RASCals Star Party – Aug 21-23, 2015 in Metchosin

Posted by as Special Events

August 21-23, 2015

Metchosin Municipal Grounds behind the Metchosin Fire Hall, 4440 Happy Valley Road, Victoria, BC, Canada – on beautiful Vancouver Island

The weather was near perfect for our RASCals Star Party this year for both nights, Friday and Saturday. There were some bleary-eyed observers leaving the Metchosin Cricket Field on Sunday! Many people camped on the field and setup their telescopes to take advantage of the nice dark skies at this rural site. RASC members and the public enjoyed a great two days of everything to do with astronomy. There were some very nice door prizes give away this year, including laser pointers, books, toys (for grownups and kids), binoculars and a telescope!

Schedule of Events

Friday 21st

  • 12:00pm – Gates open.
  • 8:00pm – Welcome and Door prizes.
  • 8:30pm – Presentation- Hubble History, Dr Chris Gainor.
  • 9:30pm –Guided Telescope Walk , followed by viewing of the night sky.
  • 10:00pm until dawn: observing!

Saturday 22nd

  • Solar viewing – all day.
  • 3:00pm – Workshop (gazebo): Astronomy Apps for desktop and Mobile, David Lee.
  • 4:00pm: Introduction to Astronomy, Sherry Buttnor.
  • 8:00pm – Door prizes.
  • 8:30pm – Speaker- Exploring Mars: a Cartographer’s View, Dr. Phil Stooke.
  • 9:30pm – Guided Telescope Walk, followed by viewing of the night sky
  • 10:00pm until dawn: observing!

Sunday 23rd

  • Cleanup
  • 12 noon – departures

Photos from the Star Party


Our speakers start their talks just after sunset each evening.

August 21, 2015 speaker: Hubble History by Dr. Chris Gainor

Chris Gainor
Chris Gainor

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. This talk will summarize that quarter century of astronomical advances that has changed how we look at the universe and how astronomy is done. HST had a difficult start when it was discovered that its main mirror suffered from spherical aberration, a problem that was overcome by a crew of space shuttle astronauts that installed new instruments on Hubble. When a later shuttle repair mission was cancelled in 2004, an outcry from astronomers and the public led to the mission being restored. Today Hubble is still going strong with its new instruments. Chris will tell the story of Hubble’s operations in orbit based on the research he is doing for a book telling the history of HST.

Bio: Chris Gainor is a historian of technology and writer specializing in space exploration and aeronautics who is currently writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. He is the author of four books, and his writings have appeared in various specialty publications and Canadian newspapers. He holds a PhD in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has taught history at the University of Victoria and at CFB Esquimalt for the Royal Military College of Canada. He is First Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a former president of the Victoria Centre of the RASC. Chris is also International Space Programs Editor for Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly, and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. He is also known for bringing history alive through his appearances as Sir Winston Churchill.

Phil Stooke with his Mars Atlas
Phil Stooke with his Mars Atlas

August 22, 2015 speaker: Exploring Mars – a Cartographer’s View – Dr. Philip Stooke

Abstract: This talk will summarize the history of Mars exploration with many illustrations from Phil’s books. The story will begin with telescopic views and the earliest NASA and Soviet missions, and will extend to recent activities by the rovers Opportunity and Curiosity. Much more than just a collection of press releases, the presentation will delve into many unfamiliar aspects of Mars exploration. How were the various landing sites chosen? Where was the Soviet Mars 7 supposed to land? What was underneath Viking 1? And how do we know where Opportunity is on any given day?

Bio: Phil Stooke grew up in England and eventually attended U. Vic, where he completed a B.Sc. in 1985 and a Ph.D. in 1988. Since then he has taught cartography and planetary science at the University of Western Ontario. Phil’s Ph.D. topic was mapping methods for non-spherical objects such as asteroids, and many of his maps are now available through NASA’s Planetary Data System. He continues to work in that area, most recently compiling digital maps of comets Borrelly and Hartley 2 and asteroids Eros and Itokawa. Phil has also written on the history of lunar and planetary cartography, and he has compiled several large reference works on lunar and Mars exploration. His International Atlas of Lunar Exploration and International Atlas of Mars Exploration are available in the U. Vic. Library, and a second volume on Mars exploration, covering the current rover missions, is in press.

