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

FOR SALE – Meade 14″ SCT and accessories

Posted by as Buy&Sell

RASC Victoria Centre is selling surplus astronomical equipment

Meade 14″ SCT telescope, cradle mount & Hyperstar f/2

PLEASE NOTE – ALL ITEMS ARE NOW SOLD!

Photo gallery of Victoria Centre’s Observatory

 

  • Please refer to the asking prices of the items listed below. Items will be sold to the bidder who submits the highest bid price.
  • Once a bid is accepted, prompt payment by bank draft or certified cheque is preferred, payable to: RASC Victoria Centre. Payment by personal cheque drawn on a US or Canadian bank is also acceptable, but will cause delays.
  • Tie bids will be decided by the date and time the bids are first received.
  • Local pickup of items is preferred, otherwise successful bidders are responsible for shipping costs in addition to their bid price.
  • The equipment listed below has been used together for the last 10 years at Victoria Centre’s observatory. Items can be bought separately or together.
  • All equipment is sold as-is without any warranty or guarantee of fitness for purpose.

Please contact Bruno Quenneville if you need further details about the items offered for sale Email (brunoqvictoria@gmail.com) or call ‭(250) 888-3450‬.

Send your bids to Joe Carr

  • Email (web@victoria.rasc.ca)
  • Postal mail or courier: Attn: RASC Victoria Centre, 3046 Jackson St, Victoria, BC Canada V8T 3Z8.

Meade 14” f/10 SCT telescope optical tube – SOLD

  • Optical tube only – no diagonals or mounting hardware is included
  • Includes
    • Meade standard finder scope
    • Feather Touch ultra fine thread focuser upgrade – see red arrowed item in photo below
    • Dew shield
  • Other accessories available – see below for Hyperstar and cradle mount (both used with this 14″ SCT)
  • Meade’s website
  • $1,350 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks. Optics need cleaning.
Meade 14" SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2" digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)
Meade 14″ SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2″ digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)

Hyperstar f/2 focal reducer for Meade or Celestron SCT telescopes – SOLD

  • Reduces optics from f/10 to f/2 for imaging only (not for visual use)
  • Starizona website – verify with Starizona this reducer will work with your telescope!
  • $450 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

Cradle mount for 14″ optical tube telescopes – SOLD

  • This heavy duty metal cradle provides excellent support for a 14″ optical tube such as the above Meade 14″ SCT
  • Includes
    • Losmandy style rails suitable for attaching the cradle to a heavy duty tracking mount
    • Two (2) Losmandy style rails  on both sides for mounting additional telescopes or other gear
  • $650 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

 

FOR SALE: Observatory Equipment

Posted by as Buy&Sell

RASC Victoria Centre is selling surplus astronomical equipment

FOR SALE BY BID: telescopes, equipment & optics

Due date: April 30, 2018 at 11:59PM

BIDDING NOW CLOSED

Photo gallery of Victoria Centre’s Observatory

 

  • Each lot itemized below will be sold to the bidder who submits the highest bid price by the due date, providing our minimum bid (reserve) price is met or exceeded.
  • Once a bid is accepted, prompt payment by bank draft or certified cheque is preferred, payable to: RASC Victoria Centre. Payment by personal cheque drawn on a US or Canadian bank is also acceptable, but will cause delays.
  • Tie bids will be decided by the date and time the bids are first received.
  • Local pickup of items is preferred, otherwise successful bidders are responsible for shipping costs in addition to their bid price.
  • All equipment is sold as-is without any warranty or guarantee of fitness for purpose.

Please contact Bruno Quenneville if you need further details about the items offered for sale Email or call ‭(250) 888-3450‬.

Send your bids to Joe Carr

  • Email (web@victoria.rasc.ca)
  • Postal mail or courier: Attn: RASC Victoria Centre, 3046 Jackson St, Victoria, BC Canada V8T 3Z8. Bids sent by postal mail or courier must be postmarked April 27, 2018 or earlier. 
Orion 80mm telescope
Orion 80mm telescope

LOT 1 – Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 apochromatic refractor telescope – SALE PENDING

  • Includes:
    • William Optics 2″Dielectric diagonal & 1 1/4″ adaptor.- William Optics website
    • William Optics 2-speed Crayford focuser
    • Orion right angle finder scope & mounting bracket
    • Orion mounting rings
    • Orion custom ED80 Hard case
  • No other hardware included
  • Orion’s website
  • $300 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks
Tele Vue NP127is telescope
Tele Vue NP127is telescope

