From an email post to RASC Victoria on September 17 2018: 21P Comet Giacobini-Zinner
It was clear enough last night to get a quick snapshot of the comet from the driveway. I had to get the light stand out with a large sheet of black foamcore to block the streetlight nearby. Light pollution was a challenge but I was able to collect 16 one minute images and do a simple stack in Maxim DL. It’s nicely framed by the open cluster M35 just underneath Auriga, IC443 a supernova remnant in Gemini and NGC2174 a HII emission nebula in Orion. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a better shot from darker skies this week :-)
A response from Bill Weir:
That’s really nice David. In the early morning when the comet was within M35 I took the chance and drove to the cricket pitch in Metchosin even though 90% of the sky was cloud. This is my write up of the event.
Well that was fun and reconfirmed to me the value of being prepared. Around 0030hrs PDT I was putting the dogs out and looked up and saw a clear patch of sky heading to the east. I grabbed my eyepiece case, jumped in the car and headed to the cricket pitch as the 6 inch dob had already been in the car for days. It took over an hour for the clearish patches to make their way across the sky but that was OK as it gave me a chance to collimate the scope and check out various deep sky objects along the way. Eventually the left toe of Gemini (their toe) peaked through the clouds and I was able to pick out M35 with the 15X70 binos. No comet was visible so I panned about but couldn’t make out anything. Through the scope at 38X with a 31N it was a beautiful view of M35 and NGC 2158 but no comet was visible in the area. I upped the power to 60X and focused on M35 still nothing until I began to notice a fuzziness within the eastern side of the cluster to the SE(?) of a beautiful curving chain of stars. As I advanced though 120x and then finally to 200X it became apparent this was the comet fully within this beautiful cluster! It was similar to this image except move the comet a bit down and to the left.
In the end it reminded me in a way of the planetary nebula NGC 2438.
Shortly after drinking in the view clouds moved in and the show was over. It wasn’t my best comet observation by far due to low altitude in the sky and being over Victoria to the south east. That was OK though because my feet were freezing as good footwear was the one thing I neglected as I raced out the door. Drove off the field at 0215 PDT and was soon tucked in bed. Many like the phrase “make hay when you can” but I prefer,”you can’t dance at the party if you don’t show up”. This means go out even if the weather doesn’t seem optimal or you won’t see things at all.
On Friday July 27th 2018 Mars will make it’s closet approach to Earth in 15 years.
This occurs when Mars, Earth and the Sun are aligned with Mars located on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. Mars will slowly rise on the eastern horizon late that evening … not the best viewing situation. A major dust storm developed on May 31st and has obscured details of the Martian surface. (see image below) Surface details will gradually re-emerge later this Summer as the dust storm subsides.
The viewing characteristics of Mars as seen from the Victoria area are tabulated below for the remaining DAO Saturday Night Summer Star Parties of the season.
Notice that the appearance of Mars (angular diameter) will decrease very slowly after the opposition. One week following opposition the angular diameter will only be 0.5% smaller but Mars will rise earlier and surface features may start to re-emerge.
Evening viewing conditions of Mars therefore will be more favourable and convenient in August. Consider attending a DAO Saturday Night Star Party this August.
Volunteers of RASC will be there to share the night sky with their telescopes. Click here to obtain free Star Party tickets. Note: No Star Party on July 28th.
In the Victoria area the best evening views of Mars are obtained with an unobstructed view of the southeast such as: Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park, Clover Point, Island View Beach, and Mount Tolmie. In the late evening Mars will appear fairly low in the southeast as an exceptionally bright red dot. It is hard to miss. Check it out.
Click hereto learn more about the Mars 2018 Opposition and observing hints. Click hereto see images of the 2018 Martian Dust Storm.
The Surface of Mars Before and After the Martian Dust Storm (from NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter)
On a mild July 4th evening about 10 RASCals assembled at Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park for the Inaugural Transboundary Fireworks Festival. Attendees were rewarded with spectacular views of two July Forth Fireworks shows. Between 10 PM and 10:15 PMFriday Harbour on San Juan Island took the stage. Terrain blocked some of the low level displays but the airborne clusters filled the field of view of most scopes. The main event occurred between 10:30 PM and 10:50 PM when Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island launched their salvo. Although slightly farther away we enjoyed an unobstructed view of the Lopez conflagration.
