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

8:15 – 9:00 May 28th – The Night Sky Hitchhiker’s Toolkit: A Guided Tour of Observing Equipment –  (RASC Members)

Abstract: Once you’ve been captivated by astronomy you will want to learn about observing. It’s all very confusing at the start, so many choices of telescopes. Tonight we will offer you a guided tour of observing equipment. We will talk about

  • Appropriate dress (dependent on the seasons),
  • Optimizing your dark adaptation using red light,
  • Unaided naked eye observing,
  • Use of binoculars,
  • Various type of telescopes,
  • Charts

 

8:15 – 9:00 June 4th – Imaging Other Worlds – Benjamin Gerard

Abstract: The past 20 years has seen the dawn of a new field in astronomy: extrasolar planets, or exoplanets for short—planets orbiting around starts in other solar systems. We now know that the Universe is teeming with exoplanets, thanks largely to the help of the Kepler space telescope, which finds exoplanets by seeing their shadow on its much brighter host star. Although there are a number of different methods of finding exoplanets, my research focuses on an exoplanet detection technique called direct imaging, which as the name suggests is designed to directly image these other worlds. But this is not as simple as it sounds, and it ultimately requires the use of our most powerful telescopes and specially designed optical systems in order to distinguish an exoplanet from the overwhelming glare of its host star.  After outlining these challenges, both in engineering and in physics, and how they can be overcome, I will highlight the history of the instruments and detections in this field of direct imaging, and also compare the advantages direct imaging has over other techniques. Come prepared to see real pictures of other worlds!

Bio: Benjamin Gerard is a 2nd year Masters student in Physics and Astronomy at UVic and will continue on to the PhD program in the fall. He did his Bachelors in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is originally from San Francisco, California. His research, supervised by Dr. Christian Marois, focuses on optical design and image processing algorithms for instruments made to directly image exoplanets.

 

8:15 – 9:00 June 11th – Monsters in the Dark: Black Holes and Their Messy Habits – Nicholas McConnell

Abstract: Black holes are among the strangest and most powerful objects in the Universe. In their immediate vicinity the familiar concepts of space and time are warped beyond recognition. Farther away, astronomers witness the catastrophic effects of black holes devouring gas and stars, both inside our own Galaxy and far across the universe. But how do we detect black holes lurking in deep space, and what can they teach us about the birth and death of distant galaxies?

Bio: Nicholas McConnell is a Plaskett Postdoctoral Fellow at DAO (NRC Herzberg). He earned his PhD at UC Berkeley in 2012 and then worked for three years at the University of Hawaii.  In 2011 he led the discovery of the two most massive black holes known in the universe, each 10 billion times the mass of our Sun. He continues to search for extremely massive black holes and studies how they impact the galaxies in which they reside.

 

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.

 

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 Belt (Steve Mairs)

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

July 16th – 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)

 

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.

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.

APRIL’S MONTHLY MEETING GUEST SPEAKER: Dr. Helen Kirk: Watching the birth of stars with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Herschel Space Observatory.

Posted by as Meetings, Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered how stars are born? In this presentation, we’ll dive
deep into the hearts of molecular clouds, vast reservoirs of gas and dust which
are the birthplace for stars. Our tour will include stunning recent results from the
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory, facilities
where Canadian astronomers have been making major strides in revealing clues
as to how and why stars form.
Bio:
Dr Helen Kirk is a Research Associate with the Herzberg Astrophysics program
at the National Research Council of Canada. She has previously worked as a
researcher at McMaster University and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics, and prior to that, obtained her MSc and PhD from the University of
Victoria. Helen is thrilled to have been honoured with two awards associated
with the RASC: in 2010, she received the Plaskett medal, a joint CASCA-RASC
award for the best Canadian astronomy thesis in the past two years, and in 2003,
she received the RASC Gold Award from the Toronto Centre of the RASC for
high achievement as an undergraduate in astronomy at the University of Toronto.

NOTE ROOM CHANGE TO ELL167 IN THE ELLIOTT LECTURE THEATRE (small building behind the Elliott Building where we meet after monthly meetings)

March Monthly Meeting Guest Speaker: Dr. James DiFrancesco- The Secret Sits.

Posted by as Meetings

“The Secret Sits: What’s in Our Galactic Centre?”

“I will discuss recent observations of the very centre of the Milky Way galaxy.  At ~8 kpc from the Sun, the Central Parsec is filled thousands of stars, but also most interestingly a supermassive black hole named Sgr A*.  This curious object is our closest Galactic Nucleus, and will soon  be observed at extraordinarily high resolution (~15 micro-arcseconds) using a world-wide network of high-frequency radio telescopes in a very coordinated effort to detect accretion disk close to its event horizon.”
James Di Francesco is an RASC member who works at the NRC Herzberg Programs in Astronomy and Astrophysics.  He was born in Ontario and received his BSc in Astronomy and Physics at the University of Toronto in 1990, and his PhD in Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin in 1997.  After completing postdoctoral appointments at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA and the University of California, Berkeley, James joined NRC in 2002.