Victoria Centre: RASCals Star Party 2014 &emdash; Charles' workshop on how to photograph satellites
Timo attends Charles’ workshop on how to photograph satellites at the 2014 RASCals Star Party

Times-Colonist Obituary

Timo H. Markkanen (April 09, 1951 – December 29, 2015)

Timo Henrik, (Kylmaniemi) born 1951-04-09 in Helsinki Finland.

Timo passed away Dec. 29th, 2015 at RJH with friends at his side. Survived by half bother Teuvo Kylmaniemi and half sister Vappu Koivuniemi in Finland. Timo had many friends in Victoria and abroad. He was an avid sportsman with natural athletic ability and excelled, in his early years, at many sports including tennis, golf and darts. His early working career in the hospitality industry allowed him to take many trips abroad where he developed many lifelong friendships. His later working career was with the provincial public service.

Timo had many life interests. He was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada -Victoria, Member of HTML Writers Guild, he loved books and was a punster extraordinaire creating many laughs and even more groans to the joy of those who knew him. For thirty years Timo suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis. As was his nature he met the challenges this presented in a positive manner and became a founding member and Web administrator for www.kickas.org a source of support and information for those suffering from this chronic arthritic condition. His friends admired his resilience and courage in this battle.

As per Timo’s wishes a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday Jan. 16th at Smugglers’ Cove Pub, 2581 Penrhyn St. from 1:00Pm to 4:00PM. Timo would be honoured by donations in his memory to www.kickas.org.

Published in The Times Colonist on Jan. 5, 2016

Monthly Meeting Speaker: Azadeh Fattahi, PhD Astronomy at UVic

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January 13, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

Azadeh Fattahi
Azadeh Fattahi

“What dwarfs teach us about the galaxy formation” – Azadeh Fattahi, PhD Department of Physics and Astronomy at UVic

The standard model of cosmology has been very successful in explaining the galaxy formation and structures in large scales, but observations on smaller scales raised potential questions about the validity of the model.

Bio: Azadeh was born and raised in Iran. She studied Physics for her BSc in Tehran-Iran at the Sharif University of Technology. In 2011 she moved to UVic for her MSc in Astronomy, transferring into a PhD program in 2013.

President’s Message January 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Happy New Year!
I hope 2016 will be very kind to you all, bringing health, happiness, and clear skies! We have plenty of great events in the planning stage right now; these include:
-Hobby Show: February 6, 7, and 8. This is one of the big events for the Victoria Centre; we get lots of exposure and interest (in both astronomy in general, and RASC in particular), and we also get to sell lots of Sid’s raffle tickets, which brings in significant revenue for us.Bruce Lane is coordinating this event at Westshore Town Centre Mall, so please consider volunteering some time when he calls you.
-International Astronomy Day: May 14. A worldwide event in which we participate each year, and one which is very popular with our visitors. Nelson Walker is coordinating IAD this year, likely at the Royal BC Museum during the day, and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory the same evening. We would appreciate your help with either daytime, or evening segments (or both!).
-RASCals Star Party in Metchosin. August 26, 27, 28. I’ve just confirmed the star party field is available to us for our annual star party on this weekend, so mark it on your calendar. The slim, waning crescent moon will not be a huge issue this year, rising around 1:30am and not bright enough to hamper observing and astrophotography. Guest speakers and prizes yet to be determined, but the Star Party is always fun!
Don’t forget our other activities. Visit our website www.victoria.rasc.ca and hover your mouse over the “Events” tab for a list. One event not listed is our increasingly-popular observing sessions on the UVic 32” telescope, held on the second Friday of each month.
Have you seen Comet Calalina (C/2013-US10) yet? If not, a great finder chart can be found here:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/wp-content/uploads/Web_Dec15_Catalina.pdf
I’m trying to get some time on the UVic telescope for us to have a good look before it’s gone for ever.
Here’s another once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us: the August 21st 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Over multiple meetings recently, Council has been discussing whether there is sufficient interest in trying to organize a 2017 eclipse viewing opportunity for Centre members. Joe Carr presents informative background on accessing the eclipse, which is relatively easy for those of us living in the Pacific NW to do on our own.   At our January 13 general meeting, we will take a poll to ascertain interest in a coordinated Victoria Centre effort.  If you would be interested and unable to attend, please contact me directly.  Ultimately, such an effort will depend upon  someone volunteering to lead the effort.
Lots of fun in store for 2016 and beyond!

Clear skies,
Sherry.

