RASCals Star Party 2018

Posted by as Events, Special Events

September 7-9, 2018

St. Stephen’s Anglican Church
7921 St Stephens Road – off Mt. Newton Cross Road
Saanichton, BC, Canada

2018 RASCals Star Party poster (719kb PDF)

 

Gates will open at 2pm on Friday. Camp on the field and setup your telescope for two nights of fun!

Cost: Free of charge! Visiting observers who stay overnight: suggested donation of $20/Adult one day or two.

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

Prizes for kids and adults, including three telescopes! See below…

Don’t want to camp? No problem if you live in the Greater Victoria area…you can drive home after an evening of fun on the observing field.

Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – no white lights!

 

Observing Field at St. Stephens Church
Observing Field at St. Stephens Church
The StarBQ crowd under the tarps!
Click image for slideshow of 2018 RASCals Star Party photos

Schedule of Events

Friday 7th

  • 2:00 pm – Gates open
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including a telescope!
  • 6:30 pm – Astro Cafe – Theme: Star Parties
    • Bill Weir will share experiences from recent Mt Kobau and Merrit Star Parties.
    • Miles and Dorothy Paul will describe highlights from the latest Oregon Star Party
    • Nelson Walker will discuss his planning process for observing sessions
    • Plus Show and Tell Session
  • 8:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Saturday 8th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • Afternoon presentation – TBA
  • 5:00 pm – StarBBQ – burgers!
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including two telescopes!
  • 6:30 pm – Speaker – David Lee will share his experiences, insights and beautiful images acquired on his recent trip to Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona and during his time amongst the iconic Saguaro cacti.
  • 8:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Sunday 9th

  • Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
  • Please, no parking in the church parking lot this morning in consideration of Church members attending their service!
  • 12:15 pm – solar viewing for St. Stephen’s congregation
  • Early departures please!

Facilities

  • Camping on the observing field with your tent, trailer or motorhome – bare camping, no utilities on the field
  • Setup your telescope and other astronomy gear on the observing field
  • Some power on the field for astronomy equipment, but no RV plug-ins please!
  • Washrooms and porta potties
  • Water, self-serve coffee & tea
  • Visitor and drop-in parking

Please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park in the parking lot with your headlights facing away from the observing field. The same parking request applies to visitors dropping in for the evening – leave your vehicle in the parking lot and walk into the observing field.


Star Party t-shirts

A very limited supply of RASCals Star Party t-shirts will be available for sale. Pre-order yours by contacting Joe Carr. Black t-shirts available in Men’s M or L sizes ($16 ea), white t-shirts available in Men’s S & XL ($12 ea), and white Kid’s t-shirts available in S & M ($12 ea).


Prizes

  • Bushnell 4.5″ reflector telescope – Friday night prize – donated by a RASC member
  • Sky-Watcher Virtuoso P114 4.5″ Matsukov telescope & computerized mount – Adult’s Grand Prize – Saturday night – donated by Quarky Science
  • Celestron Astromaster 130AZ 5” reflector telescope – Kid’s Grand Prize – Saturday night – donated by All-Star Telescope

 

 


Location

What to observe

Night sky on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:30PM
Night sky on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:30PM

RASCals Star Party 2017

Posted by as Events

July 28-30, 2017

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

The observing field at dusk on Friday night
The observing field at dusk on Friday night

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. Prizes include telescopes!

Don’t want to camp? No problem…you can drive home after an evening of fun on the observing field.

Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – no white lights!

 

Photo gallery for RASCals 2017 Star Party

Schedule of Events

Friday 28th

  • 2:00 pm – Gates open
  • 8:00 pm – Welcome and door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker – Elizabeth Griffin, PhD (NRC – Hertzberg) Big data, little data, or (Help!) no data
  • 10:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Saturday 29th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • 1:00 pm – Eclipse Viewing – Michael Webb in Metchosin House
  • 2:00 pm – New telescope for Victoria Centre Observatory – fundraiser & reception in Metchosin House
  • 8:00 pm – Door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker – Henry Ngo, PhD (NRC – Hertzberg) Exploring Exoplanets
  • 9:30 pm – Public viewing of the night sky with RASC telescopes
  • 10:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Sunday 30th

  • Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
  • 12:00 pm – early departures please!

