The Invisible Universe: A Perimeter Institute Webcast 4PM PST March 3rd
The Perimeter Institute is offering a webcast by Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University. To learn more click this link.
Steward Observatory Newsletter March 2021
Check out this link to view the rich offerings of the Steward Observatory Newsletter!
Some Award Winning Victoria Centre RASCals
Awards were announced at the Victoria Centre Annual General Meeting on February 22nd. Because the meeting was held by Zoom these patient RASCals did not actually receive their certificates until Monday March 1st. Photos of three of the recipients are included. Awards were also delivered to Dave Robinson and Joe Carr but delivery man Past President Reg Dunkley was too busy chatting and forgot to snap their photos. Because Dan Posey was hard at work, his Astro-Imaging award will be delivered at a later date. Congratulations to all!
Virtual Tour of SLOOH Observatories at 7:30 PM PDT on Wednesday March 3rd
Karun Thanjuvar, host of the UVic Observatory Open House writes: I am really excited to let you know that this week at the UVic observatory open house, Wed 7:30-9pm, the Chief Astronomical Officer, Paul Cox, of the SLOOH observatories will give a virtual tour and demo with live sky viewing using their seven robotic telescopes in Canary Islands and Chile. Come learn about SLOOH and all its capabilities to explore space. Wed, 7:30-9pm, UVic observatory open house Please join on UVic Zoom: https://uvic.zoom.us/j/93596786035?pwd=SytMSzRlZERrdjFTM0V4bytNTWtoZz09 Meeting ID: 935 9678 6035 Password: 566494
RASC Victoria Center AGM at 7:30PM Monday Feb 22nd
One Sky Many Astronomies: Talk at 3PM, Tuesday March 2nd
Indigenous star lore expert Wilfred Buck will give a public (virtual) talk sponsored by the UVic Astronomy Research Centre. This is a free public talk intended for an audience at all levels. Date: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 Time: 3:00 pm PST Registration: Free, but please register in advance:
“Every culture in the Northern Hemisphere saw the same sky at night, and they all have their own constellations, mythologies, and teachings,” says Wilfred Buck. Furthermore, “star stories are part of our belief system. Knowledge of the stars is found in many aspects of our culture including storytelling, symbolism, and religious traditions”.
We are fortunate to have Wilfred Buck joining us to discuss astronomy and the deep knowledge that First Nations people have about the sky. In First Nations communities, each star is part of a story, sometimes many stories, which convey cultural traditions and knowledge. In this seminar, Wilfred will discuss his research into the astronomical knowledge of the Ininewuk, Lakota, and Anishinaabe Peoples.
About the Speaker: Wilfred Buck is a former science facilitator at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and an Indigenous star lore expert, known as “the star guy”. Wilfred was co-curator of an exhibit featuring constellations of Canada’s indigenous cultures at Ottawa’s Canada Science and Technology Museum (2018), and he served as a storyteller and content expert in the 22-minute film “Legends of the Northern Sky,” shown at Telus World of Science in Edmonton (2019). He is author of Tipiskawi Kisik: Night Sky Star Stories and I Have Lived Four Lives, and can be contacted at https://acakwuskwun.com/
Vera Rubin Observatory Zoom Presentation Wed February 10th at 7:30PM
The UVic Observatory Open House invites you to a Zoom Presentation by Dr. Zeljko Ivezic entitled “The Greatest Movie of All Time“. As Project Scientist and Deputy Director of Construction of the Rubin Observatory and he will provide detailed insight into the design and construction of this absolutely fascinating telescope.
Edmonton RASCal Abdur Anwar continues to capture amazing images of the International Space Station by manually tracking his Celestron 8 Inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope. He has developed a very interesting and useful You Tube tutorial on not only how to locate and photograph the ISS but also how to process the image using 3 powerful programs call PPIP, AutoStakkert3 and Registax. Abdur suggests that a Dobsonian telescope may also be well suited for this task. Check out Abdur’s tutorial here: https://youtu.be/GSXRoo2c0s8
Chris Gainor recommended a very interesting series of documentaries on the role of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the Space Age. If you are a fan of the history rocket and spacecraft technology then beware before clicking the following link. It is binge worthy.