Total Solar Eclipse – August 21, 2017

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2012 Total Solar Eclipse aboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship, on the totality track south of New Caledonia Nov 14, 2012 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea
2012 Total Solar Eclipse

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event, and it is even rarer for one to occur close to where you live. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest of North America will be favoured with such an event happening near us on August 21, 2017. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

Location

The eclipse tracks across Oregon and Idaho, making it easy to get to the eclipse track from Victoria, British Columbia with one day’s drive. The major cities of Portland and Eugene in Oregon are obvious targets for those of us who are eclipse chasers. I-5, an Interstate highway, crosses the eclipse centreline at the city of Salem, Oregon as the eclipse tracks eastward across the U.S.A. So you might decide to stay in Portland or Eugene, but you will have to drive to the centreline, otherwise you will miss the eclipse!

NASA’s Eclipse website gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho
Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho

At the intersection of I-5 and the eclipse path near Salem, Oregon, these are the characteristics of the eclipse:

Lat.: 44.803° N
Long.: 123.0318° W

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 0 seconds

  • Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 09:05:18AM  Altitude=27.8° Azimuth=101.2°
  • Start of total eclipse (C2) : 10:17:13.0AM  Altitude=39.8°  Azimuth=116.8°
  • Maximum eclipse : 10:18:13AM  Altitude=40.0° Azimuth=117.0°
  • End of total eclipse (C3) : 10:19:13AM  Altitude=40.1° Azimuth=117.3°
  • End of partial eclipse (C4) : 11:37:50AM  Altitude=51.0° Azimuth=140.1°

Why this location? Well, if you look at the weather predictions and the track maps, you will see this location is easiest to get to from Victoria, and offers a decent chance of clear skies. Simply take a ferry to the mainland, and drive down I-5 to Oregon. This location is away from the coastal clouds, even though there is better weather available if you drive eastward through Oregon and possibly into southern Idaho. You can also seek out more scenic locales such as Wyoming, however now you will be traveling much further.

Weather map for 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
Weather map for 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Weather

Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipser website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Observing

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to guide you through the process. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

You should try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Take test photos of the Sun weeks before you leave, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Remember,you only have a couple of minutes to see this event!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

Help!

If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

Perhaps you prefer to leave it to someone else to organize for you, and take a tour. Tour organizers will ensure you are on the centreline for the event, will do their very best to seek clear skies (no guarantees though!), and will supply you with eclipse glasses and ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the event. Some suggestions:

  • RASC Eclipse 2017 – a scenic holiday to the midwest USA, a solar eclipse, and sponsored by RASC!
  • Sky & Telescope – overland to Nashville, seeing rockets and observatories along the way…and the eclipse
  • Travelquest – a tour company specializing in eclipses who are offering five different experiences for the 2017 eclipse

Resources

  • NASA’s Eclipse – a great starting point for information gathering and predictions
  • Eclipser – Jay Anderson’s weather predictions are a must to select a location that will likely have clear weather
  • Great American Eclipse – comprehensive information about this specific eclipse – where to go and what you will see
  • Eclipse 2017 – lots of home-grown advice about where to be and what to do
  • America’s 2017 Solar Eclipse – Sky & Telescope’s online article with lots of useful info from a 2015 eclipse planning workshop
  • MrEclipse – Fred Espenak’s guide to successfully experiencing and photographing an eclipse
  • Mr. Eclipse says west may be best… – Fred’s eclipse predictions to the Seattle Astronomical Society

 

Orion Nebula imaged by Dan Posey

Posted by as Observing Highlights

M42 – Everything and the kitchen sink

RASC Victoria Centre: Dan Posey &emdash; M42 - Everything and the Kitchen Sink

 

First off happy holidays! We have only had small windows of clear sky this month in Victoria, but I managed to gather a little bit of data about two weeks ago. I picked Orion as a test for a new light pollution filter for the Victoria RASC, and gathered an hour of ten minute subs with my unmodded 6D. It turned out quite nice, so I found some old data and made a project of it.

All of the subs were shot with the same Np127is. This image consists of 6×10 minutes at iso 400 with an umodified Canon 6D, 7×10 minutes (OSC) with a QSI 583c, 59×1 minutes (OSC) with the same QSI for the core, and 4×20 minutes of hydrogen alpha data with a 3nm filter. All of the files were calibrated and stacked using Pixinsight.

I created a synthetic luminance frame and red channel using a blend of the hydrogen alpha and 6D/QSI data through pixelmath. Unfortunately some high moisture/thin cloud left a bit of a noisy halo on the lower right stars in the data from the 6D, but it added so much to the image overall I left it in. I did my best to regulate the noise down there, but it is what it is.

Dan Posey

Dec 11, 2015 – observing session on the UVic 32″ telescope

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2015-12-11-RASC Observing Group in front of the UVic telescope
RASC Observing Group in front of the UVic telescope

Introduction

This time, we will be offering a study of star clusters. We will have the big telescope trained on many of the various types of beautiful star clusters visible at this time of year, and offer a study session of each. A great learning opportunity, especially newcomers to astronomy, or to anyone who simply loves the beauty of star clusters!