 Prizes!


Please feel free to camp on the field with your tent, trailer or motorhome and setup your telescope and other astronomy gear. There is some power on the field for astronomy equipment, but no RV plug-ins please! Also, please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park on the access road beside the municipal hall with your headlights facing away from the field (towards the firehall). The same parking request applies to visitors for the evening – park beside the municipal hall and walk into the field.

 

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!

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.

RASCals Star Party – schedule of events

Posted by as Events

Please download our poster to stick on your fridge and to refer to: Poster (130k PDF)

Event – map and times for your e-calendar


Come join us!  Learn Astronomy and Explore the Night Sky

July 25 to 27, 2014

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.

Schedule of Events  (subject to change)

Friday 25th

12:00pm – Gates open

8:00pm – Welcome and Door prizes     

8:30pm – Presentation: Open University Astronomy, John McDonald

9:30pm –Guided Telescope Walk , followed by viewing of the night sky           

Saturday 26th

Solar viewing – all day

1:00pm – Workshop: 27,000 Km per hour, photographing ISS Passes, Charles Banville

2:00pm – Workshop: Observing Not for the Faint of Heart: The RASC Challenge Objects, Nelson Walker

3:00pm – Workshop: Astronomy 101, Sherry Buttnor

4:00pm – 6:00pm – activities for the kids

8:00pm – Door prizes

8:30pm – Speaker: Space Flight through the Ages, Chris Gainor

9:30pm – Guided Telescope Walk, followed by viewing of the night sky

Sunday 27th 

9:30 am – Farewell to Charles Banville – brunch at My Chosen Cafe (no host)

Cleanup (Please pitch-in & help)

12 noonearly departures please!

 

First evening of observing by the RASCals of Cattle Point

Posted by as Events

RASC Victoria Centre: Cattle Point &emdash; Joe and Bruno at Cattle PointAfter several months of being skunked by bad weather, the RASCals of Cattle Point finally had a good night to offer observing to the public from RASC’s newest Urban Star Park.

Our Treasurer Bruce Lane coordinates this event. Here is his report from the Feb 7, 2014 event.

This Friday was the first time the weather has cooperated for monthly astronomy at Cattle Point! Joining me at Cattle Point were Dorothy and Miles Paul, Chris Purse, and Alex (new member). Owing to snow shock (from weather earlier in the day) and cold conditions (still several degrees warmer than being up at the VCO) there were very few people out and about to interact with. The sky was clear, but winds were gusting at about 20km per hour, to add a bit of windchill. There were only two members of the public to have a look through the telescope. I finally packed it in at 9:15pm.

Congratulations to the group, and special thanks to the volunteers who braved the freezing conditions to make this happen!

RASCals of Cattle Point

Posted by as

THIS EVENT IS CURRENTLY UNDER REVIEW DUE TO ISSUES WITH WEATHER

Come to the Oak Bay waterfront and view the night skies above the Cattle Point Star Park, with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: Victoria Centre. Astronomy in the Star Park is planned as a monthly event. This event will happen on Fridays closest to the first quarter phase of the Moon (or the last quarter as noted by a specific date). Plan to come a few minutes early if you’re setting up a telescope. Cattle Point is one of only two Urban Star Parks in Canada, where artificial lighting is strictly controlled and education in place about the benefits of reducing light pollution.

When you’re observing through someone’s telescope, please do not touch it. Just put your eye up to the eyepiece and observe. Many of the telescopes you see are carefully aligned to the night sky and bumping or handling them will knock them off target, and possibly ruin their alignment. Please park with your headlights facing away from the waterfront, to minimize the impact to people’s night sight.

