Inaugural Transboundary Fireworks Festival

Posted by as Observing Highlights

By Reg Dunkley

On a mild July 4th evening about 10 RASCals assembled at Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park for the Inaugural Transboundary Fireworks Festival. Attendees were rewarded with spectacular views of two July Forth Fireworks shows. Between 10 PM and 10:15 PM Friday Harbour on San Juan Island took the stage. Terrain blocked some of the low level displays but the airborne clusters filled the field of view of most scopes. The main event occurred between 10:30 PM and 10:50 PM when Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island launched their salvo. Although slightly farther away we enjoyed an unobstructed view of the Lopez conflagration.

A variety of scopes were deployed including refractors, newtonian reflectors, spotting scopes, binoculars as well as an 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain. In order to squeeze in the view RASCals resorted to lower magnifications. This confirmed that you do not need a big scope to enjoy the show.

It took about one minute 20 seconds for the muffled booms to arrive on the scene. This soundscape combined by the spontaneous whoops and ah’s from the RASCals added to the party atmosphere. It would have been nice if we were able to transition from the fireworks to star gazing … but clouds intervened.

Should we try again next year? Randy Atwood’s attached photo captured Chris Aesoph giving it two thumbs up! So I reckon that is a yes. It was a RASCal Worthy event.

The attention the photons received was well deserved.

Thanks to all the attendees.

President’s Message – June 2018

Posted by as President's Message

This month, I am starting with thanks for contributions to our centre.

My first thanks go to the Astro Café hosting team, Reg Dunkley, Barbara Lane, Kurt Lane, and John McDonald. Their efforts to get the room set up, coordinate presentations, and keep us fed with coffee and cookies are appreciated. Attendance at Astro Café has remained high throughout the year and I attribute that to the work of this team. In addition, I would like to thank everyone who has presented at Astro Café this year. It is impressive to have our youngest member making presentations as well as a number of new members. Well done everyone and I look forward to the resumption of Astro Café on Monday, September 10.

Nelson Walker also deserves thanks for two contributions. Nelson has taken on the modernization of our centre by-laws required by amendments to the BC legislation that governs societies. He has worked tirelessly on this document and we will be distributing the draft to members for discussion and feedback soon. Our plan is to hold a vote on adopting the new by-laws at the monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 12. In addition, Nelson brought a number of his surplus items to sell at Astro Café on May 28. He donated the proceeds to the centre’s public outreach fund. He had a great selection of gear and sold most of it. Over $400 was raised via his generosity. Thank you for those contributions, Nelson, they are greatly appreciated!

Another piece of good news is that the remaining items from the VCO have been sold. Thank you to the team members who worked on that project. I am sure the new owners will put that equipment to good use.

Later this year, we will be seeking nominations for positions on the council. Although that is some time in the future, I want to highlight this now as being on council is a great opportunity to become more involved in the centre and its operation. We rely on members who are willing to devote some of their time to the administration tasks. As you will see in the by-laws, there are some defined positions augmented by members who assist with specific tasks. The time commitment is not too onerous; the adage many hands make light work is true. In addition to the centre activities in which you normally participate, there are council meetings every second month, some duties specific to the role that need to be done on a regular basis, and occasional emails needing a response. I hope that some of members who have not previously served on council will consider it this year.

Finally, please remember that our June monthly meeting is in a different room. We will meet in the Engineering and Computer Science building room 124 for our Wednesday, June 13 meeting. As we do not have monthly meetings in July and August, our next monthly meeting will be on Wednesday, September 12.

Have an enjoyable summer!

SPEAKER: The Mysterious Death of Galaxies

Posted by as Meetings

By Dr. Joanna Woo

Wednesday June 13th, 2018 at 7:30 PM

In Room 124 Engineering and Computer Science Building, UVic

Please note the Room Change

Galaxies are vast collections of stars that evolve over billions of years. From surveys of a hundreds of thousands of galaxies, we can see that they fall into roughly two categories: those that are alive and forming new stars, and those that are dead, or no longer forming new stars. Gas is the fuel for star formation, and there is plenty of it in the universe constantly falling into galaxies, so why have some galaxies simply stopped turning gas into stars? This cessation of star formation, called “quenching”, is one of the biggest puzzles of galaxy evolution. Drawing upon my own research, I will give an overview of the different theories explaining the death of galaxies and what the observational evidence tells us.

