President’s Message October 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Two thousand, four hundred fifteen. 2415. That’s the grand total for our Summer Saturday Star Parties at the DAO. Despite clouds and rain, 194 visitors came out to our final star party at he DAO on September 24th, raising the total to 2415. That’s an amazing number. Given that it was cloudy and showery for the first five or six Saturday star parties, and the final one, it’s a testament to the knowledge and enthusiasm of you amazing Victoria Centre members offer the public, that visitors would come up to the DAO at all during inclement weather. But come they did, rain or shine, 2415 of them.
Once again, congratulations and a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the volunteers who made this work. Well done!
Remember the pizza party I mentioned? Probably not…it was a year ago or more. Well, it’s on! As a thank you for all the long hours and hard work you’ve put in at various events, we’re inviting all Victoria Centre members (and your spouses) to a party. If you volunteered at one or more RASC events in the last couple of years, you’re invited!
-Saturday December 3rd.
-6pm-10pm
-Garry Oak room, Fairfield Community Centre,1341 Thurlow Road, Victoria.
This will be a pizza party, our regular monthly meeting for December, and a Members Night combined. We’d like at least two or three members to come and show off their skills: astrophotography, research projects, telescope making, crafts….anything astronomy-related that you’d like to share with the group.
I will post this party as a separate event on our website front page. Please email me directly if you plan to attend (and if you’re bringing your spouse), and if you’d like to present something as part of Members Night. It’ll be fun!

The President and Secretary of the newly-minted RASC Yukon Centre will be visiting Victoria October 7th through 10th. Anthony Gucciardo (President) and his wife Catheryne Lord (Secretary) would like to meet us, and have a tour of the VCO. Depending on the weather; if it’s cloudy/raining, we will meet them and show them around the VCO Saturday afternoon. If it’s clear out, I’ve invited them to join in when the VCO is in action Saturday evening (Oct 8th). All Active Observers are welcome to come out and meet them. I’ll send an email with details when I know what the weather is doing that day.

Observing plans with the UVic 32” telescope are ongoing. I’ve had to write a new proposal to the telescope committee asking for telescope time. I’ve asked for the second Friday of each month as before, but we may have to be flexible regarding which evenings we’re allotted. I’ll let you know.

Some sad news: life Member Dr. Edward Robert Walker has passed away in June. A long-time Member, the Victoria Centre meant a great deal to him, and he will be missed. Sincere condolences to his family from all of us at RASC-Victoria Centre.

Some upcoming events:
-RASCals of Cattle Point. Bruce Lane’s terrific observing meetup begins Friday October 7th at 7:30pm (weather permitting). Check our website and watch for emails for upcoming Cattle Point sessions.

RASCals of Cattle Point

-October monthly general meeting. Wednesday October 12th, 7:30pm, room A104 in the Bob Wright Building at UVic. October’s guest speaker is Dr. Christian Marois:
“Searching for Habitable Planets around our Closest Neighbors, the Alpha Centauri Triple Star System.” How awesome is that!?

Oct 12, 2016 – Searching for Habitable Planets around Alpha Centauri – Dr. Christian Marois

-Astronomy Cafe. Every Monday, 7:30pm, in the annex behind Fairfield Community Centre. Informal, informative, great company! Everyone welcome…members and non-members.

Astro Café

-Annual General Meeting. Sunday, November 27th, 6pm to 10pm. Watch for emails announcing the AGM, and details will be posted to the Victoria Centre website on or about October 15th. Just a reminder that we are returning to the Cedar Hill Golf Course; it’s a great room, with a terrific menu.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for better weather, so we can get out there enjoy some great Autumn observing!

Clear skies,
Sherry.

Oct 12, 2016 – Searching for Habitable Planets around Alpha Centauri – Dr. Christian Marois

Posted by as Meetings

October 12, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Searching for Habitable Planets around our Closest Neighbors, the Alpha Centauri Triple Star System.” – Dr. Christian Marois, NRC Herzberg

Dr. Christian Marois
Dr. Christian Marois

The Alpha Centauri star system is ideal to search for habitable planets by various observing techniques due to its proximity and wide range of stellar masses. Following the recent discovery of an Earth-size planet candidate located inside the Proxima Centauri habitable zone, I will discuss this remarkable discovery and the planet’s potential to find life. I will also present our current project to discover similar planets around the two Sun-like pair located 15,000 AU from Proxima Centauri. The Alpha Centauri system is the prime target of the Breakthrough Starshot program, a project to send small quarter-size probes to take resolve images of these new worlds, and to prepare for Humanity’s first step into a new star system.

