SPEAKER: The Age and Parent Body of the Quadrantid meteoroid stream – Dr. Abedin Abedin, a postdoctoral fellow from NRC Herzberg
Abedin Abedin will share his research on meteoroid streams … the swarm of particles left in the wake of comets and near earth asteroids that cause meteor showers. This presentation is just in time to kindle enthusiasm for the Geminids. This is the strongest meteor shower of the year and will peak on the 13th of December.
Interesting Presentations Recommended by Jim Hesser …
Presentation on the Perseverance Rover
Jim Hesser writes: I highly recommend this recorded talk by Dr. Farah Alibay on NASA’s Perseverance rover (scheduled to land on Mars on 18 Feb. 2021). She is an excellent communicator who enriches the engineering story with many human interest elements. While anyone interested in planetary exploration would likely find it interesting, about fifteen minutes before the end of the recording she’s asked a question about what barriers she faced on her way to a great job at the Jet Propulsion Labooratory. Her answer will encourage and inspire any young person (particularly girls) to persevere in following their dreams.
“Mars 2020: The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Ottawa Centre in conjunction with the RASC Montréal Centre is excited to invite you to learn all about the Engineering of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission and the Perseverance Rover during a webinar by Montreal-born Dr. Farah Alibay. Dr. Alibay is a flight system engineer on the team that will “drive” the rover on Mars, having prior experience with 2 other Mars missions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Dr. Alibay possesses an undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of Cambridge in the U.K., and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Aerospace Engineering. We are pleased to co-host this exciting Zoom Webinar with the RASC Montréal Centre and the RASC NextGen Committee.”
The search for life as we don’t know it … a 30 minute conversation
Earth is the only place in the Universe where we know life definitely exists. But does that mean life, if it exists elsewhere, will always thrive in Earth-like conditions, with our particular set of chemicals, temperatures, and pressures?
On December 3rd, Heather Graham, a fellow in CIFAR’s Earth 4D: Subsurface Science & Exploration program and research associate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, introduced her unique approach to the search for extraterrestrial life. She starts from the assumption that life in the universe need not have much in common with life on Earth, and looks for agnostic biosignatures that may help us find life that is different from the life we know on Earth. To watch, go to https://www.cifar.ca/virtual-talks. After registration you can view the conversation with her.
Solar Eclipses: Science and the Spectacle on December 14th
Post election uncertainty and record high Covid case numbers overshadowed recent astronomical developments. A few warrant an honourable mention. On November 16th the Space X Crew Dragon -1 Resilience was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 rocket. It delivered 3 American astronauts and one Japanese astronaut to the International Space Station the next day. This mission was a milestone as it was the first American space vehicle to deliver an operational crew to the ISS since the Space Shuttle Atlantis in July 2011. In the meantime astronauts had to hitch rides on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The commercial entity Space X provided both the launch vehicle and capsule for this 6 month mission.
On November 25th, Space X also placed another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit, bringing the total so far to 955. Delivery of global broadband internet to underserved areas from this fledgling network has already commenced. A constellation of 12000 Starlink satellites have already been approved and a request for an additional 30000 has been submitted. The growing alarm from the astronomical community regarding the impact of this vast swarm of satellites was discussed in the May 2020 President’s message.
But as the adage goes, what goes up must come down. I am not talking about satellites here but rather the receiver of the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. Weighing in at 900 tons the receiver spent November dangling 500 feet above the iconic 1000 foot diameter spherical dish. When one cable broke in August it caused some alarm but when a second more substantial cable snapped in early November it was decided that the instrument could not be safely repaired. That decision received dramatic justification on the morning of December 1st with the failure of another major cable. This allowed the receiver to plunge into the side of the dish in a catastrophic manner which was captured on an astonishing video. What a tragic end to such a productive and beautiful symbol of science.
A softer landing occurred on December 1st when China’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft successfully touched down on an elevated volcanic mound Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum. A video of the landing and the collection of moon samples. The Chang’e 5 ascent vehicle lifted off the Moon on December 3rd and is planned to return samples to Earth within a week.
