Summer Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in 2015

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The historic Plaskett telescope
The historic Plaskett telescope

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre
with the support of The National Research Council of Canada, Herzberg
Presents

Summer Star Parties

at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
5071 West Saanich Road

May 23rd and 30th

July 18th and 25th.

August 1st, 8th and 29th.

September 12th, 2015

7:30 PM TO 11:00 PM (Gates close at 10:00PM)

FREE ADMISSION

  • Tours of the historic Plaskett telescope
  • Astronomy lectures and presentations
  • Music in the dome
  • Night sky viewing
  • “Constellation Walks”

Please download and print the poster as a reminder for these events!


For safety reasons, we are limited to hosting 200 visitors at the Observatory at a time. If you arrive and are turned away, please try again later, or on another Saturday evening. We are open twelve Saturday evenings this summer to help accommodate you. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Please note there is absolutely no stopping or parking along West Saanich Road adjacent to the Observatory entrance. Smoking anywhere on Observatory grounds is also prohibited.

If you require assistance while at the Observatory, please ask any of the Commissionaires, or RASC members on site. RASC members can be identified by their safety vests.


For more information about these events, please contact Sherry Buttnor president@victoria.rasc.ca

 

DAO Summer Star Party – May 23, 2015

Posted by as Events, Special Events

Summer Saturday Star Party Activities

In the Dome:

Tours of the historic dome and the Plaskett computer room begin every 20 minutes from 7:45 through to about 9:45 pm. After this the Plaskett telescope will be opened and visitors are welcome to come up to the second floor to see in real time what the telescope is looking at. Volunteers from the RASC and the Friends of the Observatory will be on hand to give information about the images that are being screened on the dome walls.

In the Centre of the Universe Building:

Exhibits are open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm.

Planetarium shows will be ongoing from 7:45 through to 10:15 pm. These are 15 to 20 minutes in length. Approximately 25 people can be accommodated at any one time in the little dome.

Astronomy presentations are in the Auditorium from 7:30 through to 9:30.

Here are this weeks lectures for May 23rd

  • 7:30 pm An introduction to the Night Sky David Lee
  • 8:00 pm “Shine on Silver Moon” Lauri Roche
  • 8:30 pm An introduction to the Night Sky David Lee
  • 900 pm “Shine on Silver Moon” Lauri Roche

On the Deck:

RASC Volunteers will have their solar telescopes out until the sun goes down and then will put up their nightsky telescopes for viewing the moon, the planets and the stars. This is ongoing from 7:30 to 11:00 pm

Please come and join us. We invite you to share our information on social media.

A reminder to Dress Warmly! It cools down after the sun goes down up on the hill.

Event Info

Monthly meeting speaker: ALMA, low mass star formation, and the SOLA project – Dr. Lewis Knee, NRC Herzberg

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May 13, 2015, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

“ALMA, low mass star formation, and the SOLA project” – Dr. Lewis Knee, Radio Astronomy Program Programme, Millimetre Technology Group, NRC Herzberg

 

ALMA array in the Atacama desert
ALMA array in the Atacama desert

Abstract: ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array, has begun science operations after more than a decade of development and construction. Although the observatory has not yet reached its full capability, it is already making important new discoveries. In the area of low mass star formation, ALMA offers very high angular resolution and high sensitivity observations of nearby molecular clouds, the most well-studied of which are in the northern hemisphere. However, it is for studies of the less well-known clouds of the southern sky that ALMA will excel.

One of these molecular cloud complexes lies in the Lupus constellation, and an international consortium of ALMA scientists have begun an effort, the SOLA program, to probe the star formation activity in this region. It turns out that the clouds in Lupus and its star formation has some unique characteristics that make of of great interest for studies of star formation in different environments, particularly for the formation of very low mass stars and brown dwarfs.

Bio: Lewis Knee is a radio astronomer at NRC Herzberg in Victoria. He received his PhD in Radio and Space Science at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden in 1991. Since then he has worked in radio astronomy observatories in Europe, Canada, and Chile, most recently six years at ALMA in the Atacama Desert. His main scientific interests are in spectroscopy, star formation, molecular clouds, and the interstellar medium of our Galaxy.

Video of the business meeting and presentation – Youtube

Presentation – pdf (77 Mb), pptx (69 Mb) – please right click and “Download link as…”

May 9, 2015 – Presentations at the CU

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Presentations in the Centre of the Universe Auditorium

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Speaker: Garry Sedun, HIA

Presented as part of the Summer Star Parties on Observatory Hill event

8:15 pm – Weird Things in Space

1) Come and see how big the universe is
2) Look though a real time machine
3) How can you make your friends look blue or red by travelling really fast
4) How could you grow old way slower than your friends by travelling in space
5) How far apart are the stars?
6) What happens when galaxies hit each other?

And please come up with your own “Weird Things” and we’ll see if we can find them.

9:15 pm – Up Close to REALLY BIG THINGS in Space

1) What do the rings of Saturn look like really close up?
2) What does a comet look like really close up ?
3) What does our sun look like really close up?
4) What does a back hole look like? ( How close can we go?)
5) What can swallow 300 million suns and not even have indigestion? Open up……

President’s Message, May 2015.

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Way to go, Victoria Centre! Astronomy Day on April 25th was a great success once again, thanks to the hard work of the organizers and volunteers. We entertained 800 visitors at the Royal BC Museum during the day, and another 177 at the DAO later that evening. That makes a total of 5,416 “Galileo Moments”, or individual guests we have informed and entertained over 42 separate events since September 1st. We’re pretty popular!