Dr. Joanna Woo writes: I am an astrophysicist with a focus on galaxy evolution using a variety of cutting-edge observational and theoretical tools. While studying for a B.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy from UBC, I established and became the president of the UBC Astronomy Club which is still active to this day. I also held a part time job at the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. Being the adventurous type, I decided to pursue graduate studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, receiving my Ph.D. in 2014. Along with a rigorous physics education, I picked up two languages (Hebrew and Arabic). I then spent four years at the Institute for Astronomy of ETH Zurich, where, along with exciting research, I learned the basics of Swiss German. I am thrilled to be back in Canada where I am a postdoctoral researcher at UVic. (I am now trying to improve my French.)

 

FOR SALE – Meade 14″ SCT and accessories

Posted by as Buy&Sell

RASC Victoria Centre is selling surplus astronomical equipment

Meade 14″ SCT telescope, cradle mount & Hyperstar f/2

PLEASE NOTE – ALL ITEMS ARE NOW SOLD!

Photo gallery of Victoria Centre’s Observatory

 

  • Please refer to the asking prices of the items listed below. Items will be sold to the bidder who submits the highest bid price.
  • Once a bid is accepted, prompt payment by bank draft or certified cheque is preferred, payable to: RASC Victoria Centre. Payment by personal cheque drawn on a US or Canadian bank is also acceptable, but will cause delays.
  • Tie bids will be decided by the date and time the bids are first received.
  • Local pickup of items is preferred, otherwise successful bidders are responsible for shipping costs in addition to their bid price.
  • The equipment listed below has been used together for the last 10 years at Victoria Centre’s observatory. Items can be bought separately or together.
  • All equipment is sold as-is without any warranty or guarantee of fitness for purpose.

Please contact Bruno Quenneville if you need further details about the items offered for sale Email (brunoqvictoria@gmail.com) or call ‭(250) 888-3450‬.

Send your bids to Joe Carr

  • Email (web@victoria.rasc.ca)
  • Postal mail or courier: Attn: RASC Victoria Centre, 3046 Jackson St, Victoria, BC Canada V8T 3Z8.

Meade 14” f/10 SCT telescope optical tube – SOLD

  • Optical tube only – no diagonals or mounting hardware is included
  • Includes
    • Meade standard finder scope
    • Feather Touch ultra fine thread focuser upgrade – see red arrowed item in photo below
    • Dew shield
  • Other accessories available – see below for Hyperstar and cradle mount (both used with this 14″ SCT)
  • Meade’s website
  • $1,350 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks. Optics need cleaning.
Meade 14" SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2" digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)
Meade 14″ SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2″ digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)

Hyperstar f/2 focal reducer for Meade or Celestron SCT telescopes – SOLD

  • Reduces optics from f/10 to f/2 for imaging only (not for visual use)
  • Starizona website – verify with Starizona this reducer will work with your telescope!
  • $450 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

Cradle mount for 14″ optical tube telescopes – SOLD

  • This heavy duty metal cradle provides excellent support for a 14″ optical tube such as the above Meade 14″ SCT
  • Includes
    • Losmandy style rails suitable for attaching the cradle to a heavy duty tracking mount
    • Two (2) Losmandy style rails  on both sides for mounting additional telescopes or other gear
  • $650 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

 

President’s Message – May 2018

Posted by as President's Message

May has started with an incredible celebration. The Plaskett Telescope turns 100 this month and the plaque designating the DAO as a National Historic Site of Canada has been unveiled. I was asked to speak on behalf of the Centre at this event. Here is a summary of the speech I made.

In addition to the centenary of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, 2018 marks the sesquicentennial of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada or RASC. Founded in Toronto by a group of astronomy enthusiasts, RASC has grown to be a national, coast to coast organization. With the addition of the Yukon Centre in 2016, the society is moving toward becoming truly coast to coast to coast.

The Victoria Centre joined the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1914. Centre historians have discovered that the 1914 founding was not the first attempt by astronomy enthusiasts in Victoria to join RASC. In 1909, efforts were made to start a centre here which were unsuccessful.  However, just five years later, the effort was successful. Why was that?

I think a critical piece that was missing in Victoria of 1909 was an anchor for an astronomy group.  In the pre-information age, the success of societies such as RASC was greatly increased when there were locally available, high quality resources to support the efforts of the amateur members. Typically, this would be a research university. A university would provide faculty and staff members who might have expertise in astronomy, current publications in the library, and, perhaps most importantly, access to high quality equipment. By 1914, what had been missing in Victoria was starting to take shape.

