Astronomy Day 2021

Posted by as Special Events

A celebration of International Astronomy Day in Victoria, BC, Canada was held on May 15, 2021 as a virtual online event, sponsored by the Friends of the DAO and RASC Victoria Centre. Hundreds of people attended this live-streamed 4-hour event through both Zoom and Youtube.

The program lineup

  • Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) Virtual Tour
  • Live Solar Viewing from the DAO with David Lee, Sid Sidhu & Chris Purse
  • Guest Presentation – “Fossils in our Galaxy” by Dr. Kim Venn, a specialist in observational stellar spectroscopy, and the chemo-dynamical analysis of stars in the Galaxy and its nearby dwarf satellites. Stars contain a fossil record of the chemistry of the Universe at the time and place where they were born. Stars formed early in the universe contain very low amounts of elements heavier than Helium, and astronomers call these stars ‘metal-poor’. They are the fossils of ancient star formation in the galaxy. By studying the most metal-poor of these stars, we can read that fossil record to learn about the origin of the elements and formation of the Galaxy. In this talk, Dr. Venn will discuss the recent results on the metal-poor galaxy, including newly discovered streams in the halo, very metal-poor stars found in the Galactic Centre, and metal-poor stars in the Galactic disk that orbit in the opposite direction.
  • University of Victoria Telescope Tour with Karun Thanjavur
  • Ask an Astronomer (or two) with Jason Beaman and Nathan Hellner-Mestelman, hosted by Amy Archer
  • Astrophotography Gallery with Marjie Welchframe, David Lee and friends featuring music from Vox Humana, Jeff Enns (composer)
  • Planetaruim Show from the CU – Draco & Hercules – Aaron Bannister & the constellation blanket
  • Live Streamed from the Plaskett Telescope, the Centre of the Universe (CU) and other locations featuring David Lee, Dan Posey, Dave Payne, and Brock Johnston – the RASC Electronic Assisted Astronomy Group and hosted by Ruhee Janmohamed
Thanks to everyone who made this event a success!
Thanks to everyone who made this event a success!

Astronomy Cafe – May 10, 2021

Posted by as Uncategorized

Video transcript of meeting

  • Pocket sundial demo – Randy Enkin
    • Apply equation of time, time zone, longitude, latitude, north
    • Kala family makes this precision analemma design in Vienna
  • RASC Creation Station – May 15 – June 13 – Lauri Roche
    • A place to put stories, drawings, comics or poems about Astronomy and Space
    • Local Centres can help
    • Hope to highlight student’s work at the upcoming GA
  • Astronomy Day – May 15th – Lauri Roche
    • Virtual Star Party starts at 8PM with live-streamed events
    • Registration required – free
    • Plaskett history
    • Fossil Stars in the Galaxy – presentation by Dr. Kim Venn
    • Astrophotography display with VOX Humana audio
    • Ask An Astronomer 
    • Tours of the UVic & Plaskett telescopes
    • Ends by 11PM
  • Science Odyssey – Virtual tour of Plaskett – May 13 7PM – Lauri Roche
  • NightScaper Conference virtual conference – May 10-12 – David Lee
    • Air glow caused by the Sun during the day, is visible at night until it fades
    • Fixed tripods, tracking mounts, panoramas
    • Planning tools & software
    • US National Parks – permits and other restrictions
    • Female astrophotographers
    • Science of colours in the night sky – an analysis
  • Spectroscopy – David Lee
    • RSpec software
    • David is taking the course and reviewed his previous attempts at capturing spectra
    • Citizen science is a possibility – new SIG? Contact David.
  • General Assembly 2021 – June 25-28  – Chris Gainor
    • Speakers: Emily Calandrelli, Dr. Katie Mack, Kate Russo, Aaron Prasad
    • Panel discussion on Mars
    • AGM business meeting, elections
    • Nominal registration charge – $15
  • RASC National – Chris Gainor & Chris Purse
    • National staff are supporting members to access the new website
    • Members need to reset their passwords
    • New website supports many more features like: store, discussion groups and forums
  • Edmonton photos – Dave Robinson
    • Comet Atlas C2020 R4 – Arnold Rivera & Alister Ling
  • Helen Sawyer Hogg Lecture by Prof.  Andrea Ghez – tomorrow afternoon
  • No Astro Cafe on Victoria Day, May 24th
  • May 31st Astro Cafe – Lisa & Cameron will show their moving of Bill Almond’s observatory to their home

Astronomy Cafe – May 3, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of meeting

  • New RASC national membership site is now live – reset your password! – Chris Purse
  • Explore The Universe certificate – presented by Randy Enkin to Chris Purse
    • Chris reviews all the national observing programs, and how he completed the ETU
    • Double Stars program is now live, and can be done even from light-polluted locations – Blair Stunder
    • There is no time limit on completing any of the certificates
    • Goto mounts and setting circles can be used in addition to finding objects using traditional star-hopping
  • International Astronomy Day – May 15th 7PM-11PM – online event by FDAO
    • Registration required – free
    • Plaskett history
    • Fossils in Our Galaxy – presentation by Kim Venn
    • Astrophotography display with VOX Humana audio
    • Ask An Astronomer 
    • Planetarium show
    • Tour of the UVic telescope
    • EAA group to show
    • Live streaming from the Plaskett – weather dependant
  • Coronado 90mm solar telescope acquired by the FDAO to use for public outreach
  • Edmonton RASC photos – Dave Robinson
    • Solar prominences in Ha – Abdur Anwar
    • Moonset on April 24th over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • Solar Ha 80mm Lunt – Arnold Rivera
    • Moonset at Sunrise over Edmonton – time lapse movie by Alister Ling
  • Possible Undiscovered Planets in our Solar System – Astronomy XKCD comic – Randy Enkin
    • Based on recent Planet 9 WISE research
    • Logarithmic distance scale
    • Amended comic with more facts and embellishments
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Getting Started in Astronomy – Tue evening
    • EAA & UVic students – Wed evening rehearsal for upcoming Astronomy Day
    • EAA – Thu evening
    • Makers – info sent by Jim Cliffe to email list
  • End of a series of low tides – tied to the Moon – Dave Robinson
    • High Spring tides are following later this month
    • Total Lunar Eclipse coincides with this month’s Full Moon
  • Variable Star observing – David Lee
    • Target yet to be picked, but probably a rapid period variable first
    • Can use imagers or visual observing
    • Basic methodology: measuring a comparison star against the target variable star brightness

Astronomy Cafe – April 26, 2020

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

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