Please ensure that you use only red light flashlights at this event, as white lights will ruin the night vision of everyone trying to enjoy the night sky. Please also be careful when you walk around in the dark. Many of the telescopes will be powered, so there will be cables on the ground. Please also limit the use of green lasers, which are great for pointing out stars, but very bad for scaring pilots. Make sure you dress warmly, as it gets very cold at night when you’re standing around. Above all, make sure to bring your scientific curiosity and a sense of wonder!

Gallery of photos taken at Cattle Point

RASCals Star Party

Posted by as

RASC Victoria Centre has held successful Star Parties annually from 2000 through to present. The RASCals Star Party has a well-deserved reputation of being a fun and easy-going camping and observing weekend which the whole family can enjoy. Our friendly group of dedicated volunteers always ensure this positive experience continues for each year’s event!

The star party is held on the Metchosin Cricket Field and municipal grounds. This location offers us one of the darker urban areas in the western communities near Victoria, and gives us good sight lines in all directions. We are thrilled to have this location for the RASCals Star Party, and appreciate the support from the local community!

Our speakers start their talks just after sunset each evening.

The tentative dates for the 2017 RASCals Star Party are July 28 – 30.

Typical Schedule of Events (evening times depend upon sunset)

Friday

  • 12 pm – Gates open
  • 8 pm – Welcome and Door prizes
  • 8 pm – Presentation
  • 9:30 pm – Guided Telescope Walk , followed by viewing of the night sky
  • 10 pm until dawn – observing!

Saturday

  • Solar viewing – all day
  • 3 pm – Workshops
  • 8 pm – Door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker
  • 9:30 pm – Guided Telescope Walk, followed by viewing of the night sky
  • 10 pm until dawn – observing!

Sunday

  • Morning – Cleanup
  • 12 pm – Departures

Photos from 2015 RASCals Star Party

President’s Message April 2019

Posted by as News, President's Message

The Victoria atmosphere has finally acquired some Spring like qualities. This means that it is almost time to launch the 2019 Public Outreach Season. The official kick off takes place on Saturday April 27th with Astronomy Day. From 10AM to 4PM the Victoria Centre will be hosting the session at the Royal BC Museum. Numerous tables devoted to all things Astronomical will be located in the Clifford Carl Hall. Three lectures will be delivered in the adjacent Newcombe Conference Hall. David Lee, the captain of the Astronomy Day Team has recruited leaders to organize the various tables and things are coming together nicely. From 7:30PM to 11PM, our cousins, the Friends of the DAO, will be hosting the first Saturday Star Party of the season at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. RASC members will be in force with their telescopes to act as tour guides of the Universe. RASC will also have an information table in the Centre of the Universe. Star Parties at the DAO will be held every Saturday until September 7th.

Victoria Centre usually hosts another type of Star Party each year. The main focus of this event is an observing session directed toward the community of amateur astronomers rather than the general public. Selecting the date of a Star Party can be a challenge. It should meet the following criteria: fall near a New Moon, have a sufficient amount of darkness, avoid conflict with other nearby Star Parties and … oh yes … enjoy favourable weather conditions. This year the Mount Kobau Star Party, near Osoyoos will take place between July 31st and August 4th and the Island Star Party, held at Bright Angel Park in the Cowichan Valley, will occur on the Labour Day weekend. Many Victoria RASCals are loyal attendees of the Island Star Party so it is best to avoid that weekend. The New Moon and amount of darkness are easy to predict. It is, however, a bit trickier when it comes to the weather.