LOT 2 – Tele Vue NP127is apochromatic imaging refractor telescope – SALE PENDING

  • Includes (all Tele Vue brand unless otherwise indicated)
    • 2.4 inch diameter Focus Mate dual-speed rack and pinion focuser
    • Sliding dew shield
    • 2 inch accessory adapter with clamp ring
    • photo accessory adapter
    • custom fitted hard shell case
    • Focus Mate Driver FDF-2004
    • 90 Degree Everbrite Diagonal (2 inch diameter)
    • 10 micron position indicator for the 2.4 inch focuser
    • 0.8X Focal Reducer NPR -1073
    • Three 1 Inch Spacers for 2.4 inch focuser
    • One 0.5 inch spacer for 2.4 inch focuser
    • One 0.375 inch spacer for 2.4 inch focuser
    • One 0.25 inch spacer for 2.4 inch focuser
    • SBIG STL Camera Adapter STL-1071
    • Large Field Coma Corrector LCL – 1069
    • Canon T-Ring for EOS dSLR
  • Tele Vue’s website
  • $4,500 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.
    • The Focuser is bent, but operating. Replacement cost would be US$350.
    • The optics deliver close to perfect star images visually and for photos taken by APS-C and smaller sensors, however when using a full-frame 35mm sensor, some star elongations are apparent in the corners of the photographic frame. Please view this evaluation done by our members for further details. Tele Vue is able to restore the telescope optics to factory specification for a charge of US$495 plus shipping, however this work would be done at a prospective purchaser’s own expense.

 

LOT 3 – Meade 14” f/10 SCT telescope optical tube

  • Optical tube only – no diagonals or mounting hardware is included
  • Includes
    • Meade standard finder scope
    • Feather Touch ultra fine thread focuser upgrade – see red arrowed item in photo below
    • Dew shield
  • Other accessories available – see below for Hyperstar and cradle mount (both used with this 14″ SCT)
  • Meade’s website
  • $1,500 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks. Optics need cleaning.
Meade 14" SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2" digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)
Meade 14″ SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2″ digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)

LOT 4 – Hyperstar f/2 focal reducer for Meade or Celestron SCT telescopes

  • Reduces optics from f/10 to f/2 for imaging only (not for visual use)
  • Starizona website – verify with Starizona this reducer will work with your telescope!
  • $500 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

LOT 5 – Cradle mount for 14″ optical tube telescopes

  • This heavy duty metal cradle provides excellent support for a 14″ optical tube such as the above Meade 14″ SCT
  • Includes
    • Losmandy style rails suitable for attaching the cradle to a heavy duty tracking mount
    • Two (2) Losmandy style rails  on both sides for mounting additional telescopes or other gear
  • $700 reserve
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

 

Astronomy Day 2018 in Victoria

Posted by as Events

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal BC Museum present

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum

Saturday, April 21, 2018 10AM to 4PM

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

Poster (408k PDF) – please spread the word and stick a reminder on your fridge

Gallery of photos from Astronomy Day 2018


All Astronomy Day activities are FREE and available to the general public. Membership in RASC is not required.

Regular admission applies to the Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre.

Telescope at Astronomy Day 2017

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 4PM

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

  • Interactive activities and displays both inside and outside
    • View the Sun safely through solar telescopes on the plazaa
    • Telescope mirror grinding – inside
    • Astrophotography – inside
    • Hands-on activities for the kids – inside
  • Presentations in Newcombe Auditorium
    • 11:00 AM – Speaker: Dr. Samantha Lawler, NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre
      Title: Planet 9 or Planet Nein? Discoveries in the Distant Solar System
    • 12:00 PM – Knowledge Network Space SUITE I
    • 1:00 PM –
      Speaker: Dr. Patrick Coté, NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre
      Title: CASTOR: A Flagship Canadian Space Telescope
    • 2:00 PM – Knowledge Network Space Suite II
    • 3:00 PM – Knowledge Network Space Suite III

Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PM

The Hon. Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor looking through Chuck Filnesss' telescope

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Lectures
    • 8PM-
      Speaker: Daniel Posey
      Title: Gateway to the Stars: Science, Civic Identity, and Tourism at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), Victoria B.C. 1903-1941
  • Only holders of (free) tickets will be admitted to this evening event!
  • Click Here to Reserve Your Tickets 

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).

