by Michel Michaud, RASC Victoria Centre Observing Co-chair & Librarian
The Lunar X is a claire-obscure effect in which light and shadow creates the appearance of a letter “X” on the rim of the Blanchinus, La Caille and Purbach craters. The X is visible only for a few hours before the first quarter slightly below the lunar terminator. Near the X, the lunar V is also visible, formed by Ukert crater and several other small craters.
If you never had the chance to view the Lunar X, also known as the Werner X, there are several time this year that feature could be visible from Victoria. The time predict the beginning of the event and all in LOCAL TIME.
23 January 2018, 2042 (8:42 pm) – Tuesday evening event
23 March 2018, 2357 (11:57 pm) – Friday evening event
21 May 2018, 0002 (12:02 am) – Monday evening event
19 July 2018, 2314 (11:14 pm) – Thursday evening event
16 September 2018, 2332 (11:32 pm) – Sunday evening event
14 November 2018, 0059 (12:59 am) – Wednesday evening event
Victoria Centre held our Annual General Meeting on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at the Cedar Hill Golf Course in Victoria, BC, Canada. An excellent dinner was served by the golf course staff and some pre-dinner drinks; a fascinating speaker; awards were given to members for outstanding service and noteworthy accomplishments; and an election was held for the 2017-18 Victoria Centre Council (Executive).
The James Webb Space Telescope: the countdown is on – Chris Willott
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the prestigious Hubble Telescope. With a diameter of 6.5 m, this infrared telescope will be launched 1.5M kilometres from Earth for a scientific mission lasting 5 to 10+ years. Canada, one of the main partners in this project with the United States and Europe, provides one of the four scientific instruments and the guiding system. The development of Webb is well underway and the world astronomical community is actively preparing for the planned launch in early 2019. This presentation will provide an update on the state of the development of the telescope and give an overview of the scientific program of the Canadian science team that includes observations to detect galaxies in the early universe and determine the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets similar to Earth.
Chris Willott is a research astronomer at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria. He studies the most distant galaxies in the Universe to understand how stars and black holes formed soon after the Big Bang. In addition to research, he works at the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope archive scientist and is the Canadian Project Scientist for the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope.
The evening started with the award of past outstanding Certificates, due to absent recipients at past AGM’s.
Certificate of Appreciation to Charles Banville for 2014 RASC General Assembly Victoria. Charles efforts in managing the logistics in transportation of our visiting members and guests.
Certificate of Appreciation to Lauri Roche for Public Outreach at the DAO, for her outstanding support and engagement in the role of ” Person in Charge ” and volunteer coordinator.
Certificates and Awards for 2017
Certificates of Appreciation were presented to the many volunteers “For Public Outreach, Solar Eclipse 2017” for their outstanding support and engagement in Solar Viewing at numerous location in Victoria, including Mount Tolmie, the Royal BC Museum and Metchosin.
Recipients included : Ken Mallory, Jean Mallory, Jennifer Bigelow, Deb Crawford, Dan Posey, Sid Sidhu, Jim Stillburn, Li-Ann Skibo, Michael Wheatly, Marjie Welchframe, Prem Chainani, Fatimah Al Sharyah, Erin Britton, Sherry Buttnor, Michel Michaud and Bruce Lane.
Centre Certificates and Awards
Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award for Amateur Telescope Making 2017 presented to Mr. Chris Purse, for his outstanding achievement in designing and the building of a custom Field Power Pack c/w innovative digital and analog features.
Award of Excellence in Astrophotograohy 2017 presented to Mr. John McDonald, for his excellent photography of the Milky Way at the Vista Point of the Caves Creek Canyon, Portal AZ. Captured with a Canon 6D, Ioptron Sky Tracker, Sigma 15mm lens @ f / 2.8.
Certificate of Excellence 2017 presented to Reg Dunkley, in appreciation of his organization, leadership and guidance so capably rendered as the Skynews editor and Astronomy Café host.
Special Awards and Plaques.
Special Award Plaque of Excellence presented to Terry Ryals, for the design and fabrication of the Astro Café TV Cabinet. 2 Plaques were awarded with one to be mounted on the cabinet and the second as a keeper.
Award of Appreciation Plaque was presented to Michel Michaud, for his contributions as Plaskett Telescope Operator for the Summer DAO Star Parties and including the Active Observers viewing sessions.
Newton / Ball Award 2017
This year’s award went jointly to Matt Watson and Dan Posey for their distinguished service to the Victoria Centre. A certificate of appreciation was also delivered stating the following :
A major milestone was reached this year for the RASC Victoria Centre VCO, with the installation of it’s new 16 inch RC truss telescope. Technical planning and installation was a joint effort of Matt Watson and Dan Posey.