Location

32″ (0.8m) DFM Cassegrain telescope, Bob Wright Building, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Observing Reports

Finally! We caught a well-deserved break in the weather for the UVic observing session last night. John, Chris, and I were joined by Miles, Reg, Les, Barb, Diane, Lauri, and David for a tour of and dozen interesting open clusters, finishing off with a lovely view of M42. Despite the ridiculously bright (unshielded) lights from Centennial Stadium and some significant mist, the viewing was terrific.

Or, maybe it’s just that we haven’t seen stars for so long it just *seemed* terrific?

Nah. It was great! Thanks for coming out everyone, and thanks to John and Chris for helping host these sessions, and to Reg for his weather prognostications. You nailed it!

We will announce the next session, hopefully in January.

Sherry


We had a good session at the UVic Observatory last evening observing open clusters across the Milky Way. A list of the clusters and photo of the observers are attached. We also had a look at Pleiades and M42.

Those attending were David Lee, Diane Bell, Reg Dunkley, Miles Waite, Lauri Roche, Leslie Welsh and Barbra Wright.

It was Sherry’s idea to follow a theme for the evening and that seemed to go down very well with those present. The hosts, Chris, Sherry and I plan to do this again with galaxies being the focus next time.

2015-12-11-OpenClusters-MilkyWay (pdf)

John McDonald


There’s something nice about a clear night in the middle of a December “wind and rain” parade !! Several members joined John McDonald and Sherry Buttnor for a lovely evening under the 0.8 meter reflector at U-Vic’s Bob Wright Building. We enjoyed our “tour” of several open clusters; many of them were Messiers. The icing on the “cake” was a view of M42 in Orion, with the Trapezium….My favourite was M103, the Christmas Tree cluster – in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Very pretty through the ‘scope. Thanks to John, Sherry and Chris for organizing it; also a good commentary shared on each target!!

Diane Bell

President’s Message December 2015

Posted by as President's Message

Happy Winter Solstice! This year, Solstice occurs at 8:48pm PST; the days begin getting longer, and ever-so-slowly, warmer. I love the clear winter night for observing and imaging, but the cold really gets to me lately. The joys of getting old! Oh well…the winter sky is worth it!
I thought the Annual General Meeting was a lot of fun. Congratulations to all the award winners! A heartfelt thank-you to the outgoing Council members; you did an outstanding job for us! And a warm welcome to the incoming and incumbent Council members. I know you will do a great job, and thank you for serving.
Our Council for 2015-16 is:
President – Sherry Buttnor
First Vice President – Michel Michaud
Second Vice President – Chris Purse
Secretary – Leslie Welsh
Treasurer – Bruce Lane
Past President – Nelson Walker
National Representative – Lauri Roche
Librarian – Michel Michaud
Telescopes and School Programs – Sid Sidhu
Public Outreach – (vacant)
Skynews Editor – Reg Dunkley
Light Abatement Chair  –  Dave Robinson
Membership Chair – Chris Purse
Webmaster – Joe Carr
Observing Chair – Michel Michaud, Jim Stilburn (co-chairs)
Systems Administrator – Matt Watson
Technical Committee Chair – Matt Watson
 Historian – Bill Almond
DAO/NRC Liaison – Jim Hesser, James DiFrancesco
University of Victoria Liaison – Alex Schmid
Member(s) at Large – David Lee
Our next general meeting, Wednesday December 9, features Dr. Alan Batten and his presentation “When did modern astronomy begin?” Dr. Batten’s presentations should not be missed!
Other upcoming activities for your astronomical pleasure:
-UVic observing session: Friday December 11 (all Victoria Centre members welcome)
-VCO: every Saturday evening (open to those on the Active Observers list only)
Weather permitting, of course (and we sure deserve some good weather!).
Just a reminder to use extreme caution while driving on Observatory Hill. We’re now into the season of black ice and slippery conditions, so take care.

Dress warmly, and see you out there.
Sherry.

Monthly meeting speaker: Dr. Alan Batten

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December 9, 2015, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“When did Modern Astronomy Begin?” – Dr. Alan Batten, DAO astronomer (1959-91); RASC President (1976-78); JRASC Editor (1980-88)

Dr. Alan Batten. RASC President 1976-78. Edmonton GA, May 1978.
Dr. Alan Batten. RASC President 1976-78. Edmonton GA, May 1978.

We usually think of the seventeenth century as the time when modern astronomy, and indeed modern science, began, but if we look at what was known by astronomers at the beginning of the nineteenth century and compare it with what they knew by the end of that century, a case can be made that that was the period in which astronomy became truly “modern”.

Bio: Alan was at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory for over 50 years. He has been President of the Victoria Centre of the RASC, National President, and Honorary President, as well as Editor of the Journal. Alan has been a Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His field of research is close binary stars. In retirement, Alan spent about a decade visiting astronomers in developing countries, on behalf of the International Astronomical Union and now publishes on the history of astronomy. http://www.rasc.ca/alan-batten