 

Astronomy Day 2016

Posted by as Events, Special Events

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal BC Museum present

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum

Saturday, May 14, 2016 10AM to 4PM

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

2016-IAD-MediaRelease (59k PDF)

Event Details


Stephen Courtin and his astro VW bus
Stephen Courtin and his astro VW bus

All Astronomy Day activities are FREE and available to the general public. Membership in RASC is not required.

Regular admission applies to Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre. A Beautiful Planet – an IMAX® 2D and 3D Experience – Take a Journey on the International Space Station! – starting at 11AM (every 2 hours).

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 4PM

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

  • Interactive activities and displays both inside and outside
    • View the Sun safely through solar telescopes on the plaza
    • “Walk Among the Planets” display on the plaza
    • Telescope mirror grinding – inside
    • Astrophotography – inside
    • Historical displays – inside
    • Hands-on activities for the kids – inside
  • Lectures
    • 1PM – Death Stars in the Orion Nebula: Recent Observations of Planet Formation – Dr. Rita Mann
    • 2:30PM – Baby Galaxies in a Grown-up Universe – Maan Hani

Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PM

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Lectures
    • 8PM – Journey to the Edge of the Solar System. New Horizons: The First Mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt – Ivar Arroway
    • 9PM – The Greatest Show on Earth: Solar Eclipses – Michael Webb
  • Only holders of (free) tickets will be admitted to this evening event!
  • Reserve your tickets (one week prior to the event) – sorry, all tickets are gone!


Press


 

What a day! Absolutely first-rate effort by RASC-Victoria members for a successful International Astronomy Day at the Royal BC Museum and Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

Huge thanks to our incredible RASC volunteers, as well as those who generously donated their time and knowledge from NRC, FDAO, UVic, Pearson College, the Planetary Society, and our guest speakers Rita Mann, Maan Hani, Ivar Arroway and Michael Webb. Special thanks go to David Lee and Nelson Walker who arranged the volunteers and guest speakers, and made the whole event look amazing.

We had fun, and the public LOVED it.
Well done, and THANK YOU everyone!

Sherry Buttnor, President, RASC Victoria Centre

Congratulations and thanks to everyone from RASC, FDAO, Science Ventures, Planetary Society, NRC-HAA, and the RBCM who made two extraordinary events possible. The community commitment to engaging, quality outreach and to support of the work of the Herzberg staff at DAO is phenomenal. That we have come so far since CU closure is the result of sustained effort by so many people, for which my gratitude is boundless!

Jim Hesser, former Director of the DAO

Thanks to all the volunteers during the day and at night at the DAO who made it a very worthwhile day.

Lauri Roche, Past President, RASC Victoria Centre

Summer Star Parties 2016 at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory!

Posted by as Special Events

Back for 2016! The Victoria Centre will be hosting thirteen Saturday Evenings at the DAO, featuring guest speakers, solar and nighttime observing with telescopes provided by RASC-Victoria Centre volunteers, tours of the historic Plaskett telescope, and more! Rain or shine, we will have something for everyone to experience.

Dates begin with International Astronomy Day on May 14th. Here are all the dates:
May 14, 21, 28. June 4, 11. July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. August 6, 13, 20. Special encore September 24.

PLEASE NOTE: due to the extreme traffic congestion in previous years, admission is now by ticket ONLY. Tickets are FREE and will be available during the week preceding each Saturday evening from our EventBrite site: https://summerstarparties.eventbrite.ca

See you there!

poster_2016_SAUNDERS-page-001

Site Line Work Only

Summer Star Parties at the DAO run every Saturday evening from July 2nd to Aug 20th. To enhance your experience please note the following venues before you arrive. Activities are broken up in to seven main areas,