Another sample return mission is underway. On October 20th NASA’s ORISIS-REx spacecraft successfully acquired about 60 grams of the asteroid Bennu during a touch and go operation. Images suggest that it caught more than anticipated and the sample storage procedure was expedited and completed two days later. The spacecraft will begin its return journey in March 2021 and is scheduled to reach Earth in 2023. This mission will provide a pristine sample of the primordial material that formed the Solar System.
One asteroid of particular interest is 3200 Phaethon which is the parent body of the Geminid meteor shower. Most meteor showers are associated with comets but because 3200 Phaethon comes very close to the Sun it heats up to 700C and sheds particles and dust and has been dubbed a “rock comet”. This year the Geminids will peak around the 13th of December which is a new moon. So we will be particularly well situated to enjoy this spectacle … weather permitting. To learn more about “rock comets” be sure to attend the December 7th Astro Cafe where meteor expert Dr. Abedin Abedin will be the guest speaker.
Remember that the FDAO will be holding a Zoom Winter Solstice Star Party on December 19th. Event info
Also remember that the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will occur on December 21st. Saturn will only be 12 Jupiter diameters away! It is the closest that they have appeared since 1623. So if skies cooperate, point you scope to the western horizon near sunset and savour the sight.
So despite the pandemic plenty is going on aloft. So when skies are usable be sure to look up and enjoy.
Wishing you good health and the very best of the festive season.
Meteor Shower Expert is Guest Speaker at the Astro Cafe on Monday December 7th.
The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower and this year they peak around the 13th of December which is a new moon. So if skies cooperate, conditions could be ideal for savouring this shower. In anticipation this event we have arranged for Abedin Abedin, a postdoctoral fellow at NRC Herzberg to share his research on meteoroid streams, the swarm of particles left in the wake of comets and near earth asteroids that cause meteor showers.
Title: “The age and parent body of the Quadrantids meteoroid stream”
Abstract: The Earth intersects the orbit of Quadrantids meteoroid stream every year around January 3-4, giving raise to the Quadrantid meteor shower. The Quadrantids are among the strongest meteor showers with Zenithal Hourly Rate ZHR~110-130. The Quadrantids are unique among other meteor showers: It has very short duration of just a few days with even narrower core activity which has a Full Width of Half Maximum (FWHM)~0.6 days – a strong proxy of a very young meteor shower. Secondly, the meteoroid stream has been linked to the Near-Earth Object 2003 EH1, – a body of asteroidal appearance. Meteoroid streams are generally associated with comets and to a lesser degree with asteroids, which raises an interesting question if 2003 EH1 is the nucleus of a dormant or recently extinct comet. Here, I will present on how we trace a meteoroid stream to a proposed parent body and how we determine the age of Quadrantids, which appears to be as young as 200 years. Furthermore, the Quadrantids have also been linked to comet 96P/Machholz, which gives rise to 7 additional meteor showers. I will also discuss the relationship between the Quadrantids, 2003 EH1 and comet 96P.
Biography: Abedin Abedin writes: I obtained my master’s degree in 2006 from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria. I then worked at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences for three years. In 2011 I started my PhD degree at the University of Western Ontario, London ON. I worked on determining the age of eight meteoroid streams, associated with comet 96P/Machholz. I completed my degree in September 2016. Since Aug. 2018, I’ve been a postdoctoral fellow at Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics at NRC, working on collisional probabilities and dust production rates in the trans-Neptunian Region.
Tales of the littlest galaxies that could … at UVic Observatory Open House Wednesday December 2nd
You are invited to a Zoom presentation at the UVic Observatory Open House at 7:30PM on Wednesday December 2nd. Dr. Matt Taylor a post doc at Herzberg Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics will discuss the important role that Dwarf Galaxies play. Entitled “Judge Me By My Size, Do You? Tales of the littlest galaxies that could.” this sounds like it will be entertaining as well as informative. Join the Zoom Meeting
Canadian France Hawaii Telescope Virtual Tour at UVic Observatory Open House
At 7:30PM on Wednesday November 25th, Cam Wipper, Remote Observer, at the CFHT will give us a virtual tour of the observatory and the telescope, as well as the start of night time observing operations from their control room. He will then give an overview of how a modern observatory conducts science operations, followed by his personal story from Nanaimo to the CFHT. If time permits, he will also present a brief history of Mauna Kea Astronomy from a geological and human perspective.