Astronomy today, Framing the Future: Thurs, Feb 11th at 4PM PDT
Dark matter. Humans on the Moon. Black holes and exoplanets. They’re hot topics in the news, and it just so happens women are discussing them. Join us for a panel discussion that passes the Bechdel Test, bringing four great Canadian minds together to talk about observational astronomy, cosmology, astroparticle theory, planetary geology and the future of science that is out of this world. The panel is presented by The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and SkyNews. Hosted and moderated by SkyNews editor-in-chief Allendria Brunjes and RASC outreach co-ordinator Jenna Hinds, RASC Next Gen committee chair Emilie Laflèche and RASC Diversity and Inclusivity committee chair Roland Dechesne will be moderating audience discussion. Register here to attend on Zoom, or watch live on our YouTube channel.
Cool Edmonton Morning and Other Images from Prairie RASCals
New 130 mm Refractor Placed On VCO Mount
Dan Posey and Matt Watson attached the Takahashi TOA 130 S refractor to the tube of the OGS 12.5 Inch RC reflector. They are now balanced on the Paramount ME Mount at the VCO. Funding has been approved to purchase components to attach existing Feather Touch focuser to the refractor as well as a focal reducer that will allow it to function in both f/7.7 and f/5.4 modes.
Much has happened since my previous monthly message. South of the border there was an attempted insurrection, an impeachment and an inauguration of a more temperate leader. North of the border, “NOT YET IMAGINED” the much anticipated study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations authored by Victoria Centre RASCal Chris Gainor was released. Click here for a free download. The Victoria Centre also acquired a beautiful 130 mm Takahashi refractor to pair with the OGS 12.5 inch reflector at the Victoria Centre Observatory. Meanwhile the Covid Vaccine inoculation program is gaining momentum. So one can sense a tentative positive vibe and some are speaking of a “light at the end of the tunnel”. Let us hope that the light is a very faint star “light months” away and not some bright star “light years” distant.
The compelling political drama and Dr. Bonnie’s updates have hijacked our attention and robbed us of that non renewable resource called “time”. The impact of this time theft is apparent in my household as copies of Sky and Telescope and the Journal of RASC lie half read. And then there are the many quality astronomical presentations on You Tube that I never got around to watching. While the face to face outreach activities have ground to a halt astronomical discoveries continue and the recording of Zoom presentations have significantly increased the amount of information available to digest.
So we are presented with a challenge. How should we ration our dwindling amount of time and how much of that should be devoted to astronomy? This, of course, is a highly individual choice. I hope the word ‘joy” is at the heart of the decision and includes the joy experienced observing the night sky, the joy of learning new things, the joy of improving our understanding, the joy of unravelling mysteries and the joy of sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm with others. Another key word is “satisfaction” which for instance can be applied to the satisfaction derived from knowing our way around the night sky, the satisfaction of acquiring skills to photograph and sketch astronomical treasures, the satisfaction of mastering a technology and the satisfaction of understanding the theory which explains what we see or detect. And don’t forget the “energy” required to make it happen and the “curiosity” to learn more. If you think of astronomy as a giant smorgasbord, the challenge is to load our plate with nourishing ingredients while trying to minimize overindulgence.
During my term as Victoria Centre President I witnessed the diversity in the appetites displayed by RASCals as they have loaded up their plates at this smorgasbord. I have been inspired by the discipline of many who systematically work on observing lists, the dedication of some to improve their astrophotography skills and the time and energy that others devote to education and outreach. I am also very appreciative of the community of professional astronomers for sharing their knowledge and research with the Victoria Centre. It has been a joy to get to know our amazing group of RASCals better and I am thankful to so many for their cooperation and support while I have been at the helm. It has been an honour to serve and I encourage you to attend our Zoom AGM on Monday, February 22nd to select our next President and Victoria Centre Council. Let us hope that we will be able to gather in person by this time next year.
