Astronomy Cafe – October 19, 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the online meeting.

Lunar Lander – by Kevin Light & Kia Tully – a kayaker in front of the full Moon, taken from Mt. Douglas

Kevin is a friend of Ken Mallory. Presented by Chris Purse

Astrophotography by the Victoria Camera Club members – John McDonald

  • John introduced VCC members who participated in his astrophoto workshop, which was two sessions of 2 hours each
  • Mainly used camera and tripod for sky scape photos
  • How to find objects using planetarium software
  • Work flow for skyscapes, star trails and time lapse (video)
  • Software
  • Slideshow profiling VCC participants’ astronomical photo results

Harvest Moonrise over Edmonton – Luca Vanzella

20200929-1003 Harvest Moon Timescape

Black Holes and the 2020 Nobel Prizes – Randy Enkin

  • Roger Penrose – Black Hole formation and the general theory of relativity
  • Reinhard Genzel, Andrea Ghez – Supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy

TPO 16″ telescope repair status – Reg Dunkley

  • The Technical Committee recommended that the 16″ TPO not be replaced under warranty by OPT. Victoria Centre will instead get a store credit to purchase other astronomical gear.
  • This recommendation was accepted by Victoria Centre Council.
  • Access to the VCO – we can return to Observatory Hill with our Active Observers under limited group rules.

Mars sequential photos – John McDonald

Three views of Mars Opposition

President’s Message October 2020

Posted by as News, President's Message

Have you noticed that the red planet has received the lion’s share of planetary press coverage lately? In July 2020 three Martian space missions were launched: The United Arab Emirates mission will place an advanced weather satellite, called Hope, in a Martian orbit. The Chinese mission Tianwen-1 will deliver an orbiter, lander and rover to the planet. NASA and JPL will land Perseverance and Ingenuity on Mars. Perseverance is similar to the phenomenally successful Curiosity rover and will drill and deposit caches of samples for a possible retrieval mission. Ingenuity is a small helicopter that will take short three minute missions that will scout for interesting objects for Perseverance to examine. All three missions will reach Mars in February 2021, just in time for the Victoria Centre AGM! What a great time to become the Centre President!

Martian enthusiasts will also be excited to learn the Hilary Swank and her brave team of astronauts in the Netflix Martian exploration drama AWAY will likely be renewed for another season. Keen observers of this program may, like me, be puzzled by the intermittent nature of weightlessness in this drama. I wonder if special effects budgets are a factor.

The big event this month, however, is the opposition of Mars which takes place on October 13th. At this time, only 0.41 astronomical units away, the Martian angular diameter reaches 22.4 arc seconds. In anticipation of this event some keen RASCals like John McDonald have been perfecting their planetary photography techniques. You may remember that during the last opposition in the Summer of 2018 a major dust storm prevented us to savour the surface details. Although weather patterns have been favourable of late, smoke from the major wildfires in Northern California have introduced a new element of uncertainty. We should keep in mind that the crescendo of the Martian angular diameter is a gradual event and let’s hope for usable skies and wonderful images.

Right in the middle of this Martian jamboree, however, I was happy to hear that our much neglected sister planet, Venus, crashed the party. On September 14th, a paper announced that “Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus”. In 2017 the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope detected the spectral signature of the molecule phosphine in the Venusian atmosphere. This was followed up by higher resolution data from ALMA in 2019. This created great excitement because phosphine is considered a bio-signature in rocky planets and offers the intriguing possibility of life in the Venusian atmosphere. This may inspire future missions to Venus … which maybe a good thing since those wildfires are ringing alarm bells about global warming. Maybe we should spend more effort studying the planet next door which provides an outstanding illustration of a runaway greenhouse effect. We have much more to learn.

Stay well …
And Useable Skies

Reg Dunkley

Astronomy Cafe – Monday October 5th 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Meeting video transcript

Latest Mars image on September 30th by John McDonald

Mars almost at opposition. Details 2020 09 30 at Ross Place Victoria BC 8″ Edge SCT on AVX mount. ZWO ASI120MM-S camera with filter wheel and TV Powermate barlow to give focal ration f/25. Captured 2000 frames in each of R,G,B and IR filters and stacked best 59% in Astrostakkert, sharpened in Registax, and enhanced in Photoshop.