NAS Board member Bill Weller (retired astronomer and astronomy Prof) had been following (on Facebook) Pranvera and the Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo group she founded, and we’re grateful she accepted our invitation to present.
I’m grateful too for the wide-ranging and heartfelt tributes RASC Victoria members shared about Diane Bell at last week’s Astrocafe, and this invitation is made for that reason in fellowship with your group.
Janeane MacGillivray, Director-at-Large, Nanaimo Astronomy Society
UVic Observatory Open House – Lisa Wells, CFHT Remote Observer, talks about Supernovae
You are invited to a Zoom presentation by Lisa Wells at 7:30 PM on Wednesday November 18th 2020. In addition to talking about her research interest in Supernovae, Lisa will describe how she remotely uses the Canadian France Hawaii Telescope.
The talk will explain the current thinking of the star classes producing these bright events, why a star dies in such a spectacular way, and give insights into their classification and naming scheme. Next you will learn about the first of the major searches and how that led to the Nobel Prize.
The Research Legacy of the Lowell Observatory: Monday November 23rd at 5:30 PM PST
You are invited to a presentation on The Research Legacy of Lowell Observatory Presented by Klaus Brasch Sponsored by RASC History Committee Abstract: Percival Lowell founded his observatory in 1894 and commissioned the famed firm of Alvan Clark & Sons, to build a 24-in aperture refracting telescope among the largest in private hands at the time. Clark himself deemed it as one of his best. Both Lowell and his great refractor soon gained notoriety with reports of putative canals on Mars, allegedly the work of a dying civilization to channel water from the planet’s poles to its desert equatorial regions. Amid all the ensuing controversy, the Observatory’s many other scientific achievements are not as widely known as they should. This talk will review some of those and also current research and educational efforts at this historic institution. Bio: Klaus Brasch is a retired biomedical scientist and a volunteer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ. Born in Germany, his family emigrated to Canada in 1953, where Klaus got hooked on astronomy in his teens, joined the Montreal Center of the RASC in 1958 and has been an avid amateur ever since. He earned his BSc at Concordia and Ph.D. at Carleton University, before joining the biology faculty at Queen’s University in Kingston. In 1990 he joined California State University, where he served as department chair, dean of science and director of campus research. Klaus has translated popular French astronomy books into English, lectured widely on topics ranging from life in the universe to astrophotography and published articles in Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, Sky News, JRASC and elsewhere. Asteroid 25226 Brasch, was recently named for him by Lowell Observatory.
The Iris Nebula and Dust Clouds of Cepheus by Dan Posey
Your Invited to the FDAO Virtual Star Party 7:30 PM Saturday Nov 21st
SELENOPHILE OR LUNATIC? THIRTY YEARS OF OBSERVING AND LOVING THE MOON
Randy Enkin avidly followed the Apollo missions from when he was 8 years old, and had decided he would grow up to be an astronomer. With life’s turns, he ended up being an Earth Scientist working for the Geological Survey of Canada. But the moon always attracted his attention and he is now more than 30 years into a lunar observation time series. For 6 years, Randy has been posting an artistic image of the moon every day on
It is with sadness that I announce the sudden passing of Diane Bell. The Victoria Centre has lost one of its most active members. Diane was a positive spirit who radiated a sense of wonder. Her contagious enthusiasm about Astronomy elevated the joy and energy of our observing sessions and gatherings. She possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the night sky and was often seen at RASC events hoisting huge binoculars with a sketchbook nearby. She had served as editor of SkyNews, was the current Centre Librarian and a Member in Charge at the Victoria Centre Observatory. Diane generously shared her knowledge and passion through her participation in Public Outreach and Education programs. We were most fortunate to have her in the Victoria Centre and she will be sadly missed.
