Speaker: Radio and Microwave Astronomy – Dr. Lisa Locke

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June 14th, 2017, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

Radio and Microwave Astronomy – History, Canadian Involvement, and Interesting Tidbits – Dr. Lisa Locke, NRC Herzberg

Dr. Lisa Locke
Dr. Lisa Locke

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.

Bio

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.

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SPEAKER: Imagining New Worlds – Benjamin Gerard

 

Wednesday, May 10th 2017 at 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre Room A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s Monthly Meeting

The past 20 years has seen the dawn of a new field in astronomy: extrasolar planets, or exoplanets for short—planets orbiting around stars in other solar systems. We now know that the Universe is teeming with exoplanets, thanks largely to the help of the Kepler space telescope, which finds exoplanets by seeing their shadow on its much brighter host star. Although there are a number of different methods of finding exoplanets, my research focuses on an exoplanet detection technique called direct imaging, which as the name suggests is designed to directly image these other worlds. But this is not as simple as it sounds, and it ultimately requires the use of our most powerful telescopes and specially designed optical systems in order to distinguish an exoplanet from the overwhelming glare of its host star. In light of the upcoming total Solar eclipse in August 2017, I’ll describe one of these instruments, called a coronagraph, which was first used to observe the Solar Corona without the help of the Moon! After outlining these challenges, both in engineering and in physics, and how they can be overcome, I will highlight the main instruments and detections in this field of direct imaging, and also compare the advantages direct imaging has over other techniques. Come prepared to see real pictures of other worlds!

Bio

Benjamin Gerard is a 1st year PhD student in Physics and Astronomy at UVic. He did his Bachelors in Physics and Astronomy at University of Colorado at Boulder and is originally from San Francisco, CA. His research, supervised by Dr. Christian Marois, focuses on optical design and image processing algorithms for instruments made to directly image exoplanets.

SPEAKER: Dark matter: Small scales, big problems – Kyle Oman

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April 12, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Elliott Building Lecture Wing Room 167 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Dark matter: Small scales, big problems” – Kyle Oman, PhD candidate, UVic

Dwarf galaxies
Dwarf galaxies

Abstract:
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.

SPEAKER: Bugs in Space – Astrobiology and the Habitable Zone – Dr. Julia Foght

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March 8, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

Bugs in Space!? A Microbiologist’s View of Astrobiology and the Habitable Zone – Dr. Julia Foght

Dr. Julia Foght
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.

Video of presentation

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.

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

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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

Bio:

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.

2016 Award Recipients for Victoria Centre

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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

 

2016 Victoria Centre Council Nominations

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RASC Victoria Centre

Council (Board of Directors) Nominations 2017

  • President
    • Overall responsibility for Victoria Centre, public relations, conducts meetings
    • Nomination: Chris Purse
  • 1st Vice President
    • arrange speakers for meetings and events, event preparation
    • Nomination: Reg Dunkley
  • 2nd Vice President
    • membership, special projects, events
    • Nominations: Deb Crawford
  • Secretary
    • minutes, official records, correspondence
    • Nomination: Leslie Welsh
  • Treasurer
    • budget, financial records, taxes, retail sales
    • Nomination: Bruce Lane
  • Librarian
    • Nominations: Michel Michaud, Diane Bell (assistant)
  • Director of Telescopes
    • Nomination: Sid Sidhu
  • Light Pollution Abatement Chair
    • Nomination: Dave Robinson
  • School Outreach Co-Chairs
    • Nominations: Lauri Roche, Sid Sidhu
  • Public Outreach Chair
    • Co-ordinates and arranges public outreach events and volunteers
    • Nomination: Ken Mallory
  • Past President
    • Nomination: Sherry Buttnor
  • National Representative and Liaison
    • Nomination: Nelson Walker
  • Membership Coordinator
    • Nomination: Chris Purse
  • Skynews Editor
    • Nomination: Reg Dunkley
  • Observing, Co-Chairs
    • Nominations: Jim Stilburn, Michel Michaud
  • Technical Committee Chair
    • Nominations: Matt Watson
  • Webmaster
    • Nominations: Joe Carr

