I don’t know about you but I am not ready to change the calendar to September just yet. The uncertainty introduced by the pandemic and the political drama unfolding south of the border distracted me from making the most of the Summer. The restrictions of Covid 19 produced a Star Party deficit and deprived the Victoria Centre of the social interaction enjoyed when sharing the night skies with others. But the constellations march on and they are indifferent to our plight. So enough snivelling and it is time to count our blessings.
On the Covid front, whether it was our favourable geography, good governance or good fortune, so far Vancouver Island has experienced relatively few cases when compared to other areas. On the weather front, relatively cool conditions have reduced wild fire smoke and presented favourable observing and imaging opportunities. On the technological front, Zoom and our tireless hosts, Chris Purse, Barbara and Kurt Lane and John McDonald have kept the doors to Astro Cafe open during the summer months. This allowed us to remain connected and share our techniques, images, sketches and enthusiasm. These sessions were all captured on video by the kindness of Joe Carr and posted on the Astronomy Cafe web page. One antidote to the pandemic was the visit by the beautiful comet C/2020 f3 Neowise. Editor Bruce Lane went the extra mile and prepared bonus issue #420 of the Victoria Centre newsletter, SkyNews, that showcased images and sketches of comet Neowise and conveyed the joy it generated. Bruce also provided a colourful history of comets of yesteryear and their relationship leaders of the day.
The National RASC response to Covid was remarkable. There were so many web offerings that they have developed a very useful weekly email entitled “What’s happening at The RASC?” which alerts you to regional and national presentations. If you are not already receiving this email then I encourage you to subscribe here. In particular they had developed a series of Zoom webinars related to the Explore the Universe program. These and other presentations have been captured and are available on the RASCanada YouTube channel for viewing at your convenience.
As we head into September, the number of Covid cases are on the rise and the rooms at UVic will remain closed. Instead of having a special monthly meeting on Zoom, we plan instead to have one Astro Cafe session each month with an invited speaker. The first presenter, Dr. Phil Groff, executive director of RASC, will attend our Astro Cafe Zoom meeting on Monday September 14th at 7:30 PM. It is a great opportunity meet Phil and share your thoughts with him.
As the nights continue to lengthen I do hope that you will find time to step out, look up and marvel.
Not all members of the Victoria Centre have been receiving this valuable email which provides information on weekly RASC online offerings such as the Explore the Universe and some regional Zoom presentations. To subscribe to this interesting message click here.
Impressive Images of Mars from Edmonton RASCal Abdur Anwar
Abdur Anwar dusted off his old Celestron 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope and put it to good use using a lucky imaging technique to capture some amazing images of Mars. On August 25th Abdur experimented with the program WinJupos which can remove the blurring effect caused by rotation. Check out the before and after images below.
Speaking of Mars check out this 4K video
The video in this link displays a collection of high resolution images taken on a number of Martian space missions. It is 12 minutes well spent.
Hawaiian Nights: A Personal Journey from Vancouver Island to Maunakea, with Cam Wipper
Don’t miss this interesting Zoom presentation at 4:00 PM PDT on Friday August 28th. Growing up in Nanaimo, Cam never imagined he would spend nearly a decade living in Hawai’i and working on Maunakea, the best place on Earth for astronomical observations.
In his talk, Cam will tell the story of how he found himself on Maunakea, from his days as a student at Vancouver Island University, to his first night up on the summit of Maunakea, nearly 14.000 feet (4200m) above sea level. This will include a brief history of astronomy in Hawaii, as well as an exploration of how a modern astronomical observatory conducts scientific observations. All will be told from the perspective of a telescope operator and scientific observer; a position Cam has held at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope since 2015. Click here to register.
Lagoon & Trifid Nebulae – Dan Posey
Moon shadows on Jupiter – John McDonald
A Poetic Pelican by Doug MacDonald
A wonderful bird is the Pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can. He can hold in his beak enough food for a week! I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican.
Dixon Lanier Merritt
Shot this Aug. 9 – 13 with Bortle 6 skies. This bird lives in Cygnus, not too far from Deneb. I processed it in the SHO palette; it represents just over 8 hours of narrowband exposure with a 5″ refractor at f/5.5.
Final UVic Open House of the Summer is a Block Buster!
Cosmic Collisions Abstract: What happens when galaxies collide? Right now, the Andromeda Galaxy is hurtling towards us, on a direct collision course with our galaxy. Surely the Milky Way will not escaped unscathed? For almost a century astronomers have been trying to figure out what happens when galaxies clash, and from that investigation a harrowing tale of starvation, cannibalism, and complicated acronyms has arisen. With today’s massive telescopes and high-tech simulations, we can hope to understand what happens when the largest objects in the Universe go face-to-face. And perhaps we can predict how our galaxy will be changed for the better (or the worse)
Robotic Telescope Editing Contest for August: M82 the Cigar Galaxy
Edmonton RASCals Focus on the Deep Sky: relayed by Dave Robinson
Press Briefing on Starlink and other mega-constellations
At 11AM on Tuesday August 25th the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and NSF’s NOIRLab will have a press briefing on the SATCON1 LEOsat mega-constellations workshop report. SATCON1 gathered astronomers, satellite operators, dark-sky advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders to discuss, understand, and quantify the impacts of large satellite constellations on ground-based optical and infrared astronomical observations as well as on the human experience of the night sky. The briefing will be live-streamed on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/AASPressOffice)
Edmonton RASCal Abdur Anwar Captured the Cacoon and Bubble on August 9th
Abdur writes: Finally had a clear night last week and I spent most of my imaging time on the Cacoon Nebula (IC 5146) and the Bubble nebula. I got about 2 hours of data on the Cacoon and about 1.5 hours on the Bubble nebula using an ASI1600mm and an 8″ reflector. Really happy with how they turned out 🙂
Equipment and capture details for each target in order: ASI1600MM Pro ZWO LRGBHa filters Ha: 12 mins (Cacoon) / 27 mins (Bubble nebula) RGB: 20 mins each / 10 mins each L: 60mins / 30 mins Scope: 8″ f3.9 reflector Mount: EQ6R Pro
Dan writes: “Thanks to Bill kindly hosting last night, as the conditions at Pearson provided that opportunity I have been waiting for. The result isn’t perfect but that just means I’ll need to revisit in the future; I know where I need to be to take a longer stab at this target next year. This is 48.5 minutes (97x30s) using my Sigma 105 at f1.4 and my Canon Ra at iso 640.”