Summer Star Parties at the DAO – Aug 8, 2015

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Summer Saturdays at the DAO
Program for Saturday, August 8, 2015

 Event Info

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory is open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm with last entrance at 10:00 pm

In the Centre of the Universe:

  • Exhibits Open: 7:30 to 10:45 pm
  • Planetarium Shows – every half hour from 7:45 to 9:45 “Constellation Stories”
  • “Science in Space: Educational Fun for Kids of All Ages”: 7:30 to 10:00 pm Virtual Reality with Science Venture from UVIC and sponsored, in part, by the UVIC Alumni Association.

Auditorium Presentations:

8:00 pm “The Gemini Planet Imager, A New Era of Imaging Exoplanets has begun” – Dr. Christian Marois, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria.

Bio: Dr. Marois is a National Research Council astronomer and a pioneer in the field of imaging exoplanets. He started the field a decade ago as a graduate student, and he is now deeply involved in the Gemini Planet Imager campaign, the thirty meter telescope, and space observatory concepts to push the boundary of the field to one day take images of another Earth.

9:00PM “What’s up in the Sky Tonight” – David Lee, RASC Victoria Centre.

On the Centre of the Universe Deck:

New! Live, through the lens viewing with the 16“ telescope.

Friends of the DAO – Sign up as a new member! We need your support to bring educational programs back to the DAO during the year and to upgrade the exhibits. Popcorn, Hot Chocolate and Light-Up wrist bands available by donation.

TONIGHT ONLY: A “Mars Rover” Robotic Demonstration from the FIXIT 3491 team that went to the World Robotic Championships in St. Louis Missouri earlier this year.

In the Dominion Observatory:

Historical Tours of the Plaskett Telescope, the computer room and the Dome – new tours begin every twenty minutes from 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Plaskett Telescope will open (weather permitting) at approximately 9:45 and presentations that show what the telescope is seeing will be given on an ongoing basis until 10:45 pm

In the Parking Lot:

Telescopes will be set up for Solar Viewing and for Night Sky viewing by members of the RASC all evening.


A reminder that there is NO SMOKING on the hill at any time.

Please dress warmly as it gets very cool after it gets dark.

There is limited parking for those with mobility issues at the top of the hill. Please ask the Commissionaires when you arrive if you need one of these spaces. We cannot guarantee a spot at all times but visitors may be dropped off and picked up if necessary.

There is limited parking at the top of the hill. Most of the parking is in the lower lot. Please be advised that there are a number of stairs to climb to get to the entrance to the Centre of the Universe building and the DAO.

For safety reasons, no foot traffic is permitted on the road to the top. Visitors may not park on W.Saanich Rd and walk to the top.

Summer Star Parties at the DAO – Aug 1, 2015

Posted by as Special Events

Summer Saturdays at the DAO
Program for Saturday, August 1, 2015

 Event Info

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory is open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm with last entrance at 10:00 pm

In the Centre of the Universe:

Exhibits Open: 7:30 to 10:45 pm
Planetarium Shows – every half hour from 7:45 to 9:45 “Constellation Stories”

Auditorium Presentations:

8:00 pm “Climate Change – Where are the Essential Data?” – Dr. Elizabeth Griffin, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria.

Bio: Elizabeth Griffin carries out research into binary stars, using data obtained at the DAO with the smaller (1.2-m) telescope. Her work sometimes needs to incorporate historical data from photographic plates, and that connection has led to a broader involvement with “Data Rescue” in other sciences worldwide and what “old data” mean for them too. She has also studied the Earth’s ozone using astronomical data, and is a passionate speaker on the role of science, as well as technology, in addressing climate change.

9:00PM “What’s up in the Sky Tonight” – David Lee, RASC Victoria Centre.

In the Dominion Observatory:

Historical Tours of the Plaskett Telescope, the computer room and the Dome – new tours begin every twenty minutes from 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Plaskett Telescope will open (weather permitting) at approximately 9:45 and presentations that show what the telescope is seeing will be given on an ongoing basis until 10:45 pm

In the Parking Lot:

Telescopes will be set up for Solar Viewing and for Night Sky viewing by members of the RASC all evening.


A reminder that there is NO SMOKING on the hill at any time.

Please dress warmly as it gets very cool after it gets dark.

There is limited parking for those with mobility issues at the top of the hill. Please ask the Commissionaires when you arrive if you need one of these spaces. We cannot guarantee a spot at all times but visitors may be dropped off and picked up if necessary.

There is limited parking at the top of the hill. Most of the parking is in the lower lot. Please be advised that there are a number of stairs to climb to get to the entrance to the Centre of the Universe building and the DAO.

