Timo Markkanen, 1951-2015

Posted by as In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Timo Markkanen

It is with sadness that we announce the sudden passing of RASC Victoria member Timo Markkanen on Dec 29th 2015. Timo was frequently found perched on a special stool at Astro Cafe. He made many interesting contributions to the discussion and he was looking forward to mastering the use of his recently acquired telescope. The stool at the Cafe, now vacant, will remind us of Timo. He will be missed by his many friends in the Astronomy Community.

John McDonald, Chris Purse, Reg Dunkley and Joe Carr attended Timo’s Celebration of Life, held on Jan 16, 2016.


RASC Victoria Centre: John McDonald &emdash; April 12 2014 at the VCO
Timo operating a telescope with John McDonald at Victoria Centre’s Observatory, April 12, 2014
RASC Victoria Centre: John McDonald &emdash; April 12 2014 at the VCO
Timo enjoying the night sky at Victoria Centre’s Observatory, April 12 2014
RASC Victoria Centre: RASCals Star Party 2014 &emdash; Charles' workshop on how to photograph satellites
Timo attends Charles’ workshop on how to photograph satellites at the 2014 RASCals Star Party

Times-Colonist Obituary

Timo H. Markkanen (April 09, 1951 – December 29, 2015)

Timo Henrik, (Kylmaniemi) born 1951-04-09 in Helsinki Finland.

Timo passed away Dec. 29th, 2015 at RJH with friends at his side. Survived by half bother Teuvo Kylmaniemi and half sister Vappu Koivuniemi in Finland. Timo had many friends in Victoria and abroad. He was an avid sportsman with natural athletic ability and excelled, in his early years, at many sports including tennis, golf and darts. His early working career in the hospitality industry allowed him to take many trips abroad where he developed many lifelong friendships. His later working career was with the provincial public service.

Timo had many life interests. He was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada -Victoria, Member of HTML Writers Guild, he loved books and was a punster extraordinaire creating many laughs and even more groans to the joy of those who knew him. For thirty years Timo suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis. As was his nature he met the challenges this presented in a positive manner and became a founding member and Web administrator for www.kickas.org a source of support and information for those suffering from this chronic arthritic condition. His friends admired his resilience and courage in this battle.

As per Timo’s wishes a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday Jan. 16th at Smugglers’ Cove Pub, 2581 Penrhyn St. from 1:00Pm to 4:00PM. Timo would be honoured by donations in his memory to www.kickas.org.

Published in The Times Colonist on Jan. 5, 2016

President’s Message January 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Happy New Year!
I hope 2016 will be very kind to you all, bringing health, happiness, and clear skies! We have plenty of great events in the planning stage right now; these include:
-Hobby Show: February 6, 7, and 8. This is one of the big events for the Victoria Centre; we get lots of exposure and interest (in both astronomy in general, and RASC in particular), and we also get to sell lots of Sid’s raffle tickets, which brings in significant revenue for us.Bruce Lane is coordinating this event at Westshore Town Centre Mall, so please consider volunteering some time when he calls you.
-International Astronomy Day: May 14. A worldwide event in which we participate each year, and one which is very popular with our visitors. Nelson Walker is coordinating IAD this year, likely at the Royal BC Museum during the day, and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory the same evening. We would appreciate your help with either daytime, or evening segments (or both!).
-RASCals Star Party in Metchosin. August 26, 27, 28. I’ve just confirmed the star party field is available to us for our annual star party on this weekend, so mark it on your calendar. The slim, waning crescent moon will not be a huge issue this year, rising around 1:30am and not bright enough to hamper observing and astrophotography. Guest speakers and prizes yet to be determined, but the Star Party is always fun!
Don’t forget our other activities. Visit our website www.victoria.rasc.ca and hover your mouse over the “Events” tab for a list. One event not listed is our increasingly-popular observing sessions on the UVic 32” telescope, held on the second Friday of each month.
Have you seen Comet Calalina (C/2013-US10) yet? If not, a great finder chart can be found here:
I’m trying to get some time on the UVic telescope for us to have a good look before it’s gone for ever.
Here’s another once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us: the August 21st 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Over multiple meetings recently, Council has been discussing whether there is sufficient interest in trying to organize a 2017 eclipse viewing opportunity for Centre members. Joe Carr presents informative background on accessing the eclipse, which is relatively easy for those of us living in the Pacific NW to do on our own.   At our January 13 general meeting, we will take a poll to ascertain interest in a coordinated Victoria Centre effort.  If you would be interested and unable to attend, please contact me directly.  Ultimately, such an effort will depend upon  someone volunteering to lead the effort.
Lots of fun in store for 2016 and beyond!

