Bigger, better, faster: how changes in technology drive astronomy data collection by Nat Comeau
Abstract: There are roughly five variables of interest in observational astronomy: where the object was (sky position), what it looked like (spatial resolution), when it was seen (observation time), how bright it was (brightness), and what colour of light it was (spectral resolution). In this talk I’ll give an overview of how enhancements in technology have driven how precisely we can measure these five variables, and how increasing this precision unlocks wonders that were previously invisible to us. From the first naked eye measurements of the planets, to automated networks of telescopes working hand in hand with gravitational wave observatories, I will describe how far we’ve come in astronomy data collection and how much more there is to do.
Could Creamsicles overtake Viva Puffs to become the favourite Astro Cafe summer treat? Penumbral Eclipse July 4. 2020 Billed as a subtle eclipse the penumbral shadow is subtle. What David didn’t expect was the orange ball that emerged from the horizon. A nice creamsicle colour! Camera: Nikon Z6 with FTZ adapter Lens: Nikkor 300/4 AFS with 1.4 x TC Effective 420mm cropped. Sensor ISO: 1600. Exposure: 1/100 sec at f/5.6 Processing: Adobe Photoshop CC 2020
Martian Citizen Science: Zoom Webinar at 11AM Tuesday
Meg Schwamb (Queen’s University Belfast) will be speaking about “Exploring Mars with 150,000 Earthlings.”
Planet Four (http://www.planetfour.org) and Planet Four: Terrains (http://terrains.planetfour.org) are citizen science projects mining Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) images to explore how the south pole of Mars is sculpted by the never-ending cycle of freezing and thawing of exposed carbon dioxide ice. In the summer, carbon dioxide jets loft dust and dirt through cracks in the thawing carbon dioxide ice sheet to the surface where winds blow the material into the hundreds of thousands of dark fans observed from orbit. Planet Four enlists over 136,000 volunteers to map the sizes, shapes, and orientations of these fans in high resolution images. Planet Four is creating an unprecedented wind map of the south pole of Mars in order to probe how the Martian climate changes over time and is impacted year to year by dust storms and other global-scale events. Planet Four: Terrains, aims to study the distribution of the jet process across the south pole and identify new targets of interest for MRO. Over 12,000 people have helped identify the channels and pits (dubbed araneiforms) carved during the jet formation process. In this talk, I’ll give an overview of Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains and present the latest results from these projects.
Astronomy Poem inspires Mystery Novel: from Marjie Welchframe
“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too truly to be feaful of the night.”
From poem The Old Astronomer Sarah Williams/S.A.D.I. English poet/novelist, 1868
Novelist Ian Rankin titled his Inspector Rebus novel Set in Darkness after these lines. The poem is written from the perspective of an aged astronomer on his deathbed bidding his student to continue his humble research. The lines have been chosen by a number of professional and amateur astronomers as their epitaphs. Entire poem: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Twilight_Hours_(1868)/The_Old_Astronomer
Time lapses by Neelam and Ajay Talwar and family in an amazingly complicated setup in the midday heat – note the giant fans! They did a wonderful job of capturing Bailey’s Beads peeking through the lunar craters and mountains along the thin rim of sunlight at the edge of the Moon at mid-eclipse.
Noctilucent clouds from Osoyoos – Debra Ceravolo
Debra’s comments on her Facebook page: “Many people like me have never seen noctilucent clouds and here I have seen and photographed four different events this month. The frequency of these special iridescent clouds is increasing due to climate change. Noctilucent clouds or NLCs form way out in the mesosphere at the edge of cold space. Meteor ‘smoke’ lingers there and ice crystals form around that. The solar minimum causes the thermosphere/mesosphere to be even colder and terrestrial activity affects how water vapour gets up there. So it’s water vapours and extreme cold that form NLCs. This photo was taken the evening of June 27th from my home in southern BC.”
Here is my time lapse video of another display on the morning of June 22.
Recording Astronomical Observations – Joe Carr
Joe reviews how he records his observations by using a combination of an observing log, photos, diagrams, and he also shares how he stays motivated and shares his observations online.
On 23 June former NRC/DAO Plaskett Fellow Samantha Lawler gave a public outreach lecture from her new Regina home entitled, “Planet Nine or Planet Nein?” She radiates enthusiasm for studying the outer solar system and includes some excellent graphics to help her audience gain new understanding in an enjoyable fashion. Here is UR’s message with links; if you watch the video I’m sure Samantha and UR would be grateful to receive your feedback via the form they provide:
“We hope you enjoyed “Planet Nine or Planet Nein?” with Dr. Samantha Lawler. A few links and attachments follow: 1) Please complete this survey – we would like to hear your feedback. 2) Please click on this link to view the recording of the presentation. 3) Attached are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the slide deck of Dr. Lawler’s presentation Again, thank you for your interest in the University of Regina’s Research with Impact!”