Bio: Dr Marois completed his Ph.D. at the Université de Montréal in 2004. The main topic of his thesis work was to understand the limits in exoplanet imaging and to design innovating observing strategies. After his thesis, he did postdoctoral researches at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Univ. of California Berkeley and NRC. In 2008, while at NRC, he led the team that took the first image of another planetary system (HR 8799) using the Keck and Gemini telescopes. He is currently pursuing his research at the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics where he is part of the Gemini Planet Imager campaign and developing instruments for imaging Earth-like planets at Gemini South and the TMT.

Presentation video

2016 Annual General Meeting & Dinner

Posted by as Meetings

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria Centre

Annual General Meeting and Dinner

Sunday, November 27, 2016

at the Cedar Hill Golf Course, 1400 Derby Road, Victoria, BC

Call for Nominations

Event photos for the AGM

Awards presentations

6:00pm – Drinks, conversation

  • No host bar

6:30 – Dinner

Payment -Cost of the buffet dinner is $37.50 per person, inclusive of all taxes and gratuities. Alcoholic beverages not included.

  • Payment is only required for the meal.
  • Attendance at both the speaker presentation and the business meeting is free of charge.
  • The total number of dinners must be confirmed by Monday, November 14th. Please look over the menu and send your choice of Main Course to:
    • Nelson Walker: 250-477-4820 or by email to pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca
    • Payment at the door – by cheque (preferred) or cash
    • Meals will be pre-ordered and must be paid for, whether you show up or not

Menu

Salads and Sides

  • caesar salad with croutons & parmesan cheese
  • mixed green salad with house vinaigrette
  • tomato & boconccini cheese salad with fresh basil & balsamic vinaigrette
  • red skin potato salad
  • garlic mashed potato & rice pilaf
  • assorted steamed vegetables
  • artisan breads

Main Course (pre-ordered): choice of one entrée

  • grilled ‘AAA’ sirloin steak
  • Pacific salmon with dill & lemon butter
  • Charbroiled Chicken Breast
  • Vegetarian ravioli with a herbed cream

After Dinner

  • assorted cakes, squares & fresh Level Ground coffee.

7:30pm – Speaker – The secret of Adaptive Optics – Paolo Turri, UVic Astronomy

Abstract:

Paolo Turri
Paolo Turri

Since the dawn of optical telescopes, astronomers have been struggling against a serious problem: Earth’s atmosphere. The turbulence in the atmosphere degrades the quality of astronomical images by reducing the spatial resolution that they could achieve theoretically. For centuries astronomers had to live with this limitation, until space flight allowed them to put telescopes in orbit, avoiding the issue entirely. But for the larger telescopes here on the ground, the problem persisted. This was until a technical solution was finally found during the Cold War (but kept secret until few decades ago…).

Adaptive optics is a relatively new technology that allows a telescope to “manipulate” the light distorted by the atmosphere and to restore a clear vision of the skies. I will discuss the tricks that adaptive optics uses to achieve the result, as well as some of its scientific accomplishments. I will also tell the story of how we ended up acquiring this technology in astronomy. It’s a plot made of secrets, spies and mutually assured destruction.

Biography:
Paolo is from Italy and he graduated in Padua and Trieste for his degree in Astronomy. He is currently a PhD student in Astronomy at the University of Victoria and his field of research is in adaptive optics. He has observed at the Gemini South telescope to study the stellar populations of Galactic globular clusters. At NRC Herzberg he is also studying the performance of the adaptive optics system that will be built in Victoria for the future Thirty Meter Telescope.

 

8:30-9:30 pm Annual General Meeting & Presentations

Call to order: 8:30pm
Minutes of 2015 Annual Meeting: Les.

Secretary’s Annual Report: Les.

Treasurer’s Financial Report: Bruce.

National Representative’s Report: Lauri.