Clear skies,

Total Solar Eclipse – August 21, 2017

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2012 Total Solar Eclipse aboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship, on the totality track south of New Caledonia Nov 14, 2012 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea
2012 Total Solar Eclipse

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.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho
Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho

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.

Eclipse observing events in Victoria, BC, Canada – 90% coverage in Victoria

Weather map for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in Oregon
Weather map for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in Oregon


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!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

DIY Box Pinhole Projector – to safely observe the eclipse with only a box and some aluminum foil!


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
  • America’s 2017 Solar Eclipse – Sky & Telescope’s online resources for planning your eclipse adventure
  • MrEclipse – Fred Espenak’s guide to successfully experiencing and photographing an eclipse
  • Mr. Eclipse says west may be best… – Fred’s eclipse predictions to the Seattle Astronomical Society
  • Kendrick Astro – a Canadian astronomy dealer who sells solar filters for visual and photographic use


Orion Nebula imaged by Dan Posey

Posted by as Observing Highlights

M42 – Everything and the kitchen sink

RASC Victoria Centre: Dan Posey &emdash; M42 - Everything and the Kitchen Sink


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.

Dan Posey

Dec 11, 2015 – observing session on the UVic 32″ telescope

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2015-12-11-RASC Observing Group in front of the UVic telescope
RASC Observing Group in front of the UVic telescope


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

Observing Reports

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.

2015-12-11-OpenClusters-MilkyWay (pdf)

John McDonald

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!!

Diane Bell

President’s Message December 2015

Posted by as President's Message

Happy Winter Solstice! This year, Solstice occurs at 8:48pm PST; the days begin getting longer, and ever-so-slowly, warmer. I love the clear winter night for observing and imaging, but the cold really gets to me lately. The joys of getting old! Oh well…the winter sky is worth it!
I thought the Annual General Meeting was a lot of fun. Congratulations to all the award winners! A heartfelt thank-you to the outgoing Council members; you did an outstanding job for us! And a warm welcome to the incoming and incumbent Council members. I know you will do a great job, and thank you for serving.
Our Council for 2015-16 is:
President – Sherry Buttnor
First Vice President – Michel Michaud
Second Vice President – Chris Purse
Secretary – Leslie Welsh
Treasurer – Bruce Lane
Past President – Nelson Walker
National Representative – Lauri Roche
Librarian – Michel Michaud
Telescopes and School Programs – Sid Sidhu
Public Outreach – (vacant)
Skynews Editor – Reg Dunkley
Light Abatement Chair  –  Dave Robinson
Membership Chair – Chris Purse
Webmaster – Joe Carr
Observing Chair – Michel Michaud, Jim Stilburn (co-chairs)
Systems Administrator – Matt Watson
Technical Committee Chair – Matt Watson
 Historian – Bill Almond
DAO/NRC Liaison – Jim Hesser, James DiFrancesco
University of Victoria Liaison – Alex Schmid
Member(s) at Large – David Lee
Our next general meeting, Wednesday December 9, features Dr. Alan Batten and his presentation “When did modern astronomy begin?” Dr. Batten’s presentations should not be missed!
Other upcoming activities for your astronomical pleasure:
-UVic observing session: Friday December 11 (all Victoria Centre members welcome)
-VCO: every Saturday evening (open to those on the Active Observers list only)
Weather permitting, of course (and we sure deserve some good weather!).
Just a reminder to use extreme caution while driving on Observatory Hill. We’re now into the season of black ice and slippery conditions, so take care.

Dress warmly, and see you out there.