A variety of scopes were deployed including refractors, newtonian reflectors, spotting scopes, binoculars as well as an 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain. In order to squeeze in the view RASCals resorted to lower magnifications. This confirmed that you do not need a big scope to enjoy the show.
It took about one minute 20 seconds for the muffled booms to arrive on the scene. This soundscape combined by the spontaneous whoops and ah’s from the RASCals added to the party atmosphere. It would have been nice if we were able to transition from the fireworks to star gazing … but clouds intervened.
Should we try again next year? Randy Atwood’s attached photo captured Chris Aesoph giving it two thumbs up! So I reckon that is a yes. It was a RASCal Worthy event.
The attention the photons received was well deserved.
On Wednesday, January 31st, weather willing, we will be able to view a total eclipse of the Moon. The Moon will move into full eclipse in the early hours of the morning and will be in partial phase in the western sky as the Sun rises. The Total Lunar Eclipse will develop over the course of about 3 hours. It’s a perfect opportunity to capture some snapshots of the event. Read further to find out what happens during the eclipse and how to capture it photographically.
E C L I P S E T I M E L I N E
Moon below the horizon
Moon’s eastern limb enters the penumbra
2:51 am PST
Partial eclipse begins – 1st Contact
Moon’s eastern limb enters the umbra
3:48 am PST
Total eclipse starts – 2nd Contact
Moon entirely in the umbra; deep orange red
4:52 am PST
5:30 am PST
Total eclipse ends – 3rd Contact
6:08 am PST
Partial eclipse ends – 4th Contact
Moon’s western limb leaves the umbra
7:11 am PST
7:48 am PST – approximate
Moon leaves the penumbra
8:09 am PST
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon. During a lunar eclipse the Moon’s position traverses the Earth’s shadow. The Moon’s first contact with the Earth’s shadow is at the outer band of the shadow called the penumbra. The light falling on the Moon is progressively blocked until at the moment of total eclipse the Moon is completely in the darkest central area of the Earth’s shadow called the umbra. At the point of total eclipse the process starts to reverse itself until the Moon is totally out of the Earth’s shadow.
limb – the outer edge of the Moon
penumbra – the outer band of the Earth’s shadow
umbra – the darker central area of the Earth’s shadow
partial eclipse – the Moon is positioned within the penumbra
total eclipse – the Moon is positioned totally within the umbra
Above Eclipse times are for Pacific Standard Time (PST) for the west coast of North America, and are calculated from UT as presented in the Observers Handbook 2018, pages 126-27.
What do you need?
Everything from your eyes, binoculars and telescope are suitable. Bear in mind this is a long process and at this time of year dress warmly and bring a chair if you want to be comfortable.
Find yourself a location that has a clear horizon view of the west especially if you wish to view during the late stages.
Keep a log of what you see and note the time. Pay attention to how much of the light on the moon is obscured and if there are any colouration changes. During the total eclipse the Moon will take on a deep orange-red colour. The colour of the Moon is a function of contaminants in the atmosphere and varies from year to year.
Any camera with the capability of setting shutter speeds and aperture settings manually will do fine. The ability to use interchangeable lenses will be an advantage for more detailed images of the Moon. For the darker parts of the eclipse, eg. totality you should use a tripod support for best results. If you have access to a telescope you can try capturing the event using prime focus techniques through the telescope optics.
Today’s digital cameras are very sensitive to light reflected by the Moon. Use ISO 400 to ISO 800 and a long telephoto lens or zoom setting. Smartphones and point-and-shoot digital cameras will not produce rewarding photos of the eclipsed Moon, but can be useful for taking panoramic shots of your surroundings which include the eclipsed Moon.
The simplest eclipse pictures can be taken with manual settings on your camera and a normal lens, preferably supported by a tripod. For best results use a cable release to minimize vibration. Images taken in this fashion result in a small lunar image. This is why it is preferable to use a telephoto lens to photograph the Moon. For a 35mm camera try a 200mm lens or something close to this, even better a 500mm lens or higher. You may also use teleconvertors to increase magnification, these typically come in 1.4x and 2x strengths. Their downside is they reduce the effective aperture of your optical system. A 1.4x teleconvertor will decrease your effective exposure by 1 stop, a 2x teleconvertor will decrease your effective exposure by 2 stops. Work out your effective aperture of your optical system ahead of time so you don’t have to think about it on the night of the eclipse.
