Timo Markkanen, 1951-2015

Posted by as In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Timo Markkanen

It is with sadness that we announce the sudden passing of RASC Victoria member Timo Markkanen on Dec 29th 2015. Timo was frequently found perched on a special stool at Astro Cafe. He made many interesting contributions to the discussion and he was looking forward to mastering the use of his recently acquired telescope. The stool at the Cafe, now vacant, will remind us of Timo. He will be missed by his many friends in the Astronomy Community.

John McDonald, Chris Purse, Reg Dunkley and Joe Carr attended Timo’s Celebration of Life, held on Jan 16, 2016.

 

RASC Victoria Centre: John McDonald &emdash; April 12 2014 at the VCO
Timo operating a telescope with John McDonald at Victoria Centre’s Observatory, April 12, 2014
RASC Victoria Centre: John McDonald &emdash; April 12 2014 at the VCO
Timo enjoying the night sky at Victoria Centre’s Observatory, April 12 2014
RASC Victoria Centre: RASCals Star Party 2014 &emdash; Charles' workshop on how to photograph satellites
Timo attends Charles’ workshop on how to photograph satellites at the 2014 RASCals Star Party

Times-Colonist Obituary

Timo H. Markkanen (April 09, 1951 – December 29, 2015)

Timo Henrik, (Kylmaniemi) born 1951-04-09 in Helsinki Finland.

Timo passed away Dec. 29th, 2015 at RJH with friends at his side. Survived by half bother Teuvo Kylmaniemi and half sister Vappu Koivuniemi in Finland. Timo had many friends in Victoria and abroad. He was an avid sportsman with natural athletic ability and excelled, in his early years, at many sports including tennis, golf and darts. His early working career in the hospitality industry allowed him to take many trips abroad where he developed many lifelong friendships. His later working career was with the provincial public service.

Timo had many life interests. He was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada -Victoria, Member of HTML Writers Guild, he loved books and was a punster extraordinaire creating many laughs and even more groans to the joy of those who knew him. For thirty years Timo suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis. As was his nature he met the challenges this presented in a positive manner and became a founding member and Web administrator for www.kickas.org a source of support and information for those suffering from this chronic arthritic condition. His friends admired his resilience and courage in this battle.

As per Timo’s wishes a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday Jan. 16th at Smugglers’ Cove Pub, 2581 Penrhyn St. from 1:00Pm to 4:00PM. Timo would be honoured by donations in his memory to www.kickas.org.

Published in The Times Colonist on Jan. 5, 2016

Monthly Meeting Speaker: Azadeh Fattahi, PhD Astronomy at UVic

Posted by as Meetings

January 13, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

Azadeh Fattahi
Azadeh Fattahi

“What dwarfs teach us about the galaxy formation” – Azadeh Fattahi, PhD Department of Physics and Astronomy at UVic

The standard model of cosmology has been very successful in explaining the galaxy formation and structures in large scales, but observations on smaller scales raised potential questions about the validity of the model.

Bio: Azadeh was born and raised in Iran. She studied Physics for her BSc in Tehran-Iran at the Sharif University of Technology. In 2011 she moved to UVic for her MSc in Astronomy, transferring into a PhD program in 2013.

President’s Message January 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Happy New Year!
I hope 2016 will be very kind to you all, bringing health, happiness, and clear skies! We have plenty of great events in the planning stage right now; these include:
-Hobby Show: February 6, 7, and 8. This is one of the big events for the Victoria Centre; we get lots of exposure and interest (in both astronomy in general, and RASC in particular), and we also get to sell lots of Sid’s raffle tickets, which brings in significant revenue for us.Bruce Lane is coordinating this event at Westshore Town Centre Mall, so please consider volunteering some time when he calls you.
-International Astronomy Day: May 14. A worldwide event in which we participate each year, and one which is very popular with our visitors. Nelson Walker is coordinating IAD this year, likely at the Royal BC Museum during the day, and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory the same evening. We would appreciate your help with either daytime, or evening segments (or both!).
-RASCals Star Party in Metchosin. August 26, 27, 28. I’ve just confirmed the star party field is available to us for our annual star party on this weekend, so mark it on your calendar. The slim, waning crescent moon will not be a huge issue this year, rising around 1:30am and not bright enough to hamper observing and astrophotography. Guest speakers and prizes yet to be determined, but the Star Party is always fun!
Don’t forget our other activities. Visit our website www.victoria.rasc.ca and hover your mouse over the “Events” tab for a list. One event not listed is our increasingly-popular observing sessions on the UVic 32” telescope, held on the second Friday of each month.
Have you seen Comet Calalina (C/2013-US10) yet? If not, a great finder chart can be found here:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/wp-content/uploads/Web_Dec15_Catalina.pdf
I’m trying to get some time on the UVic telescope for us to have a good look before it’s gone for ever.
Here’s another once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us: the August 21st 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Over multiple meetings recently, Council has been discussing whether there is sufficient interest in trying to organize a 2017 eclipse viewing opportunity for Centre members. Joe Carr presents informative background on accessing the eclipse, which is relatively easy for those of us living in the Pacific NW to do on our own.   At our January 13 general meeting, we will take a poll to ascertain interest in a coordinated Victoria Centre effort.  If you would be interested and unable to attend, please contact me directly.  Ultimately, such an effort will depend upon  someone volunteering to lead the effort.
Lots of fun in store for 2016 and beyond!