For years Matt and Dan have exercised the equipment at the VCO acting as MIC’s tending to the maintenance and creating some of the most beautiful images our centre has seen.
Congrats to both.
Many thanks for this opportunity to serve as awards coordinator, Bruno Quenneville
RASC VICTORIA CENTRE ANNOUNCES AUGUST 21 ECLIPSE VIEWING IN VICTORIA
Viewing planned for Royal BC Museum, Mount Tolmie & Metchosin Cricket Pitch
Members of the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be setting up their solar telescopes in three locations around Greater Victoria for public viewing of the solar eclipse on the morning of Monday August 21.
Because looking directly at the Sun at any time is dangerous without proper protection, the telescopes at these events will be equipped with shielding to allow members of the public to safely see the eclipse. While the eclipse will be total in some parts of the United States, the eclipse in Victoria will be only a partial eclipse, where parts of the Sun will always be visible. The August 21 eclipse in Victoria will begin at 9:08 a.m. and end at 11:38 a.m. At 10:20 a.m., the Moon will block around 90 percent of the Sun as seen from Victoria.
RASC members will be setting up their telescopes during the eclipse on the morning of August 21 in front of the Bell Tower at the Royal B.C. Museum at 675 Belleville Street in Victoria, at the Cricket Pitch in Metchosin behind the Fire Hall at 4400 Happy Valley Road, and at Mount Tolmie Park off Cedar Hill X Road in Saanich, which can be reached by going up Mayfair Drive to the top of the Mountain, where telescopes will be located on the water reservoir facing south.
The University of Victoria will hold an open house for eclipse viewing that morning open to the public at the UVic Observatory on the fifth floor of the Bob Wright Building.
There will be no public eclipse viewing at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.
On July 12th Victoria Centre’s Council approved a plan to replace the telescopes currently in our observatory with new and improved optics. The Technical Committee’s plan includes replacing our existing Meade 14” SCT and Tele Vue NP 127is apochromatic refractor with a 16” F/8 Ritchey Chretien (RC) optical system. The new gear will be mounted on our existing Paramount ME mount, giving us a simpler setup that is actually a bit lighter than the old configuration.
The cost of the new RC telescope and accessories will be about $14,000, depending on the US$ exchange rate. Most of the gear will be purchased from OPT Oceanside Photo & Telescope in California, since they sell their brand TPO Ritchey Chretien telescopes at very attractive prices, and we took advantage of a recent sale price. We expect to eventually sell our surplus instruments and accessories, but will keep the current setup in place until the new gear arrives and is installed, in order to maximize the availability of the VCO to members.
We will fundraise from our members to directly offset the upgrade costs, since Victoria Centre Council originally budgeted $7,000 for the upgrade some months ago.
Improved cool down time
new RC is a truss design open tube giving good airflow around the primary optics,
old SCT is a closed tube design with a corrector plate restricting air flow
Improved guiding accuracy
new RC system will use an in-line off-axis guider,
old SCT system uses a piggyback-mounted telescope for guiding
Improved pointing accuracy
new RC system has a fixed primary mirror,
old SCT system suffers from primary mirror flop
Improved light gathering and resolution
new RC system has a 16″ primary mirror
old SCT system has a 14″ primary mirror and a corrector plate
new RC system is a single optical tube that will be used for guiding, imaging and observing
old system included an SCT, a Hyperstar f/2 attachment, a 127mm apo-chromaic refractor, and a guide scope, all mounted piggyback and in a custom cradle
We wish to enter RASC’s 150th year in 2018 with a first-rate observatory!
Our target is to raise $5,000 from members over the next few months. Tax receipts will be issued for all donations.
Joe Carr is our fundraiser, so please contact him for questions about the new telescope or to donate – email or telephone 250-294-1992.
Bruce Lane is our Treasurer, who will issue tax receipts and account for all donations to Council and members – email.
The first fundraising event was held at the RASCals Star Party on Saturday, July 29th at 2PM in Metchosin House. Thanks to everyone who donated so generously – we are already over half way to our target!
Please note that proceeds of the sale of used astronomical equipment is highly variable and can take many months. RASC Victoria Centre and then all RASC members will be given first chance to purchase our surplus equipment. Please contact Joe by email or telephone 250-294-1992 if you are interested.
9:30 pm – Public viewing of the night sky with RASC telescopes
10:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please
Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
12:00 pm – early departures please!