The selection of Victoria as the home of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory meant that Victoria became the centre of astronomy in Canada. Having a top notch research institution is the best possible support a RASC centre could hope for. Just look at the telescope that came with this observatory! No one else had anything like that. As a result, the location of the DAO in Victoria was instrumental in the founding and success of the Victoria Centre. It is likely that Victoria would not have a 104 year old RASC centre had this observatory been built somewhere else.

A particular strength of the DAO continues to be public outreach. From the very early days, the public were welcomed to look through the telescope. A centre member studying its history discovered that the DAO was a leading tourist attraction in Victoria of the 1920s; records show that more than 30,000 visitors per year came to the hill. If you ask almost anyone who grew up in Victoria, they can describe a visit to the observatory so this facility certainly made an impression. For 100 years, it has been part of the fabric that makes Victoria an outstanding place to live.

Our centre benefits greatly from our relationship with the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. From the employees who are active RASC members to the many who volunteer to speak at our monthly meetings, we are a stronger centre because of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. In addition, the Victoria Centre has a larger membership that many other centres in Canada that have greater surrounding populations. I attribute some of that to the interest in astronomy that is generated by the presence of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

SPEAKER: Peering through Nature’s telescope – Gravitational Lensing as a window into the distant universe

Posted by as Uncategorized

by Dr. Karun Thanjavur

Wednesday May 9th, 2018 at 7:30 PM Room A104 Bob Wright Centre UVic

Gravitational lensing, the “bending” of light in a gravitational field is one of the many awe inspiring phenomena predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, and which have since been unambiguously borne out by observations. Since the first confirmation of a gravitational lens in 1979 -nearly 45 years after it was hypothesized- the catalog of confirmed lenses now runs to a few hundreds. Aided by the rapid advances in telescope and instrumentation technologies, the magnification boost provided by gravitational lensing – Nature’s telescope – is now being harnessed to probe astrophysical processes in extremely distant, faint objects even in the very early universe with a level of detail that would otherwise be exceedingly challenging. My presentation aims to explain the principles of gravitational lensing using basic physics, trace its development as a powerful observational tool, and present two applications and related results drawn from my own research.

Bio: Karun Thanjavur: As an observational cosmologist, discovering new gravitational lenses and developing innovative techniques to harness them as observational tools are amongst my diverse research interests. As part of my doctoral thesis at UVic in 2009, I developed an automated technique to search for lenses in wide field, pan-chromatic imaging. These explorations of the distant universe come after a full career as a mechanical engineer, specializing in control systems and robotics. Born and raised in a small town in South India, I completed my education up to a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering there, before moving to Canada to pursue graduate studies first in Robotics, and later in Astrophysics. After my PhD from UVic, I worked as a Resident Astronomer at CFHT in Hawaii for three years, before returning to UVic to accept a position as a senior lab instructor in astronomy. Even though undergraduate teaching is the focus of my current position, I continue to pursue various research projects. I also enjoy sharing the excitement of science and my research efforts with the public through several outreach initiatives through the UVic observatory.

Saturday Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory 2018

Posted by as Events

The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO) and RASC Victoria Centre will be hosting twenty 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.

Time: 7:15 pm to 10:45 pm

Dates begin with International Astronomy Day on April 21st . Here are all the dates:

  • April 21st and 28th 
  • May 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th 
  • June 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th 
  • July 7th, 14th and 21st  *note* the DAO site has scheduled maintenance that does not allow us to open July 28th
  • August 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th
  • September 1st 

PLEASE NOTE: due to construction at the DAO admission is by ticket ONLY. Tickets are FREE and will be available for the following month from our EventBrite site.

 

* Special notice for July 21st general event times have been altered to accommodate a special theatrical event *

Special Schedule of Events

We open at 7:15 and close at 11 pm

Limited parking at the top of the hill. Please inform the Commissionaire at the gate if you need to park or drop off people at the top of the hill due to limited mobility.

Please bring a warm jacket for later in the evening. It does get cool.

On Saturday, July 21st the Friends of the DAO, the RASC and the NRC are hosting a Theatre presentation called Zodiac Misfits written, directed and performed by UVIC alumni from the Phoenix Theatre program.  This is a community theatre production, entirely outside, where the audience is invited to join in and moves along with the players.  We hope you enjoy it.

We also have the FIRST Robotics group with us again for the evening where young and old can try out their robot driving skills. They will be in the Black Hole Auditorium all evening.

We will continue to have our Children’s Programs, our Planetarium shows, our Plaskett Telescope Tours and the Virtual Reality equipment as usual.  And, of course, the members of the RASC will have their telescopes out on the edge of the parking lot to show you the sun, the moon, at least 4 of the planets up at this time and the stars as the night darkens.