Title: Peering Into the Darkness with the JCMT: Witnessing the Birth of Stars
The birth of stars remains shrouded in mystery. Stars form inside thick puddles of gas and dust located primarily along the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Astronomers use infrared and radio telescopes to peer into and through these murky puddles to witness the birth of stars. For over 25 years the JCMT has been leading investigations to uncover the formation of stars in the Galaxy. In collaboration with the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory, and the ALMA Observatory in Chile, the JCMT has transformed our understanding of stellar birth. Join me on an adventure to uncover nearby stellar nurseries.
David Lee captured the conjunction of the Moon and Mars on August 8th together with a wonderful foreground shot taken from Rithet Bog.
Some Great Planetary Detail
Lucky Imaging of Planets and the Moon
If you want to learn how to capture wonderful images like the above perhaps you should attend the following webinar!
Tuesday, August 11th – 7:00pm ADT / 6:00pm EDT / 3:00PM PDT Nova East 2020 – Lucky Imaging: Astrophotography of the Moon and Planets Lucky imaging is a technique used to capture high resolution images of the Moon and planets. It involves taking as many images as possible, often several thousand, with a high-speed “video” camera and using specialized software to identify and stack only the sharpest images. The talk, presented by David Hoskin, will cover the equipment, software and processing workflow used in lucky imaging.
Edmonton RASCal Mark Zalik – captured this remarkable sequence on August 4th which closely resembles hummingbirds. All Edmonton content kindly relayed by Dave Robinson. Mark writes: Wonderful NLC display tonight! Nice arrays of billows formed way down near the horizon, where the twilight imparted a beautiful cinnamon colour on the NLC. A bit earlier in the display, the clouds formed an ethereal hummingbird.
1680 – C/1680 V1, also called the Great Comet of 1680, Kirch’s Comet, and Newton’s Comet, has the distinction of being the first comet discovered by telescope
1682 – Halley’s Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is the best-known of the short-period comets and is visible from Earth every 75–76 years.
1744 – The Great Comet of 1744, whose official designation is C/1743 X1, and which is also known as Comet de Chéseaux or Comet Klinkenberg-Chéseaux, was a spectacular comet that was observed during 1743 and 1744
1811 – The Great Comet of 1811, formally designated C/1811 F1, is a comet that was visible to the naked eye for around 260 days, a record it held until the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. In October 1811, at its brightest, it displayed an apparent magnitude of 0, with an easily visible coma.
1835 – Halley’s Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is the best-known of the short-period comets and is visible from Earth every 75–76 years. Last apparition was in 1986, and the next apparition is in 2061.
1843 – The Great Comet of 1843 formally designated C/1843 D1 and 1843 I, was a long-period comet which became very bright in March 1843 (it is also known as the Great March Comet)
The First FDAO Virtual Star Party: 7PM August 1st
You are invited to the inaugural Virtual Star Party hosted by Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. David Balam, Plaskett telescope operator and Near Earth Object specialist will deliver a presentation on comets. For more information and hyperlinks to the Zoom meeting please click on the following:
Canadian Comet Sleuth David Levy: Webinar 4PM Thursday July 30th
The Canadian Comet SleuthDavid Levy, author and comet hunter Comet NEOWISE has been the sensation of our July skies, the first naked-eye comet for the Northern Hemisphere in ages. David Levy knows all about comets that snag the spotlight. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which broke apart in July 1992 and collided with Jupiter in July 1994, garnered the “Canadian comet sleuth” media attention around the world, including the headline on the very first cover of SkyNews 25 years ago. Join The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Jenna Hinds and SkyNews’ Allendria Brunjes as they sit down with Levy in the next Speaker Series, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 30. Levy has discovered 22 comets, given innumerable lectures and written countless articles and more than 30 books — including an autobiography, A Nightwatchman’s Journey. There’s an asteroid named in his honour, and his awards include the Chant Medal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click this link to register for this Webinar
Dr Gordon Walker speaks at the Wednesday UVic Open House
Bigger, better, faster: how changes in technology drive astronomy data collection by Nat Comeau
Abstract: There are roughly five variables of interest in observational astronomy: where the object was (sky position), what it looked like (spatial resolution), when it was seen (observation time), how bright it was (brightness), and what colour of light it was (spectral resolution). In this talk I’ll give an overview of how enhancements in technology have driven how precisely we can measure these five variables, and how increasing this precision unlocks wonders that were previously invisible to us. From the first naked eye measurements of the planets, to automated networks of telescopes working hand in hand with gravitational wave observatories, I will describe how far we’ve come in astronomy data collection and how much more there is to do.