Effective Focal Length
with 2x teleconvertor
with 2x teleconvertor
To achieve any higher magnification than what is stated above you will have to use a telescope at prime focus. For this your manual camera does need to have the capability of using interchangeable lenses. For prime focus you will use the telescope optics as your interchangeable lens. To attach your camera to your telescope you will need two things a T-adapter that fits your camera and a telescope camera adapter that fits your telescope. The telescope camera adapter is designed to fit in the focusing tube of your telescope and is threaded to accept the T-adapter of your camera. With the magnification involved with telescopic optics it is likely that you will need to use a tracking mount. Preferably the mount should be able to track at lunar speed as opposed to sidereal but if the shutter speeds chosen are shorter than 1 or 2 minutes this is not critical.
Exposure times are the next consideration. The following exposure times are based on a medium speed film and an effective aperture that would be common with a long telephoto and teleconverter combination. Exposures may vary with your equipment based on ISO speed of film used and effective aperture. The Danjon Lunar Eclipse Luminosity Scale has been included to provide better guesstimates for totality.
Exposure Times: based on ISO 400
1/250 second at f/16
1/125 second at f/16 see note 1.
2 seconds at f/16 see note 2.
*see table below
L = 4 :
8 seconds at f16
L = 3:
30 seconds at f16
L = 2:
2 minutes at f16
L = 1:
8 minutes at f16
2 seconds at f/16 see note 2.
1/125 second at f/16 see note 1.
* Danjon Lunar Eclipse Luminosity Scale
L = 1
dark eclipse; lunar surface details distinguishable only with difficultly
L = 2
deep red or rust coloured eclipse; central part of the umbra dark but outer rim relatively bright
L = 3
brick-red eclipse; usually with a brighter (frequently yellow) rim to the umbra
L = 4
very bright copper-red or orange eclipse, with a bluish, very bright umbral rim
Note 1. 1st and 4th contact times given for the partial phases are biased for the light part of the Moon. Remember you are dealing with vastly different exposures between the light and dark parts of the Moon during eclipse. The bias of about 1 stop minus avoids overexposure of the dominant bright area of the Moon.
Note 2. 2nd and 3rd contact times given for the partial phases are biased for the dark part of the Moon. The bias of about 1 stop plus is a good strategy for negative film not quite so good for slides and digital capture given they don’t tolerate overexposure well.
The exposure times are only recommendations. Remember the cardinal rule about photography … bracket. Always try exposures plus and minus your chosen exposure. This gives you a better chance at getting usable results. Let’s all hope for clear weather. If you have any questions please send email to David Lee at email@example.com.
David Lee – original image and text
Joe Carr – updated for 2018
Brenda Stuart – illustrations
by Michel Michaud, RASC Victoria Centre Observing Co-chair & Librarian
The Lunar X is a claire-obscure effect in which light and shadow creates the appearance of a letter “X” on the rim of the Blanchinus, La Caille and Purbach craters. The X is visible only for a few hours before the first quarter slightly below the lunar terminator. Near the X, the lunar V is also visible, formed by Ukert crater and several other small craters.
If you never had the chance to view the Lunar X, also known as the Werner X, there are several time this year that feature could be visible from Victoria. The time predict the beginning of the event and all in LOCAL TIME.
23 January 2018, 2042 (8:42 pm) – Tuesday evening event
23 March 2018, 2357 (11:57 pm) – Friday evening event
21 May 2018, 0002 (12:02 am) – Monday evening event
19 July 2018, 2314 (11:14 pm) – Thursday evening event
16 September 2018, 2332 (11:32 pm) – Sunday evening event
14 November 2018, 0059 (12:59 am) – Wednesday evening event
RASC VICTORIA CENTRE ANNOUNCES AUGUST 21 ECLIPSE VIEWING IN VICTORIA
Viewing planned for Royal BC Museum, Mount Tolmie & Metchosin Cricket Pitch
Members of the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be setting up their solar telescopes in three locations around Greater Victoria for public viewing of the solar eclipse on the morning of Monday August 21.