Latest Mars image from Edmonton RASCal Abdur Anwar

Andur writes: I was using a C11 EDGE at f30 with an ASI1600MM camera. I took 18 videos of 90s through each filter for this sequence and stacked them in Autostakkert. I then applied wavelets in Registax and de-rotated the images in Winjupos. This is the first time that I have actually gotten some detail in the south pole. (Date Uncertain)

Unquiet Slumbers Aurora from Edmonton RASCal Alister Ling

To savour Alister’s wonderful time lapse crank up the volume and click on the link: https://youtu.be/AE7Jr6Dh4bk

Recommendations from Jim Hesser

Jim writes “This McGill public lecture on gravitational waves was dynamic, quite accessible and right up to date.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqmnq65MjKk

Also Jim alerts us of another presentation in the series Golden Webinars in Astrophysics

Makoto Yoshikawa from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) on
“Challenges of the Asteroid Sample-Return Mission Hayabusa2”

on October 9th, at 20:00 CLT (UTC-3h) Click the following to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/6416016640027/WN_gIS63X00S8qWg1no-drEyA

Astronomy Cafe – Monday September 28th 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Transcript video of the meeting

Dr. James di Francesco speaks at UVic Open House this Wednesday

Join this Zoom Meeting at 7:30 PM PDT this Wednesday by following the link below.
https://uvic.zoom.us/j/93596786035?pwd=SytMSzRlZERrdjFTM0V4bytNTWtoZz09

Meeting ID: 935 9678 6035
Password: 566494​

From Baby Planets to Black Holes: Lecture by Dr. Schieven

The Vancouver Island Engineering Society invites you to a lecture by Dr. Gerald Schieven on Friday October 2nd at 11:30 AM. The focus of his talk is ALMA and the New Horizon Telescope. Find details at the following link: https://viengsoc.ca/events/from-baby-planets-to-black-holes-alma-and-the-event-horizon-telescope/

The Quantum Physicist as Causal Detective

A Perimeter Institute Public Lecture on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7 at 4 pm PDT

What do data science and the foundations of quantum theory have to do with one another? A great deal, it turns out.

Causal inference is a branch of data science that focuses on a common problem across many disciplines: disentangling correlation and causation in statistical data. Meanwhile, quantum physicists have pondered this problem as part of a continuing effort to make sense of puzzling quantum phenomena.

In the first talk of Perimeter’s 2020/21 Public Lecture Series, Robert Spekkens and Elie Wolfe will explore what is happening at the intersection of these two fields and how thinking like a quantum physicist leads to new ways of separating cause and effect from correlation patterns in statistical data.

Follow this link to learn more: https://insidetheperimeter.ca/quantum-physicist-causal-detective-live-webcast/

Astronomy Cafe – Monday September 21st 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Video transcript of meeting

  • Overall Winners 2020 – Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition – presented by Barbara Lane
  • Telescope installation at Victoria Centre Observatory – time lapse video and photo gallery – Sep 21, 2020 (for higher quality than the Zoom presentation version)

FDAO Virtual DAO Star Party Saturday September 19th 2020

The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory are hosting a Virtual Star Party on Saturday September 19th at 7:00PM. Robert Conrad and Andrew Krysa from the Vancouver RASC are speaking on Mars.

UVic Observatory Open House program for this Fall begins!

UVic invites you to their Observatory Open House program for this Fall. Zoom sessions will begin next Wednesday, Sept 23 at 7:30pm. They will continue weekly at the same time and day till December. This week the Director of CFHT, Dr. Doug Simons presenting ‘Celebrating 40 years of discovery at CFHT’.

This link to join the Zoom Meeting will work for all of UVic’s Astronomy’s Open Houses going forward.

