President’s Message – April 2021

Posted by as President's Message

I love the variety of categories in the Amateur Astronomy community. Most of us will be interested in several and passionate in a few. I’m just listing the following from the top of my head and I would appreciate your input.

Randy Enkin using a sextant

We can categorize by equipment: naked eye, binocular, wide-field camera, telescopes, and a few who adventure outside visible light to study radio waves. Telescopes range in aperture, focal length, geometry, optical quality; plus mount style, motors, and automation.

How about by target: the constellations, the sun, the moon, the planets, binary stars, and the deep space objects – nebulas, clusters, and galaxies. There are also the ephemera: meteors, auroras, and the occasional comets. There are also the more predictable events such as eclipses, conjunctions, and occultations.

Some people simply observe, while others record notes, sketch, or photograph. Astrophotography has quite a range, from single shot, to stacking, to long exposures with specific filters.

There are some specific studies, such as variable star photometry, spectrography, or plotting annual parallax. My 31-year- long time series of lunar phases and my recent addition of measuring changes in the lunar diameter would fit here.

And then there are the arm-chair categories – too many to be exhaustive: studies in stellar evolution, planetary evolution, exoplanets and exobiology, galactic evolution, astronomy across the entire electromagnetic spectrum and now gravity waves, black holes, and cosmology. Space travel and technology is a huge category on its own. I have a particular interest in the history of astronomy – how we got to understand things so distant and complex with simpler equipment and theory.

I know members of our community interested in every single one of these categories! And it makes me rejoice that we are together at all our different levels and complementary interests and skills.

Look Up,

Randy Enkin Email

Astronomy Cafe – April 19, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

  • Galaxy hunting with just a camera (no telescope) – John McDonald
    • Photo of Leo the Lion Constellation taken with a 50mm lens from Cattle Point
    • 88 minutes of exposure, used a blur filter for some of the exposures
    • Leo Triplet – obvious
    • Leo 1 Group
    • NGC 2903 – barred galaxy
    • Asteroid Vesta – movement between 11th and 13th
    • Hickson Group in neck of Leo – Bill Weir
    • Dwarf galaxy near Regulus
  • Daguerre crater – Randy Enkin
    • Photo of Sun & sunspots – Fizeau & Foucault at Paris Observatory on April 2, 1845 
    • Dial-A-Moon – NASA – annotated lunar photo
    • Mike Nash’s photo captured Daguerre crater on the 16th
  • Favourable weather for observing – Reg Dunkley
    • University of Washington
      • IR loop
      • GOES satellite images – every 5 minutes
      • North Pole view of the 500 millibar layer – mid-point of atmosphere – shows an Omega block (giving us very stable air)
      • By this Saturday, we are getting a Cold Low, causing unstable air and cloud cover
  • Edmonton RASC members’ photos – Dave Robinson
    • NGC 2403 galaxy in Camelopardalis – Arnold Rivera
    • Aurora and old shed – Warren Findlay
    • M51 Whirlpool Galaxy and galaxy cluster, quasar (mag 20) – Abdur Anwar
  • Nu Virginis occulted by the Moon on Friday – David Lee
    • Given poor weather forecast, we are unlikely to be able to observe
    • IOTA site has occultation predictions
    • Grazing occultations are quite interesting, showing the lunar mountains, but this isn’t a grazing event
    • QHYCCD GPS Sync Timer module – can be used with existing cameras using a NTP time server (GPS)
  • Discussion about imaging – David Lee, Brock Johnston
  • Amateur Astronomer certificate received by Marjie from Kalamazoo
  • Moon At Noon – RASC program – Lauri Roche & Chris Purse
    • Lauri sketched the Moon using her 8″ SCT

Astronomy Cafe – April 12, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting video transcript