Because looking directly at the Sun at any time is dangerous without proper protection, the telescopes at these events will be equipped with shielding to allow members of the public to safely see the eclipse. While the eclipse will be total in some parts of the United States, the eclipse in Victoria will be only a partial eclipse, where parts of the Sun will always be visible. The August 21 eclipse in Victoria will begin at 9:08 a.m. and end at 11:38 a.m. At 10:20 a.m., the Moon will block around 90 percent of the Sun as seen from Victoria.
RASC members will be setting up their telescopes during the eclipse on the morning of August 21 in front of the Bell Tower at the Royal B.C. Museum at 675 Belleville Street in Victoria, at the Cricket Pitch in Metchosin behind the Fire Hall at 4400 Happy Valley Road, and at Mount Tolmie Park off Cedar Hill X Road in Saanich, which can be reached by going up Mayfair Drive to the top of the Mountain, where telescopes will be located on the water reservoir facing south.
The University of Victoria will hold an open house for eclipse viewing that morning open to the public at the UVic Observatory on the fifth floor of the Bob Wright Building.
There will be no public eclipse viewing at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.
Victoria will experience a 90% solar eclipse on the morning of Monday, August 21, 2017 with the maximum at 10:20 a.m.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Approved eclipse glasses or approved eclipse filters must be used at ALL times when looking at the sun. Serious and irreversible eye damage may result from looking at the sun without approved safety equipment.
Here are the public viewing sites in the Capital Region that have been identified:
Mount Tolmie Park – RASC members will be at the summit with solar telescopes and eclipse viewers.
Royal BC Museum area – RASC members will be near the museum with solar telescopes and eclipse viewers.
University of Victoria Observatory – UVic is hosting a special public open house at the UVic Observatory (Bob Wright Building – 5th floor) on Monday, August 21, 2017 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. to view the solar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible at 90% coverage from Victoria. The eclipse begins at 9:08 a.m., reaches maximum coverage at 10:20 a.m., and will end at 11:38 a.m.. We will have eclipse glasses for the public to use and share, as well as special solar telescopes which will project an image of the Sun on a small white screen (attached to the telescope) to clearly show the eclipse. Looking at the Sun directly, even during maximum coverage, is damaging to your eyes. We request the public to leave the eclipse glasses behind after use. The event is free and no preregistration is necessary. The observatory will be open for the duration, and you are welcome to come and go as you wish. Please contact the Physics & Astronomy main office (250-721-7700) if you need any further information. Please note, pay parking is in effect on the University campus. The Bob Wright Building is easily accessible by bus.
Continue to check this site for additional sites as they are added.
NASA eclipse site – includes important safety information and an interactive map so you can determine the eclipse times at your location
Mr Eclipse – a lot of good information from eclipse viewing experts
A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event, and it is even rarer for one to occur close to where you live. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest of North America will be favoured with such an event happening near us on August 21, 2017. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.
If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!
The eclipse tracks across Oregon and Idaho, making it easy to get to the eclipse totality track from Victoria, British Columbia with one day’s drive. The major cities of Portland and Eugene in Oregon are obvious targets for those of us who are eclipse chasers. I-5, an Interstate highway, crosses the eclipse centreline at the city of Salem, Oregon as the eclipse tracks eastward across the U.S.A. So you might decide to stay in Portland or Eugene, but you will have to drive to the centreline, otherwise you will miss the eclipse!
NASA’s Eclipse website gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track.
At the intersection of I-5 and the eclipse path near Salem, Oregon, these are the characteristics of the eclipse:
Lat.: 44.803° N
Long.: 123.0318° W
Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 0 seconds
Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 09:05:18AM Altitude=27.8° Azimuth=101.2°
Start of total eclipse (C2) : 10:17:13.0AM Altitude=39.8° Azimuth=116.8°
Maximum eclipse : 10:18:13AM Altitude=40.0° Azimuth=117.0°
End of total eclipse (C3) : 10:19:13AM Altitude=40.1° Azimuth=117.3°
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 11:37:50AM Altitude=51.0° Azimuth=140.1°
Why this location? Well, if you look at the weather predictions and the track maps, you will see this location is easiest to get to from Victoria, and offers a decent chance of clear skies. Simply take a ferry to the mainland, and drive down I-5 to Oregon. This location is away from the coastal clouds, even though there is better weather available if you drive eastward through Oregon and possibly into southern Idaho. You can also seek out more scenic locales such as Wyoming, however now you will be traveling much further.