Awards:

Observing Certificate-

Award of Excellence in Astrophotography –

Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award in Amateur Telescope Making –

Newton – Ball Service Award 2016-

Certificate of Excellence –
Election of Victoria Centre Council Members: Nelson-

List of RASC Council positions for Victoria Centre 2016-2017:

Executive Positions

President – Chris Purse (nominee)

First Vice President – Reg Dunkley (nominee)

Second Vice President – Deb Crawford (nominee)

Secretary – Leslie Welsh (incumbent)

Treasurer – Bruce Lane (incumbent)

At large and others:

Past President – Sherry Buttnor

National Representative – Nelson Walker (nominee)

Librarian – Michel Michaud (incumbent) Diane Bell (assistant, nominee)

Telescopes and School Programs – Sid Sidhu

Public Outreach – Ken Mallory (nominee)

Skynews Editor – Reg Dunkley (incumbent)

Light Abatement Chair  –  Dave Robinson (incumbent)

Membership Chair – Chris Purse     (incumbent)

Webmaster – Joe Carr (incumbent)

Observing Chair – Michel Michaud, Jim Stilburn (incumbent co-chairs)

Systems Administrator /Technical Committee Chair – Matt Watson (incumbent)

Member(s) at Large:
Jim Hesser (National RASC Anniversary Working Group)
Lauri Roche (National RASC Anniversary Working Group )
James DiFrancesco (DAO Liaison)
Alex Schmidt (UVic Liaison)
David Lee (Observing)
Li-Ann Skibo (RBCM Liaison)
Bill Almond (Historian)
Chris Gainor (National Officer)
New Business

Door Prizes.

Adjourn.

FOR SALE: Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way – Barnard, 1927

Posted by as Buy&Sell

RASC Victoria Centre is selling a rare antiquarian star atlas from our library:

Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way – by Edward Emerson Barnard

Published by Carnegie Institution of Washington 1927
Part I – Photographs and Descriptions
Part II – Charts and Tables

This is a beautifully illustrated atlas of the Milky Way
featuring photographs hand-picked by Barnard

$10,000

 

Payment by bank draft or certified cheque payable to: RASC Victoria Centre.
Payment by personal cheque drawn on a US or Canadian bank is acceptable, but will cause delays.

Please contact our Librarian Michel Michaud (Email or call (250) 477-1414 if you are interested in purchasing this antiquarian two volume set.

 

Part I Photographs and Descriptions

Encore Star Party!

Posted by as Events, Uncategorized

Encore! Encore! The RASC Victoria Centre, in partnership with Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, the National Research Council of Canada, and Science Literacy Week, present one final Saturday evening Star Party at the DAO, on Saturday September 24th. All the same great activities you enjoyed at the observatory all summer are on the schedule for the evening, with Dr Geoff Steeves of the Planetary Society as our special guest speaker.
Tickets are required. Tickets are free, and will become available starting at 1pm, Friday September 16th at our EventBrite site.  Click here. See you there!

President’s Message September 2016

Posted by as President's Message

Welcome to September! Goodness…is it just me, or did summer go by really quickly?! Maybe it’s because we had such a great time at the DAO and our other public events? In spite of some pretty sketchy weather early on, our Summer Saturday Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory were very popular once again. So popular, in fact, that we even had a problem with someone scalping our tickets. LOL…you know your efforts are successful when that happens! We even had a visit from the Lieutenant Governor of BC, the Honourable Judith Guichon. She was so impressed by our programs, she stayed over an hour longer than scheduled and pledged to return with her grandchildren. How about that?
Another major summer event was our annual RASCals Star Party in Metchosin. The first evening was absolutely stunning: clear and warm; the kind of evening we dream about all winter. The second evening was less impressive, with wind all afternoon replaced by clouds in the evening. In spite of that, over 70 people attended with many camping out the whole weekend.
And wrapping up our major public events, the Saanich Fair. Our booth at the Fair is always a hit with fairgoers.
Here are some attendance numbers for you:
International Astronomy Day: 626 (daytime)
Saturday “star parties” at the DAO: 2221.
RASCals Star Party: 73.
Saanich Fair: ~1450.
Huge thanks to everyone who volunteered for these events!! You’re amazing. Very special thanks to David Lee and Nelson Walker for their hard work arranging and scheduling guest speakers and volunteers for the DAO evenings, and Lauri Roche for organizing the Saanich Fair weekend. Many thanks also to our friends at Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, and Science Venture. Well done!
Here are links to some great photos of these events, taken by our members:

DAO Summer Star Parties: http://rascvic.zenfolio.com/p109973364
RASCals Star Party: http://rascvic.zenfolio.com/rascals2016

Saanich Fair: http://rascvic.zenfolio.com/p717179212

Just because those are over doesn’t mean the fun is over. We’re busy gearing up for all of our great regular activities for the rest of the year: regular monthly meetings and Council meetings at UVic with some terrific guest speakers, Astronomy Cafe with its laid-back atmosphere and great discussion topics, Cattle Point and UVic observing sessions (both scheduled to resume in October), and our Annual General Meeting on November 27th. Here’s a schedule of upcoming events:
Council meeting: Sept 7, 7:30pm. (4th floor astronomy lounge, Elliott building, UVic) Everyone welcome.
General meeting Sept 14, 7:30pm: Professor Sun Kwok, guest speaker. (room A104, Bob Wright building, UVic) Everyone welcome.
Astro cafe Sept 12th. 7:30pm. Fairfield Community Centre (annex behind main building) Everyone welcome.
DAO STAR PARTY Sept 24….one last encore event! 7:30pm-11:00pm at the DAO.
UVic observing: TBA October
Cattle Point observing: TBA October
Annual General Meeting: Sunday November 27th, 6:00pm, Cedar Hill Golf Course.

More details on our Annual General Meeting to come shortly, including the menu and guest speaker. Our AGM also includes the election of our Executive and Board of Directors. If you would like to run for a position, please let our Past President know! pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca.
Remember: to keep up to date with Victoria Centre happenings, just go to our website at victoria.rasc.ca.

I see we have several new members to the Victoria Centre. Welcome!! I hope we can help you with whatever your astronomical interests are. Always feel free to join in in any of our activities and meetings, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all. We’re here for you.

With Autumn approaching, often with some of the best observing conditions of the year, I hope you will join us at any of our scheduled activities, or just get out there and enjoy the night sky!

Clear skies,
Sherry.

Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life – Prof. Sun Kwok

Posted by as Meetings

September 14, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life ” – Prof. Sun Kwok, Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong

 

 

Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life
Stardust: The Cosmic Seeds of Life

How did life originate on Earth? For over 50 years, scientists believed that life was the result of chemistry involving simple molecules such as methane and ammonia cooking in a primordial soup. Recent space observations have revealed that old stars are capable of making very complex organic compounds. The stars then ejected the organics and spread them all over the Milky Way Galaxy. There is evidence that these organic dust particles actually reached the early Solar System. Through bombardments by comets and asteroids, the early Earth inherited significant amounts of star dust. Was the development of life assisted by the arrival of these extraterrestrial materials? In this talk, we describe discoveries in astronomy and solar system science over the last 10 years that resulted in a new perspective on the origin of life.

Stardust: The Cosmic Seeds of Life” – 2013, Springer

References

Kwok, S. The Synthesis of Organic and Inorganic Compounds in Evolved Stars, Nature, 430, 985 (2004)
Kwok, S. and Zhang, Y. Mixed aromatic/aliphatic organic nanoparticles as carriers of unidentified infrared emission features, Nature, 479, 80 (2011)
Kwok, S. Complex organics in space: from Solar System to distant galaxies, A&A Rev., 24, 1-27 (2016)

About the speaker

Prof. Sun Kwok
Prof. Sun Kwok

Prof. Sun Kwok’s research areas are astrochemistry and stellar evolution. He is best known for his theory on the origin of planetary nebulae and the death of Sun-like stars. His recent research has been on the topic of the synthesis of complex organic compounds in the late stages of stellar evolution. He is the author of many books, including The Origin and Evolution of Planetary Nebulae (Cambridge, 2000), Cosmic Butterflies (Cambridge, 2001), Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium (University Science Books, 2007), Organic Matter in the Universe (Wiley, 2012), and Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life (Springer, 2013).

He has been a guest observer on many space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Infrared Space Observatory. He currently serves as President of IAU International Astronomical Union (IAU), Commission on Astrobiology. Previously, he has served as the President of IAU Commission on Interstellar Matter (2012-2015) and chairman of IAU Planetary Nebulae Working Group (1994-2001).