FDAO Virtual Star Party – 7 PM Saturday January 23rd
The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory are inviting you to their virtual star party which begins at 7PM on Saturday, January 23rd.
Pan-STARRS Observer, Thomas Lowe will deliver an interesting presentation entitled:
PAN-STARRS – A MAUI MARVEL
The PANoramic Survey Telescope And Rapid Response System is a world class facility on the summit of Haleakala that has made significant contributions to the field of astronomy. The Pan-STARRS project consists of two 2m-class wide field telescopes each equipped with giga-pixel CCD cameras. The observing strategy is optimized to search the sky for transient objects. PS1 has been collecting science data since 2010 and PS2 was commissioned in the spring of 2018. This talk will highlight some of its scientific achievements.
Click this Zoom Link to join the party. If you get prompted for a password, it’s May061918
Victoria Centre is forming Special Interest Groups
THIS JUST IN! Due, in large part to the initiative of Victoria Centre RASCal David Lee, the Victoria Centre is planning to establish a number of Special Interest Groups. Click this link to learn more.
New Refractor Arrives at Victoria Centre Observatory
The Victoria Centre acquired a beautiful Takahashi TAO 130 S refractor on Monday. This 130 mm F7.7 refractor has a focal length of 1000 mm. The apochromatic triplet objective is made of extra low dispersion FPL52 and FPL53 O’Hara glass which minimizes chromatic aberration. This scope will be attached to the tube of the 12.5 Inch F8.6 OGS Richey Chretien reflector that is installed on the robust Paramount ME mount.
Victoria Centre RASCal and Port Alberni resident Mike Krempotic is the previous owner of this refractor. It is in mint condition and Mike kindly drove down from Port Alberni on Monday morning and delivered it to the VCO. Due to COVID restrictions it may take a while for this scope to be fully commissioned but it will be an exciting addition to the VCO.
While on site, Mike, an enthusiastic owner of Obsession Dobsonian reflectors, inspected our 20 Inch Obsession, made some adjustments and provided a number of valuable suggestions to improve the performance of this scope. We will be installing Argo Navis setting circles to this reflector soon which promises to allow celestial objects to be located quickly and accurately.
BC Yukon Science Virtual Science Fair Looking for Judges
Every year, science fairs offer thousands of students in BC and Yukon the opportunity to develop original scientific research, innovative projects and 21st century learning skills. Students who develop science fair projects enjoy project-based learning that extends science beyond the classroom and encourages curiosity about topics of personal interest. The finalists of our provincial/territorial science fairs receive awards, scholarships and recognition for their achievements. Finalist status is also a prerequisite for competition at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Judging is the highlight of the science fair experience for many students. Students love the opportunity to exchange ideas with specialists in their field. In return, most judges find talking with science fair participants to be a very positive experience. The energy, enthusiasm and inspiration students bring to their projects is contagious. In the midst of COVID-19, the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair is joining other science fairs across BC and Yukon in a fully virtual science fair. This is to ensure that every student across our province and territory has an opportunity to compete safely in a science fair this year.
As a judge of the 2021 BC/Yukon Virtual Science Fair, we ask that you:
· Register for judging by the deadline of Monday, February 15
Registration information includes contact details and questions about experience, qualifications, preferences (age categories, topics of interest), and availability, and should take approximately 5 minutes to complete.
Judge Me By My Size, Do You? Tales of the littlest galaxies that could – Dr. Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor, a post doc at Herzberg Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, presented some of the latest research on Dwarf Galaxies, as well as his own personal story of how he made a career with astronomy.
