Dark Nebulae are elusive and one of the most difficult deep sky objects to observe. With the aid of larger telescopes in the 1990s more amateurs started to seek out these objects. Inspired by a mentor of the RASC Halifax Centre Paul pursued a project to observe as many of E. E. Barnard’s Dark Nebulae objects as possible and composed a list for the Observer’s Handbook. In the process much was learned about how best to observe these dark nebulae and Paul made a discovery along the way. Recently with the construction of a backyard observatory Paul’s obsession with dark nebulae has been rejuvenated with a new project. The second part of this talk will discuss that observatory itself and a current project to reimage Barnard’s catalogue.
Paul Gray: It was the visit of Halley’s Comet in 1985 that hooked Paul on astronomy. He has been active member of RASC since 1988 and has served as president in both the Moncton and Halifax Centres. He chaired the 2010 General Assembly. Paul has served on numerous positions at the national level including the Chair of the National Observing Committee and the Editor of the RASC Observer’s Calendar. In 2016 Paul was awarded the RASC Service Award for his contributions at both the local and national level. He is also a 3 time recipient of the Ken Chilton award. In 1998 Paul found himself moving to Maryland, USA for 5 years. While there he became a member of the Delmarva Stargazers and still remains as their Honorary Northern member.
Observing first with a 60mm Tasco and then a 100mm F4, made from a Taylor Hobson TV Lens, he completed the Messier list. Later, in his final year of high school he built a 330mm F4.5 reflector. After his move to the USA he observed with a 12.5” F5 reflector to complete his Finest NGC List as well as his Dark Nebulae project. He has a passion for meteor observing and deep sky observing. He has ventured into photography many times over the years in film, DSLR and CCD. He “went off the deep end” so to speak while in college when he teamed up with David Lane to conduct a supernova search and at age 22 found his first. He would later discover 5 supernovae and share one with his daughter Kathryn Aurora Gray. To keep things in the family his son Nathan Gray also would find a supernova as part of the program he and David Lane developed. Recently he made a dream come true by finally building his backyard observatory at his home in Nova Scotia.
at Cedar Hill Golf Course, 1400 Derby Road Victoria
Over the last few decades we have uncovered a great deal about the formation of stars. We have also undertaken an extensive census of planets and planetary systems around other stars. We are confident that the typical young star begins life surrounded by a gaseous yet dusty orbiting disk of material and that this circumstellar disk is the birth site of planetary systems. Nevertheless, it is still almost impossible to witness the formation of planets and instead we must settle for indirect circumstantial evidence of the planet formation process when comparing observations against theoretical ideals and numerical simulations. For this reason, astronomers have been developing ever more powerful telescopes and instruments to peer deeply into the cloudy environs of star formation and uncover planets in formation. I will discuss some recent observations that suggest planets may form during the earliest stages of star formation. I will also describe planned and anticipated (space) telescopes that will provide new ways of searching for planets in formation.
Dr. Doug Johnstone is an astronomer at the National Research Council’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, BC. From 2012-2014 Doug was the Associate Director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, a 15-m telescope on Mauna Kea devoted to observations of the sky at sub-millimeter wavelengths. Doug’s main research interests follow the formation of stars and planetary systems. He began his professional life as a theorist at the University of California, Berkeley, working on the evolution of circumstellar disks around young stars, back before extra-solar planet detections were common. He has spent time at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the University of Toronto, and the National Research Council of Canada. Today, Dr. Johnstone’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of structure in molecular clouds, attempting to disentangle the physical processes through which a molecular cloud sheds into individual stars and planetary systems.
Dr. Reka Winslow
Wednesday October 10th, 2018 at 7:30 PM
Room A104 Bob Wright Centre UVic
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are large eruptions of plasma and magnetic field into interplanetary space originating in the Sun’s atmosphere. CMEs interact with the environment that they propagate through; for example, they are the most common cause of planetary space weather, and they also modulate the flux of galactic cosmic rays. Because CMEs can be associated with strong southward magnetic fields of long duration, high velocities, enhanced dynamic pressures, and solar energetic particles, they are strong drivers of geomagnetic storm activity at Earth. The effects of CMEs on Earth’s magnetosphere have been studied for many decades; on the other hand, studies of CME effects on other planets are only now becoming possible with a number of spacecraft in orbit around inner solar system planets. This new data enables us, for the first time, to directly observe how CMEs cause space weather on other planets, and also how CMEs change during propagation from the Sun to Earth. In this talk, I will present efforts to investigate how CMEs evolve as they propagate outward from the Sun, in order to better predict their effects on planetary magnetospheres. I will also showcase how CMEs affect Mercury’s magnetosphere as well as the flux of galactic cosmic rays in the inner solar system.
Dr. Reka Winslow is a research scientist in the Space Science Center at University of New Hampshire, where she also conducted her postdoctoral work. She holds a Ph.D. in geophysics, having specialized in space physics and planetary science at UBC. She has over 10 years of experience conducting research in space physics. Her work bridges the fields of heliophysics and planetary science, by focusing on observational studies of coronal mass ejections, interplanetary shocks, galactic cosmic rays, and solar energetic particle events to better understand their evolution in the inner heliosphere and their interaction with different planetary magnetospheres in the solar system. She is a member of the science team for the CRaTER instrument onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and was a member of the MESSENGER science team while the spacecraft was orbiting Mercury.
