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!
It is with sadness that I announce the sudden passing of Diane Bell. The Victoria Centre has lost one of its most active members. Diane was a positive spirit who radiated a sense of wonder. Her contagious enthusiasm about Astronomy elevated the joy and energy of our observing sessions and gatherings. She possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the night sky and was often seen at RASC events hoisting huge binoculars with a sketchbook nearby. She had served as editor of SkyNews, was the current Centre Librarian and a Member in Charge at the Victoria Centre Observatory. Diane generously shared her knowledge and passion through her participation in Public Outreach and Education programs. We were most fortunate to have her in the Victoria Centre and she will be sadly missed.
Reg Dunkley, President, RASC Victoria
Diane. Our very loved friend, sister, sister in law, aunt, cousin and all around the most genuine kind and faithful human being has passed away. We are all taking comfort that she is with Mimi, Sport, Rick and Aunt Mickey. – Lannea MacDonald
Very sad. My condolences to family and friends. I will miss her. – Li-Ann Skibo
I was so saddened to hear this shocking news. My sincere condolence to family and friends. – Michel Michaud
I am so very saddened about Diane, she was a beautiful person. Every time I look at the constellations and binoculars, I will think of her. Bless everyone that was close with her. She was very welcoming and friendly to be around. What a bright light she did shine. Sending blessings to her family and friends. – Jennifer Ikle
This is such sad news. Diane shone so brightly in our community! She exclaimed about how the sky is a gift for us all. She encouraged us to appreciate the science and the art of astronomy. Diane got me sketching from the telescope eyepiece – and then I saw so much more than I had before. Her clever cookies and quilts delighted us. Her knowledge of the constellations was an inspiration. We will miss her. – Randy Enkin
That’s devastating news. Her infectious enthusiasm and willingness to help out were hallmarks of Victoria Centre. I’ll sorely miss her. – Dave Robinson
I am so saddened by this news. Diane was always cheerful, and positive. If I was down I just had one of her hugs and it would all go away. There are many memories of being “roomies” at AGM’s and down at Garry’s in Arizona. I will miss her joy at working with kids at the CU with her Constellation blanket, sharing eclipse cookies at Astro Cafe, her love of Orion and Omega Centauri. She will be so sorely missed. Rest In Peace, Diane. Lauri Roche
This is terrible news. She has been such a good friend to all of us, and will be deeply missed…Nelson Walker
Very sad news! My deepest condolences to her family, friends, and the Victoria Centre. – Ed Majden
This is such shocking news. We are deeply saddened to hear it. In the three years we’ve been members, Diane has always been at the sessions we’ve attended. Whether sitting in the second row at AstroCafe, showing people the stars on the Hill at summer star parties, or sharing stories of her astronomy adventures and passion for travel up at the VCO, Diane has been a steady fixture of our local group.
She has always been enthusiastic, energetic and engaging. She was extremely generous with her knowledge, her time, her baking and her commitment. She was creative and talented herself, yet always provided genuinely positive feedback to other people on their work and accomplishments.
Since March, we have looked forward to seeing Diane at the weekly virtual AstroCafe. Her absence on Monday evening was noticed by many. Her passing will be felt by us all for a very long time to come. She will be missed greatly.
When the time is right, we would like to be part of a virtual get-together to honour Diane’s life. We could share stories, and, when I spoke to Lauri earlier today, she suggested we all bring cookies in Diane’s memory – a sweet farewell to a kind soul.
And from Nathan: See you in the stars, Diane. I will miss you very much.
