September 17 2018: 21P Comet Giacobini-Zinner

Posted by as Observing Highlights

From an email post to RASC Victoria on September 17 2018: 21P Comet Giacobini-Zinner

It was clear enough last night to get a quick snapshot of the comet from the driveway. I had to get the light stand out with a large sheet of black foamcore to block the streetlight nearby. Light pollution was a challenge but I was able to collect 16 one minute images and do a simple stack in Maxim DL. It’s nicely framed by the open cluster M35 just underneath Auriga, IC443 a supernova remnant in Gemini and NGC2174 a HII emission nebula in Orion. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a better shot from darker skies this week :-)

David Lee

A response from Bill Weir:

That’s really nice David. In the early morning when the comet was within M35 I took the chance and drove to the cricket pitch in Metchosin even though 90% of the sky was cloud. This is my write up of the event.

Well that was fun and reconfirmed to me the value of being prepared. Around 0030hrs PDT I was putting the dogs out and looked up and saw a clear patch of sky heading to the east. I grabbed my eyepiece case, jumped in the car and headed to the cricket pitch as the 6 inch dob had already been in the car for days. It took over an hour for the clearish patches to make their way across the sky but that was OK as it gave me a chance to collimate the scope and check out various deep sky objects along the way. Eventually the left toe of Gemini (their toe) peaked through the clouds and I was able to pick out M35 with the 15X70 binos. No comet was visible so I panned about but couldn’t make out anything. Through the scope at 38X with a 31N it was a beautiful view of M35 and NGC 2158 but no comet was visible in the area. I upped the power to 60X and focused on M35 still nothing until I began to notice a fuzziness within the eastern side of the cluster to the SE(?) of a beautiful curving chain of stars. As I advanced though 120x and then finally to 200X it became apparent this was the comet fully within this beautiful cluster! It was similar to this image except move the comet a bit down and to the left.

http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=148036&PHPSESSID=mkimbs7bfvk4n5pikdrfkqtpk3

In the end it reminded me in a way of the planetary nebula NGC 2438.

Shortly after drinking in the view clouds moved in and the show was over. It wasn’t my best comet observation by far due to low altitude in the sky and being over Victoria to the south east. That was OK though because my feet were freezing as good footwear was the one thing I neglected as I raced out the door. Drove off the field at 0215 PDT and was soon tucked in bed. Many like the phrase “make hay when you can” but I prefer,”you can’t dance at the party if you don’t show up”. This means go out even if the weather doesn’t seem optimal or you won’t see things at all.

Bill in Metchosin

President’s Message – September 2018

Posted by as President's Message, Uncategorized

I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer and had many opportunities to enjoy the night sky.

I am pleased to announce that our very own Dr. Chris Gainor was elected president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada at the General Assembly in Calgary. It has been 40 years since another Victoria Centre member, Dr. Alan Batten, was the national president. Please join me in congratulating Chris on his election.

The Victoria Centre had a great summer of outreach events in 2018. Thank you to all everyone who organized and participated. We had another successful season of summer star parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory; there were a total of 19 well-attended Saturday evenings offered. A group of RASCals were at the Saanich Strawberry Festival with solar viewing in July. For the second year, members had their telescopes at the Fort Rodd Hill Star Gaze in August. There was an event on Pender Island on the same evening. And, there was the annual participation at the Saanich Fair over the Labour Day weekend. Some members also participated in a number of special events such as instruction and observing offered to guides and cadets. It was a busy and rewarding summer!

It was unfortunate that the Fort Rodd and Pender Island events coincided with the worst viewing conditions that I have experienced. In looking at Saturn, it was a fuzzy football-shaped object instead of its normally stunning planet with a fabulous ring. As I recall, that was one of the first evenings when forest fire smoke was in the skies above us. That really had a major impact and I am concerned that an increase in the severity of our forest fire seasons will make smoke a regular part of our summer.

With the arrival of September, we return to our normal schedule of weekly Astro Cafés starting on Monday, September 10 and monthly meetings resuming on Wednesday, September 12. As a reminder, we will be voting on our revised bylaws at the September 12 meeting.

We have another major event in September this year and that is our annual star party. It is taking place at our new venue on the grounds of St. Stephen’s Church in Central Saanich. That takes place September 7 to 9 and I hope many members are able to attend. Please see the website for the schedule.

Save the date for our Annual General Meeting on the evening of Saturday, November 17. Evening festivities include a dinner, speaker, annual awards, and election of council. We will be posting information about the meal options and cost once that is finalized.

We are now accepting nominations for the annual awards. In particular, we are seeking nominations for the Newton-Ball Award. Please see the website for details of the award and how to nominate a member to receive the award.

We will be looking for members to join the council this year. It has been a great experience for me to become part of the council and I encourage everyone, even if you’ve just joined, to consider putting your name forward. Sherry, our past president, will be coordinating the nomination process so please contact her at pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca if you would like more information and to put your name forward.

September Speaker – Planets Under Construction: How to Study a Million-Year Process

Posted by as Meetings

By Dr. Nienke van der Marel

Wednesday September 12th, 2018 at 7:30 PM

Room A104 Bob Wright Centre UVic

Exoplanets are everywhere! In the last 25 years, thousands of exoplanets have been found throughout the Milky Way. But if they are so common, why is it that we still don’t know how they are formed? With the ALMA telescope we can now finally zoom into the birth cradles of planets: dusty disks around young stars. The spectacular images have given us new insights, but also raised many more questions regarding the process of planet formation.