Our Saturday evening Summer Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory have begun again for the second year, with the support of the DAO/NRC and a great many RASC, FDAO, and UVic volunteers. This year, we have the Centre of the Universe building open as well, with its exhibits, and we even have the planetarium open. The May 2nd evening was a little slow, but I expect things to pick up, as we get the word out. You can find out more about these great public events on our main page at: www.victoria.rasc.ca. You can help spread the word by telling your friends, co-workers, and so on, and by printing out our poster and putting it up in public places.

I’d like to mention the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO); a newly-formed partner group to RASC-Victoria, who are working on a long-term plan to keep the DAO open for summer public visits. Track their progress.

And, don’t forget to check our calendar for upcoming RASC events such as observing on the UVic telescope, and Bruce’s popular Cattle Point sessions.

Clear skies,
Sherry.

President’s Message, April 2015

Posted by as President's Message

Busy busy busy! Lots of progress to share on various Victoria Centre projects this month. International Astronomy Day is April 25th this year, and once again we will be hosting a daytime public event at the Royal British Columbia Museum downtown, with our usual lineup of exciting displays and public-outreach activities. And we continue IAD at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory later that evening with more public activities.
We have just received approval from Dr. Greg Fahlman at the NRC for our Summer Saturday public evenings at the DAO. The first evening will be part of International Astronomy Day, then we begin in earnest on Saturday, May 2nd. We have expanded the number of Saturday evenings over last year’s program, but have skipped a few Saturdays around the summer solstice due to the lack of darkness. We have also set up protocols to help avoid the barely-controlled chaos we experienced on certain evenings last summer! Many thanks to Lauri Roche, Jim Hesser, Nelson Walker, and Don Moffatt on the RASC side, as well as Greg Fahlman, Kevin Farris, and Morrick Vincent of the NRC, all of whom worked very hard to make this program happen. Volunteers are gratefully needed for the above events; I hope you will consider offering a few hours of your time.
And a little more good news from the Hill: we have been granted two nights on the Plaskett telescope. Active Observers, mark your calendars: May 15 and June 19. You do need to be on the Active Observers list for Plaskett nights, so if you want to become an Active Observer, contact us and we’ll tell you how. Other RASC observing sessions upcoming (where you don’t need to be an Active Observer) are UVic; Friday April 10, and Cattle Point; Friday April 24. Email reminders will be sent in advance of these sessions.
Despite uncooperative weather for the Messier Marathon, the last UVic and Cattle Point sessions, hope springs eternal. Keep those fingers crossed for better weather as we swing into high gear!

Clear skies,
Sherry.

Monthly meeting speaker: Frontiers in Adaptive Optics and Stellar Spectroscopy: Searching for the First Stars Ever Formed – Dr. Masen Lamb

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Adaptive Optics & Spectroscopy
Adaptive Optics & Spectroscopy

April 8, 2015, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre B150 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Frontiers in Adaptive Optics and Stellar Spectroscopy: Searching for the First Stars Ever Formed – Masen Lamb, PhD student at the University of Victoria working in Astronomy and Telescope instrumentation

To compete with space telescopes such as Hubble, current (and future) optical ground based telescopes employ a technology called Adaptive Optics. This technology uses mirrors to cancel out the affects of the atmosphere and provide near diffraction-limited images. One application of Adaptive Optics in astronomy is to resolve dense regions of stars in the centre of our Galaxy. When this application is combined with infrared spectroscopy we can start to hunt for the oldest stars in our Galaxy. I will talk about the latest technologies in both Adaptive Optics and stellar spectroscopy and discuss some of their astronomical implications.

Masen Lamb is a PhD student at the University of Victoria working in Astronomy and Telescope instrumentation. His astronomy work is done at the university while his instrumentation work is at NRC – Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (HIA). Masen Lamb’s website

Presentation

Recorded streaming video of the whole meeting, including Masen’s presentation ( 1 hour Youtube video)

Messier Marathon – March 20 or 21, 2015

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The Messier Marathon will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015 here in Victoria, hosted by Michel Michaud, our Observing Co-Chair. If the weather looks poor for Saturday, Michel may move the event ahead a day to Friday night (the 20th). RASC members should be designated Active Observers, since this event will be held at our observatory (and other locations) on Observatory Hill, which is behind a locked gate. Michel will send out go/no go notifications on our email list for Active Observers.

Members-only Event

RASC Victoria Centre also encourages the general public to participate in your own Messier Marathon. All you need is a dark site to observe from with an unobstructed view of the souther half of the horizon. Click on the above event for useful information about how to observe celestial objects in an efficient manner, so you have a chance to see all 110 objects on the list!

Monthly meeting speaker: Galaxy mergers in the nearby Universe – Dr. Sara Ellison, Professor, UVic Physics & Astronomy

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This large “flying V” is actually two distinct objects — a pair of interacting galaxies known as IC 2184. Both the galaxies are seen almost edge-on in the large, faint northern constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), and can be seen as bright streaks of light surrounded by the ghostly shapes of their tidal tails.
This large “flying V” is actually two distinct objects — a pair of interacting galaxies known as IC 2184. Both the galaxies are seen almost edge-on in the large, faint northern constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), and can be seen as bright streaks of light surrounded by the ghostly shapes of their tidal tails.

March 11, 2015, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Despite the emptiness of space, mergers between galaxies are surprisingly common. Around 1% of galaxies in the nearby Universe are currently experiencing an interaction of some kind. I will describe research that uses both observations and computer simulations to trace the dramatic effect of these interactions on a galaxy’s history: how the interaction can lead to massive bursts of star formation, alter the interstellar chemistry and even provide fuel for the central supermassive black hole.

Sara Ellison’s website

Video of the presentation live and online.

Presentation slide deck (pdf)