President’s Message November 2015

Posted by as President's Message

How about this weather, eh?! I bet many of you wish you had taken up meteorology as a pastime! I can’t remember the rains coming this early, or this heavy, for a long time. I could quite easily float a boat in my backyard as I type this. Oh well…what can you do? Cross our fingers and hope we get some nice, clear skies in time for winter observing. Or take up basket-weaving? Boat-building? At least our very popular Astronomy Cafe is going strong. if you’re bummed by the weather, why not stop by and spend some time with us? Astro Cafe has become a great event on its own, thanks to the efforts of John McDonald, Reg Dunkley, and Chris Purse. Thanks, guys!

It is November, however, and we should focus on the Annual General Meeting, coming up on Sunday, November 22nd. As I mentioned last month, it’s time for our board elections, and also to recognize our members in such fields as service to the Victoria Centre, astrophotography, and so on. Nelson tells me that as of today, we have 41 members registered for the dinner portion; the pub can accommodate 70, so we have room for another 29. Please contact Nelson at pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca or 477-4820. Dinner is always yummy, our guest speaker and topic are terrific (Molecular clouds formed from interstellar gas – Dr Steve Mairs) so sign up soon.

As I mentioned last month, our AGM is also time for our board elections, and also to recognize our members in such fields as service to the Victoria Centre, astrophotography, and so on. Email reminders have been sent by Matt (astrophotography) and Bruno (Newton-Ball award). Here’s the page where you can peruse the outstanding astrophotos from several of our members, and cast your vote:
We really could use help with filling the following board positions:
Vice President
Public Outreach Coordinator
Light Pollution Abatement

Still working on the pizza party. Given that there are so many conflicts with other events around the holiday season, it looks like January is a better month to host that. Stay tuned.
And stay dry!


President’s message October 2015

Posted by as President's Message

Welcome to Autumn! I hope you’re all having a nice rest after such a busy summer. Personally, I love Autumn observing; although the balmy Summer nights are gone, they are replaced with crisp steady seeing, and longer nights. And you can observe both the Summer and Winter skies all in one night!
Did you see the Total Lunar Eclipse? Check out our members’ great photos!
Even though the DAO Summer Star Parties are over for the year, there are lots of fun things coming up. Here are a few:
Cattle Point observing in Victoria’s own Urban Dark Sky Park:

RASCals of Cattle Point

•  Friday, October 16th at 7:30 pm
•  Friday, November 6th at 6:00 pm
•  Friday, December 4th at 6:00 pm
•  Friday, January 15th, 2016 at 6:00 pm
•  Friday, February 5th at 6:30 pm
•  Friday, March 4th at 7:00 pm
Everyone welcome!
UVic telescope observing. All welcome, not just VCO Active Observers!
-Oct 8,
-Nov 13,
-Dec 11.

All are weather permitting. Email notifications are sent out prior to each of these events, and you can find more info on the Victoria Centre website.

Our weekly Astronomy Cafe is an excellent, informal,  way to meet us.  Bring your coffee mug and join the chat!

Astro Café

And don’t forget our regular monthly meetings. Joe has lined up some terrific guest speakers, so
come on out for those.
And a reminder of our upcoming Annual General Meeting, which includes Victoria Centre Board
elections, Sunday November 22. A spouse, partner, or friend are welcome to attend
with you. Check the RASC Website for schedule, and menu:

Victoria Centre AGM & Dinner – Nov 22, 2015

Please contact Nelson with your meal choices as soon as possible. His contact information is provided on that page. The Moon Under Water pub is able to keep the cost the same as last year, so big thanks to them!

Speaking of the elections, we have a few spots we really need to fill. There is link to the Call for Nominations on the AGM event page. Remember: every paid Victoria Centre member in good standing is eligible to run for a Council position, whether or not there is an incumbent or nominee already listed. So give it some thought, and if you would like to be a part of Council, please let us know!
See you out there!


Total Lunar Eclipse – Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015

Posted by as Observing Highlights

Observing Report

The weather was clear for this total Lunar Eclipse. RASC Victoria Centre members were observing from various locations around Victoria, including Cattle Point, Mt. Tolmie, Clover Point, and Esquimalt Lagoon. It was a beautiful clear Sunday night with mild temperatures, so thousands of members of the public came out to see the apparition as the Moon rose in the east around 7PM. Many missed the first minutes of the eclipse since the Moon was obscured by low clouds along the SE horizon, however once it cleared the clouds, it was a spectacular sight! By 9PM, the show was over and police at the various locations directed traffic as people returned home.