Meeting ID: 935 9678 6035
Password: 566494

Images from Edmonton RASCals relayed by Dave Robinson

Sharpless 2-171: NGC 7822 and Cederblad 214. By Arnold Rivera on September 14
Arnold writes: These two objects have been on my imaging list for a while for two reasons:
They were the first objects on the Observer’s Handbook Deep-Sky Challenge List I visually observed when I started tackling the list and they are well-placed in our northern skies in the fall. These are ‘large’ (60’X30’) but faint emission nebulae well suited for the type of imaging equipment that I typically use. My image was flipped and rotated to reflect its true orientation in the sky when the image was taken.
Celestron RASA8 & ZWO ASI294 MC Pro (-16 C) Astronomik CLS CCD light pollution filter
50 subs, 11m 45s total integration time (uncropped) Processsed in Deep Sky Stacker and PixInsight
Mars by Abdul Anwar on Sept 14
Abdul Anwar tested out his new C11 on Mars and got impressive results. Abdul writes: After carefully collimating it, I spent a few hours imaging Mars. I took 18 x 2 min videos through each filter (total of 108 minutes of footage) and stacked 84,000 out of 337,000 frames I captured. It took a few evenings to process everything but I am sure it’ll get faster as I learn to optimise the process. The equipment used was as follows:
C11 Edge at f20 (5600mm) EQ6R mount ASI1600MM camera with RGB filters.
Images were captured in 16 bit SER format using Sharpcap. Processing was done in Autostakkert, Registax, Siril, and GIMP.

Astronomy Cafe – September 14th 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Transcript video of meeting – Phil Groff portion

This is a special edition with guest speaker Dr. Phil Groff, the Executive Director of RASC. Phil gave an overview of RASC from a National perspective and took questions from Victoria Centre members.

Edmonton Contributions relayed by Dave Robinson

The Cygnus Wall, a portion of the North American Nebula (NGC 7000) in Cygnus. By Abdur Anwar Sept 6
Using ASI1600MM Pro with ZWO LRGBHa filters RGB: 30 mins each L: 74 mins Scope: 8″ f3.9 reflector
Abdur writes: Capturing the Cygnus wall was one of my goals for this year since Cygnus is almost overhead right now. Really happy with how it turned out. I didn’t take any Ha subs for this target as I prefer the more natural colours of RGB. Due to a lot of Ha emissions, the red would overpower everything else with Ha data.
Above Neptune with Triton: total exposure about 1 hour
both photos by Massimo Tori using a 10″ Newtonian f/4.7 and a Canon XSi.
Below Moons of Uranus: total exposure about 2.5 hours

Great Martian Details by John McDonald

At 2AM on September 11th John McDonald captured amazing surface details on Mars. Using his C-8 SCT with a Barlow he used lucky imaging – 1000 frames in R, B, G and IR(for luminance) with a ZWO ASI120MM camera.

President’s Message September 2020

Posted by as News, President's Message

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.

Useable Skies

Reg Dunkley

Astronomy Cafe – August 31st 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Video transcript of meeting

Sketch of fading Comet Neowise by Bill Weir

Bill writes: Using Stellarium as a guide, with my 15X70 binoculars it was an easy long star hop from Arcturus to the precise area where I should be able to see the comet. Due to the 1/4 Moon being maybe only 25° away and even though I had the Moon blocked by a tree the comet was invisible through binoculars so on to the f/3.3 508 mm Dobsonian scope. Bill’s persistence allowed him to glimpse and sketch comet C/2020 f3 Neowise.

What’s happening at The RASC?

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.

Mars on August 25th Image uncorrected for rotation
Same image as above with “derotation” corrections from WinJupos applied
Abdur’s derotated image of Mars taken on August 28th using Celestron C8 with 2X barlow and an ASI600MM camera with zwo RGB filters and a CG5 mount using 1/60s exposure time and a gain of 175. Images were stacked in Autostakkert, wavelets applied in Registax, and derotated in Winjupos.

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.

Observing

Astronomy Cafe – August 24, 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

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

30.5 minutes (61x30s) of exposures captured from Metchosin. Each frame was captured at f 1.4 using a Sigma 105mm lens, and a Canon Ra at iso 640 off of an unguided iOptron Skyguider Pro – Messier 8 & 20 RGB – Dan Posey

Moon shadows on Jupiter – John McDonald

Three of 20 images of the shadows cast by Io and Ganymede on Jupiter during a double shadow event, one near the start, one in the middle and one at the end. Io can just be made out on the upper two images as a white spot between Ganymede’s shadow and Jupiter’s red spot. In the lower image Io has just left the planet’s disk and shows up clearly. Details Date 08-04-2020. 8″ Edge SCT on AVX mount. ZWO ASI120MM-S camera with filter wheel and TV Powermate barlow to give focal ration f/25. Captured 1000 frames in each of R,G and B filters for each color. The best 30% for each filter were stacked in Astrostakkert. Sharpened in Registax. Winjupos was used to derotate the R,G and B frames before combining to make RGB color images. Post processing in ACR and Photoshop. Time lapse movie

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
IC 5070 Pelican Nebula – Doug MacDonald

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!