The saying goes that climate is what you expect and weather is what you get. While climate statistics can let you down it does reveal that the atmospheric dice are loaded. One rudimentary statistic which has proven useful in this area is the chance of 5 consecutive days without rain. The premise is that if there is no rain during a 5 day interval it suggests the presence of a ridge of high pressure that is diverting weather systems away from the area and suppressing afternoon shower activity. Using 50 years of quality controlled precipitation data from Victoria International Airport I calculated that the chance of 5 consecutive days without rain varied from 65% on Aug 1st to 47% on Sept 1st to 29% on Sept 28th. These values suggest that favourable weather conditions may be more than twice as likely on August 1st than during the New Moon interval near Sept. 28th. During the last three summers, however, smoke from wildfires has frequently obscured the night skies during July and August. Also astronomical twilight ends at 8:43 PM on Sept. 28th compared to 11:13PM on Aug. 1st. As a consequence the Council is leaning towards holding the Victoria Centre Star Party from Friday Sept. 27th to Sunday Sept. 29th. The location will once again be the yard of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Central Saanich … which was rained out on Sept. 7th last year. Be wary of those climate statistics!

Cloudless Nights

Reg Dunkley

President’s Message March 2019

Posted by as News

Normally at the beginning of March Victoria Centre RASCals are trudging through cherry blossoms. Snow is not an option. So just imagine your puzzled president when he arrived at the VCO on February 27th. The observing pad was covered with 6 inches of white stuff topped with an icy crust. This unseasonably cold weather tormented tender West Coast RASCals throughout February and almost derailed the Mini AGM of February 13th. 

Mini AGM you say? This administrative AGM resulted from trying to make others happy. To streamline financial procedures the Canadian Revenue Agency wanted the Victoria Centre to move our fiscal year end from September 30th to December 31st. When we did that the BC Societies Act insisted that we hold an AGM in 2019. So this “administrative AGM” which covers the three month interval extending from October to December 2018 was scheduled to coincide with the February monthly meeting. This would make the CRA happy and the BC Societies people happy … but there was a problem.

It all has to do with our bylaws. When the bylaws were recently updated the quorum was boosted from 3 to 25. The architects of these new bylaws never envisioned that the “Garden City” would be paralyzed by snow. Since North Saanich was buried under 2 feet and many members were trapped in unplowed cul de sacs it was looking like the Mini AGM was toast.  Fortunately these very same bylaw architects included a provision for proxy votes. At the last minute your desperate president e-mailed the membership with a plea for proxies. The first proxy arrived from Tasmania! Nearby RASCals also rallied to the cause. A quorum was established and the first Mini AGM in the 104 year history of the Victoria Centre went ahead. Let us hope that it will also be the last Mini AGM in history as this bureaucratic process is more complicated than astrophysics.

Speaking of “astro” things let’s talk about AstroFest 2019. This event, the first of its kind, was held in Nanaimo on February 28th. It was extremely well organized and hosted by the Nanaimo Astronomy Society. The idea was to bring Island astronomers together to share their knowledge and enthusiasm. This mid island rendezvous was well advertised and over 120 attended the event. Nelson Walker, Bill Weir and I manned the Victoria Centre table while Lauri Roche and Ben Dorman represented the FDAO. Victoria Centre RASCal Francois Pilote led a contingent of 5 from the Comox Valley and Victoria member Mike Krempotic came from Port Alberni. Dennis Crabtree set up the very popular virtual reality system and captivated many.

There were a number of presentations. I provided info on the  Victoria Centre while Nanaimo President Chris Boar described the activities of the Nanaimo Society. In addition to talks at their monthly meeting they hold many outreach events and like Victoria are swamped by the curious public during eclipses. They also take time to have fun and schedule an annual Beer and Burger night. The Cowichan Valley Starfinders promoted their star party and Nigel Mayes from  Shawnigan Lake School described their facility and active astronomy program. John and Carol Nemy delivered a spectacular visual presentation of the night sky which featured their Island Stars Observatory located on Hornby Island. The members of the Nanaimo Astronomy Society were very friendly and hospitable. Several members had roll off roof observatories. Many of the attendees were newbies looking for ways to get involved in Astronomy. Bruce Lane from Quarky Science donated a nice pair of binoculars as a door prize. There was great enthusiasm for this event and it is hoped that it will be repeated. Special thanks must go to Chris Boar, Tony Puerez and Janeane MacGillivary for magically making it all happen. 

Snowless Days

Cloudless Nights

Reg Dunkley