History of Hubble Telescope Just Released
Victoria Centre RASCal, Dr. Chris Gainor, has just released his much anticipated book “NOT YET IMAGINED – a study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations”. While not yet available in bound copy it can be downloaded free of charge. In addition to a fascinating history, this is a beautiful volume containing many interesting and stunning images.
Introduction to Amateur Astronomy lecture series begins on January 23rd.
The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society is holding a five part introductory course on amateur astronomy via Zoom. This is the eight time that this course has been held but it is the first time that it has been offered online. The initial lecture will begin at 10AM PST on Saturday January 23rd. Learn more about this free course and register. Society president Richard Bell says people from all over the globe have registered so it may be wise to sign up early if you are interested.
The catastrophic collapse of the Arecibo Radio Telescope seemed to me to be an apt metaphor for 2020. There is probably little appetite for most to review the events of the past year. Before we say good bye to 2020, however, it would be ungrateful not to mention a few astronomical highlights. The surprise visit of Comet Neowise provided a much needed boost during the first phase of Covid. Wildfire smoke dissipated enough for RASCals to savour the opposition of Mars in the Fall. The miracle of Zoom enabled RASCals to remain connected both locally and nationally and the proficiency gained will be a legacy that will change the way we conduct business going forward. But as vaccines arrive on the scene we look forward to a day when we can reduce our distance and party on.
So let’s look toward the future. There are plenty of space missions on the 2021 calendar but two in particular are guaranteed to generate high drama. The NASA Martian Rover Perserverance is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18th 2021. I am not keen on that rover name as it sounds to me like a brand name for a deodorant. Mind you the JPL team may require a good antiperspirant during the “7 minutes of terror” when the spacecraft executes a stunning array of complicated maneuvers. Even if it successfully sticks the landing like its superstar sibling, Curiosity, it is scheduled to perform another high wire act. Stowed on board is a helicopter, named Ingenuity that will attempt to automatically explore the near by surroundings in an atmosphere that is only one percent of that on Earth … equivalent to the density of air at 85000 feet. I will be on the edge of my seat with fingers crossed when they try to pull this off. Around the same time the United Arab Emirates will place an advanced weather satellite, called Hope, in a Martian orbit and the Chinese mission Tianwen-1 will deliver an orbiter, lander and rover to the red planet. It will be an exciting time!
There will also be plenty of suspense surrounding the launch and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope. After more than a decade of delays, it is scheduled to launch on Halloween 2021. The elaborate multifaceted mirror has 6.5 times the collection area of its predecessor, the Hubble. It is designed to operate in the near infrared which will enable it to study distant red-shifted galaxies and the formation of exoplanets in debris disks. It is imperative that it operates in a very cold, stable thermal environment and a delicate multilayered sunshield is required. It was complications with the deployment of this sunshield that caused the latest delays. So even if the launch is successful, the unfolding of the mirror and sunshield will generate high drama. The Canadian Space Agency has made a significant contribution and so we also have a stake in this important mission.
There will be a great opportunity to review the progress of the Perserverance mission at our AGM that will take place via Zoom on Monday February 22nd. In addition to our annual report and elections we will also have a virtual award ceremony … and even more high drama. So there will be plenty of interesting things in the year ahead.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year … and oh yes …
RASCals national email list – members can subscribe
Local observing sites – a Google Map maintained by Jim Cliffe
The next Astro Cafe will be held Jan 11, 2021
Winter Storm And The Great Conjunction
The trailing edge of an active Pacific frontal system will move inland early Monday evening. The Environment Canada Astronomy Cloud Forecast predicts that skies in the Victoria area will clear by 8PM. This will be too late to enjoy the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn which will be best viewed near the western horizon around 5:30 PM PDT on Monday. You might want to have your grab and go scope at the ready just in case the front moves faster than anticipated. Then join us at the Astro Cafe Zoom Meeting at 7:30PM where we can weep or rejoice.