Dr. Nienke van der Marel is an NRC postdoctoral research fellow at the Herzberg institute. She received her PhD in 2015 at Leiden University in the Netherlands, her country of birth. After that, she spent two years at the University of Hawaii as Parrent research fellow, before joining the Herzberg institute in November last year.

RASCals Star Party 2018

Posted by as Events, Special Events

September 7-9, 2018

St. Stephen’s Anglican Church
7921 St Stephens Road – off Mt. Newton Cross Road
Saanichton, BC, Canada

2018 RASCals Star Party poster (719kb PDF)

 

Gates will open at 2pm on Friday. Camp on the field and setup your telescope for two nights of fun!

Cost: Free of charge! Visiting observers who stay overnight: suggested donation of $20/Adult one day or two.

Everyone who is present is entitled to tickets for door prizes, presentations, and access to the observing field.

Prizes for kids and adults, including three telescopes! See below…

Don’t want to camp? No problem if you live in the Greater Victoria area…you can drive home after an evening of fun on the observing field.

Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – no white lights!

 

Observing Field at St. Stephens Church
Observing Field at St. Stephens Church

Schedule of Events

Friday 7th

  • 2:00 pm – Gates open
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including a telescope!
  • 6:30 pm – Astro Cafe – Theme: Star Parties
    • Bill Weir will share experiences from recent Mt Kobau and Merrit Star Parties.
    • Miles and Dorothy Paul will describe highlights from the latest Oregon Star Party
    • Nelson Walker will discuss his planning process for observing sessions
    • Plus Show and Tell Session
  • 8:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Saturday 8th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • Afternoon presentation – TBA
  • 5:00 pm – StarBBQ – burgers!
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including two telescopes!
  • 6:30 pm – Speaker – David Lee will share his experiences, insights and beautiful images acquired on his recent trip to Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona and during his time amongst the iconic Saguaro cacti.
  • 8:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Sunday 9th

  • Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
  • Please, no parking in the church parking lot this morning in consideration of Church members attending their service!
  • 12:15 pm – solar viewing for St. Stephen’s congregation
  • Early departures please!

Facilities

  • Camping on the observing field with your tent, trailer or motorhome – bare camping, no utilities on the field
  • Setup your telescope and other astronomy gear on the observing field
  • Some power on the field for astronomy equipment, but no RV plug-ins please!
  • Washrooms and porta potties
  • Water, self-serve coffee & tea
  • Visitor and drop-in parking

Please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park in the parking lot with your headlights facing away from the observing field. The same parking request applies to visitors dropping in for the evening – leave your vehicle in the parking lot and walk into the observing field.


Star Party t-shirts

A very limited supply of RASCals Star Party t-shirts will be available for sale. Pre-order yours by contacting Joe Carr. Black t-shirts available in Men’s M or L sizes ($16 ea), white t-shirts available in Men’s S & XL ($12 ea), and white Kid’s t-shirts available in S & M ($12 ea).


Prizes

  • Bushnell 4.5″ reflector telescope – Friday night prize – donated by a RASC member
  • Sky-Watcher Virtuoso P114 4.5″ Matsukov telescope & computerized mount – Adult’s Grand Prize – Saturday night – donated by Quarky Science
  • Celestron Astromaster 130AZ 5” reflector telescope – Kid’s Grand Prize – Saturday night – donated by All-Star Telescope

 

 


Location

What to observe

Night sky on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:30PM
Night sky on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:30PM

Mars Opposition 2018

Posted by as Observing Highlights

On Friday July 27th 2018 Mars will make it’s closet approach to Earth in 15 years.

RASC Victoria Centre: David Lee &emdash; The Planets at Cattle Point
Planets visible from Cattle Point – by David Lee

This occurs when Mars, Earth and the Sun are aligned with Mars located on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. Mars will slowly rise on the eastern horizon late that evening … not the best viewing situation. A major dust storm developed on May 31st and has obscured details of the Martian surface. (see image below) Surface details will gradually re-emerge later this Summer as the dust storm subsides.

The viewing characteristics of Mars as seen from the Victoria area are tabulated below for the remaining DAO Saturday Night Summer Star Parties of the season.

Notice that the appearance of Mars (angular diameter) will decrease very slowly after the opposition. One week following opposition the angular diameter will only be 0.5% smaller but Mars will rise earlier and surface features may start to re-emerge.

Evening viewing conditions of Mars therefore will be more favourable and convenient in August.
Consider attending a DAO Saturday Night Star Party this August.
Volunteers of RASC will be there to share the night sky with their telescopes.
Click here to obtain free Star Party tickets. Note: No Star Party on July 28th.

In the Victoria area the best evening views of Mars are obtained with an unobstructed view of the southeast such as: Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park, Clover Point, Island View Beach, and Mount Tolmie. In the late evening Mars will appear fairly low in the southeast as an exceptionally bright red dot. It is hard to miss. Check it out.

Click here to learn more about the Mars 2018 Opposition and observing hints.
Click here to see images of the 2018 Martian Dust Storm.

 

The Surface of Mars Before and After the Martian Dust Storm (from NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter)

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.