  1. Lecture Hall – This summer we have a full slate of topical presentations from the astronomy community which includes researchers, authors and passionate amateurs. There are possibilities of surprise guest speakers. Come early most presentations start at 8:15pm and most do not repeat in the evening.
  2. Plaskett Dome – The dome is a heritage site, and not to be missed. Tours are approximately 45 minutes long and start at 7:45pm. Two other tours start at 8:30pm and 9:15pm.
  3. Planetarium – Planetarium shows run 6 times during the evening and are approximately 30 minutes in length. Come inside and learn about the constellations, and even a little sky lore!
  4. 16” Telescope – This research-grade telescope was originally located on Mt Kobau near Osoyoos for site testing towards potentially building an observatory there. It was then moved here to the DAO, and then from another area on the DAO property to this site when the Centre of the Universe building was constructed in the early 1990’s. It is now available for viewing “live” through an eyepiece. The telescope is open subject to weather conditions most of the evening.
  5. RASC Member Telescopes – Royal Astronomical Society of Canada members have been long standing participants at Saturdays nights at the DAO for nearly 100 years. Weather permitting, members will take you on a telescopic tour of the evening sky.
  6. Information Area – There are volunteers available to help you with your evening visit and if you’re interested they can let you know how you can get involved in astronomy activities in Victoria. Look for kid friendly displays from Science Ventures in this same area.
  7. Interpretive Centre Displays – The displays from the former interpretive centre show Canada’s role in astronomy and contain a number of historical artifacts of interest.

 

September 24th 8:00pm – 9:00pm and 9:15pm – 10:15pm The ISU (International Space University) and the Mission to the Asteroid Osiris-Rex

Bio:

Dr. Geoff Steeves is a physics professor at the University of Victoria in Canada and a faculty member at the International Space University. He conducts research on Mars analogue environments and tele-robotic exploration. At the International Space University he chaired the SSP Space Science Department from 2012-2014 and now co-chairs the Space Humanities Department 2015-present. Geoff is an experienced SCUBA diver and pilot with a commercial pilot’s license and multi-engine instrument rating.

 

Speakers for this season

May 14th – Journey to the Edge of the Solar System, New Horizons The First Mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt (Ivar Arroway)

May 14th – The Greatest Show on Earth: Solar Eclipses (Michael Webb)

May 21st – Introduction to the Night Sky (David Lee)

May 28th – The Night Sky Hitchhiker’s Toolkit: A Guided Tour of Observing Equipment  (RASC Members)

June 4th – Imaging Other Worlds (Benjamin Gerard)

June 11th – Monsters in the Dark: Black Holes and Their Messy Habits (Nicholas McConnell)

July 2nd – Introduction to the Night Sky (David Lee)

July 9th – Where Baby Stars Come From: A Look Behind Orion’s Dusty Veil (Steve Mairs)

July 16th – Gravitational Waves and a New Era of Discovery (Nicholas McConnell)

July 23rd – The Birth, Life, and Death of Stars (Jared Keown)

July 23rd – The Story of the Hubble Space Telescope (Chris Gainor)

July 30th – What is Dark Matter? (Kyle Oman)

August 6th – Observing Planning and Logging Panel Discussion (RASC Members)

August 13th – Light and Life, Sculptors of Earth: The First 2 Billion Years (Dorothy Paul)

August 13th – Voyage to Alpha Centauri (Christian Marois)

August 20th – The Moon, Meteorites, Monks and Me (or MMMM… !) (Leslie Welsh)

August 20th – Astrophotography: Imaging the Sky Panel Discussion (John McDonald, Dan Posey and David Lee)

August 24th – Talk from the Victoria Chapter of the Planetary Society (topic to be announced)  (Geoff Steeves)

 

Monthly Meeting Speaker: Azadeh Fattahi, PhD Astronomy at UVic

Posted by as Meetings

January 13, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

Azadeh Fattahi
Azadeh Fattahi

“What dwarfs teach us about the galaxy formation” – Azadeh Fattahi, PhD Department of Physics and Astronomy at UVic

The standard model of cosmology has been very successful in explaining the galaxy formation and structures in large scales, but observations on smaller scales raised potential questions about the validity of the model.

Bio: Azadeh was born and raised in Iran. She studied Physics for her BSc in Tehran-Iran at the Sharif University of Technology. In 2011 she moved to UVic for her MSc in Astronomy, transferring into a PhD program in 2013.

