Saturday Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory 2018

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The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO) and RASC Victoria Centre will be hosting twenty Saturday evenings at the DAO, featuring guest speakers, solar and nighttime observing with telescopes provided by RASC Victoria Centre volunteers, tours of the historic Plaskett telescope, and more! Rain or shine, we will have something for everyone to experience.

Time: 7:15 pm to 10:45 pm

Dates begin with International Astronomy Day on April 21st . Here are all the dates:

  • April 21st and 28th 
  • May 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th 
  • June 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th 
  • July 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th
  • August 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th
  • September 1st 

PLEASE NOTE: due to construction at the DAO admission is by ticket ONLY. Tickets are FREE and will be available for the following month from our EventBrite site.

See you there!

Site Line Work Only

Saturday Star Parties at the DAO run every Saturday evening from April 21st to September 1st. To enhance your experience please note the following venues before you arrive. Activities are broken up into seven main areas,

  1. Lecture Hall – This season we have a full slate of topical presentations from the astronomy community which includes researchers, authors and passionate amateurs. There are possibilities of surprise guest speakers. Come early most presentations start at 8:30 p.m. and some though not all repeat in the evening.
  2. Plaskett Dome – The dome is a heritage site, and not to be missed. Tours are approximately 30-45 minutes long and start at 7:45 p.m. (30 min) Two other tours start at 8:45 p.m. (45 min) and 9:30 p.m. (45 min). Special Kids Tour 8:15 p.m. (30 min)
  3. Planetarium – Planetarium shows run 6 times during the evening and are approximately 30 minutes in length. Come inside and learn about the constellations, and even a little sky lore!
  4. 16” Telescope – This research-grade telescope was originally located on Mt Kobau near Osoyoos for site testing towards potentially building an observatory there. It was then moved here to the DAO, and then from another area on the DAO property to this site when the Centre of the Universe building was constructed in the early 1990s. It is now available for viewing “live” through an eyepiece. The telescope is open subject to weather conditions on many of the Saturday nights.
  5. RASC Member Telescopes – Royal Astronomical Society of Canada members have been long standing participants at Saturdays nights at the DAO for nearly 100 years. Weather permitting, members will take you on a telescopic tour of the evening sky.
  6. Information Area – There are volunteers available to help you with your evening visit and if you’re interested they can let you know how you can get involved in astronomy activities in Victoria. Kid friendly programming is available in this same area. FIRST Robotics BC will be in attendance several times during the summer.
  7. Interpretive Centre Displays – The displays from the former interpretive centre show Canada’s role in astronomy and contain a number of historical artifacts of interest. This year the displays will be enhanced with the addition of new kiosks that will feature Knowledge Network’s Space Suite series and other programming. Stay tuned for their debut.

Saturday Star Parties at the DAO 2018 Presentations

 

Saturdays’ Children’s Programmes

7:45 – 8:00 p.m. “Out of this World” Interactive Presentation – Auditorium

8:00 – 8:15 p.m. “Stories in the Skies” – Planetarium

8:15 – 8:45 p.m. “Meet the Telescope” Tour – Plaskett Dome

8:45 – 9:30 p.m. Children’s Activities – Information Area

  • Make and Take Craft Tables
  • Family Scavenger Hunt
  • IPad Interactives
  • Night Sky Viewing

 

Speakers

 

April 21st 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm

Gateway to the Stars: Science, Civic Identity, and Tourism at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), Victoria B.C. 1903-1941 – Dan Posey

Abstract: 

The Canadian astrophysics program rapidly developed between 1903 and 1914, leading to the wartime construction of what was hoped to be the world’s largest research telescope. Following its announcement the Victoria observatory quickly developed into a widely visited tourism destination, operating an extensive public outreach program. Throughout the 1920s Dominion Astrophysical Observatory staff produced several discoveries on the forefront of astrophysics, further boosting the institution’s public image.

Bio:

Dan Posey is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s history MA program, a board member of the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, and a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre.

 

 

April 28th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

Introduction to the Night Sky – David Lee

Abstract: 

The night sky can be a bewildering maze of disconnected dots, flashing streaks of light and predictable events that appear just like clockwork. But most of all it is filled with mystery and beauty. Come and learn what’s up in the sky and how best to view it.

Bio:

David Lee is an avid photographer who over 20 years ago turned his camera upwards to the sky capturing astronomical images of the solar system and beyond. Through the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada he has been an advocate of astronomy and the sciences through its public outreach programs. Currently working in the Information Technology sector he hopes to retire soon to become even more of a tourist of the night sky.