Exoplanets are everywhere! In the last 25 years, thousands of exoplanets have been found throughout the Milky Way. But if they are so common, why is it that we still don’t know how they are formed? With the ALMA telescope we can now finally zoom into the birth cradles of planets: dusty disks around young stars. The spectacular images have given us new insights, but also raised many more questions regarding the process of planet formation.
Dr.Nienke van der Marel is an NRC postdoctoral research fellow at the Herzberg institute. She received her PhD in 2015 at Leiden University in the Netherlands, her country of birth. After that, she spent two years at the University of Hawaii as Parrent research fellow, before joining the Herzberg institute in November last year.
In Room 124 Engineering and Computer Science Building, UVic
Please note the Room Change
Galaxies are vast collections of stars that evolve over billions of years. From surveys of a hundreds of thousands of galaxies, we can see that they fall into roughly two categories: those that are alive and forming new stars, and those that are dead, or no longer forming new stars. Gas is the fuel for star formation, and there is plenty of it in the universe constantly falling into galaxies, so why have some galaxies simply stopped turning gas into stars? This cessation of star formation, called “quenching”, is one of the biggest puzzles of galaxy evolution. Drawing upon my own research, I will give an overview of the different theories explaining the death of galaxies and what the observational evidence tells us.
Dr. Joanna Woo writes: I am an astrophysicist with a focus on galaxy evolution using a variety of cutting-edge observational and theoretical tools. While studying for a B.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy from UBC, I established and became the president of the UBC Astronomy Club which is still active to this day. I also held a part time job at the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. Being the adventurous type, I decided to pursue graduate studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, receiving my Ph.D. in 2014. Along with a rigorous physics education, I picked up two languages (Hebrew and Arabic). I then spent four years at the Institute for Astronomy of ETH Zurich, where, along with exciting research, I learned the basics of Swiss German. I am thrilled to be back in Canada where I am a postdoctoral researcher at UVic. (I am now trying to improve my French.)
Wednesday April 11th 2018 at 7:30 PM Room 167, Elliot Building
No, the lions and tigers and bears have not rebranded! These are categories of exoplanets (planets around other stars). At first, we only knew about a small handful of exoplanets, but they were nothing like the planets from our solar system. As our methods improved, the discoveries kept piling on and now there are several thousand known exoplanets from many different detection techniques. Tonight, I’ll give a summary of exoplanet search techniques and what we know so far about these planets. I’ll also talk a little bit about my own research and share some experiences from studying some of the largest exoplanets using telescopes on Maunakea and Palomar.
Bio: Dr Henry Ngo is currently a Plaskett Postdoctoral Fellow working for the National Research Council of Canada at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. He was born in Mississauga, Ontario but grew up in Richmond, BC. He studied at UBC for his bachelors, Queen’s University in Kingston, ON for his Masters and just finished his PhD in Planetary Science at Caltech last summer. Henry and his family are happy to be back in BC and they are loving life on beautiful Vancouver Island!
Globular clusters have long been used to test theories of stellar evolution, stellar dynamics, and galaxy formation. In recent years, these old clusters have emerged as fertile grounds to search for black holes and understand their formation. “Intermediate-mass” black holes have been proposed to lurk in their centres and could represent seeds from which super-massive black holes grow in the early universe. Dynamical formation of stellar-mass black hole binaries in the dense cores of globular clusters has also been suggested as a main formation channel for the sources of gravitational waves recently detected by the LIGO experiment. I will give an overview of the recent successes (and failures) of astronomers’ exciting hunt for black holes in globular clusters.
Bio: Vincent Hénault-Brunet recently joined NRC Herzberg as a Plaskett Fellow. He was born in Montreal, where he completed his BSc in physics from McGill and MSc in astrophysics from Université de Montréal. He then obtained his PhD from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (UK), and was a research fellow at the University of Surrey (UK) and Radboud University (Netherlands) before moving to Victoria. His research focuses on stellar populations and globular clusters, in particular on the dynamics of stars in these systems.
Wednesday February 14th 2017 at 7:30 PM Room A104, Bob Wright Centre.
During the past two decades, the standard model of the cosmology ΛCDM has commonly been accepted by the astrophysical community and successfully reproduced and even predicted many observational effects. I will discuss about one of the principal components of this model: dark matter and I will describe why we need it and what are the current hypotheses of its nature.
Bio: Guillaume Thomas is a new postdoctoral NRC fellow who joined Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics in October. He was born in Epinal France and obtained his Master and PhD at the Strasbourg Observatory. Thomas is interested in the formation and the dynamical evolution of spiral galaxies. He is also interested in exploring alternative theories to the model ΛCDM. You can follow him on Twitter at @Thomas_gft.
Quasars are the brightest objects in our Universe. A quasar is a rotating disk as big as our solar system and hotter than the Sun, formed when matter spirals into a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy. I will discuss these fascinating objects and how they tap the strong gravity of black holes.
Bio: Patrick Hall is an astronomer and Professor at York University. Born in California to Canadian parents, he was an undergraduate at U. C. Berkeley, a graduate student at U. Arizona, and a postdoc at U. Toronto, Princeton, and the Universidad Catolica de Chile. He divides his work time between research on quasars (and any object with a sufficiently odd spectrum), teaching astrophysics, and outreach. You can follow him on Twitter at @patrickbhall
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