  • Galactic-scale Gas Wave in the Solar Neighbourhood – The Radcliffe Wave – João Alves et al – presented by Dorothy Paul
    • Studied molecular clouds from Gaia data
    • Calculated exact distances to star clouds and their 3D shapes
    • Redefined our Local Arm of the Milky Way
    • Radcliffe College > Harvard College/university (history)
      • Cecelia Payne – 
        • She moved from Cambridge to Radcliffe to Harvard
        • Shapely published her Stellar Atmospheres – hydrogen is the major component of the Universe
        • 1957 first female full professor at Harvard
        • What Stars Are Made Of – her life – by Donovan Moore
    • João Alves, the lead behind the Gaia study revealed “At Radcliffe, an exhibit of a quilt of stars by Anna Von Mertins honouring Henrietta Leavitt…” opened his eyes to wider consideration of the data.
    • What is the origin of the Radcliffe Wave?
    • How stable is it and are there similar structures in other spiral galaxies?
    • A Galactic-scale gas wave in the Solar Neighbourhood – João Alves et al – PDF
  • Photos from Edmonton RASC – Dave Robinson
    • Lunar Transit of the ISS on March 27th – compiled from video by Arnold Rivera
    • Leo Triplet – Abdur Anwar – reprocessed to show colour
    • T-Rex shape in the Moon  – Abdur Anwar
    • Veil Nebula stereo image from Hubble – by Murray Paulson – https://esahubble.org/images/heic1520d/
    • M101 galaxy – Tom Owen
  • Jukka-Pekka Metsavainio’s Milky Way Mosaic – Randy Enkin
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Makers – this Thursday – Jim Cliffe
    • Astrophotography – John McDonald
    • EAA – extra meetings, and some good results – David Lee
    • Beginners – virtual telescope walk (show-and-tell) – David Lee
  • Occultation of star (nu Virginis) by Moon on 23rd 11:10PM local time – David Lee will present more info next week at Astro Cafe
  • Annular Eclipse from Northern Ontario – June 10, 2021 – Brendon Roy, Thunder Bay may broadcast from the centreline if possible

Astronomy Cafe – March 29, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Announcements – Chris Purse
    • No Astro Cafe next week – Easter weekend
    • The Moon At Noon observing program – hosted by RASC National
  • Nathan
    • Combined 6 photos taken at each phase of the Moon
    • “Lines connecting the stars” – really dark skies of the ancients!
    • Water rockets – project for science fair
      • 100 metres maximum height reached
      • project involves balancing the amount of water and air for maximum height
        • 500ml was optimal for his configuration – 1:14 ratio
        • leaking bottles, lost red fins, air pump broke, lost the altimeter
        • Used a launcher with a remote switch and an air pump
  • The dates of Passover and Easter – Randy Enkin
    • Jewish calendar is lunar
    • Passover – 15th day of Nissan, starting on the first new moon of spring
    • Easter – 1st Sunday after Full Moon on or after March 21st (vernal equinox)
    • Saanich First Nation’s calendar
  • Amateur Astronomy Courses – Marjie Welchframe
    • Marjie completed all five courses – now available on youtube (see linked article)
    • My Introduction to Astronomy – paid course starting on April 6th by Richard Bell
    • Kalamazoo Astronomical Society
  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Propellor Nebula – Arnold Rivera
    • Leo Trio – Abdur Anwar
    • Coronal Aurora – Lucas and Abdur
    • Solar Halo – Alister Ling
  • International Astronomy Day  – Lauri Roche
    • Sat, May 15th – webinar from Victoria being planned, featuring:
      • Live solar viewing
      • Astrophotos
      • Planetarium show
      • Live from CU deck
  • Finding Novas – Brock Johnston
    • Captured the current supernova in Cassiopeia
    • Used ASIair Pro to find
    • Used Deep Sky Stacker & Gimp for processing
    • Sky & Telescope article
  • Lunar Occultation – David Lee
  • Black Holes get more interesting – John McDonald
    • Scientific American special publication: Black Holes – the extreme science of the universe’s most mysterious phenomena – available at Bolen Books or online
    • Gravity waves from collisions
    • Black holes may be primordial, so not all black holes may be caused by supernova
  • Moon phase photo series – John McDonald
    • Sketch of Bailly crater on the 26th – Randy
    • Lunar video sequence from last August – Brock

Amateur Astronomy Courses!

