ISS video pass – April 12, 2014

Posted by as Observing Highlights

I have produced a short video of the International Space Station going over the Victoria Centre Observatory on the 12th of April. The track starts near Pleiades and goes almost through Polaris as it arcs over the VCO.

John McDonald


ISS over VCO from RASC Victoria Centre on Vimeo.

This video shows a pass of the International Space Station over the Victoria Centre Observatory on April 12, 2014. The first frame shows the ISS just past Pleiades. From there it goes on to pass very close to Polaris then exits stage right.


Volunteers still needed for 2014 General Assembly

Posted by as Special Events

The 2014 General Assembly is coming up quickly in late June, and our organizing committee needs your help! Ideally, they would like to see every member of Victoria Centre contribute to the success of this event. Not only are we hosting our fellow astronomers from across Canada, we are also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Victoria Centre!

Job Descriptions – Additional Volunteers Needed (26 positions)

April 8, 2014


CHAIRPERSON COMMITTEE - Reports to Paul Schumacher and Mark Bohlman ( 6 positions open)

First Aid Personnel (2 needed)

  • Assists deals with any emergency that may come up (one present each day) and notifies UVic emergency services personnel of any incidents per UVic emergency protocol (June 26,27,28,29)

UVic Telescope Chaperones (1)

  • Works with UVic student  telescope  to meet, greet and chaperone delegates up to the Wright Centre rooftop and help/ participate in evening viewing at UVic rooftop scope for 3 nights during GA  9 p.m. to 11 p.m.(Fri. June 27, Sat. June 28, Sun, June 29)

Photographers / Videographers (3)

  • Members to record events of all GA activities (June 26,27,28,29) by day or by shift


HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE Reports to Deb Crawford (8 positions open)

Catering/Meals Quality Assurance Person ( 1 needed)

  • Liaison with UVic Catering on behalf of RASC during GA for seamless set-up and of all catering events including banquet. (June 26,27,28,29)

Meeting Room Quality Assurance Person (1 needed)

  • Liaison with UVic and RASC during GA to see that all meeting rooms (including banquet space) are set up correctly prior to room meeting/events and no issues arise during meetings/events. (June 26,27,28,29)

Tours Chaperones (4 needed)

  • Attends or drives to and from tour event and makes sure all tours during the GA go as planned without a hitch: Whale Watching, Butchart Gardens, Maritime Museum, Historic Tour (June 27,28,29)
  • Assists Deb with head counts, preplanning and vendor liaison
  • Coordinates with Transportation Committee for drivers where needed

Welcome BBQ VCO MICs (2 needed)

  • MIC’s during Open House part of welcome evening  BBQ- meet and greet delegates who would like to inspect the VCO facility (Thursday June 26th)


TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE - Reports to Charles Banville (10 positions open)

Drivers (10 needed)

  • Drives guests to and from airport, bus terminal, ferries(June 25,26,27,30) or DAO BBQ (June 26) or Tours. (June 27,28, 29)
  • Drivers will be reimbursed for their gas mileage for driving delegates to and from lodging to arrival/departure location and Tour pick-up drop-off points.


PAPERS  COMMITTEE- Reports to Lauri Roche (2 positions open)

Paper Session Timekeepers (2 needed)

  • Assists Lauri with timekeeping of paper session presenters during Saturday June 28th all day sessions.


Lunar Eclipse – April 14, 2014

Posted by as Special Events

A Total Lunar Eclipse will be visible in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Monday, April 14-15, 2014 – EVENT CANCELLED

  • Penumbral Eclipse begins at 9:55 PM
  • Partial Eclipse begins  at 10:59 PM
  • Full Eclipse begins at 12:08 AM
  • Maximum Eclipse at 12:46 AM
  • Full Eclipse ends at 1:23 AM
  • Partial Eclipse ends at 2:32 AM
  • Penumbral Eclipse ends at 3:36 AM

RASC Victoria Centre: Lunar Eclipse 2008 Collection &emdash; Lunar Eclipse composite
Victoria Centre members and the public are welcome to observe this eclipse from the Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park in Oak Bay. This event lasts several hours, with the full eclipse phase lasting just over an hour. Please dress warmly, and come prepared with binoculars and portable seating.

What does a Lunar Eclipse look like? Please browse our online gallery for the 2008 Total Lunar Eclipse observed from Cattle Point.

This event is dependent on the weather. Rain or excessive cloud cover will result in cancellation. Please consult our Facebook event or Twitter feed for a ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ before attending this event.

The Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB) has teamed up with Oak Bay Kiwanis and the Cattle Point Star Park to enjoy viewing a full lunar eclipse. Here’s how: meet at teh Kiwanis Tea Room at Willows Beach Park (foot of Dalhousie St) at 10:00PM, April 14. Lots of parking. Walk along the beautiful Willows Beach esplanade up to Cattle Point (via stairs), where the Cattle Point Star Park’s astronomers will greet you and have their powerful telescopes focused on the full Moon as it goes through all the phases of this rare spectacle. We will then conduct a walk back to the Tea Room for a warm beverage and snack. Your option is to walk back to the Star Park around midnight (Full eclipse is at 12:08AM) or call it a night.

Field guide to the total lunar eclipse of April 14 – 15, 2014 from Michael Zeiler on Vimeo.

This simulation gives you a preview of where and when you can see the first total lunar eclipse of 2014. This eclipse is especially well placed for North and South America and will be an unforgettable sight. During the total phase the Moon will turn a coppery-red, so make plans for comfortable viewing and photography.

For more maps and information on eclipses past, present, and future, visit, follow @eclipsemaps on Twitter, and Like Eclipsemaps on Facebook.

More information on this eclipse from Mr. Eclipse

Interactive Google map of this eclipse


President’s Report - April 2014

Posted by as President's Message

This month we have some excellent news.  Last Wednesday, Victoria Centre Council voted unanimously to submit a proposal to NRC Herzberg that Victoria Centre host a series of Saturday openings of the Observatory this summer.  These openings are in addition to night sky viewing on Astronomy Day, May 3, also hosted by us (with the assistance of NRC staff), and the GA 2014 Welcome BBQ, to be held Thursday, June 26, at the observatory.  We are optimistic that our proposal will be looked at favourably.  It is hoped that this summer “pilot project” lead to a more permanent arrangement with us, the NRC, and other groups taking over functions and activities lost with the closing of this landmark.

This proposal is the result of the hard work of several Council Members, led by Lauri Roche, who are part of the “Short Term Working Group for the Reopening of the Observatory” which was formed at a community meeting held last November, thanks to the efforts of MLA Lana Popham and Don Moffett.  At the time of that meeting, which was held at the Herzberg, and was attended by NRC staff and administration, we hoped both that the Centre of the Universe or the DAO, or both, might be reopened in some form, and that there would be a role for us similar to what we had done in the past, both near, and distant, in terms of public outreach and education on the hill.

It will be proposed that the Observatory be open for seven Saturday evenings, three in each of July and August, and one in September.  The Observatory will be open for tours to be conducted, eventually, by our members.  Other members of our group will be outside with the usual telescopes, weather permitting.  We will propose that four members will be on the hill on each of these openings, and that a small group of us be trained to open and close the observatory, and operate the telescope.

There are still hurdles to be cleared, and matters to be discussed even if our proposal is accepted, but this first step is vital, and is the most important one.  This could turn into a “flagship” activity for our club.  If you are interested in helping with this program, please let us know.



Messier Marathon 2014

Posted by as Observing Highlights, Special Events

The Messier Marathon from Victoria was a bust this year.  Both March 28 and 29 were cloudy, so it was called off.

Our member Elizabeth van Akker spends her winters in New Mexico, and had much better luck:

Hello, all, from sunny New Mexico. My friend Lesa and I successfully completed the Messier Marathon. The weather was great, the skies dark. We especially enjoyed watching the summer Milky Way rising in the early morning. From here, all of Scorpio is visible, and Sagitarius is glorious. The most difficult part was the beginning, 77, 74, 33, 31, 32, 110 were low in the west and only just visible. We are delighted with our results!

Elizabeth van Akker.

Early bird registration for the 2014 General Assembly

Posted by as Special Events

Register for the GA today!Join the RASC Victoria Centre as we host the 2014 GA from June 26 – June 29.

Register before midnight on April 10th, 2014 and take advantage of the $130.00 early bird registration fee.

The 2014 GA registration fee increases to $145.00 as of April 11th, 2014.

Don’t forget to select your meals while you are in the registration site, so you can join your fellow RASC members from across the country. It is especially important that you register for the GA Banquet and the BBQ on Observatory Hill! Be sure to order a commemorative golf shirt and embroidered hat while you are in the GA site.

Register Now!

Astronomy Day – May 3, 2014

Posted by as Special Events

Time/Location: Saturday, May 3, 10am-4pm at the Royal BC Museum, and 8pm-11pm at Observatory Hill

Please publicize this event with our Poster (4.9Mb PDF) at your favourite store and stick to your fridge as a reminder!