More Noctilucent Cloud Sightings from Edmonton’s Alister Ling
UVic Open House Presentation: Using Telescopes as Time Machines
Be sure to catch the following UVic Webinar that begins at 7:30PM on Wednesday June 24th: Using Telescopes as Time Machines by Nishith Eluri and Jonathan Ranallo
“The telescope is perhaps an astronomer’s most useful tool, allowing them to study and understand things billions of lightyears away, in places we could never dream of visiting in person. With only a small telescope and a dark view of the heavens, anyone can see with their own eyes the beautiful planets and moons of our Solar System, faraway spiral galaxies dancing and interacting with each other, the nebulous death throes of ancient stars, clusters of young stars just leaving their nurseries, and a myriad of other celestial wonders. This week, our volunteers Nishith and Jonathan will delve into the history and inner workings of telescopes of all types, from Galileo’s first hand-made refractor to the Earth-sized telescope used to image a black hole, and everything in between.”
Chris Purse shared this CBC story on a legal dispute regarding price fixing of amateur telescopes.
Christopher Go Planetary Imaging Tutorials
Zoom has allowed accomplished members of the astronomical community to share their expertise in a Webinar environment. These sessions are often posted on YouTube to replay at your leisure. There are so many postings, however it is easy to miss some valuable talks. In the following three links acclaimed planetary imager Christopher Go shares his expertise. These sessions may help some local planetary and lunar imagers to further hone their skills. These sessions were hosted by Woodland Hills Camera and Telescopes in April 2020.
Kuiper belt talk at the Wednesday Night UVic Astronomy Open House at 7:30 PM
Using New Horizons Probe for Parallax
The distance between the Earth and New Horizons offers a very long baseline that facilitates parallax measurements. Check out the interesting article here.
CANadian Virtual Astronomy Seminar Series (CANVAS)
The next talk in the CANVAS series will be given Paul Weigert of Western on Monday June 22 at 11:00 PDT. Dr. Weigert’s talk is titled ‘ Interstellar asteroids and comets: what are they and where do they come from?’
Visit the CANVAS webpage – http://astroherzberg.org/canvas/ – for the schedule of talks, a link to the YouTube channel, and links to the recorded talks and upcoming talks.
During this cloudy interlude RASCals have had to resort to desperate measures to capture Astro objects. Despite multiple layers of cloud and a rising Sun, Mike managed to get a remarkable amount of detail in this image taken at 9AM on Sunday June 14th. He writes: “The filter works well enough, but not perfect – on screen the sky is grey rather than a completely visible light-blocking black. Alignment points (for stacking software) needed to be set at a much higher brightness than I would normally do.” Check it out
There is a new sunspot on the Sun after three months of being spotless! Both Bill Weir and Joe Carr captured this apparition. More info on SpaceWeather.com for June 6, 2020.
Golden Week of Webinars in Astrophysics 2020
Photos from Edmonton
Thanks to Dave Robinson for forwarding these photos.
Undulating fog in the river valley – a time-lapse captured by Alister. The movie really shows the bulk motions that are not visible to the eye. Sped up 100X. Definitely on the meteorology side of things, but the Moon is in the movie at the start!
Masked Men Make Off with VCO Telescope
On June 4th, vigilant lunar astrophotographer Mike Nash captures RASCals in the act as they conduct top secret mission to ship Victoria Centre Observatory scope to a telescope spa in the Los Angeles area.
Venus setting behind the Chiricahua Mountains from Portal, Arizona
On May 28, 2020, I shot a video of the crescent Venus setting behind the Chiricahua Mountains. This was just 6 days before Venus passed between Earth and the Sun (i.e., inferior conjunction). Shot from Bifrost Observatory, 8-inch Meade LX200, Sony A6000. Fred Espenak (Mr. Eclipse)
Astronomy Cafe is normally held every Monday evening in Fairfield, Victoria, BC, Canada except during summer months or when the Monday falls on a statutory holiday. During the Spring of 2020, in-person meetings were suspended in favour of meeting online in order to comply with British Columbia’s provincial health directives to minimize risk for contracting the coronavirus COVID-19.
You are invited to share content for upcoming online meetings via our President Reg Dunkley (email@example.com). We will post your submitted content to our website and present it to members at the next online meeting, which still happens every Monday evening at 7:30PM. Of course, you are welcome to log in and present your content personally! Links to our online meetings are emailed to RASC Victoria Centre members a day or two ahead of time, so please join us!
7:30PM Wednesday March 11th 2020, Room A104 Bob Wright Centre, UVic
In 1572, a new “star” appeared in the sky that forever changed the way we think about the Universe. Identified by famed Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, this incredible event is now understood to have been the explosion of a dead star — a supernova. Since then, supernova observations have illuminated the Cosmos, revealing everything from the origin of the iron in our blood to the final fate of the Universe. In this talk, I’ll outline a brief history of supernova astronomy, culminating in the cutting-edge work being carried out in Victoria and across Canada today to understand why and how some stars explode, and the lasting impact of their explosions and remnants in our Galaxy and beyond.
Dr. Tyrone E. Woods is a research associate and Plaskett Fellow at NRC-Herzberg in Victoria. There, he studies the physics of some of the most energetic events in the Universe, by combining theoretical models with observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. Before returning to Canada, he completed his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Munich, Germany, and held research positions in Australia and the UK.