With all this going on we have had to revamp our schedule somewhat. Please find the revised schedule for July 21st only below.

Zodiac Misfits Theatre Group at 7:45 and at 8:45 (approx. 45 minutes each)  Begins on the West Side of the Dome and then moves to the Deck of the Centre of the Universe

Children’s Presentations: 

  1. Planet Parade on the East side of the Dome from 7:30 to 7:45
  2. First Planetarium Show for Kids 7:45 to 8:00
  3. Second Planetarium Show for Kids  8:00 to 8:15
  4. Children’s Dome Tour at 8:15 to 8:40

Planetarium Programs:  8:30, 9:00, 9:30 and 10:00

Dome Tours:     7:45 to 8:15 Shortened Dome Tour

8:45 to 9:30  Regular Dome Tour

9:30 to 10:15 Regular Dome Tour

10:15 to 11:00 Seeing what the Telescope Sees – The Plaskett tours the sky

Sixteen Inch Telescope (off the Deck of the CU) – will open at approximately 9:30

Virtual Reality Machine– all evening in the Gallery

FIRST Robotic Team – all evening in the Black Hole Auditorium

 

See you there!

Site Line Work Only

Saturday Star Parties at the DAO run every Saturday evening from April 21st to September 1st. To enhance your experience please note the following venues before you arrive. Activities are broken up into seven main areas,

  1. Lecture Hall – This season we have a full slate of topical presentations from the astronomy community which includes researchers, authors and passionate amateurs. There are possibilities of surprise guest speakers. Come early most presentations start at 8:30 p.m. and some though not all repeat in the evening.
  2. Plaskett Dome – The dome is a heritage site, and not to be missed. Tours are approximately 30-45 minutes long and start at 7:45 p.m. (30 min) Two other tours start at 8:45 p.m. (45 min) and 9:30 p.m. (45 min). Special Kids Tour 8:15 p.m. (30 min)
  3. Planetarium – Planetarium shows run 6 times during the evening and are approximately 30 minutes in length. Come inside and learn about the constellations, and even a little sky lore!
  4. 16” Telescope – This research-grade telescope was originally located on Mt Kobau near Osoyoos for site testing towards potentially building an observatory there. It was then moved here to the DAO, and then from another area on the DAO property to this site when the Centre of the Universe building was constructed in the early 1990s. It is now available for viewing “live” through an eyepiece. The telescope is open subject to weather conditions on many of the Saturday nights.
  5. RASC Member Telescopes – Royal Astronomical Society of Canada members have been long standing participants at Saturdays nights at the DAO for nearly 100 years. Weather permitting, members will take you on a telescopic tour of the evening sky.
  6. Information Area – There are volunteers available to help you with your evening visit and if you’re interested they can let you know how you can get involved in astronomy activities in Victoria. Kid friendly programming is available in this same area. FIRST Robotics BC will be in attendance several times during the summer.
  7. Interpretive Centre Displays – The displays from the former interpretive centre show Canada’s role in astronomy and contain a number of historical artifacts of interest. This year the displays will be enhanced with the addition of new kiosks that will feature Knowledge Network’s Space Suite series and other programming. Stay tuned for their debut.

Saturday Star Parties at the DAO 2018 Presentations

* Note special times for a theatrical event on July 21st only at the top of this section – regular times below resume in August * 

Saturdays’ Children’s Programmes

7:45 – 8:00 p.m. “Out of this World” Interactive Presentation – Auditorium

8:00 – 8:15 p.m. “Stories in the Skies” – Planetarium

8:15 – 8:45 p.m. “Meet the Telescope” Tour – Plaskett Dome

8:45 – 9:30 p.m. Children’s Activities – Information Area

  • Make and Take Craft Tables
  • Family Scavenger Hunt
  • IPad Interactives
  • Night Sky Viewing

 

Speakers

 

April 21st 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Gateway to the Stars: Science, Civic Identity, and Tourism at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), Victoria B.C. 1903-1941 – Dan Posey

Abstract: 

The Canadian astrophysics program rapidly developed between 1903 and 1914, leading to the wartime construction of what was hoped to be the world’s largest research telescope. Following its announcement the Victoria observatory quickly developed into a widely visited tourism destination, operating an extensive public outreach program. Throughout the 1920s Dominion Astrophysical Observatory staff produced several discoveries on the forefront of astrophysics, further boosting the institution’s public image.