Posted by as Reviews

by Marjie Welchframe, 2nd VP, RASC Victoria

Planets orbiting the Sun

Kalamazoo Astronomical Society, Kalamazoo, MI offered a free, five-part Introduction to Amateur Astronomy online course in February and March this year.  The course was a splendid set of lectures presented by host Richard Bell.  With degrees in Physics and Mathematics plus a life-passion for Astronomy, Richard was the perfect individual to share his years of knowledge and experience with the over 900 people from around the world who attended this exciting series!

What did I learn?  Tons!  A history of the universe, what’s up in the night sky, all about binoculars and telescopes, and an overview of astrophotography.  I had had previous exposure to some information in these discourses, while other material was entirely new.  The content of these lectures is dense enough to revisit over and over.

Richard Bell has given course participants permission to share his 5 lectures.  I highly recommend them!

As well, Richard Bell has an upcoming paid course My Introduction to Astronomy which begins on April 6 and extends over a period of 11 wks.  It’s Part 1 of the course I took with much more detail.  There is a syllabus for anyone interested.  One can take the exams, or not! 

Astronomy Cafe – March 22, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

VIdeo transcript of meeting

Brief notes & links

  • GSNST: A Sky Survey to Search for Transients Unsing an Array of Robotic Telescopes – Malhar Kendurkar, President of Prince George Centre – FDAO Star Party at the DAO this Saturday, March 27th 7:00PM
  • Antikythera Mechanism – APOD showed a photo and it is also highlighted in a Nature magazine article – Ken Atkinson
  • MAIN SPEAKER: Allendria Brunjes, Skynews Editor-in-Chief. Allendria has been a journalist for 15 years, living in Ontario, and joined Skynews a year and a half ago.
    • Next May/June issue focuses on public outreach, with help from Janeane and focusing on BC and Hawaii
    • Some of the changes to the back end of the magazine over last 1.5 years include: subscriber management tools, marketing, new printer, branding, website and social media.
    • Financial and editorial changes made last year highlighted by Chris Gainor
    • New art and design – Isabelle Santiago
    • New writers, editors: Chris Vaughan, Blake Nancarrow, Ivan Semaniak, Elizabeth Howell, Alan Dyer, Nicole Mortillaro, and others
    • Biggest challenges and rewards discussed
  • Sky This Week – review by Randy Enkin
  • One Sky, Many Astronomies by Indigenous star lore expert Wilfred Buck – repeat presentation on March 26th online at UVic
  • There is an occultation on April 23rd and if interested in photometry, contact David Lee

President’s Message – March 2021

Posted by as President's Message

The RASC Victoria Centre welcomed me 3 years ago. I was asked to give a talk about my moon observations at the Astrocafe, and then I became a regular. Now you have given me the opportunity and challenge to be this community’s president.

Ten-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Hamilton, Ontario, 1970-07-10. (Photo credit, Eleanor Enkin)
Ten-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Hamilton, Ontario, 1970-07-10. (Photo credit, Eleanor Enkin)

Astronomy has been a big part of my life since I was 8 years old, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. While my friends wanted to become astronauts, my attention was on the people on the ground who were so enthusiastic about the science, and I decided I would become an astronomer. The path one walks in life is seldom a straight line, and mine brought me to earth science. I am a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada, studying the physical properties of rocks and sediments. But I have always dabbled in astronomy.