PRIZE – Explore the Universe Guide; stainless steel coffee mug
PRIZE – Celstron Inspire 100AZ telescope
PRIZE – Skywatcher Heritage telescope
PRIZE – Eclipse Viewer kit; rechargable hand warmer
Please feel free to camp on the field with your tent, trailer or motorhome and setup your telescope and other astronomy gear. There is some power on the field for astronomy equipment, but no RV plug-ins please! Also, please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park on the access road beside the municipal hall with your headlights facing away from the field (towards the firehall). The same parking request applies to visitors for the evening – park beside the municipal hall and walk into the field.
Radio and Microwave Astronomy – History, Canadian Involvement, and Interesting Tidbits – Dr. Lisa Locke, NRC Herzberg
Radio astronomy started in the early 1930s as an electrical engineering project and it took many years for the optical astronomy community to include it under the gilded Astronomy umbrella. Early experimentalists had a field day with surplus World War II equipment and the increased world-wide collaboration between researchers. I will explain and guide through this history up to the present, contrasting the new radio astronomy with the classic well-understood optical ideas, highlighting Canada’s significant role in the growing field. Details on current instrumentation projects and observatories will also be presented.
Dr. Lisa Shannon Locke was born north of the 60th parallel in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada and received the B.Sc (Alberta, 1997), M.Sc. (Cape Town, 2001) and PhD (Victoria, 2014) degrees all in electrical engineering specializing in low-noise microwave astronomy instrumentation.
As a student, she worked at the Canadian Space Agency, CalTech’s Owens Valley Observatory and at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WV. After graduating, she spent five years as a receiver engineer at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Then in 2005 she joined the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Socorro, NM building cryogenic receivers for the expanded very large array (EVLA).
Her PhD degree was advised by Prof. Dr. Jens Bornemann and the late Dr. Stéphane Claude of NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria, BC. Her thesis investigated the design and construction of a K-band (18 – 26 GHz) coherent 5×5 phased array feed for use on large radio astronomy reflectors. She is currently employed with NRC Herzberg and leads a multi-disciplinary project to build a S/C-band (2.8 – 5.18 GHz) cryogenic phased array feed receiver system.
“Dark matter: Small scales, big problems” – Kyle Oman, PhD candidate, UVic
There are several lines of evidence pointing to the existence of an as yet elusive dark matter which is more abundant in the Universe on average than the ordinary stuff of gas, stars and planets. Despite the lack of a plausible particle candidate, the LCDM cosmological theory has been remarkably successful in describing the large scale structure of the Universe. The biggest current challenges to this theory are manifest on the scale of dwarf galaxies. How can we measure a substance we cannot see? What can a handful of puny nearby galaxies tell us about the Universe as a whole? These are the questions I’m tackling with the help of the cutting-edge APOSTLE cosmological simulation suite and observations taken on the Very Large Array in New Mexico.
Bio: Kyle Oman is a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria. He has worked on topics in theoretical extragalactic astronomy ranging from the smallest dwarf galaxies to the largest galaxy clusters. He completed his BSc and MSc at the University of Waterloo.
Bugs in Space!? A Microbiologist’s View of Astrobiology and the Habitable Zone – Dr. Julia Foght
As astronomers discover myriad planets in distant solar systems and find evidence of water on planets and moons in our own solar system, astrobiologists seek to answer the question “Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?” But nested within these few words are many other questions: If life exists or previously existed beyond Earth, would we even recognize it? How can we detect life at astronomical distances without collecting physical samples?
What ‘biosignatures’ could we use, remotely or in place, to locate, confirm and/or examine such life, especially if it was microscopic? Where are the best places to look for life nearby in our solar system? Can sites on Earth serve as analogues to refine our questions and future exploration? Can the search for extraterrestrial life illuminate theories about the origins of life on Earth?
Dr. Foght will present some of the factors that potentially influence the distribution of life in the universe and the colonization of exoplanets, based on our current understanding of earthly analogues and ‘extreme’ microbes, but be prepared to leave with more questions than answers.
Biography: Dr. Julia Foght, Professor Emerita in the Biological Sciences Department, University of Alberta, is an environmental microbiologist and a past member of the Canadian Space Agency’s Astrobiology Discipline Working Group. Her interest in the field of Astrobiology arose from her fieldwork in Antarctica and research into microbes that live beneath glaciers from Nunavut and Alaska to New Zealand’s Southern Alps and the Transantarctic Mountains.
Christ Church Cathedral, 930 Burdett Ave, Victoria, BC V8V 3G8
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.)
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.
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.