Several of our members captures excellent photos. Please browse the gallery or watch the slideshow below.

Total Lunar Eclipse in full eclipse
Total Lunar Eclipse in full eclipse


On Sunday, September 27th, weather willing, we will be able to view a total eclipse of the Moon. The Moon rises already in partial eclipse as the Sun sets just after 7 pm PDT. After reaching totality the Moon will gradually regain its brightness over the course of 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.

This will be the last total Lunar Eclipse visible in North America until January 2018!

What’s Happening

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


 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 5:11 pm PDT
Partial eclipse begins – 1st Contact Moon’s eastern limb enters the umbra 6:07 pm PDT
Moon rises 6:58 pm PDT (approx)
Total eclipse starts – 2nd Contact Moon entirely in the umbra;
deep orange red
7:11 pm PDT
Totality 7:47 pm PDT
Total eclipse ends – 3rd Contact 8:23 pm PDT
Partial eclipse ends – 4th Contact Moon’s western limb leaves the umbra 9:27 pm PDT
Eclipse ends Moon leaves the penumbra 10:22 pm PDT


Above Eclipse times are for Pacific Daylight Saving Time (PDT) for the west coast of North America.

Observing Tips

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 east especially if you wish to view during the early 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.

Photographic Tips

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.



 Focal Length  Aperture Effective Focal Length
with 2x teleconvertor
Effective Aperture
with 2x teleconvertor
 180mm  2.8  360mm  5.6
 480mm  6.8  960mm  13.6


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
Full Moon  1/250 second at f/16
1st Contact 1/125 second at f/16 see note 1.
2nd Contact 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
3rd Contact 2 seconds at f/16 see note 2.
4th Contact 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 davidflee7331@gmail.com.

David Lee – original image and text
Joe Carr – updated for 2015
Brenda Stuart – illustrations

The Total Lunar Eclipse of 2008 was very similar to this one in 2015. Here is the online gallery of some of our members’ photos of that event.

President’s Message September 2015

Posted by as President's Message

I hope you all had a great summer! The Victoria Centre sure did! We hosted six Saturday evening “star parties” in July and August at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (the seventh was cancelled due to a power outage), during which many hundreds of guests paid us a visit. Rain or shine, the public loved what we had to offer. My heartfelt thanks go out to all the RASC volunteers who gave of their time and knowledge, the guest speakers who educated us, the Commissionaires who kept us safe and helped keep the traffic under control, all the NRC staff who made these popular events possible in the first place. Thank you, everyone!

Also over the summer, Victoria Centre member participated in the Saanich Strawberry Festival and Symphony Splash and were as well-received as usual. Any why not? Our volunteers are amazing!

Our annual summer RASCals Star Party in Metchosin was also a hit, with approximately 92 people (public and RASC members) attending to take in the awesome presentations by Dr. Chris Gainor, David Lee, and Dr. Phil Stooke. Those, combined with terrific door prizes and great weather made for a very enjoyable weekend. Thanks to everyone from RASC who helped out, as well as Metchosin Council and staff, and Metchosin Fire Department.

And now we’re back into our usual routine of monthly events and meetings; I know you will enjoy the upcoming guest speakers which our Acting VP Joe Carr has lined up for us.

This brings me to an issue that has been on my mind for a while: how are we doing? Is the Victoria Centre meeting your astronomical needs? It seems to me that our meetings and events (e.g. Victoria Centre Observatory, UVic telescope sessions, etc) may not be as well-attended as they could be, and I would really like to know if there are things we could be doing better, or at least differently.
In the Members Only section of the Victoria Centre website (login required), you will find a very short survey form where you can give your feedback, criticisms, and/or suggestions. It’s completely anonymous; you do not need to identify yourself unless you want to, and everything you offer will be read and considered. You can use it as a new member, continuing member, or even as an exit survey if you are leaving us. Please be as specific as you wish.

I really encourage Victoria Centre members to use the survey, or contact a Council member, to let us know what we’re doing right, and what we could be doing better to meet your needs!

Finally, don’t forget our next general meeting on September 9th, 7:30 in room A104 in the Bob Wright building.  Our guest speaker is Dr. Jon Willis & his new book – The Search for Life in the Universe.  Interesting!

Clear skies,