Members at Large: Nominations:

  • Jim Hesser (National RASC Anniversary Working Group)
  • Lauri Roche (National RASC Anniversary Working Group )
  • James DiFrancesco (DAO Liaison)
  • Alex Schmidt (UVic Liaison)
  • David Lee (Observing)
  • Li-Ann Skibo (RBCM Liaison)
  • Bill Almond (Historian)
  • Chris Gainor (National Officer)
  • John McDonald (Astronomy Café)

Please contact Nelson Walker (Past President and Nominations Chair – email) to nominate yourself or another RASC member for any office listed above.

Pizza Party! Yes, the one I promised. :-D

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Remember the pizza party I mentioned? Probably not…it was a year ago or more. Well, it’s on! As a thank you for all the long hours and hard work you’ve put in at various events, we’re inviting all Victoria Centre members (and your spouses) to a party.

If you are a RASC-Victoria Centre member, and have volunteered at one or more RASC events in the last couple of years, you’re invited!
-Saturday December 3rd.
-6pm-10pm
-Garry Oak room, Fairfield Community Centre,1341 Thurlow Road, Victoria.
This will be a pizza party, our regular monthly meeting for December, and a Members Night combined. We’d like at least two or three members to come and show off their skills: astrophotography, research projects, telescope making, crafts….anything astronomy-related that you’d like to share with the group.
Please email me directly if you plan to attend (and if you’re bringing your spouse), and if you’d like to present something as part of Members Night. Also let me know if you have any food allergies and/or special requests for pizza.

Email me at: popokinui@shaw.ca

*Please note: there will be NO regular monthly meeting at UVic in December.  The Pizza Party/Member’s Night will be in its place.  We will hold a short business segment as usual as required by our bylaws (around 7:30pm), but this meeting will be primarily a Thank-You get-together for our amazing volunteers.

Oct 12, 2016 – Searching for Habitable Planets around Alpha Centauri – Dr. Christian Marois

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October 12, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Searching for Habitable Planets around our Closest Neighbors, the Alpha Centauri Triple Star System.” – Dr. Christian Marois, NRC Herzberg

Dr. Christian Marois
Dr. Christian Marois

The Alpha Centauri star system is ideal to search for habitable planets by various observing techniques due to its proximity and wide range of stellar masses. Following the recent discovery of an Earth-size planet candidate located inside the Proxima Centauri habitable zone, I will discuss this remarkable discovery and the planet’s potential to find life. I will also present our current project to discover similar planets around the two Sun-like pair located 15,000 AU from Proxima Centauri. The Alpha Centauri system is the prime target of the Breakthrough Starshot program, a project to send small quarter-size probes to take resolve images of these new worlds, and to prepare for Humanity’s first step into a new star system.

Bio: Dr Marois completed his Ph.D. at the Université de Montréal in 2004. The main topic of his thesis work was to understand the limits in exoplanet imaging and to design innovating observing strategies. After his thesis, he did postdoctoral researches at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Univ. of California Berkeley and NRC. In 2008, while at NRC, he led the team that took the first image of another planetary system (HR 8799) using the Keck and Gemini telescopes. He is currently pursuing his research at the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics where he is part of the Gemini Planet Imager campaign and developing instruments for imaging Earth-like planets at Gemini South and the TMT.

Presentation video

2016 Annual General Meeting & Dinner

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Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria Centre

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

Sunday, November 27, 2016

at the Cedar Hill Golf Course, 1400 Derby Road, Victoria, BC

Call for Nominations

Event photos for the AGM

Awards presentations

6:00pm – Drinks, conversation

  • No host bar

6:30 – Dinner

Payment -Cost of the buffet dinner is $37.50 per person, inclusive of all taxes and gratuities. Alcoholic beverages not included.