Kathy, Nathan and family
This is very sad news . I will miss her so much for the way she welcomed new members and taught to the young ones on nights at the hill. – Maryl McCay
I have posted a short notice of Diane’s death on Victoria Centre’s Facebook group, and I have created a collection of photos to memorialize Diane on our Zenfolio photo hosting site. Diane was a close personal friend, astronomy buddy, and all-round good person. Her cheery face and keen observational skills will be missed deeply. – Joe Carr
I will miss her vibrant smile and her willingness to volunteer whatever was asked of her. She left us too soon. She will be missed. – Sid Sidhu
Oh No! We are very much saddened by this awful news. Both Glynis and I were greatly inspired by Diane’s infectious and powerful enthusiasm. At the AstroCafe nights, the VCO, and everywhere else we attended, Diane was always there to guide and answer. What a loss for the Victoria Centre! – Rod and Glynis Miller
So sad. Sympathies to you. – Emma MacPhee
Very sad to hear this. She will be missed. – Catherine Gregory
Terrible news – condolences to her family and friends. She was always had great energy and enthusiasm during the UVic and other events. #RIP – Brian James Kyle
A sad loss to everyone who knew her and to those who never had the chance. Such a gentle soul. She was always one of the first people I called for any public outreach event.- Bruce Lane
This is extremely sad to hear. She was a great volunteer and I will miss her dearly. Condolences to the family. – Nishith Eluri
I was deeply shocked to hear this today and took several minutes to come back from tears. She was a very kind, giving and outgoing friend . I send condolences to her family and all those who knew her. I am sure many members both within the Victoria RASC family and others she knew will deeply miss her. – Malcolm Scrimger
Such a sad loss. – Chris Spratt
A devastating loss, Diane Bell was a rare soul of relentless positivity and enthusiasm. – Matt Watson
That is very sad news indeed. – Jim Cliffe
So very sad to hear about Diane’s passing. She was such a lovely person with an infectious enthusiasm for astronomy that drew everyone to her. Clint and I send our condolences to her family & friends and wish them peace at this difficult time. – Melissa Tupper
Oh, this is very very sad indeed – Donna Andrew
I am terribly saddened by this news. I last saw Diane Bell in person in May when she gave me a mask that she had made out of astronomical fabric. That is still the mask I wear most of the time these days. She only asked that I contribute to a local charity, which I did. We often saw her great skills with fabric, notably the ‘star blanket’ she brought to the DAO to educate members of the public about various constellations. And who can forget her eclipse cookies? I always enjoyed talking to Diane about her youth in a military family, growing up on Canadian Forces bases around Canada and in Europe as part of NATO. One of them was CFB Cold Lake in Alberta, close to where I spent many summers growing up. I note that her final posting on Facebook was in anticipation of Remembrance Day, the day the news first came out of her unexpected passing. Although Diane experienced her share of ups and downs in life, I always remember her being enthusiastic and positive. She did a lot for the Victoria Centre, including her current service as Librarian. I know we’ll all miss her. – Chris Gainor
I read about Diane’s passing on my lunch break at work, but now that I’m home, I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with it. All the superlatives being used to describe Diane are of course true, yet she is much more than the sum of those. Diane was instantly likeable. Her apetite for learning was exceeded only by her passion for sharing that knowledge. Her talent for her crafts; sewing, baking, music, and more were enjoyed by all who were fortunate enough to sample them. Her enthusasm and generosity were amazing. Our bike rides together were immensely enjoyable. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. – Sherry Buttnor
Please add our names to the (I am sure) long list of friends of Diane, who will be sadly missed. She was a real force of positivity for Victoria Centre and a friend to all. RIP, Diane. Thanks for making a huge difference with your outreach and friendships. Jack and I will continue to wear our “Diane astro masks”♥️ with pride! – Alice & Jack Newton
Heartbreaking. I can’t fathom not seeing her again. – Deb Crawford
I am so sad to hear this. Diane was part of what made the observatory such a magical place to be. She will be so missed. – Jennine Gates
My condolences to Diane’s family. I was in shock when I first read your post. Her enthusiasm and kindness stand out for me. I can’t imagine a star party without her. I was one of the happy recipients of a star mask. It turns out that it is perfect as with so many of her creations. I will miss her a lot. – Ida von Schuckmann
We were shocked and deeply saddened hearing of Diane’s death. Her infectious enthusiasm for all things about the night sky was inspiring. With her beloved 8” Dob and original constellation blanket, as sky-guide, she enlivened any observing event, whether organized or impromptu. We remember in particular our sharing with her sessions at the Kingswood Camp with the Brownies and Girl Guides, separate years, and the challenge of finding objects through the small hole in the forest canopy and explaining their locations in constellations beautifully displayed on her blanket but largely blocked from view overhead by our restricted view of the sky. Her absence will be felt at all our events – Dorothy and Miles