Royal BC Museum - 10am-4pm

  • Solar viewing (weather permitting)
  • Solar System model – walk among the planets on the plaza outside
  • Ask an astronomer – ask those astronomy questions you always wondered about
  • General information table – RASC Victoria Centre
  • Science Venture – interactive science exhibits from UVic students
  • Astrophotography display and information – learn how to use your camera to take night sky photos
  • Pearson College science exhibits – interactive and innovative science for kids of all ages
  • Telescope making table – learn how to grind a mirror to make your own telescope at home
  • Childrens Activity table – hands-on crafts, planet making, etc.
  • Static displays
    • Antique brass telescope from the CU museum
    • Other telescopes
  • Video media displays – 3D video displays, desktop planetarium, images from space missions
  • The physics of Angry Birds
  • Bad Science


  • Chris Gainor – Canadian space author
  • JJ Kavelaars – astronomy researcher
  • Galileo might even make an appearance!

Observatory Hill - 8pm-11pm

The evening events at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

  • Night sky viewing through Victoria Centre members’ telescopes in the parking lot
  • Guest speaker: Dr. Dave Bohlender
  • Tours of the historic Plaskett telescope

Island Star Party – update on site improvements

Posted by as Special Events

Thinking forward to the August 22/23/24 Island Star Party.

I dropped in to Bright Angel Park the other afternoon and ran in to a CVRD park fellow there. (Graham).

We spoke for a few minutes about the work that is proceeding at that park and specifically about the field setup. Graham indicated that he was trying to leave as much space between the new field and the forested area “as possible” and he showed me the basic layout in the pegging on the field. I asked that they extend the buffer all the way back to the corner that previously had the baseball diamond backboard. Graham said that should be possible. Vehicle access to the field will be via a gate beside the playground (very near where we held our talks)

At present there is a new parking lot on the edge of the road approximately where we in past years put motor-homes and trailers. This lot is to accommodates the kids playground that will be installed right there, (about where our observing field was located.

The new sports field looks like it will work well as a foot traffic only observing area with vehicle parking along the forest edge. As well we should be able to use the roadside parking lot for larger vehicle if it turns out we can not accommodate them on the grass.

The lower parking lot is now gone and a bathroom is being built in its location, this facility will be ready for our star party. YES no more pit toilets. The former “upper parking lot” has been improved to take more cars.

All in all it is looking very good for the park and the Star Party.


Brian Robilliard

Through Infra-red Goggles Darkly – an engineer’s view of climate change!

Posted by as Events

Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting, held on Wednesday March 12, 2014 in room A104 of the Bob Wright Centre, UVic, at 19:30.

Arctic sea-ice thickness Jan-Feb 2011A Short Bio of Dr. Parvez Kumar, P.Eng., FCASI (this latter is Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics & Space Institute)

Dr. Kumar is an Aerospace Engineer whose career has spanned over forty years working in the Aviation and Space sectors in Government, Industry and Academia. His twenty years of experience with the Canadian Space Programme covers establishing Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) in the early 1980′s, to establishing the Canadian scientific research programme for enabling scientists to do research in microgravity onboard the ISS, to setting up the first training programme for Canadian Astronauts and being their Deputy Director General.

In his chequered career he was seconded to Aerospatiale in the early 1970′s to be Hawker Siddeley Aviation’s man in France for the development of the first Airbus A300; he then joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority in their Flight Test Department for the certification of civil aircraft; he moved to Canada in the late 1970′s to help design and set up the Flight Test Programme for the Canadair Challenger Business Jet; moved onto Transport Canada in their Airworthiness Branch; Industry Canada as the Manager of the international Airborne Surveillance Systems Programme spearheaded by Canada; in 1982 he was hired by the National Research Council in Ottawa to help establish the Canadian Space Station Programme. Amongst other assignments he was the Space Technology Advisor to Atlantic Canada; Director of the European Space Agency’s Harsh Environments Initiative under contract while he was at C-CORE, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Assistant Research Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa where he set up the first Advanced Space Studies Course and taught Mechanical Systems Design to Final Year Engineering Students; he has lectured to Universities and High Schools all across Canada as well as for Continuing Education Programmes at Carleton University and the University of Victoria. He brings a wealth of hands-on experience to his lectures.

He graduated with an Honours BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College in London, UK, and obtained his PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Southampton University, UK. He has lived and worked in seven countries and, now retired, lives with his wife in Sooke.