Concert: On the Construction of the Heav’ns – Music of William Herschel – Jan 21, 2017

Posted by as Special Events

Saturday, 21 January 2017 at 19:30–21:30

Pre-concert talk at 19:00

Christ Church Cathedral, 930 Burdett Ave, Victoria, BC V8V 3G8

Uranus - discovered by William Herschel
Uranus – discovered by William Herschel


William Herschel wasn’t just the first President of the Royal Astronomical Society. And he didn’t just discover that the celestial body in the sky that others thought was just a star which was actually a planet, Uranus… Or the discoverer of infra-red radiation… He was a multi-instrumentalist and composer of great stature!

Michael Jarvis and Paul Luchkow are joined by Nathan Whittaker (cello) and some of Victoria’s (and the world’s) finest astronomers and astrophotographers in a programme of music and readings from William’s and his equally musical sister and astronomical collaborator Caroline’s diaries.

Acclaimed as some of the finest astrophotographers in Canada, the concert will take place in the splendour of projections of astrophotographs of deep space taken by members of the Victoria Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The infinity of space in the intimate space of the Chapel of the New Jerusalem at Christ Church Cathedral. Truly a night to remember!

Tickets: General: $25; Students/Seniors: $20
Munro’s Books; Ivy’s Bookshop; Long & McQuade; Christ Church Cathedral Office (903 Burdett); or at the door

(Note by Jim Hesser: Acoustics in this intimate space are very good. Herschel’s beautiful music is played by three outstanding musicians. Dress comfortably and enjoy a unique event featuring Centre members prominently. As seating is limited to 175, I suggest securing tickets in advance; I’ll have some available at the 11 Jan Centre meeting: general $25, seniors (65 and older)/youth $20 all costs included; cash or cheques made out to Christ Church Cathedral.)

President’s Message – January 2017

Posted by as President's Message

Happy New Year! As this is the season for making resolutions I thought I share one of my resolutions. My “astronomy resolution” for 2017 is to spend more time using my telescopes. Looking back in my log, I did not do much personal observing in 2016 so I would like to do much better in 2017. And, when it is cloudy, I plan to devote time to reading and rereading the astronomy books I have in my library so I can optimize my time when I can get out observing.

That got me thinking about a common question we hear at outreach events. That question is how do I know what to look at? Most astronomers do extensive preparation before observing sessions. Part of this process is to determine what part of the sky will be visible from the chosen observing site at the planned observing time. Once that has been determined, references are consulted to see what objects are visible in that part of the sky. This leads to the compilation of a list of targets that may be found and viewed or photographed.

How can a newer astronomer make use of this approach? Perhaps the best method is to complete an observing certificate program. A number of astronomy organizations, including RASC, offer observing programs where a certificate is awarded for documenting the observation of a predetermined list of objects. The advantage of an observing program is that someone has already picked the targets so the participant’s task is to find them and record observations. Specifically, RASC offers the Explore the Universe (ETU) certificate as an introductory program with the goal of learning the basics of observational astronomy while observing at least 55 objects out of a list of 110. This list has been chosen to include a selection of interesting objects that can be seen with the naked eye or binoculars from locations in Canada.

The ETU program has been enhanced by the recent publication of a book aimed at providing support to earn the certificate; the new book is called Explore the Universe Guide. I recently received a copy and have been reading it with interest. It is well organized and benefits from the work of Brenda Stuart, a member of our centre, who contributed the illustrations. The book starts with some “map reading” skills introducing how to navigate in the sky. It then moves into descriptions of the various targets included in the ETU including the Moon, other bodies in our solar system, deep sky objects, and stars. The text is well written and there are many illustrations to help demonstrate the points being made.

I encourage members to consider working on this certificate program especially those who are newer to astronomy or have never completed an observing list. If sufficient centre members are interested in purchasing copies of Explore the Universe Guide, we may be able to place a bulk order which helps save the shipping charge on individual orders. Please let me know by email at if you are interested in participating in a bulk purchase. The book’s list price is around $19 (including GST) and the individual shipping charge is $7.25.

By the way, there are other observing programs offered by the RASC; the list is located at

Speaker: The MASSIVE Galaxy Survey – Dr. John Blakeslee, NRC Herzberg

Posted by as Meetings

January 11, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“The MASSIVE Galaxy Survey” – Dr. John Blakeslee, NRC Herzberg


John Blakeslee
John Blakeslee

The MASSIVE Galaxy Survey is a project to study the structure, internal dynamics, and evolutionary histories of the approximately 100 most massive galaxies visible in the Northern hemisphere out to a distance of about 100 Mpc, or roughly 330 million light years. In this project, we combine 2-D “integral-field spectroscopy” on small (sub-arcsecond) and large (arcminute) scales in order to perform simultaneous dynamical modelling of the central supermassive black hole, stars, and dark matter. We also have an ongoing Hubble program to image a high-priority subsample of the MASSIVE galaxies. The ultimate goals of the survey include understanding variations in dark matter fraction and stellar mass function, the connection between black hole accretion and galaxy growth, and the assembly of galaxy outskirts over cosmic time. I will describe the survey design and observational strategy, as well as present first results on black hole mass measurements, stellar populations, and molecular gas detections in MASSIVE Survey galaxies.

Video of the presentation – Youtube


John Blakeslee is an Astronomer with the NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Programs at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich. He studies galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and large ground-based observatories. Dr. Blakeslee received his PhD degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and did postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Durham University in the UK. He then spent five years as a Research Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He has worked at the DAO for the past nine years.