DAO Summer Star Party – May 23, 2015

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Summer Saturday Star Party Activities

In the Dome:

Tours of the historic dome and the Plaskett computer room begin every 20 minutes from 7:45 through to about 9:45 pm. After this the Plaskett telescope will be opened and visitors are welcome to come up to the second floor to see in real time what the telescope is looking at. Volunteers from the RASC and the Friends of the Observatory will be on hand to give information about the images that are being screened on the dome walls.

In the Centre of the Universe Building:

Exhibits are open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm.

Planetarium shows will be ongoing from 7:45 through to 10:15 pm. These are 15 to 20 minutes in length. Approximately 25 people can be accommodated at any one time in the little dome.

Astronomy presentations are in the Auditorium from 7:30 through to 9:30.

Here are this weeks lectures for May 23rd

  • 7:30 pm An introduction to the Night Sky David Lee
  • 8:00 pm “Shine on Silver Moon” Lauri Roche
  • 8:30 pm An introduction to the Night Sky David Lee
  • 900 pm “Shine on Silver Moon” Lauri Roche

On the Deck:

RASC Volunteers will have their solar telescopes out until the sun goes down and then will put up their nightsky telescopes for viewing the moon, the planets and the stars. This is ongoing from 7:30 to 11:00 pm

Please come and join us. We invite you to share our information on social media.

A reminder to Dress Warmly! It cools down after the sun goes down up on the hill.

Event Info

Summer Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in 2015

Posted by as Events, Special Events

The historic Plaskett telescope
The historic Plaskett telescope

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre
with the support of The National Research Council of Canada, Herzberg

Summer Star Parties

at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
5071 West Saanich Road

September 12th, 2015

7:30 PM TO 11:00 PM (Gates close at 10:00PM)


  • Tours of the historic Plaskett telescope
  • Astronomy lectures and presentations
  • Music in the dome
  • Night sky viewing
  • “Constellation Walks”

Please download and print the poster as a reminder for these events!

For safety reasons, we are limited to hosting 200 visitors at the Observatory at a time. If you arrive and are turned away, please try again later, or on another Saturday evening. We are open twelve Saturday evenings this summer to help accommodate you. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Please note there is absolutely no stopping or parking along West Saanich Road adjacent to the Observatory entrance. Smoking anywhere on Observatory grounds is also prohibited. Please, foot traffic is NOT allowed on the road up to the top! Visitors may not park at the bottom gate or on W.Saanich Rd and walk up to the top.

If you require assistance while at the Observatory, please ask any of the Commissionaires, or RASC members on site. RASC members can be identified by their safety vests.

For more information about these events, please contact Sherry Buttnor president@victoria.rasc.ca


Messier Marathon – March 20 or 21, 2015

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The Messier Marathon will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015 here in Victoria, hosted by Michel Michaud, our Observing Co-Chair. If the weather looks poor for Saturday, Michel may move the event ahead a day to Friday night (the 20th). RASC members should be designated Active Observers, since this event will be held at our observatory (and other locations) on Observatory Hill, which is behind a locked gate. Michel will send out go/no go notifications on our email list for Active Observers.

Members-only Event

RASC Victoria Centre also encourages the general public to participate in your own Messier Marathon. All you need is a dark site to observe from with an unobstructed view of the souther half of the horizon. Click on the above event for useful information about how to observe celestial objects in an efficient manner, so you have a chance to see all 110 objects on the list!

Victoria Centre AGM & Dinner – Sunday, Nov 16, 2014

Posted by as Events, Meetings

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria Centre

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

Sunday, November 16, 2014

at the Moon Under Water Brewpub, 350 Bay St, Victoria, BC

6:00pm – Drinks, conversation

  • No host bar
  • If interested there may be a chance to tour the brewery

6:30 – Dinner

Payment -Cost of dinner is $35.00 per person, inclusive of all taxes and gratuities

  • Payment is only required for the meal.
  • Attendance at both the speaker presentation and the business meeting is free of charge.
  • The total number of dinners must be confirmed by Monday, November 10th. Please look over the menu and send your choice of First Course and Main Course to:
    • Lauri Roche – 250-652-2361 or text to 250-893-5277 or
    • By email to pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca
    • Payment at the door – by cheque (preferred) or cash
    • Meals will be pre-ordered and must be paid for, whether you show up or not

Menu: fixed sit-down meal. Choices:

First Course – choice of soup or salad

  • Carrot Ginger Soup
  • House salad

Main Course – choice of entrée

  • Grilled Pacific salmon filet, served with fresh seasonal vegetables and risotto
  • Roast beef served with a Yorkshire pudding, gravy and fresh seasonal vegetables
  • Stuffed Portobello mushroom caps, served with Yorkshire pudding, country cream gravy and fresh seasonal vegetable – vegetarian option

Tea, Coffee (regular and decaffeinated) and Dessert buffet service. Specialty coffees available at cost

7:30pm – Speaker – Dr. James Di Francesco

Dr. Francesco will be describing the newest research that is coming out of ALMA, the Atacama Large Meter Array, down in Chile and the latest advances in planetary formation and will bring us up to date with the James Webb Space Telescope. This talk should not be missed!