Reg Dunkley, President, RASC Victoria
Diane. Our very loved friend, sister, sister in law, aunt, cousin and all around the most genuine kind and faithful human being has passed away. We are all taking comfort that she is with Mimi, Sport, Rick and Aunt Mickey. – Lannea MacDonald
Very sad. My condolences to family and friends. I will miss her. – Li-Ann Skibo
I was so saddened to hear this shocking news. My sincere condolence to family and friends. – Michel Michaud
I am so very saddened about Diane, she was a beautiful person. Every time I look at the constellations and binoculars, I will think of her. Bless everyone that was close with her. She was very welcoming and friendly to be around. What a bright light she did shine. Sending blessings to her family and friends. – Jennifer Ikle
This is such sad news. Diane shone so brightly in our community! She exclaimed about how the sky is a gift for us all. She encouraged us to appreciate the science and the art of astronomy. Diane got me sketching from the telescope eyepiece – and then I saw so much more than I had before. Her clever cookies and quilts delighted us. Her knowledge of the constellations was an inspiration. We will miss her. – Randy Enkin
That’s devastating news. Her infectious enthusiasm and willingness to help out were hallmarks of Victoria Centre. I’ll sorely miss her. – Dave Robinson
I am so saddened by this news. Diane was always cheerful, and positive. If I was down I just had one of her hugs and it would all go away. There are many memories of being “roomies” at AGM’s and down at Garry’s in Arizona. I will miss her joy at working with kids at the CU with her Constellation blanket, sharing eclipse cookies at Astro Cafe, her love of Orion and Omega Centauri. She will be so sorely missed. Rest In Peace, Diane. Lauri Roche
This is terrible news. She has been such a good friend to all of us, and will be deeply missed…Nelson Walker
Very sad news! My deepest condolences to her family, friends, and the Victoria Centre. – Ed Majden
This is such shocking news. We are deeply saddened to hear it. In the three years we’ve been members, Diane has always been at the sessions we’ve attended. Whether sitting in the second row at AstroCafe, showing people the stars on the Hill at summer star parties, or sharing stories of her astronomy adventures and passion for travel up at the VCO, Diane has been a steady fixture of our local group.
She has always been enthusiastic, energetic and engaging. She was extremely generous with her knowledge, her time, her baking and her commitment. She was creative and talented herself, yet always provided genuinely positive feedback to other people on their work and accomplishments.
Since March, we have looked forward to seeing Diane at the weekly virtual AstroCafe. Her absence on Monday evening was noticed by many. Her passing will be felt by us all for a very long time to come. She will be missed greatly.
When the time is right, we would like to be part of a virtual get-together to honour Diane’s life. We could share stories, and, when I spoke to Lauri earlier today, she suggested we all bring cookies in Diane’s memory – a sweet farewell to a kind soul.
And from Nathan: See you in the stars, Diane. I will miss you very much.