What happens when the largest objects in the Universe go face-to-face? Be sure to join UVic Phd Candidate Mallory Throp for this fascinating Zoom presentation that begins at 7:30PM on Wednesday August 26th. The zoom guest link (with password embedded) is: https://zoom.us/j/97173236268?pwd=V2hhYTAwVVY5cXl5eEFoOUxSYmZGdz09

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

Instead of being a spectator you can be a participant! Click on the link to find how you can get your hands of the raw data for this fascinating galaxy. https://skynews.ca/introducing-the-rasc-robotic-telescope-editing-contest/

Imagine: 8 Hours of LRGB data and 7.5 Hours of Hydrogen Alpha! Check it out and remember the contest is Only in Canada … Pity!

Global Hands On Astronomy Conference 2020

Local Astronomical Education evangelist Sid Sidhu is enjoying this online conference that is currently under way. Click the link to learn more about the conference program: https://handsonuniverse.org/ghou2020/programme/

Youtube videos of many of the presentations will be made available here: https://www.youtube.com/user/GTTPGHOU

Edmonton RASCals Focus on the Deep Sky: relayed by Dave Robinson

Elephant Trunk Nebula by Arnold Rivera. He had to do some colour correction due to filters used:
The star on the lower right is Herschel’s Garnet Star (Mu Cephei). It is a red supergiant – one of the largest stars known (it’s diameter is estimated to be larger than Saturn’s orbit). Equipment and details: Celestron RASA 8”Camera: ZWO ASI294 MC Pro (cooled to -16 C) 30s subs, 50 frames, 450 gain
Arnold Rivera August 22 Lobster Claw Nebula
The large nebula in the centre is Sharpless 2-157 (The Lobster Claw Nebula), is described as a “ring nebula surrounding a Wolf-Rayet star (WR157, SAO 20512, mag 9.58)”. To the right edge of this image is NGC 7635 (The Bubble Nebula). Towards the bottom of the image is the small but relatively bright nebula NGC 7538 (in Cepheus), “home to the largest yet discovered protostar (~ 300 times the size of the Solar System)”.
In addition, there is a tight grouping of bright stars located just below Sh2-157 – open cluster NGC 7510.
Equipment and details: Celestron RASA8, ZWO ASI 294MC Pro ( -16C) 30sec subs, 50 subs.
On August 23rd Arnold Rivera imaged the very faint and very large nebula Sharpless 2-129
(The Flying Bat Nebula)
Larry Wood from Caroline AB Aug 20. Above Bubble Nebula & M52 and Below M13
Alister Ling August 22
Channeling some E.E. Barnard last night at the microwave tower on the hill above the north shore of Pigeon Lake…. 70mm on full frame, and it is NOT Sagittarius or Scutum.

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)

Observing

Astronomy Cafe – August 17, 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

Robotic Telescope Editing Contest

Want to put your image editing skills to the test? Now you can, with the RASC Robotic Telescope image editing contest.

In collaboration with SkyNews, each month the RASC Robotic Telescope team will release the data for an image for the public to edit. Judges from the team will pick a winner out of those submitted. Click here to learn more: https://skynews.ca/introducing-the-rasc-robotic-telescope-editing-contest/

Deep Sky Images from an Edmonton RASCal

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

Cacoon Nebula (IC 5146)
The Bubble Nebula NGC 7635 …Caldwell 11

Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex by Dan Posey

Bill Weir encouraged Dan Posey to visit the Pearson Site. The result was at stunning photo at this link: https://rascvic.zenfolio.com/posey/head1949f#hebe220b7 This file is large but the click is worth it! Check it out.

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.”

A Lunar Album from Mike Nash

Victoria RASCal Mike Nash captured images of the Moon 9 nights in a row. Watch the features change as the terminator crawls across the surface. Check it out in mouth watering detail at the following link: https://www.westcoastcaptures.com/Lunar-and-Planetary-Imaging/Aug-7-Aug-16-9-days-of-Luna/n-8j7f2Z/

Dr Doug Johnstone Presents at UVic Open House this Wednesday

You are invited to the UVic Open House which starts at 7:30PM on Wednesday August 19th. The zoom guest link (with password embedded) is:
https://zoom.us/j/97173236268?pwd=V2hhYTAwVVY5cXl5eEFoOUxSYmZGdz09

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.