Bio:

Dan Posey is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s history MA program, a board member of the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, and a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre.

 

 

April 28th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

Introduction to the Night Sky – David Lee

Abstract: 

The night sky can be a bewildering maze of disconnected dots, flashing streaks of light and predictable events that appear just like clockwork. But most of all it is filled with mystery and beauty. Come and learn what’s up in the sky and how best to view it.

Bio:

David Lee is an avid photographer who over 20 years ago turned his camera upwards to the sky capturing astronomical images of the solar system and beyond. Through the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada he has been an advocate of astronomy and the sciences through its public outreach programs. Currently working in the Information Technology sector he hopes to retire soon to become even more of a tourist of the night sky.

 

May 5th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

The Improbable Telescope: From the Shadow of War to the Edge of the Country the Incredible Story of the Plaskett Telescope – Scott Mair

Abstract: 

Who would build a telescope on the rainy West Coast during the First World War? The incredible dream of John Stanley Plaskett, how it came to be and it’s impact on the world of astronomy.

Bio:

Scott Mair is an award winning science educator: Canada’s prestigious Michael Smith Award for science promotion and the first Canadian to win the National (US) Association for Interpretation’s Master Interpreter Award. Scott learned to love dinosaurs while curator of education at Alberta’s Tyrrell Museum, the mountains as a chief park interpreter with Alberta Parks, traffic while at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles and stars as the founding director of Victoria’s Centre of the Universe.

 

May 19th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

Watching the Cold Universe from Chile:  Why ALMA Matters – Dr. Gerald Schieven

Abstract:

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is a giant multinational observatory located in the high desert of northern Chile, and made up of 66 telescopes designed to study cold gas and dust in unprecedented detail. In this talk we’ll learn what and why ALMA is, what it’s like to work there, and about some of the astonishing discoveries ALMA is making.

Bio:

Gerald Schieven is an astronomer at NRC.  A native of Ontario, Gerald got his PhD from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  He has worked at Queen’s University in Kingston, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, before moving to Victoria in 2008 to lead the Canadian support of ALMA  operations.

 

May 26th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

History of the Hubble Space Telescope – Dr. Chris Gainor

Abstract:

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched 28 years ago in 1990. After overcoming problems caused by a defective main mirror, Hubble has made discoveries that have revolutionized our view of the universe we live in. This talk will cover the history of Hubble based on a book the speaker is writing.

Bio:

Chris Gainor is a historian specializing in the history of space flight and aeronautics. He has four published books and is currently writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. He is also First Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

 

June 2nd 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

On the Origin of Life – Organic Molecules in Space; the Crucible; Evolvability- Dr. Dorothy Paul

Abstract:

Earth is the only place in the Universe that we know harbours life. We understand roughly how the Solar System formed, some 4.7 billion years ago, and how once established on the 3rd planet from the Sun, life acted in concert with geological/chemical processes to transform it into the planet we now live on. What we don’t know is where or how life got started in the first place. However, by integrating results from recent geological, paleontological, and biological research, increasingly plausible hypotheses are being constructed. Improved understanding of the evolutionary history of our life-infested planet enriches our lives and informs future studies on earth and in space.

Bio:

Dorothy Paul is a biologist and amateur astronomer. Prior to retirement from the University of Victoria, her research was in neuroscience and evolutionary neurobiology. She now spends much of her time in her combined life-long interest in animal behaviour and love of dark nights (maximally lit by the full moon). Education: BA in Biology, Harvard; DES in Psychophysiologie, Marseille; PhD in Biological Sciences, Stanford

 

June 16th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Three Important Discoveries with the DAO Telescopes- Dr. James Nemec

Abstract:

Since the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory was built 100 years ago there have been many important discoveries made with the DAO 1.8-m (72-inch) and 1.2-m (48-inch) telescopes. Three that stand out and are the subject of this talk are: (1) O,B stars outlining the Spiral Arms of the Galaxy; (2) the temperature of the Cosmic Background Radiation derived from studying interstellar molecules; and (3) the discovery that Barium and CH stars are binary systems.

Bio:

Dr. James Nemec is a professor at Camosun College (Department of Physics and Astronomy) where he teaches Astronomy and Physics courses. His Ph.D. is from the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington in Seattle. Before coming to Camosun he was a postdoc at Caltech and UBC, and taught and conducted research at UBC, Caltech, Washington State University and the University of Washington. His recent research has been conducted with NASA’s Kepler/K2 space telescope, and with the Canada-France-Hawaii and Keck telescopes.