Kathy, Nathan and family
This is very sad news . I will miss her so much for the way she welcomed new members and taught to the young ones on nights at the hill. – Maryl McCay
I have posted a short notice of Diane’s death on Victoria Centre’s Facebook group, and I have created a collection of photos to memorialize Diane on our Zenfolio photo hosting site. Diane was a close personal friend, astronomy buddy, and all-round good person. Her cheery face and keen observational skills will be missed deeply. – Joe Carr
I will miss her vibrant smile and her willingness to volunteer whatever was asked of her. She left us too soon. She will be missed. – Sid Sidhu
Oh No! We are very much saddened by this awful news. Both Glynis and I were greatly inspired by Diane’s infectious and powerful enthusiasm. At the AstroCafe nights, the VCO, and everywhere else we attended, Diane was always there to guide and answer. What a loss for the Victoria Centre! – Rod and Glynis Miller
So sad. Sympathies to you. – Emma MacPhee
Very sad to hear this. She will be missed. – Catherine Gregory
Terrible news – condolences to her family and friends. She was always had great energy and enthusiasm during the UVic and other events. #RIP – Brian James Kyle
A sad loss to everyone who knew her and to those who never had the chance. Such a gentle soul. She was always one of the first people I called for any public outreach event.- Bruce Lane
This is extremely sad to hear. She was a great volunteer and I will miss her dearly. Condolences to the family. – Nishith Eluri
I was deeply shocked to hear this today and took several minutes to come back from tears. She was a very kind, giving and outgoing friend . I send condolences to her family and all those who knew her. I am sure many members both within the Victoria RASC family and others she knew will deeply miss her. – Malcolm Scrimger
Such a sad loss. – Chris Spratt
A devastating loss, Diane Bell was a rare soul of relentless positivity and enthusiasm. – Matt Watson
That is very sad news indeed. – Jim Cliffe
So very sad to hear about Diane’s passing. She was such a lovely person with an infectious enthusiasm for astronomy that drew everyone to her. Clint and I send our condolences to her family & friends and wish them peace at this difficult time. – Melissa Tupper
Oh, this is very very sad indeed – Donna Andrew
I am terribly saddened by this news. I last saw Diane Bell in person in May when she gave me a mask that she had made out of astronomical fabric. That is still the mask I wear most of the time these days. She only asked that I contribute to a local charity, which I did. We often saw her great skills with fabric, notably the ‘star blanket’ she brought to the DAO to educate members of the public about various constellations. And who can forget her eclipse cookies? I always enjoyed talking to Diane about her youth in a military family, growing up on Canadian Forces bases around Canada and in Europe as part of NATO. One of them was CFB Cold Lake in Alberta, close to where I spent many summers growing up. I note that her final posting on Facebook was in anticipation of Remembrance Day, the day the news first came out of her unexpected passing. Although Diane experienced her share of ups and downs in life, I always remember her being enthusiastic and positive. She did a lot for the Victoria Centre, including her current service as Librarian. I know we’ll all miss her. – Chris Gainor
I read about Diane’s passing on my lunch break at work, but now that I’m home, I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with it. All the superlatives being used to describe Diane are of course true, yet she is much more than the sum of those. Diane was instantly likeable. Her apetite for learning was exceeded only by her passion for sharing that knowledge. Her talent for her crafts; sewing, baking, music, and more were enjoyed by all who were fortunate enough to sample them. Her enthusasm and generosity were amazing. Our bike rides together were immensely enjoyable. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. – Sherry Buttnor
Please add our names to the (I am sure) long list of friends of Diane, who will be sadly missed. She was a real force of positivity for Victoria Centre and a friend to all. RIP, Diane. Thanks for making a huge difference with your outreach and friendships. Jack and I will continue to wear our “Diane astro masks”♥️ with pride! – Alice & Jack Newton
Heartbreaking. I can’t fathom not seeing her again. – Deb Crawford
I am so sad to hear this. Diane was part of what made the observatory such a magical place to be. She will be so missed. – Jennine Gates
My condolences to Diane’s family. I was in shock when I first read your post. Her enthusiasm and kindness stand out for me. I can’t imagine a star party without her. I was one of the happy recipients of a star mask. It turns out that it is perfect as with so many of her creations. I will miss her a lot. – Ida von Schuckmann
We were shocked and deeply saddened hearing of Diane’s death. Her infectious enthusiasm for all things about the night sky was inspiring. With her beloved 8” Dob and original constellation blanket, as sky-guide, she enlivened any observing event, whether organized or impromptu. We remember in particular our sharing with her sessions at the Kingswood Camp with the Brownies and Girl Guides, separate years, and the challenge of finding objects through the small hole in the forest canopy and explaining their locations in constellations beautifully displayed on her blanket but largely blocked from view overhead by our restricted view of the sky. Her absence will be felt at all our events – Dorothy and Miles