Fifty-six-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Victoria B.C., 2017-08-21. (Photo credit, Randy Enkin)
Fifty-six-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Victoria B.C., 2017-08-21. (Photo credit, Randy Enkin)

I have learned during the last three years that the amateur astronomy community comprises people with a wide range of interests, skills, and levels, but with a common passion to enjoy and share the sky. I have been involved with many volunteer organizations, and my impression is that the RASC Victoria Centre has an extremely high level of volunteerism and mutual support. During my tenure as president, I hope to help nurture this spirit, and support our ongoing inreach and outreach efforts within the broader Victoria Astronomy community. I look forward to getting to know more of you and learn what aspects of astronomy bring you joy and fulfilment.

It is fun to see the various ways astronomy-buffs sign off their letters. “Clear Skies” is wonderful. My predecessor liked “Usable Skies”. My sign-off comes from a note my sister has posted over her computer to remind her to get away from it as often as possible. I like the many meanings these two words hold for us:

Look Up

Randy Enkin

Astronomy Cafe – March 15, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

Presentations and discussion

  • International Women scientists – Ken Atkinson
    • Oral histories/interviews at the National Science Foundation website – Vera Rubin & Helen Hogg
    • Amalie Emmy Noether – showed mathematically the conservation of energy – Theoretical Minimum
    • Augusta Ada King – ADA computer language, worked with Charles Babbage as the first computer programmer
    • Mary Somerville – first female member of the RAS same time as Caroline Herschel. Wrote translation of La Place’s book The Mechanism of the Heavens into English.
    • Alexander von Humboldt – brilliant lecturer at the university he founded in 1812. Took magnetometer measurements in his worldwide travels. His books are free on Google Books.
    • Ken’s Women In Science presentation with media and links – PDF (837 kb)
  • Stars in Motion – Randy Enkin
    • 2012 Don Petit photo from the ISS – star trails around the axis of the Space Station
  • The Sky This Week – Randy Enkin
    • This Week’s Sky from Skynews
    • March Equinox – the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – equal day and night
    • Lunar X visible on March 20th, but it’s a bit early for Victoria at 6:30PM
    • Vesta asteroid can be observed with binoculars over the next few days – Bill Weir
  • First Steps of Perseverance rover on Mars – Reg Dunkley
    • Proposed route for the mission
    • High resolution photos
  • AAVSO – Reg Dunkley
    • Comparing CCD and CMOS Sensors –  Arne Henden
    • K2 Rotation Rates in Young Clusters – Dr. Luisa Rebull
    • Good starter program for amateurs to get started measuring variable stars
  • Slooh – David Lee
    • Acquiring southern hemisphere images
    • Quests – active learning programs
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Makers SIG is kicking off this week
    • Other SIGs are enjoyable and motivating
  • Antikythera Mechanism – Garry Sedun
    • An ancient Greek hand-powered orrery mechanism
    • Experts finally figured out how it works and have a digital model of it
  • Skynews Managing Editor Allendria Brunjes will present at next week’s at Astro Cafe

Astronomy Cafe – Monday March 8th 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Video transcript of the meeting

Virtual Messier Marathon: Saturday March 13th

Mount Lemmon Sky Centre near Tucson Arizona is hosting a Virtual Messier Marathon starting at 5PM PST on Saturday March 13th. Learn more

Hear all about Cosmic Dust at UVic Observatory Open House Wednesday March 10th

You are invited to a UVic Observatory Open House Zoom Presentation by Dr. Gordon Walker at 7:30 PM PST on Wednesday March 10th. Join the Zoom Session

Astronomy Cafe – March 1st 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Transcript video of the meeting

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!

Alec Lee displays his 2020 Award of Excellence in Astrophotography for his wonderful photo of Comet Neowise complete with a Reflection in Thetis Lake
Chris Gainor, wearing a special Hubble Telescope mask, displays his certificate of Recognition for his contribution to the history of astronomy and space technology by authoring Not Yet Imagined: A Study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations
Chris Purse holds his coveted Newton Ball Award for Distinguished Service to the Victoria Centre RASC

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

Learn more about SLOOH here.