 

May 5th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

The Improbable Telescope: From the Shadow of War to the Edge of the Country the Incredible Story of the Plaskett Telescope – Scott Mair

Abstract: 

Who would build a telescope on the rainy West Coast during the First World War? The incredible dream of John Stanley Plaskett, how it came to be and it’s impact on the world of astronomy.

Bio:

Scott Mair is an award winning science educator: Canada’s prestigious Michael Smith Award for science promotion and the first Canadian to win the National (US) Association for Interpretation’s Master Interpreter Award. Scott learned to love dinosaurs while curator of education at Alberta’s Tyrrell Museum, the mountains as a chief park interpreter with Alberta Parks, traffic while at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles and stars as the founding director of Victoria’s Centre of the Universe.

 

May 12th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

History of the Hubble Space Telescope – Chris Gainor

Abstract:

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched 28 years ago in 1990. After overcoming problems caused by a defective main mirror, Hubble has made discoveries that have revolutionized our view of the universe we live in. This talk will cover the history of Hubble based on a book the speaker is writing.

Bio:

Chris Gainor is a historian specializing in the history of space flight and aeronautics. He has four published books and is currently writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. He is also First Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

 

May 19th 2018 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:15pm

Watching the Cold Universe from Chile:  Why ALMA Matters – Gerald Schieven

Abstract:

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is a giant multinational observatory located in the high desert of northern Chile, and made up of 66 telescopes designed to study cold gas and dust in unprecedented detail. In this talk we’ll learn what and why ALMA is, what it’s like to work there, and about some of the astonishing discoveries ALMA is making.

Bio:

Gerald Schieven is an astronomer at NRC.  A native of Ontario, Gerald got his PhD from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  He has worked at Queen’s University in Kingston, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, before moving to Victoria in 2008 to lead the Canadian support of ALMA  operations.

Astronomy Day 2018 in Victoria

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The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal BC Museum present

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum

Saturday, April 21, 2018 10AM to 4PM

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

Poster (408k PDF) – please spread the word and stick a reminder on your fridge

Gallery of photos from Astronomy Day 2018


All Astronomy Day activities are FREE and available to the general public. Membership in RASC is not required.

Regular admission applies to the Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre.

Telescope at Astronomy Day 2017

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 4PM

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

  • Interactive activities and displays both inside and outside
    • View the Sun safely through solar telescopes on the plazaa
    • Telescope mirror grinding – inside
    • Astrophotography – inside
    • Hands-on activities for the kids – inside
  • Presentations in Newcombe Auditorium
    • 11:00 AM – Speaker: Dr. Samantha Lawler, NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre
      Title: Planet 9 or Planet Nein? Discoveries in the Distant Solar System
    • 12:00 PM – Knowledge Network Space SUITE I
    • 1:00 PM –
      Speaker: Dr. Patrick Coté, NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre
      Title: CASTOR: A Flagship Canadian Space Telescope
    • 2:00 PM – Knowledge Network Space Suite II
    • 3:00 PM – Knowledge Network Space Suite III

Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PM

The Hon. Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor looking through Chuck Filnesss' telescope

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Lectures
    • 8PM-
      Speaker: Daniel Posey
      Title: Gateway to the Stars: Science, Civic Identity, and Tourism at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), Victoria B.C. 1903-1941
  • Only holders of (free) tickets will be admitted to this evening event!
  • Click Here to Reserve Your Tickets 

RASC National Star Party from Victoria

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RASC Victoria members used the Bob Wright Centre at the University of Victoria for a nation-wide celebration of RASC astronomy in Canada for the last 150 years, from 3-5pm on Saturday, January 27th. We will were joined by astronomy teachers and students from University of Victoria, Camosun College, and Victoria High School. Tours of the 32″ telescope and observing the Sun through solar telescopes was happening outside. Members participated in a series of Youtube “webisodes” from RASC Centres across Canada.

Photo gallery

Island Star Party – September 15 & 16

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The 22nd Anniversary Island Star Party takes place at Bright Angel Park in Cowichan Station on Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16. Please see starfinders.ca/island-star-party for more information including the directions to the location, schedule, and guest speakers.

If you wish to print and display posters, they are available at starfinders.ca/island-star-party/star-party-poster.

RASCals Star Party 2017

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July 28-30, 2017

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

The observing field at dusk on Friday night
The observing field at dusk on Friday night

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. Prizes include telescopes!

Don’t want to camp? No problem…you can drive home after an evening of fun on the observing field.

Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – no white lights!

 

Photo gallery for RASCals 2017 Star Party

Schedule of Events

Friday 28th

  • 2:00 pm – Gates open
  • 8:00 pm – Welcome and door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker – Elizabeth Griffin, PhD (NRC – Hertzberg) Big data, little data, or (Help!) no data
  • 10:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Saturday 29th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • 1:00 pm – Eclipse Viewing – Michael Webb in Metchosin House
  • 2:00 pm – New telescope for Victoria Centre Observatory – fundraiser & reception in Metchosin House
  • 8:00 pm – Door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker – Henry Ngo, PhD (NRC – Hertzberg) Exploring Exoplanets
  • 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

Sunday 30th

  • Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
  • 12:00 pm – early departures please!