Clear skies,
Sherry.

Total Solar Eclipse – August 21, 2017

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2012 Total Solar Eclipse aboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship, on the totality track south of New Caledonia Nov 14, 2012 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea
2012 Total Solar Eclipse

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event, and it is even rarer for one to occur close to where you live. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest of North America will be favoured with such an event happening near us on August 21, 2017. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

Location

The eclipse tracks across Oregon and Idaho, making it easy to get to the eclipse totality track from Victoria, British Columbia with one day’s drive. The major cities of Portland and Eugene in Oregon are obvious targets for those of us who are eclipse chasers. I-5, an Interstate highway, crosses the eclipse centreline at the city of Salem, Oregon as the eclipse tracks eastward across the U.S.A. So you might decide to stay in Portland or Eugene, but you will have to drive to the centreline, otherwise you will miss the eclipse!

NASA’s Eclipse website gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho
Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho

At the intersection of I-5 and the eclipse path near Salem, Oregon, these are the characteristics of the eclipse:

Lat.: 44.803° N
Long.: 123.0318° W

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 0 seconds

  • Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 09:05:18AM  Altitude=27.8° Azimuth=101.2°
  • Start of total eclipse (C2) : 10:17:13.0AM  Altitude=39.8°  Azimuth=116.8°
  • Maximum eclipse : 10:18:13AM  Altitude=40.0° Azimuth=117.0°
  • End of total eclipse (C3) : 10:19:13AM  Altitude=40.1° Azimuth=117.3°
  • End of partial eclipse (C4) : 11:37:50AM  Altitude=51.0° Azimuth=140.1°

Why this location? Well, if you look at the weather predictions and the track maps, you will see this location is easiest to get to from Victoria, and offers a decent chance of clear skies. Simply take a ferry to the mainland, and drive down I-5 to Oregon. This location is away from the coastal clouds, even though there is better weather available if you drive eastward through Oregon and possibly into southern Idaho. You can also seek out more scenic locales such as Wyoming, however now you will be traveling much further.

What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?

You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use NASA’s Interactive Eclipse Map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.

Weather map for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in Oregon
Weather map for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in Oregon

Weather

Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipse website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Observing

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to guide you through the process. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

You should try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Take test photos of the Sun weeks before you leave, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Remember,you only have a couple of minutes to see this event!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

Help!

If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

Perhaps you prefer to leave it to someone else to organize for you, and take a tour. Tour organizers will ensure you are on the centreline for the event, will do their very best to seek clear skies (no guarantees though!), and will supply you with eclipse glasses and ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the event. Some suggestions:

  • RASC Eclipse 2017 – a scenic holiday to the midwest USA, a solar eclipse, and sponsored by RASC!
  • Sky & Telescope – overland to Nashville, seeing rockets and observatories along the way…and the eclipse
  • Travelquest – a tour company specializing in eclipses who are offering five different experiences for the 2017 eclipse

Resources

  • NASA’s Eclipse – a great starting point for information gathering and predictions
  • Eclipsophile – Jay Anderson’s weather predictions are a must to select a location that will likely have clear weather
  • Great American Eclipse – comprehensive information about this specific eclipse – where to go and what you will see
  • Eclipse 2017 – lots of home-grown advice about where to be and what to do
  • America’s 2017 Solar Eclipse – Sky & Telescope’s online resources for planning your eclipse adventure
  • MrEclipse – Fred Espenak’s guide to successfully experiencing and photographing an eclipse
  • Mr. Eclipse says west may be best… – Fred’s eclipse predictions to the Seattle Astronomical Society