Total Solar Eclipse – August 21, 2017

Posted by as Observing Highlights

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

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event, and it is even rarer for one to occur close to where you live. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest of North America will be favoured with such an event happening near us on August 21, 2017. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

Location

The eclipse tracks across Oregon and Idaho, making it easy to get to the eclipse totality track from Victoria, British Columbia with one day’s drive. The major cities of Portland and Eugene in Oregon are obvious targets for those of us who are eclipse chasers. I-5, an Interstate highway, crosses the eclipse centreline at the city of Salem, Oregon as the eclipse tracks eastward across the U.S.A. So you might decide to stay in Portland or Eugene, but you will have to drive to the centreline, otherwise you will miss the eclipse!

NASA’s Eclipse website gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track.

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

At the intersection of I-5 and the eclipse path near Salem, Oregon, these are the characteristics of the eclipse:

Lat.: 44.803° N
Long.: 123.0318° W

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 0 seconds

  • Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 09:05:18AM  Altitude=27.8° Azimuth=101.2°
  • Start of total eclipse (C2) : 10:17:13.0AM  Altitude=39.8°  Azimuth=116.8°
  • Maximum eclipse : 10:18:13AM  Altitude=40.0° Azimuth=117.0°
  • End of total eclipse (C3) : 10:19:13AM  Altitude=40.1° Azimuth=117.3°
  • End of partial eclipse (C4) : 11:37:50AM  Altitude=51.0° Azimuth=140.1°

Why this location? Well, if you look at the weather predictions and the track maps, you will see this location is easiest to get to from Victoria, and offers a decent chance of clear skies. Simply take a ferry to the mainland, and drive down I-5 to Oregon. This location is away from the coastal clouds, even though there is better weather available if you drive eastward through Oregon and possibly into southern Idaho. You can also seek out more scenic locales such as Wyoming, however now you will be traveling much further.

What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?

You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use NASA’s Interactive Eclipse Map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.

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

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

Weather

Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipse website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Observing

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to guide you through the process. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

You should try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Take test photos of the Sun weeks before you leave, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Remember, you only have a couple of minutes to see this event!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

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

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

Help!

If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

Perhaps you prefer to leave it to someone else to organize for you, and take a tour. Tour organizers will ensure you are on the centreline for the event, will do their very best to seek clear skies (no guarantees though!), and will supply you with eclipse glasses and ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the event. Some suggestions:

  • RASC Eclipse 2017 – a scenic holiday to the midwest USA, a solar eclipse, and sponsored by RASC!
  • Sky & Telescope – overland to Nashville, seeing rockets and observatories along the way…and the eclipse
  • Travelquest – a tour company specializing in eclipses who are offering five different experiences for the 2017 eclipse

Resources

  • NASA’s Eclipse – a great starting point for information gathering and predictions
  • Eclipsophile – Jay Anderson’s weather predictions are a must to select a location that will likely have clear weather
  • Great American Eclipse – comprehensive information about this specific eclipse – where to go and what you will see
  • Eclipse 2017 – lots of home-grown advice about where to be and what to do
  • America’s 2017 Solar Eclipse – Sky & Telescope’s online resources for planning your eclipse adventure
  • MrEclipse – Fred Espenak’s guide to successfully experiencing and photographing an eclipse
  • Mr. Eclipse says west may be best… – Fred’s eclipse predictions to the Seattle Astronomical Society
  • Kendrick Astro – a Canadian astronomy dealer who sells solar filters for visual and photographic use

 

Orion Nebula imaged by Dan Posey

Posted by as Observing Highlights

M42 – Everything and the kitchen sink

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

 

First off happy holidays! We have only had small windows of clear sky this month in Victoria, but I managed to gather a little bit of data about two weeks ago. I picked Orion as a test for a new light pollution filter for the Victoria RASC, and gathered an hour of ten minute subs with my unmodded 6D. It turned out quite nice, so I found some old data and made a project of it.

All of the subs were shot with the same Np127is. This image consists of 6×10 minutes at iso 400 with an umodified Canon 6D, 7×10 minutes (OSC) with a QSI 583c, 59×1 minutes (OSC) with the same QSI for the core, and 4×20 minutes of hydrogen alpha data with a 3nm filter. All of the files were calibrated and stacked using Pixinsight.

I created a synthetic luminance frame and red channel using a blend of the hydrogen alpha and 6D/QSI data through pixelmath. Unfortunately some high moisture/thin cloud left a bit of a noisy halo on the lower right stars in the data from the 6D, but it added so much to the image overall I left it in. I did my best to regulate the noise down there, but it is what it is.

Dan Posey