8:30 pm Annual General Meeting

The agenda will be sent out closer to the meeting date.

Partial Solar Eclipse – success!

Posted by as Events, News

October 23, 2104

Sid Sidhu – What a day it was for viewing the Solar Eclipse! In the early morning all the weather reports indicated nothing but rain in Victoria for the rest of the day, however the 10 am updates showed some glimmer of hope that we may be in luck. Then, on cue at noon, the clouds parted and – wow a blue sky. I suppose a bit of sacrifice does help.

By 1:20 pm we had 11 telescopes at Mt. Tolmie to view and share the spectacle with the public. There was a continuous stream of people young and old hoping to have a glimpse of the Moon biting a chunk of the Sun. There was one older couple who were one of the first to come and practically the last to leave. From all the responses of their appreciation from everyone it appears that it was a very successful event and they were glad to be a part of it.

Though the main event in Victoria was at Mt. Tolmie, many of our members had their own individual eclipse viewing at their work places. Many thanks for their participation and reporting their GM counts.

After all the tallies, the total GM count is 274. Thanks to all the volunteers for their help.

Betty Hesser – Sid, you can add eight amateur cellists to your list of enthusiastic eclipse viewers! The sky was not very promising in the morning, but I took two pairs of solar viewing glasses to my cello group rehearsal in the early afternoon. One set her watch alarm for eclipse maximum, and then we laid down our instruments, loosened our bows, and headed out to the patio in the bright, clear sunshine. There was much excitement as we passed the glasses around and everyone wanted to know what exactly was happening, why we didn’t see this every month, why didn’t everything get dark, etc.

A wonderful afternoon among friends with music and a public-outreach opportunity, too! By the time our rehearsal was over, it had clouded over again, and we were sprinkled on as we left the parking lot.

Joe Carr – The weather today did not start out very promising for successfully observing the Partial Solar Eclipse in the early afternoon. The morning saw heavy cloud cover and rain squalls, and the forecast was gloomy, which probably also described many RASC Victoria members’ mood for this event. The eclipse was to start at 1:32PM, and about an hour before the skies cleared and the Sun shone, as if some kind of miracle was being given to us. The clear skies held through the first half of the eclipse, and didn’t really deteriorate until midway through the last half.

I was very happy to have observed and photographed this partial solar eclipse, and shared the experience with four others from my front yard location in the city. We must be somehow charmed in this part of the world, since virtually the same miraculous weather circumstances repeated themselves for the Transit of Venus in 2012.

Bill Weir – I skipped out of work early at Victoria General Hospital, drove around to the front entrance, and setup solar gear. I took some really awful shots of the eclipse through my scope so won’t show those. My favourites are of those of people who were nice enough to share the event with me.

Sherry Buttnor – I set up my gear on the Metchosin star party field about 30 minutes before the start of the eclipse. The clouds had almost completely disappeared; it was wonderfully (and unexpectedly) sunny, but windy and cool. My first visitor was a Westshore RCMP K9 officer, who was exercising his service dog in the adjacent field. He enjoyed a look at the pre-eclipse Sun and the huge sunspot complex through my telescope, but couldn’t stay for the main event.

After connecting my camera and laptop, I began taking images of the eclipse. The sky remained clear until just past mid-eclipse. Within moments, the clouds rolled in and I just barely got my gear packed up before the rain came pelting down.

During the two hours I was on the field, I had six other visitors at my scope; all people who came to walk their dogs, and whom I offered a look at the eclipsed Sun on my laptop screen. They were pleasantly surprised, and all of them thought this eclipse was an amazing sight. Seven additional GM’s for the list. Video

David Lee – Prepared to be disappointed I packed my car this morning with my camera and a half made solar filter. I recall the transit of Venus from previous years that we had lost hope for appearing miraculously from behind clouds. Today after days of rain the skies cleared just hours before the beginning of the eclipse. I assembled the solar filter over the lunch hour and made it to my vantage point just moments after the eclipse started.

I was most impressed by the display of sunspots especially the one near the centre which narrowly missed being covered as the eclipse progressed.

I was able to share some of the shots from the hour and half that I was there with a few people that passed by. Just a few minutes before totality the clouds started to appear so I packed up, but with a smile on my face as one of my co-workers observed while passing by.

Constantine Thomas – Partial Eclipse in progress, with monster sunspot! Yay, I got the binocular projector to work!  This was from around 3:30ish, just before the clouds rolled in.

Bill Smith – The sun came out from noon-3:30pm. Thanks to the Gods. Cattle Point was a stunning packed place to watch this moving event.

Chris Spratt – Watching it from home. Can see sunspot group with naked eye!

Gary Seronick – We lucked out at my place — but only just. A little while after mid-eclipse, I had to rush outside to rescue the scope from the rain! My story on Skynews.