What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?
You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use NASA’s Interactive Eclipse Map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.
Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipse website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!
Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to guide you through the process. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.
You should try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Take test photos of the Sun weeks before you leave, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Remember, you only have a couple of minutes to see this event!
Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!
If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!
Perhaps you prefer to leave it to someone else to organize for you, and take a tour. Tour organizers will ensure you are on the centreline for the event, will do their very best to seek clear skies (no guarantees though!), and will supply you with eclipse glasses and ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the event. Some suggestions:
RASC Eclipse 2017 – a scenic holiday to the midwest USA, a solar eclipse, and sponsored by RASC!
Sky & Telescope – overland to Nashville, seeing rockets and observatories along the way…and the eclipse
Travelquest – a tour company specializing in eclipses who are offering five different experiences for the 2017 eclipse
NASA’s Eclipse – a great starting point for information gathering and predictions
Eclipsophile– Jay Anderson’s weather predictions are a must to select a location that will likely have clear weather
Great American Eclipse – comprehensive information about this specific eclipse – where to go and what you will see
Eclipse 2017 – lots of home-grown advice about where to be and what to do
First off happy holidays! We have only had small windows of clear sky this month in Victoria, but I managed to gather a little bit of data about two weeks ago. I picked Orion as a test for a new light pollution filter for the Victoria RASC, and gathered an hour of ten minute subs with my unmodded 6D. It turned out quite nice, so I found some old data and made a project of it.
All of the subs were shot with the same Np127is. This image consists of 6×10 minutes at iso 400 with an umodified Canon 6D, 7×10 minutes (OSC) with a QSI 583c, 59×1 minutes (OSC) with the same QSI for the core, and 4×20 minutes of hydrogen alpha data with a 3nm filter. All of the files were calibrated and stacked using Pixinsight.
I created a synthetic luminance frame and red channel using a blend of the hydrogen alpha and 6D/QSI data through pixelmath. Unfortunately some high moisture/thin cloud left a bit of a noisy halo on the lower right stars in the data from the 6D, but it added so much to the image overall I left it in. I did my best to regulate the noise down there, but it is what it is.
This time, we will be offering a study of star clusters. We will have the big telescope trained on many of the various types of beautiful star clusters visible at this time of year, and offer a study session of each. A great learning opportunity, especially newcomers to astronomy, or to anyone who simply loves the beauty of star clusters!
32″ (0.8m) DFM Cassegrain telescope, Bob Wright Building, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Finally! We caught a well-deserved break in the weather for the UVic observing session last night. John, Chris, and I were joined by Miles, Reg, Les, Barb, Diane, Lauri, and David for a tour of and dozen interesting open clusters, finishing off with a lovely view of M42. Despite the ridiculously bright (unshielded) lights from Centennial Stadium and some significant mist, the viewing was terrific.
Or, maybe it’s just that we haven’t seen stars for so long it just *seemed* terrific?
Nah. It was great! Thanks for coming out everyone, and thanks to John and Chris for helping host these sessions, and to Reg for his weather prognostications. You nailed it!
We will announce the next session, hopefully in January.
We had a good session at the UVic Observatory last evening observing open clusters across the Milky Way. A list of the clusters and photo of the observers are attached. We also had a look at Pleiades and M42.
Those attending were David Lee, Diane Bell, Reg Dunkley, Miles Waite, Lauri Roche, Leslie Welsh and Barbra Wright.
It was Sherry’s idea to follow a theme for the evening and that seemed to go down very well with those present. The hosts, Chris, Sherry and I plan to do this again with galaxies being the focus next time.
There’s something nice about a clear night in the middle of a December “wind and rain” parade !! Several members joined John McDonald and Sherry Buttnor for a lovely evening under the 0.8 meter reflector at U-Vic’s Bob Wright Building. We enjoyed our “tour” of several open clusters; many of them were Messiers. The icing on the “cake” was a view of M42 in Orion, with the Trapezium….My favourite was M103, the Christmas Tree cluster – in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Very pretty through the ‘scope. Thanks to John, Sherry and Chris for organizing it; also a good commentary shared on each target!!
Ready to target another Messier.
About ten of us came up to the Dome to enjoy the show.
Before the white lights were turned off….a view of the 0.8 Reflector
At the control centre – ready to move the big ‘scope into position