Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life – Prof. Sun Kwok

Posted by as Meetings

September 14, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life ” – Prof. Sun Kwok, Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong



Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life
Stardust: The Cosmic Seeds of Life

How did life originate on Earth? For over 50 years, scientists believed that life was the result of chemistry involving simple molecules such as methane and ammonia cooking in a primordial soup. Recent space observations have revealed that old stars are capable of making very complex organic compounds. The stars then ejected the organics and spread them all over the Milky Way Galaxy. There is evidence that these organic dust particles actually reached the early Solar System. Through bombardments by comets and asteroids, the early Earth inherited significant amounts of star dust. Was the development of life assisted by the arrival of these extraterrestrial materials? In this talk, we describe discoveries in astronomy and solar system science over the last 10 years that resulted in a new perspective on the origin of life.

Stardust: The Cosmic Seeds of Life” – 2013, Springer


Kwok, S. The Synthesis of Organic and Inorganic Compounds in Evolved Stars, Nature, 430, 985 (2004)
Kwok, S. and Zhang, Y. Mixed aromatic/aliphatic organic nanoparticles as carriers of unidentified infrared emission features, Nature, 479, 80 (2011)
Kwok, S. Complex organics in space: from Solar System to distant galaxies, A&A Rev., 24, 1-27 (2016)

About the speaker

Prof. Sun Kwok
Prof. Sun Kwok

Prof. Sun Kwok’s research areas are astrochemistry and stellar evolution. He is best known for his theory on the origin of planetary nebulae and the death of Sun-like stars. His recent research has been on the topic of the synthesis of complex organic compounds in the late stages of stellar evolution. He is the author of many books, including The Origin and Evolution of Planetary Nebulae (Cambridge, 2000), Cosmic Butterflies (Cambridge, 2001), Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium (University Science Books, 2007), Organic Matter in the Universe (Wiley, 2012), and Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life (Springer, 2013).

He has been a guest observer on many space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Infrared Space Observatory. He currently serves as President of IAU International Astronomical Union (IAU), Commission on Astrobiology. Previously, he has served as the President of IAU Commission on Interstellar Matter (2012-2015) and chairman of IAU Planetary Nebulae Working Group (1994-2001).


RASCals Star Party 2016

Posted by as Events, Special Events

August 26-28, 2016

At the Metchosin Municipal Grounds
behind the Metchosin Fire Hall
4440 Happy Valley Road, Victoria, BC, Canada

Gates will open at 12pm noon on Friday. Camp on the field and setup your telescope.
Cost: Free of charge! RASC members and visiting observers (who stay overnight): suggested donation of $20/Adult one day, two or three.

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

Photos from RASCals Star Party 2016

Schedule of Events

Friday 26th.

12:00pm – Gates open.
8:00pm – Welcome and Door prizes.
8:30pm – Presentation- Rita Mann: Origins of the Solar System
Bio:  Dr. Rita Mann is a researcher at NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics.  She earned her Honours BSc in Physics at the University of Victoria, and her MSc and PhD in Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i.   She then returned to Victoria with the Plaskett Fellowship at NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics. She uses a powerful new telescope called ALMA, which is very sensitive to the conditions in which planets are born, to answer questions about the origins of our Solar System as well as other extrasolar planetary systems.9:30pm – Public viewing of the night sky with RASC telescopes.
10:00pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please.

Saturday 27th.

Solar viewing – all day.
4:00pm: Introduction to the Night Sky. David Lee.
8:00pm – Door prizes.

Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy
Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy

8:30pm – Speaker- Maan Hani: Super Massive Black Holes: Where the Wild Things Are.

Bio: Maan H. Hani is a Astronomy PhD student working with Prof. Sara Ellison at the University of Victoria. As a cosmologist, Maan works with cosmological simulations of galaxy mergers to understand the big picture of how galaxies form, evolve, and intact with each other and their environment.
9:30pm – Public viewing of the night sky with RASC telescopes.
10:00pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please.

Sunday 28th.

Cleanup (everyone please pitch-in & help)
12 noon – early departures please!

A Special Star Party at the DAO

Posted by as Events

August 13, 2016 Star Party at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory on Observatory Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Sherry Buttnor

What a night at the DAO! If you thought it was extra busy, you are right: we wowed 257 visitors this evening! That’s the highest attendance of the year, and they loved it. And our special guest, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of BC was absolutely thrilled with her visit, with our programs, and most importantly, with your knowledge and enthusiasm. Her Honour was so impressed with you all, she stayed *four* hours; one hour past her planned visit

I can’t say this enough: RASC-Victoria volunteers are the BEST. Thank you, everyone.

Jim Hesser

Last evening the amazing volunteers of the RASC, Victoria Centre and Friends of the DAO – Dominion Astrophysical Observatory hosted another summer star party with a quite special lady, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of BC (The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia) in attendance. I was honoured to be invited by Lauri Roche and Sherry Coastal Cats to assist and thus to be able to appreciate her reactions to all she experienced, including the “wow!” moments of seeing the Sun and many sunspots through so many different types of telescopes, as well as the Moon and Saturn where in particular the 0.4m telescope was giving spectacular views when she was in that dome. Greg Fahlman, the General Manager of Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, accompanied Her Honour during the evening, as well, including for Aria and Aaron’s unforgettable planetarium show and Christian’s lecture on the search for exoplanets around Alpha Cen. He, too, left with a renewed appreciation for all that the volunteers contribute each Saturday open house.

Living on a ranch in the Nicola Valley Her Honour has enjoyed incredible dark-sky views of the stars, but through the generous efforts of everyone last evening has a new-found appreciation that she will share with her granddaughter (who recently acquired a telescope). She promised to return. Thank you everyone!

Diane Bell

We had one of the best nights up at the Centre of the Universe and the Observatory last night! Her Honour, Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, joined us for three hours – to take in the telescopes and sun views, a lecture, a tour of the Plaskett telescope, and a planetarium show. I was quite happy to show her my own telescope as well. We had an extra hour of darkness and in spite of the brighter moon, the skies were excellent and the crowds very happy. A few of us closed out the evening – and early morning at Tim Hortons – after 12 midnight !!