John McDonaldVideo event from Fairfield.


RASCals Star Party – schedule of events

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Please download our poster to stick on your fridge and to refer to: Poster (130k PDF)

Event – map and times for your e-calendar

Come join us!  Learn Astronomy and Explore the Night Sky

July 25 to 27, 2014

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.

Schedule of Events  (subject to change)

Friday 25th

12:00pm – Gates open

8:00pm – Welcome and Door prizes     

8:30pm – Presentation: Open University Astronomy, John McDonald

9:30pm –Guided Telescope Walk , followed by viewing of the night sky           

Saturday 26th

Solar viewing – all day

1:00pm – Workshop: 27,000 Km per hour, photographing ISS Passes, Charles Banville

2:00pm – Workshop: Observing Not for the Faint of Heart: The RASC Challenge Objects, Nelson Walker

3:00pm – Workshop: Astronomy 101, Sherry Buttnor

4:00pm – 6:00pm – activities for the kids

8:00pm – Door prizes

8:30pm – Speaker: Space Flight through the Ages, Chris Gainor

9:30pm – Guided Telescope Walk, followed by viewing of the night sky

Sunday 27th 

9:30 am – Farewell to Charles Banville – brunch at My Chosen Cafe (no host)

Cleanup (Please pitch-in & help)

12 noonearly departures please!


Mapping the Deep: the past and future promise of searches for trans-Neptunian worlds

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Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting, to be held on Wednesday May 14, 2014 in room A104 of the Bob Wright Centre, UVic, at 19:30. Directions and venue info.

Michele Bannister
Michele Bannister

Presentation: Mapping the Deep: the past and future promise of searches for trans-Neptunian worlds – Dr. Michele Bannister, a postdoctoral fellow at UVic.

The small icy worlds beyond Neptune provide insights into the early history of the Solar System. I am interested in understanding how they formed, evolved and reached their present orbits, and in the landforms of their surface ices.

Through Infra-red Goggles Darkly – an engineer’s view of climate change!

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Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting, held on Wednesday March 12, 2014 in room A104 of the Bob Wright Centre, UVic, at 19:30.

Arctic sea-ice thickness Jan-Feb 2011A Short Bio of Dr. Parvez Kumar, P.Eng., FCASI (this latter is Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics & Space Institute)

Dr. Kumar is an Aerospace Engineer whose career has spanned over forty years working in the Aviation and Space sectors in Government, Industry and Academia. His twenty years of experience with the Canadian Space Programme covers establishing Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) in the early 1980’s, to establishing the Canadian scientific research programme for enabling scientists to do research in microgravity onboard the ISS, to setting up the first training programme for Canadian Astronauts and being their Deputy Director General.

In his chequered career he was seconded to Aerospatiale in the early 1970’s to be Hawker Siddeley Aviation’s man in France for the development of the first Airbus A300; he then joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority in their Flight Test Department for the certification of civil aircraft; he moved to Canada in the late 1970’s to help design and set up the Flight Test Programme for the Canadair Challenger Business Jet; moved onto Transport Canada in their Airworthiness Branch; Industry Canada as the Manager of the international Airborne Surveillance Systems Programme spearheaded by Canada; in 1982 he was hired by the National Research Council in Ottawa to help establish the Canadian Space Station Programme. Amongst other assignments he was the Space Technology Advisor to Atlantic Canada; Director of the European Space Agency’s Harsh Environments Initiative under contract while he was at C-CORE, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Assistant Research Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa where he set up the first Advanced Space Studies Course and taught Mechanical Systems Design to Final Year Engineering Students; he has lectured to Universities and High Schools all across Canada as well as for Continuing Education Programmes at Carleton University and the University of Victoria. He brings a wealth of hands-on experience to his lectures.

He graduated with an Honours BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College in London, UK, and obtained his PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Southampton University, UK. He has lived and worked in seven countries and, now retired, lives with his wife in Sooke.

First evening of observing by the RASCals of Cattle Point

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RASC Victoria Centre: Cattle Point &emdash; Joe and Bruno at Cattle PointAfter several months of being skunked by bad weather, the RASCals of Cattle Point finally had a good night to offer observing to the public from RASC’s newest Urban Star Park.

Our Treasurer Bruce Lane coordinates this event. Here is his report from the Feb 7, 2014 event.

This Friday was the first time the weather has cooperated for monthly astronomy at Cattle Point! Joining me at Cattle Point were Dorothy and Miles Paul, Chris Purse, and Alex (new member). Owing to snow shock (from weather earlier in the day) and cold conditions (still several degrees warmer than being up at the VCO) there were very few people out and about to interact with. The sky was clear, but winds were gusting at about 20km per hour, to add a bit of windchill. There were only two members of the public to have a look through the telescope. I finally packed it in at 9:15pm.

Congratulations to the group, and special thanks to the volunteers who braved the freezing conditions to make this happen!