Our tents were pitched side-by-side at the first RASC star party I attended in Metchosin, and Diane’s genuine and enthusiastic welcome then continues to inspire me to do the same with newcomers to astronomy activities. Also inspiring was her unique talent of using oversize binoculars without a tripod to take binocular observing to another level. Her spirit that we are all missing so much right now shines through in the many images people have shared, including in this chrome reflector on the exterior of the Shawnigan Lake Observatory in 2015. – JL MacGillivray
Just arrived home from the mainland, what a shock to find out, Diane Bell, has passed away. Diane and I go back a long time, I will always remember the wonderful conversations Diane and I had and enjoying watching her sketching some of the many wonders of the night. Sadly missed. – Jennifer Bigelow
Her knowledge, enthusiasm, energy, friendship and much, much more will be sorely missed–a huge loss all the people she touched. – Jim Hesser
She will be missed and leaves a wonderful legacy of her passion for astronomy. – David Lee
Diane was one of the Victoria RASC;s most active members and I always appreciated her enthusiasm and support. My deepest condolences to her family and friends on this indeed sad day. – James Di Francesco
This is such a shock and difficult to take in. What a huge loss. In many ways Diane has been the life blood of Victoria Centre. I am so sad. – John McDonald
Diane was a major part of our Centre and I was always impressed that she could remember where she was when she saw her favourite targets for the first time. Like her brother, who I believe died of a heart attack in his 50s, her’s was a life too short. She will be missed and will join those I remember on Remembrance Day. – Chris Purse
I am so very sorry to hear of Diane’s sudden passing. She has been such a solidity of presence and knowledge during my three years in RASC Victoria. The photo of her at the top of a ladder at Garry’s Arizona telescope is a favourite for me. Diane always had informative astronomical comments and a warm, open way of being with people. She will be tremedously missed. – Marjie Welchframe
Very sad and unexpected news! Lynn and I offer our condolences to her family and those who knew her! We recently met her at the 2018 GA in Calgary where we became friends. She was so delightful and genuine. Diane will be in our prayers and thoughts! – Stephen Beddingfield
How sad. Jane and I used to camp next to Diane every star party. She was such fun and had so much enthusiasm for astronomy. – Mark Hird-Rutter
I still cannot believe this sad news. Diane will be missed by many, for a variety of reasons. RIP Diane. – Patricia Buttnor
Shocked to hear of Diane’s passing…met Diane on the military base in Cold Lake Alta…..we we in grade school at Athabasca school….we became great friends..we were military brats and would joke and address each other as such..however growing up in the military has its drawbacks…we were stationed from base to base and lost track of each other…than I found a group on facebook called Cold Lake Brats and low and behold I found Diane again…we were now able to keep touch with each other there and on facebook..she was so warm and genuine…can’t believe she is gone now forever…rest in peace my dear friend….will miss you always my dear friend….wont be the same on facebook without you… – Debra Smith Nadeau
I have been a pen friend of Diane’s for some 32 years and have stayed with her in Victoria during a holiday there and attended with her one of your evenings. Diane visited us in Australia several times and stayed with us. I felt quite saddened to hear this news and felt a deep sense of loss of someone I had come to know very well and yet saw so little of her. In spite of that she had a large impact upon our life and we all felt at home right from the start when she contacted us through friend to see if we could provide accommodation for her in Brisbane during Expo 88 which were able to do. Our friendship began almost immediately we met on her arrival here in Brisbane.
Please convey our condolences to any who knew her well if opportunity rises. I will miss her correspondence but am well satisfied that she has been a part of our life’s journey and we will remember her fondly and with love. I am sure she will be missed by all members of the RASC, the work of which she was justly proud. – Rev. Bruce Worthington
Hawaiian Nights: A Personal Journey from Vancouver Island to Maunakea, with Cam Wipper
Don’t miss this interesting Zoom presentation at 4:00 PM PDT on Friday August 28th. Growing up in Nanaimo, Cam never imagined he would spend nearly a decade living in Hawai’i and working on Maunakea, the best place on Earth for astronomical observations.
In his talk, Cam will tell the story of how he found himself on Maunakea, from his days as a student at Vancouver Island University, to his first night up on the summit of Maunakea, nearly 14.000 feet (4200m) above sea level. This will include a brief history of astronomy in Hawaii, as well as an exploration of how a modern astronomical observatory conducts scientific observations. All will be told from the perspective of a telescope operator and scientific observer; a position Cam has held at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope since 2015. Click here to register.
Lagoon & Trifid Nebulae – Dan Posey
Moon shadows on Jupiter – John McDonald
A Poetic Pelican by Doug MacDonald
A wonderful bird is the Pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can. He can hold in his beak enough food for a week! I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican.