 

June 23rd 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Deep (Machine) Learning with Neural Networks – the Second Industrial Revolution – Karun Thanjavur

Abstract:

Artificial intelligence (AI), specially Deep (Machine) Learning are already ubiquitous in everyday use, and have been called the second industrial revolution. Deep Learning algorithms, called Neural Networks, thrive on Big Data, the happy ‘problem’ we now face of the enormous amounts of data available in this digital era. In astronomy too, telescopes will soon routinely produce terabytes of data every night. Piggybacked on the impressive recent advances in high performance computing, neural networks are trained on these available large datasets to then perform a variety of human-like tasks, such as identifying subtle patterns, realtime decision making, forecasting based on experience, and so on. In this presentation I aim to provide an overview of this rapidly burgeoning field, explain in simple terms the working of a neural net, and illustrate the principles with a working model.

Bio:

As a research astronomer, I am excited by the availability of huge public datasets, which I may harness for my own research questions using the proper data analysis tools. Given the enormous data volume, I have recently begun harnessing the powerful techniques of deep learning to tease out complex correlations and thus illustrate the underlying physical principles. These science explorations of the Universe, coupled with the equally fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, come after a full career as a mechanical engineer, specializing in control systems and robotics. Born and raised in a small town in South India, I completed my education up to a bachelor’s degree in engineering there, before moving to Canada to pursue graduate studies first in Robotics, and later in Astrophysics. Even though undergraduate teaching is the principal focus of my current position as a senior astronomy lab instructor at UVic, I work hard to keep my research interests alive. I also enjoy sharing the excitement of science and my research efforts with the public through many outreach initiatives.​

 

June 30th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

How Things Might End -Thoughts on the various ways the Universe will unfold with time – Dr. Doug Johnstone

Abstract:

In this talk I will consider possible ways in which things might end, from the destruction of the Earth, the evolution of the Sun, rare but dangerous events within the Galaxy, and finally the evolution of the Universe itself. Beware!

Bio:

Dr. Doug Johnstone is a Principal Research Astronomer at NRC’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics. For two years he was the Associate Director of the James Cleark Maxwell Telescope, a 15-m telescope on Maunakea devoted to observations of the sky at sub-millimeter wavelengths. Doug’s main research interests follow the formation of stars and planetary systems. He began his professional life as a theorist at the University of California, Berkeley, working on the evolution of circumstellar disks around young stars, back before extra-solar planet detections were common. Today, Dr. Johnstone’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of structure in molecular clouds, attempting to disentangle the physical processes through which a molecular cloud sheds into individual stars and planets.

 

July 7th  2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Astronomy Equipment: An Overview – RASC Victoria Members

Abstract:

Entering the world of amateur astronomy can be bewildering with the array of different telescopes and supporting accessories. Come and talk to members of the Royal Astronomical Society Victoria Centre and they will answer any questions you might have and also demonstrate the use some of their favourite equipment.

Bio:

The Victoria Centre of the RASC has a long history of providing science outreach and supporting a community interested in astronomy.

 

July 14th  2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Kitt Peak and the Sonoran Desert – David Lee

Abstract:

In May 2018 I travelled to Tucson Arizona to visit Kitt Peak, an epic collection of 24 telescopes in the Sonoran Desert. Twelve miles up a mountain road at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet it was built in the ’60s. It was and still is the site of many astronomical discoveries and research. The beautifully dark skies were also my opportunity to photograph the Milky Way away from Victoria’s light polluted skies. Come and see the day and night time images from the peak.

Bio:

David Lee is an avid photographer who over 20 years ago turned his camera upwards to the sky capturing astronomical images of the solar system and beyond. Through the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada he has been an advocate of astronomy and the sciences through its public outreach programs. Recently retired from the Information Technology sector he hopes to become even more of a tourist of the night sky.

 

July 21st  2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Zodiac Misfits – Jena Mailloux directed by Leah McGraw; the cast of Zodiac Misfits

Abstract:

Find out what happens when Zeus sends the Zodiac on a mission to save the Earth. Will they follow his orders?