 

RASCals Star Party 2016

Posted by as Events, Special Events

August 26-28, 2016

At the Metchosin Municipal Grounds
behind the Metchosin Fire Hall
4440 Happy Valley Road, Victoria, BC, Canada

Gates will open at 12pm noon on Friday. Camp on the field and setup your telescope.
Cost: Free of charge! RASC members and visiting observers (who stay overnight): suggested donation of $20/Adult one day, two or three.

Everyone who is present is entitled to tickets for door prizes, lectures and access to the observing field.

Photos from RASCals Star Party 2016

Schedule of Events

Friday 26th.

12:00pm – Gates open.
8:00pm – Welcome and Door prizes.
8:30pm – Presentation- Rita Mann: Origins of the Solar System
Bio:  Dr. Rita Mann is a researcher at NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics.  She earned her Honours BSc in Physics at the University of Victoria, and her MSc and PhD in Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i.   She then returned to Victoria with the Plaskett Fellowship at NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics. She uses a powerful new telescope called ALMA, which is very sensitive to the conditions in which planets are born, to answer questions about the origins of our Solar System as well as other extrasolar planetary systems.9:30pm – Public viewing of the night sky with RASC telescopes.
10:00pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please.

Saturday 27th.

Solar viewing – all day.
4:00pm: Introduction to the Night Sky. David Lee.
8:00pm – Door prizes.

Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy
Maan Hani, UVic Astronomy

8:30pm – Speaker- Maan Hani: Super Massive Black Holes: Where the Wild Things Are.

Bio: Maan H. Hani is a Astronomy PhD student working with Prof. Sara Ellison at the University of Victoria. As a cosmologist, Maan works with cosmological simulations of galaxy mergers to understand the big picture of how galaxies form, evolve, and intact with each other and their environment.
9:30pm – Public viewing of the night sky with RASC telescopes.
10:00pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please.

Sunday 28th.

Cleanup (everyone please pitch-in & help)
12 noon – early departures please!

A Special Star Party at the DAO

Posted by as Events

August 13, 2016 Star Party at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory on Observatory Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Sherry Buttnor

What a night at the DAO! If you thought it was extra busy, you are right: we wowed 257 visitors this evening! That’s the highest attendance of the year, and they loved it. And our special guest, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of BC was absolutely thrilled with her visit, with our programs, and most importantly, with your knowledge and enthusiasm. Her Honour was so impressed with you all, she stayed *four* hours; one hour past her planned visit

I can’t say this enough: RASC-Victoria volunteers are the BEST. Thank you, everyone.

Jim Hesser

Last evening the amazing volunteers of the RASC, Victoria Centre and Friends of the DAO – Dominion Astrophysical Observatory hosted another summer star party with a quite special lady, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of BC (The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia) in attendance. I was honoured to be invited by Lauri Roche and Sherry Coastal Cats to assist and thus to be able to appreciate her reactions to all she experienced, including the “wow!” moments of seeing the Sun and many sunspots through so many different types of telescopes, as well as the Moon and Saturn where in particular the 0.4m telescope was giving spectacular views when she was in that dome. Greg Fahlman, the General Manager of Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, accompanied Her Honour during the evening, as well, including for Aria and Aaron’s unforgettable planetarium show and Christian’s lecture on the search for exoplanets around Alpha Cen. He, too, left with a renewed appreciation for all that the volunteers contribute each Saturday open house.

Living on a ranch in the Nicola Valley Her Honour has enjoyed incredible dark-sky views of the stars, but through the generous efforts of everyone last evening has a new-found appreciation that she will share with her granddaughter (who recently acquired a telescope). She promised to return. Thank you everyone!

Diane Bell

We had one of the best nights up at the Centre of the Universe and the Observatory last night! Her Honour, Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, joined us for three hours – to take in the telescopes and sun views, a lecture, a tour of the Plaskett telescope, and a planetarium show. I was quite happy to show her my own telescope as well. We had an extra hour of darkness and in spite of the brighter moon, the skies were excellent and the crowds very happy. A few of us closed out the evening – and early morning at Tim Hortons – after 12 midnight !!