For safety reasons, no foot traffic is permitted on the road to the top. Visitors may not park on W.Saanich Rd and walk to the top.

Summer Star Parties at the DAO – July 25, 2015

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Summer Saturdays at the DAO
Program for Saturday, July 25, 2015

 Event Info

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory is open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm with last entrance at 10:00 pm

In the Centre of the Universe:

Exhibits Open: 7:30 to 10:45 pm
Planetarium Shows – every half hour from 7:45 to 9:45 “Constellation Stories”

Auditorium Presentations:

8:00 pm  & 9:00PM “Apollo: Astronauts Explore the Moon” – Dr Chris Gainor, RASC Victoria Centre.

In the Dominion Observatory:

Historical Tours of the Plaskett Telescope, the computer room and the Dome – new tours begin every twenty minutes from 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Plaskett Telescope will open (weather permitting) at approximately 9:45 and presentations that show what the telescope is seeing will be given on an ongoing basis until 10:45 pm

In the Parking Lot:

Telescopes will be set up for Solar Viewing and for Night Sky viewing by members of the RASC all evening.


A reminder that there is NO SMOKING on the hill at any time.

Please dress warmly as it gets very cool after it gets dark.

There is limited parking for those with mobility issues at the top of the hill. Please ask the Commissionaires when you arrive if you need one of these spaces. We cannot guarantee a spot at all times but visitors may be dropped off and picked up if necessary.

There is limited parking at the top of the hill. Most of the parking is in the lower lot. Please be advised that there are a number of stairs to climb to get to the entrance to the Centre of the Universe building and the DAO.

For safety reasons, no foot traffic is permitted on the road to the top. Visitors may not park on W.Saanich Rd and walk to the top.

Summer Star Parties at the DAO – July 18, 2015

Posted by as Special Events

Summer Saturdays at the DAO
Program for Saturday, July 18, 2015

 Event Info

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory is open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm with last entrance at 10:00 pm

In the Centre of the Universe:

Exhibits Open: 7:30 to 10:45 pm
Planetarium Shows – every half hour from 7:45 to 9:45 “Constellation Stories”

Auditorium Presentations:

8:00 pm  & 9:00PM “Pluto: Once a Dot of Light, Now a World” – Dr. Michele Bannister, University of Victoria

Bio: Dr Michele Bannister is a planetary astronomer at the University of Victoria and NRC Herzberg who specialises in the study of the outer Solar System. She is the postdoctoral fellow for the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, a Canadian-led effort to discover hundreds of new icy worlds in the Kuiper belt.

In the Dominion Observatory:

Historical Tours of the Plaskett Telescope, the computer room and the Dome – new tours begin every twenty minutes from 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Plaskett Telescope will open (weather permitting) at approximately 9:45 and presentations that show what the telescope is seeing will be given on an ongoing basis until 10:45 pm

In the Parking Lot:

Telescopes will be set up for Solar Viewing and for Night Sky viewing by members of the RASC all evening.


A reminder that there is NO SMOKING on the hill at any time.

Please dress warmly as it gets very cool after it gets dark.

There is limited parking for those with mobility issues at the top of the hill. Please ask the Commissionaires when you arrive if you need one of these spaces. We cannot guarantee a spot at all times but visitors may be dropped off and picked up if necessary.

There is limited parking at the top of the hill. Most of the parking is in the lower lot. Please be advised that there are a number of stairs to climb to get to the entrance to the Centre of the Universe building and the DAO.

New Horizons Pluto fly-by celebration – July 14th

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Tuesday July 14 is going to be an historic day. The New Horizons spacecraft will make its long-awaited flyby of Pluto, obtaining the first closeup photos and data from this mysterious world.

In honour of this event, I am arranging an informal and fun event at Pluto’s Restaurant (“The Hottest Food from the Coolest Planet”) in Victoria, BC, Canada at 6 p.m. on July 14. This will be a dinner and celebration, including an update with the latest news from Pluto.

If you are interested in taking part, please let me know, so I can give the restaurant people an estimate of how many people they can expect. Once there, you can order off the menu and pay for your meal as usual.

About the time we sit down for dinner, the first transmission from New Horizons after its flyby is due to arrive on Earth. I am also trying to arrange for an expert speaker to give us a very brief update on the findings from New Horizons.

Pluto’s Restaurant is at 1150 Cook St., at the corner of View St. near downtown Victoria.