Dixon Lanier Merritt
Shot this Aug. 9 – 13 with Bortle 6 skies. This bird lives in Cygnus, not too far from Deneb. I processed it in the SHO palette; it represents just over 8 hours of narrowband exposure with a 5″ refractor at f/5.5.
Final UVic Open House of the Summer is a Block Buster!
Cosmic Collisions Abstract: What happens when galaxies collide? Right now, the Andromeda Galaxy is hurtling towards us, on a direct collision course with our galaxy. Surely the Milky Way will not escaped unscathed? For almost a century astronomers have been trying to figure out what happens when galaxies clash, and from that investigation a harrowing tale of starvation, cannibalism, and complicated acronyms has arisen. With today’s massive telescopes and high-tech simulations, we can hope to understand what happens when the largest objects in the Universe go face-to-face. And perhaps we can predict how our galaxy will be changed for the better (or the worse)
Robotic Telescope Editing Contest for August: M82 the Cigar Galaxy
Edmonton RASCals Focus on the Deep Sky: relayed by Dave Robinson
Press Briefing on Starlink and other mega-constellations
At 11AM on Tuesday August 25th the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and NSF’s NOIRLab will have a press briefing on the SATCON1 LEOsat mega-constellations workshop report. SATCON1 gathered astronomers, satellite operators, dark-sky advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders to discuss, understand, and quantify the impacts of large satellite constellations on ground-based optical and infrared astronomical observations as well as on the human experience of the night sky. The briefing will be live-streamed on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/AASPressOffice)
1680 – C/1680 V1, also called the Great Comet of 1680, Kirch’s Comet, and Newton’s Comet, has the distinction of being the first comet discovered by telescope
1682 – Halley’s Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is the best-known of the short-period comets and is visible from Earth every 75–76 years.
1744 – The Great Comet of 1744, whose official designation is C/1743 X1, and which is also known as Comet de Chéseaux or Comet Klinkenberg-Chéseaux, was a spectacular comet that was observed during 1743 and 1744
1811 – The Great Comet of 1811, formally designated C/1811 F1, is a comet that was visible to the naked eye for around 260 days, a record it held until the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. In October 1811, at its brightest, it displayed an apparent magnitude of 0, with an easily visible coma.
1835 – Halley’s Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is the best-known of the short-period comets and is visible from Earth every 75–76 years. Last apparition was in 1986, and the next apparition is in 2061.
1843 – The Great Comet of 1843 formally designated C/1843 D1 and 1843 I, was a long-period comet which became very bright in March 1843 (it is also known as the Great March Comet)
The First FDAO Virtual Star Party: 7PM August 1st
You are invited to the inaugural Virtual Star Party hosted by Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. David Balam, Plaskett telescope operator and Near Earth Object specialist will deliver a presentation on comets. For more information and hyperlinks to the Zoom meeting please click on the following:
Canadian Comet Sleuth David Levy: Webinar 4PM Thursday July 30th
The Canadian Comet SleuthDavid Levy, author and comet hunter Comet NEOWISE has been the sensation of our July skies, the first naked-eye comet for the Northern Hemisphere in ages. David Levy knows all about comets that snag the spotlight. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which broke apart in July 1992 and collided with Jupiter in July 1994, garnered the “Canadian comet sleuth” media attention around the world, including the headline on the very first cover of SkyNews 25 years ago. Join The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Jenna Hinds and SkyNews’ Allendria Brunjes as they sit down with Levy in the next Speaker Series, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 30. Levy has discovered 22 comets, given innumerable lectures and written countless articles and more than 30 books — including an autobiography, A Nightwatchman’s Journey. There’s an asteroid named in his honour, and his awards include the Chant Medal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click this link to register for this Webinar
Dr Gordon Walker speaks at the Wednesday UVic Open House
Bigger, better, faster: how changes in technology drive astronomy data collection by Nat Comeau
Abstract: There are roughly five variables of interest in observational astronomy: where the object was (sky position), what it looked like (spatial resolution), when it was seen (observation time), how bright it was (brightness), and what colour of light it was (spectral resolution). In this talk I’ll give an overview of how enhancements in technology have driven how precisely we can measure these five variables, and how increasing this precision unlocks wonders that were previously invisible to us. From the first naked eye measurements of the planets, to automated networks of telescopes working hand in hand with gravitational wave observatories, I will describe how far we’ve come in astronomy data collection and how much more there is to do.