  • 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 14th. Please look over the menu and send your choice of Main Course to:
    • Nelson Walker: 250-477-4820 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

Salads and Sides

  • caesar salad with croutons & parmesan cheese
  • mixed green salad with house vinaigrette
  • tomato & boconccini cheese salad with fresh basil & balsamic vinaigrette
  • red skin potato salad
  • garlic mashed potato & rice pilaf
  • assorted steamed vegetables
  • artisan breads

Main Course (pre-ordered): choice of one entrée

  • grilled ‘AAA’ sirloin steak
  • Pacific salmon with dill & lemon butter
  • Charbroiled Chicken Breast
  • Vegetarian ravioli with a herbed cream

After Dinner

  • assorted cakes, squares & fresh Level Ground coffee.

7:30pm – Speaker – The secret of Adaptive Optics – Paolo Turri, UVic Astronomy

Abstract:

Paolo Turri
Paolo Turri

Since the dawn of optical telescopes, astronomers have been struggling against a serious problem: Earth’s atmosphere. The turbulence in the atmosphere degrades the quality of astronomical images by reducing the spatial resolution that they could achieve theoretically. For centuries astronomers had to live with this limitation, until space flight allowed them to put telescopes in orbit, avoiding the issue entirely. But for the larger telescopes here on the ground, the problem persisted. This was until a technical solution was finally found during the Cold War (but kept secret until few decades ago…).

Adaptive optics is a relatively new technology that allows a telescope to “manipulate” the light distorted by the atmosphere and to restore a clear vision of the skies. I will discuss the tricks that adaptive optics uses to achieve the result, as well as some of its scientific accomplishments. I will also tell the story of how we ended up acquiring this technology in astronomy. It’s a plot made of secrets, spies and mutually assured destruction.

Biography:
Paolo is from Italy and he graduated in Padua and Trieste for his degree in Astronomy. He is currently a PhD student in Astronomy at the University of Victoria and his field of research is in adaptive optics. He has observed at the Gemini South telescope to study the stellar populations of Galactic globular clusters. At NRC Herzberg he is also studying the performance of the adaptive optics system that will be built in Victoria for the future Thirty Meter Telescope.

 

8:30-9:30 pm Annual General Meeting & Presentations

Call to order: 8:30pm
Minutes of 2015 Annual Meeting: Les.

Secretary’s Annual Report: Les.

Treasurer’s Financial Report: Bruce.

National Representative’s Report: Lauri.

Awards:

Observing Certificate-

Award of Excellence in Astrophotography –

Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award in Amateur Telescope Making –

Newton – Ball Service Award 2016-

Certificate of Excellence –
Election of Victoria Centre Council Members: Nelson-

List of RASC Council positions for Victoria Centre 2016-2017:

Executive Positions

President – Chris Purse (nominee)

First Vice President – Reg Dunkley (nominee)

Second Vice President – Deb Crawford (nominee)

Secretary – Leslie Welsh (incumbent)

Treasurer – Bruce Lane (incumbent)

At large and others:

Past President – Sherry Buttnor

National Representative – Nelson Walker (nominee)

Librarian – Michel Michaud (incumbent) Diane Bell (assistant, nominee)

Telescopes and School Programs – Sid Sidhu

Public Outreach – Ken Mallory (nominee)

Skynews Editor – Reg Dunkley (incumbent)

Light Abatement Chair  –  Dave Robinson (incumbent)

Membership Chair – Chris Purse     (incumbent)

Webmaster – Joe Carr (incumbent)

Observing Chair – Michel Michaud, Jim Stilburn (incumbent co-chairs)

Systems Administrator /Technical Committee Chair – Matt Watson (incumbent)

Member(s) at Large:
Jim Hesser (National RASC Anniversary Working Group)
Lauri Roche (National RASC Anniversary Working Group )
James DiFrancesco (DAO Liaison)
Alex Schmidt (UVic Liaison)
David Lee (Observing)
Li-Ann Skibo (RBCM Liaison)
Bill Almond (Historian)
Chris Gainor (National Officer)
New Business

Door Prizes.

Adjourn.