This flyby will be an historic event, no matter how you classify Pluto. This will be the last first-time flyby of what some call a “classical planet” and the first of one of the many smaller planets in the Kuiper Belt. Interestingly, the first flyby of a planet (other than Earth) was Mariner IV’s flyby of Mars on July 14, 1965, exactly fifty years before the New Horizons flyby of Pluto.

If you are planning to attend, please let me know or join the Facebook event. Family and friends are also welcome!

Chris Gainor

 

Summer Star Parties at the DAO – May 30, 2015

Posted by as Special Events

Summer Saturdays at the DAO
Program for Saturday, May 30, 2015

 Event Info

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory is open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm with last entrance at 10:00 pm

In the Centre of the Universe:

Exhibits Open: 7:30 to 10:45 pm
Planetarium Shows – every half hour from 7:45 to 9:45 “Constellation Stories”

Auditorium Presentations:

7:45 pm “Vermin of the Skies: Near Earth Asteroids and other Feisty Interlopers” – Ivar Arroway- University of Victoria
8:15 pm “ Twenty-Five Years of Hubble” – Dr. Chris Gainor RASC Victoria Centre
8:45 pm “Vermin of the Skies: Near Earth Asteroids and other Feisty Interlopers” – Ivar Arroway- University of Victoria
9:15 pm “ Twenty-Five Years of Hubble” – Dr. Chris Gainor RASC Victoria Centre

In the Dominion Observatory:

Historical Tours of the Plaskett Telescope, the computer room and the Dome – new tours begin every twenty minutes from 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Plaskett Telescope will open (weather permitting) at approximately 9:45 and presentations that show what the telescope is seeing will be given on an ongoing basis until 10:45 pm

In the Parking Lot:

Telescopes will be set up for Solar Viewing and for Night Sky viewing by members of the RASC all evening.


A reminder that there is NO SMOKING on the hill at any time.

Please dress warmly as it gets very cool after it gets dark.

There is limited parking for those with mobility issues at the top of the hill. Please ask the Commissionaires when you arrive if you need one of these spaces. We cannot guarantee a spot at all times but visitors may be dropped off and picked up if necessary.

There is limited parking at the top of the hill. Most of the parking is in the lower lot. Please be advised that there are a number of stairs to climb to get to the entrance to the Centre of the Universe building and the DAO.

DAO Summer Star Party – May 23, 2015

Posted by as Events, Special Events

Summer Saturday Star Party Activities

In the Dome:

Tours of the historic dome and the Plaskett computer room begin every 20 minutes from 7:45 through to about 9:45 pm. After this the Plaskett telescope will be opened and visitors are welcome to come up to the second floor to see in real time what the telescope is looking at. Volunteers from the RASC and the Friends of the Observatory will be on hand to give information about the images that are being screened on the dome walls.

In the Centre of the Universe Building:

Exhibits are open from 7:30 to 11:00 pm.

Planetarium shows will be ongoing from 7:45 through to 10:15 pm. These are 15 to 20 minutes in length. Approximately 25 people can be accommodated at any one time in the little dome.

Astronomy presentations are in the Auditorium from 7:30 through to 9:30.

Here are this weeks lectures for May 23rd

  • 7:30 pm An introduction to the Night Sky David Lee
  • 8:00 pm “Shine on Silver Moon” Lauri Roche
  • 8:30 pm An introduction to the Night Sky David Lee
  • 900 pm “Shine on Silver Moon” Lauri Roche

On the Deck:

RASC Volunteers will have their solar telescopes out until the sun goes down and then will put up their nightsky telescopes for viewing the moon, the planets and the stars. This is ongoing from 7:30 to 11:00 pm

Please come and join us. We invite you to share our information on social media.

A reminder to Dress Warmly! It cools down after the sun goes down up on the hill.

Event Info

May 9, 2015 – Presentations at the CU

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Presentations in the Centre of the Universe Auditorium

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Speaker: Garry Sedun, HIA

Presented as part of the Summer Star Parties on Observatory Hill event

8:15 pm – Weird Things in Space

1) Come and see how big the universe is
2) Look though a real time machine
3) How can you make your friends look blue or red by travelling really fast
4) How could you grow old way slower than your friends by travelling in space
5) How far apart are the stars?
6) What happens when galaxies hit each other?

And please come up with your own “Weird Things” and we’ll see if we can find them.

9:15 pm – Up Close to REALLY BIG THINGS in Space

1) What do the rings of Saturn look like really close up?
2) What does a comet look like really close up ?
3) What does our sun look like really close up?
4) What does a back hole look like? ( How close can we go?)
5) What can swallow 300 million suns and not even have indigestion? Open up……