Our tents were pitched side-by-side at the first RASC star party I attended in Metchosin, and Diane’s genuine and enthusiastic welcome then continues to inspire me to do the same with newcomers to astronomy activities. Also inspiring was her unique talent of using oversize binoculars without a tripod to take binocular observing to another level. Her spirit that we are all missing so much right now shines through in the many images people have shared, including in this chrome reflector on the exterior of the Shawnigan Lake Observatory in 2015. – JL MacGillivray
Just arrived home from the mainland, what a shock to find out, Diane Bell, has passed away. Diane and I go back a long time, I will always remember the wonderful conversations Diane and I had and enjoying watching her sketching some of the many wonders of the night. Sadly missed. – Jennifer Bigelow
Her knowledge, enthusiasm, energy, friendship and much, much more will be sorely missed–a huge loss all the people she touched. – Jim Hesser
She will be missed and leaves a wonderful legacy of her passion for astronomy. – David Lee
Diane was one of the Victoria RASC;s most active members and I always appreciated her enthusiasm and support. My deepest condolences to her family and friends on this indeed sad day. – James Di Francesco
This is such a shock and difficult to take in. What a huge loss. In many ways Diane has been the life blood of Victoria Centre. I am so sad. – John McDonald
Diane was a major part of our Centre and I was always impressed that she could remember where she was when she saw her favourite targets for the first time. Like her brother, who I believe died of a heart attack in his 50s, her’s was a life too short. She will be missed and will join those I remember on Remembrance Day. – Chris Purse
I am so very sorry to hear of Diane’s sudden passing. She has been such a solidity of presence and knowledge during my three years in RASC Victoria. The photo of her at the top of a ladder at Garry’s Arizona telescope is a favourite for me. Diane always had informative astronomical comments and a warm, open way of being with people. She will be tremedously missed. – Marjie Welchframe
Very sad and unexpected news! Lynn and I offer our condolences to her family and those who knew her! We recently met her at the 2018 GA in Calgary where we became friends. She was so delightful and genuine. Diane will be in our prayers and thoughts! – Stephen Beddingfield
How sad. Jane and I used to camp next to Diane every star party. She was such fun and had so much enthusiasm for astronomy. – Mark Hird-Rutter
I still cannot believe this sad news. Diane will be missed by many, for a variety of reasons. RIP Diane. – Patricia Buttnor
Shocked to hear of Diane’s passing…met Diane on the military base in Cold Lake Alta…..we we in grade school at Athabasca school….we became great friends..we were military brats and would joke and address each other as such..however growing up in the military has its drawbacks…we were stationed from base to base and lost track of each other…than I found a group on facebook called Cold Lake Brats and low and behold I found Diane again…we were now able to keep touch with each other there and on facebook..she was so warm and genuine…can’t believe she is gone now forever…rest in peace my dear friend….will miss you always my dear friend….wont be the same on facebook without you… – Debra Smith Nadeau
I have been a pen friend of Diane’s for some 32 years and have stayed with her in Victoria during a holiday there and attended with her one of your evenings. Diane visited us in Australia several times and stayed with us. I felt quite saddened to hear this news and felt a deep sense of loss of someone I had come to know very well and yet saw so little of her. In spite of that she had a large impact upon our life and we all felt at home right from the start when she contacted us through friend to see if we could provide accommodation for her in Brisbane during Expo 88 which were able to do. Our friendship began almost immediately we met on her arrival here in Brisbane.
Please convey our condolences to any who knew her well if opportunity rises. I will miss her correspondence but am well satisfied that she has been a part of our life’s journey and we will remember her fondly and with love. I am sure she will be missed by all members of the RASC, the work of which she was justly proud. – Rev. Bruce Worthington
Image of Dumbbell Nebula From New VCO Telescope by John McDonald
Public Lecture on latest discoveries regarding cosmology: 7PM Tuesday Nov. 10th
Jim Hesser recommends this public lecture by Joel Primack, prof. emeritus UC Santa Cruz,:
Description: This lecture will discuss the current understanding and the latest discoveries regarding cosmology – the science of the universe as a whole – and galaxies and planets. There is overwhelming evidence that most of the density of the universe is invisible dark matter and dark energy, with atomic matter making up only about five percent of cosmic density. UCSC cosmologists helped to create the standard modern cosmological theory — but the latest high-precision measurements have revealed potential discrepancies that may require new physics. Galaxies were long thought to start as disks of gas and stars, but observations by Hubble Space Telescope show that most galaxies instead start pickle shaped. More massive galaxies have massive black holes at their centers, and matter falling onto these black holes causes outflows of energy that can strongly affect their host galaxies. Information about planetary systems is growing rapidly with new observations, and our own solar system seems increasingly to be unusual.