 Prizes!


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.

 

2016 Award Recipients for Victoria Centre

Posted by as Events, Meetings

Service and achievement awards presented at RASC Victoria Centre’s Annual General Meeting, held November 27, 2016 at the Cedar Hill Golf Course, Victoria, BC, Canada

All AGM Event photos

 

Certificate of Appreciation, For Public Outreach at the DAO summer star parties

For their outstanding support and engagement in the role of ” Person in Charge ” and Volunteer Coordinator. Presented to: Nelson Walker, Chris Purse, Sherry Buttnor, and Lauri Roche (absent).

Nelson Walker receives his Certificate of Appreciation for publi
Nelson Walker receives his Certificate of Appreciation for public outreach at the DAO from Sherry Buttnor

 

Chris Purse receives his Certificate of Appreciation for public outreach at the DAO from Sherry Buttnor
Chris Purse receives his Certificate of Appreciation for public outreach at the DAO from Sherry Buttnor
Sherry Buttnor receives her Certificate of Appreciation for publ
Sherry Buttnor receives her Certificate of Appreciation for publ

Special Certificate of Appreciation

For His Continued Efforts and Successes in Supporting RASC Members in the access of on-line Live-Broadcasting of Monthly General Meetings. Presented to : Matt Watson.

Matt Watson receives his Certificate of Appreciation for the live broadcasts of the meetings from Sherry Buttnor
Matt Watson receives his Certificate of Appreciation for the live broadcasts of the meetings from Sherry Buttnor

Award of Excellence, Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award for Amateur Telescope Making

For His Outstanding Achievement in Designing and the Building of a Custom Telescope Tracking Platform c/w innovative features. Presented to : Jim Stillburn.

Jim Stillburn receives the Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award in Amateur Telescope Making from Sherry Buttnor for building his Poncet Telescope tracking system
Jim Stillburn receives the Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award in Amateur Telescope Making from Sherry Buttnor for building his Poncet Telescope tracking system

Award of Excellence in Astrophotography

For His Excellent ongoing work in Solar Imaging and the Mercury Transit on 6 May 2016, 6:14 AM, Canon T3i, f/4 300 mm. Presented to : Mr. John McDonald (absent).

Transit of Mercury AM - by John McDonald
Transit of Mercury AM – by John McDonald

Special Award of Excellence

For His Dedicated Support of Public Outreach at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, 2016. Presented to : Mr. David Lee

David Lee receives his Award of Excellence for organizing the speaker series for the DAO Summer Star Parties from Sherry Buttnor
David Lee receives his Award of Excellence for organizing the speaker series for the DAO Summer Star Parties from Sherry Buttnor

The Newton / Ball Service Award

For his Outstanding Dedication to Serving RASC Members in 2016, including : the Messier Marathon, Astronomy Day at the RBCM, the RASC Star Party and DAO Public Outreach. Presented to : Mr. Nelson Walker.

Nelson Walker receives the Newton Ball Service Award from Sherry Buttnor
Nelson Walker receives the Newton Ball Service Award from Sherry Buttnor

 

Pizza Party!

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Last call for the pizza party!

Saturday, December 3rd, starting at 4PM

Garry Oak room at the Fairfield Community Centre

NEW TIME: we will be starting at 4pm. Because there is a VCO session AND a Plaskett session on the same night, we will start the pizza party at 4pm to give people a chance to stop by for a slice or two, then head up to the hill.

If you are a Victoria Centre member, and volunteered at a Victoria Centre event (DAO, Astronomy Day, Beaveree, Saanich Fair, etc) in the past couple of years, you’re invited. Your spouse, too! After all, they’re the ones who stay home to mind the fort while we go out and play under the stars.

If you would like to come to the party, please reply to Sherry by Monday Nov 28th latest. (use the email address she sent via email).

Pizza night
Pizza night

Encore Star Party!

Posted by as Events, Uncategorized

Encore! Encore! The RASC Victoria Centre, in partnership with Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, the National Research Council of Canada, and Science Literacy Week, present one final Saturday evening Star Party at the DAO, on Saturday September 24th. All the same great activities you enjoyed at the observatory all summer are on the schedule for the evening, with Dr Geoff Steeves of the Planetary Society as our special guest speaker.
Tickets are required. Tickets are free, and will become available starting at 1pm, Friday September 16th at our EventBrite site.  Click here. See you there!

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

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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 !!