Jena and Leah both share a love for site specific theatre. The two cannot wait to stage their first show at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

We hope you enjoy Zodiac Misfits—be warned, you may just fall in love with theatre too.  https://www.eventbrite.ca/d/canada–victoria/free-star-parties-at-the-dao/

 

STARRING! 
Kelly O’Donnell
Una Rekic
Sophie Crocker
Dylan Clarke
Sophie Chappell
Joy Peters
Julia Kory
Music: 
Jenny Weston
Scherene Auchterlonie
Kateri Chisholm
Ashley Everitt
Lytton McDonnell
Costumes: 
Natalie Lichtenwald
Stage Hands:
Chris Green
Lauren Taylor
Margo Bishop
Written by: Jena Mailloux
Directed by: Leah McGraw

 

Bio:

The pair just recently graduated from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Applied Theatre.

Leah is currently working towards a Bachelor of Education to share her passion for drama and history with students in the classroom and beyond. Zodiac Misfits is the second play that Jena has written. Her first, Define Or Defy, was staged at the University of Victoria with the Student Alternative Theatre Company. You can currently find Jena roaming around and working for a lighthouse at one of Parks Canada’s special places.

 

August 4th  2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Astrophotography Demo Night – Victoria Astrophotographers

Abstract:

Tonight we will show you how to get started with simple astrophotography. These sessions are for you if you ever wanted to photograph the night sky. You may already have some of the equipment to do it. You won’t want to miss this.

Bio:

We are very fortunate to have a number of accomplished astrophotographers in Victoria. The range of techniques deployed are simple to complex.

President’s Message – April 2018

Posted by as President's Message

Our tech committee has made further progress with the upgrade to the Victoria Centre Observatory telescope. More equipment has arrived and has necessitated the installation of some different wiring in the mount. Recently, members of the committee held a work party at the VCO to make the changes.

The committee has also prepared the surplus equipment for sale. Please see victoria.rasc.ca/for-sale-observatory-equipment/ for the details of the items for sale and how to make an offer to purchase. The sale is open for the month of April. This is another step forward in the project as realized funds will be used for further purchases of equipment for the VCO.

Late last month, a few of the council members received emails from what appeared to be the president’s address. These emails asked the recipient to make an urgent payment on behalf of the centre using personal funds; a promise was made that these funds would be reimbursed by the centre within short order. This was a scam. It does go to show that the criminal element is out there looking for opportunities to defraud anyone. I mention this as a reminder to all of us to remain vigilant any time we are asked for money by email.

Here are some announcements:

RASC members may register to attend the CASCA 2018 conference that takes place May 22 – 26. See casca2018.ca/ for more information.

The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory has launched a new website. The new URL is www.thecentreoftheuniverse.net. This is where the information about the Summer Star Parties will be posted.

The Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair is taking place on April 8 and 9 in the Elliott Building Lecture Wing at the University of Victoria. See web.uvic.ca/~virsf/index.php for more information.

Our monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. will be in the Elliott Building, room 167, as our regular room is being used for an exam.

The Science and Technology Awareness Network (STAN) helps promote science and technology education. This year, their conference is on Wednesday, April 11 in Vancouver. The conference web page provides registration and all other details, www.stanrsst.ca/stan-conference. By the way, STAN membership is free; you may be interested in joining STAN especially if you have an interest in science and technology education.

Astronomy Day will take place on Saturday, April 21. The daytime portion will be at the Royal BC Museum and the evening will be the first of the summer star parties at the DAO.  If you are not already on the list to volunteer at those events please let Ken, our outreach coordinator, know that you are available. He may be contacted at outreach@victoria.rasc.ca.

FOR SALE: Observatory Equipment

Posted by as Buy&Sell

RASC Victoria Centre is selling surplus astronomical equipment

FOR SALE BY BID: telescopes, equipment & optics

Due date: April 30, 2018 at 11:59PM

BIDDING NOW CLOSED

Photo gallery of Victoria Centre’s Observatory

 

  • Each lot itemized below will be sold to the bidder who submits the highest bid price by the due date, providing our minimum bid (reserve) price is met or exceeded.
  • Once a bid is accepted, prompt payment by bank draft or certified cheque is preferred, payable to: RASC Victoria Centre. Payment by personal cheque drawn on a US or Canadian bank is also acceptable, but will cause delays.
  • Tie bids will be decided by the date and time the bids are first received.
  • Local pickup of items is preferred, otherwise successful bidders are responsible for shipping costs in addition to their bid price.
  • All equipment is sold as-is without any warranty or guarantee of fitness for purpose.

Please contact Bruno Quenneville if you need further details about the items offered for sale Email or call ‭(250) 888-3450‬.