Skyrocketing cases of Covid and disturbing developments south of the border have stoked our levels of anxiety. As an antidote to these concerns it is high time for a good news story. Let’s revisit a happy moment in 2017 when a number of Victoria Centre RASCals attended the Great Solar Eclipse Afterparty. We gathered to share images, swap eclipse adventures and relive the magic of this event. Many of these stories were captured in the October 2017 issue of Sky News. A highlight of this joyous occasion was the unboxing of our new TPO 16 inch Ritchey Chretien reflector telescope. This was performed with great fanfare by Matt Watson and Dan Posey.
In September and October of 2017 Matt and Dan installed the new scope on the Victoria Centre Observatory Paramount ME mount and took great care neatly wiring the scope to connect the cameras, an off axis guider and an electronic focuser to the computer. Official first light occurred on October 28th 2017 (See November 2017 Sky News for early images). Dan Posey’s gallery on zenfolio contains a series of beautiful images taken with the TPO 16 Inch RC between late October 2017 through October 2018 including my favourite, the Fireworks Galaxy (See page 10 October 2018 Sky News). These photos are a testament that the scope was performing well during that interval.
Sadly, no decent images were captured with that scope after October 2018. The TPO 16 Inch seems to have drifted off collimation and the cause remains a mystery. The collimation of a Ritchey-Chretien scope is a tricky business and Dan and Matt spent countless hours researching and trying to re-collimate this instrument over the next year. They even enlisted the help of former DAO member Les Disher. In the spring of 2020 Les demonstrated that collimation could be achieved when the scope was pointed towards the zenith but it went out of collimation as soon as it was slewed to a lower altitude. This indicated that there may be flexure somewhere in the truss or mirror supports of the telescope. It was Victoria Centre’s good fortune that Matt Watson opted to purchase a lifetime warranty on the scope and Council approved to return it to the Los Angeles vendor, OPT, for repair.
By this time Observatory Hill was in lockdown due to Covid. NRC kindly granted permission for special access to the VCO and on June 4th, 2020 four masked men (Dave Robinson, Mike Nash, Dan Posey and your President) furtively removed the TPO 16 inch RC, boxed it up and sent it to OPT via Fedex. In October OPT informed us that they could not fix the scope and offered to send us a new TPO 16 Inch RC … but without a lifetime warranty. The Tech Committee was not comfortable with this arrangement and instead John McDonald negotiated an “in store credit” for the value paid for the scope.
While the TPO scope was off for repairs, Garry Sedun learned about a used research grade scope that was for sale at an attractive price in Arizona. John McDonald and I bought this scope with the idea that it might be a replacement for the VCO if the repair of the TPO scope did not succeed. Garry Sedun kindly delivered this 12.5 inch OGS Ritchey Chretien scope to Victoria when he returned from Arizona this summer. OGS stands for “Optical Guidance Systems” and they manufacture high quality instruments for NASA, universities and research facilities. Although the optical tube is not in pristine condition the primary mirror is figured to a precision of 1/31st of a wavelength and it has a very stout built quality.
On September 21st, when limited access to the VCO was restored under strict Covid protocols this scope was attached to the VCO mount. Results were encouraging when the first image was obtained on October 3rd using an improvised focuser. When a helical focuser was attached to the scope on October 30th results were even better. Star field images were crisp with round undistorted stars right out to the corners. Although Dan Posey detected that the primary mirror was just a tad out of collimation, he felt that it was performing better than the old Meade 14 inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.