Send your bids to Joe Carr

  • Email (web@victoria.rasc.ca)
  • Postal mail or courier: Attn: RASC Victoria Centre, 3046 Jackson St, Victoria, BC Canada V8T 3Z8. Bids sent by postal mail or courier must be postmarked April 27, 2018 or earlier. 
Orion 80mm telescope
Orion 80mm telescope

LOT 1 – Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 apochromatic refractor telescope – SALE PENDING

  • Includes:
    • William Optics 2″Dielectric diagonal & 1 1/4″ adaptor.- William Optics website
    • William Optics 2-speed Crayford focuser
    • Orion right angle finder scope & mounting bracket
    • Orion mounting rings
    • Orion custom ED80 Hard case
  • No other hardware included
  • Orion’s website
  • $300 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks
Tele Vue NP127is telescope
Tele Vue NP127is telescope

LOT 2 – Tele Vue NP127is apochromatic imaging refractor telescope – SALE PENDING

  • Includes (all Tele Vue brand unless otherwise indicated)
    • 2.4 inch diameter Focus Mate dual-speed rack and pinion focuser
    • Sliding dew shield
    • 2 inch accessory adapter with clamp ring
    • photo accessory adapter
    • custom fitted hard shell case
    • Focus Mate Driver FDF-2004
    • 90 Degree Everbrite Diagonal (2 inch diameter)
    • 10 micron position indicator for the 2.4 inch focuser
    • 0.8X Focal Reducer NPR -1073
    • Three 1 Inch Spacers for 2.4 inch focuser
    • One 0.5 inch spacer for 2.4 inch focuser
    • One 0.375 inch spacer for 2.4 inch focuser
    • One 0.25 inch spacer for 2.4 inch focuser
    • SBIG STL Camera Adapter STL-1071
    • Large Field Coma Corrector LCL – 1069
    • Canon T-Ring for EOS dSLR
  • Tele Vue’s website
  • $4,500 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.
    • The Focuser is bent, but operating. Replacement cost would be US$350.
    • The optics deliver close to perfect star images visually and for photos taken by APS-C and smaller sensors, however when using a full-frame 35mm sensor, some star elongations are apparent in the corners of the photographic frame. Please view this evaluation done by our members for further details. Tele Vue is able to restore the telescope optics to factory specification for a charge of US$495 plus shipping, however this work would be done at a prospective purchaser’s own expense.

 

LOT 3 – Meade 14” f/10 SCT telescope optical tube

  • Optical tube only – no diagonals or mounting hardware is included
  • Includes
    • Meade standard finder scope
    • Feather Touch ultra fine thread focuser upgrade – see red arrowed item in photo below
    • Dew shield
  • Other accessories available – see below for Hyperstar and cradle mount (both used with this 14″ SCT)
  • Meade’s website
  • $1,500 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks. Optics need cleaning.
Meade 14" SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2" digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)
Meade 14″ SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2″ digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)

LOT 4 – Hyperstar f/2 focal reducer for Meade or Celestron SCT telescopes

  • Reduces optics from f/10 to f/2 for imaging only (not for visual use)
  • Starizona website – verify with Starizona this reducer will work with your telescope!
  • $500 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

LOT 5 – Cradle mount for 14″ optical tube telescopes

  • This heavy duty metal cradle provides excellent support for a 14″ optical tube such as the above Meade 14″ SCT
  • Includes
    • Losmandy style rails suitable for attaching the cradle to a heavy duty tracking mount
    • Two (2) Losmandy style rails  on both sides for mounting additional telescopes or other gear
  • $700 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

 

SPEAKER: Hot Jupiters, super-Earths, and mini-Neptunes! Oh my!

Posted by as Meetings

by Dr. Henry Ngo

Wednesday April 11th 2018 at 7:30 PM Room 167, Elliot Building

No, the lions and tigers and bears have not rebranded! These are categories of exoplanets (planets around other stars). At first, we only knew about a small handful of exoplanets, but they were nothing like the planets from our solar system. As our methods improved, the discoveries kept piling on and now there are several thousand known exoplanets from many different detection techniques. Tonight, I’ll give a summary of exoplanet search techniques and what we know so far about these planets. I’ll also talk a little bit about my own research and share some experiences from studying some of the largest exoplanets using telescopes on Maunakea and Palomar.

Bio: Dr Henry Ngo is currently a Plaskett Postdoctoral Fellow working for the National Research Council of Canada at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. He was born in Mississauga, Ontario but grew up in Richmond, BC. He studied at UBC for his bachelors, Queen’s University in Kingston, ON for his Masters and just finished his PhD in Planetary Science at Caltech last summer. Henry and his family are happy to be back in BC and they are loving life on beautiful Vancouver Island!