The Tech Committee will continue to evaluate this scope with further star field tests. If it is determined that it will meet the needs of the membership, John McDonald and I are prepared to permanently loan the scope to the Victoria Centre. If Victoria Centre members are dissatisfied with this scope we will deploy it elsewhere. The OPT store credit gives us the flexibility to consider an alternate scope.
Remember that there is also a high quality 20 inch Obsession Dobsonian telescope at the VCO. Argo Navis digital setting circles will be soon added to this scope and make it easier for visual observers to find objects in the sky. So when you consider that access to the VCO has been restored with a functioning scope for astrophotography and an excellent instrument for visual observers that qualifies as a good news story!
UVic Observatory Open House: “Messy Stellar Siblings”
You are invited to a Zoom presentation at 7:30PM on Wednesday November 4th by Dr Melissa Graham from the Vera Rubin Observatory. The title is “Messy Stellar Siblings” and the future of Supernovae studies with the Vera Rubin Observatory. Zoom session
Fast Radio Bursts – by Victoria Kaspi
Jim Hesser highly recommends this UVic Physics and Astronomy Colloquia on Fast Radio Bursts: by Dr. Victoria Kaspi, from McGill which takes place at 3:30pm PST on Wednesday November 4
“Fast Radio Bursts” Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are short (few millisecond) bursts of radio waves observed from cosmological distances. Their origin is presently unknown, yet their rate is many hundreds per sky per day, indicating a not-uncommon phenomenon in the Universe. In this talk, I will review the FRB field and present new results on FRBs from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME). Zoom session
Electronically Assisted Astronomy – David Lee
As discussed at the meeting tonight let me know (email) if any member has an interest in or any questions about Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA). There’s also some talk about developing a national certificate around the skills involved in this activity, likely revolving around its use in projects. As this evolves I’ll keep members informed. For details about David’s presentation about EAA, view the transcript video at the 0:39:15 mark.
Learn about the second industrial revolution as Karun Thanjavur demonstrates the amazing power of artificial intelligence. The future is here today!
Abstract: Artificial intelligence (AI), specially Deep (Machine) Learning applications are already ubiquitous in everyday use, and have been called the second industrial revolution. Deep Learning algorithms, called Neural Networks, thrive on Big Data, the happy ‘problem’ we now face of enormous amounts of data available in astronomy and in almost all fields of human endeavour. Piggybacked on the impressive recent advances in high performance computing, neural networks are trained on these available large datasets to then perform a variety of human-like tasks, such as realtime decision making, identifying subtle patterns in the data, forecasting, making recommendations based on experience, and so on. In this presentation I aim to provide an overview of this rapidly burgeoning field, explain in simple terms the construction and working of a neural net, and illustrate these principles with a few examples drawn from literature and from my own research.
How to Talk to a Science Denier:
Jim Hesser attended a recent UVic Physics colloquium by Dr. Lee McIntyre (Boston U.) was on the topic, “How to Talk to a Science Denier: What I learned at the Flat Earth Convention”.
Jim reports that the key take away message was that the best way he’s found to help a science denier is through real conversation that leads to building a relationship of trust between the denier and the scientists; once there is trust, the stage is set for the denier to look at alternate views and evidence the scientist provides. People interested in the science denial challenge might enjoy exploring this presentation.
David Lee’s First Light With Borg 55FL and ASI183MC
David writes: For those who can’t wait for the winter objects and you’re willing to stay up late you can catch objects like the Orion Nebula. This was also first imaging light for the Borg 55FL and the ASI183MC.
Imaging Camera: ZWO ASI183MC
Imaging Optics: Borg 55FL f/3.6 Astrograph
Filtration: Hutech Night Glow IDAS NGS1
Tracking Mount: Astrotrac
Exposure: 50 light frames of 30 seconds for a total exposure of 25 minutes
Processing: Pixinsight Core Version 1.8 and Adobe Photoshop CC 2021