Astronomy Cafe – Mar 21, 2022

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Video transcript of the meeting

Deborah Lokhost presented to us about the Dragonfly Telephoto Array. She is an Instrument Science Research Associate at the NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, BC. During her PhD in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, she worked with the Dragonfly Telephoto Array to observe and study galaxies. She designed an upgrade to Dragonfly and built a pathfinder telescope based on this design which she then used to study gas in the surroundings of galaxies. She is currently leading the construction of a full-scale upgrade to the telescope which has the ultimate goal of imaging gas in the “cosmic web” of dark matter.

Dragonfly Telephoto Array

  • Reasons for Dragonfly
    • Large galaxies with low luminosity (surface brightness)
    • Light scattering is the main problem
    • Reflecting telescopes don’t help, since they scatter light
    • Refractors have a limit in size
  • Design
    • Canon using nano coatings to reduce light scatter for their long telephoto lenses
    • Using 48 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L – split between two Paramounts/observatories
    • Mexico Skies Observatory – site
    • Astroplanner – mission planning and execution
    • Been in operation for 6 years
    • Comparison between Dragonfly and Sloan Digital Sky Survey
    • Diffraction Limited SBIG CCD cameras
    • Intel stick computers talk to a master computer for data collection
    • Filter 1/2 G and 1/2 R (Sloan clone)
  • Science
    • Main target is galaxies
    • What is Dark Matter? 90% of the Milky Way is Dark Matter
    • Dark Matter first detected by Vera Rubin
    • Ultra Diffuse Galaxies – new discovery by Dragonfly team
    • Looking for Globular Clusters in these ultra diffuse galaxies
    • First field images – Coma Berenice cluster of galaxies
    • NGC 1052 diffuse galaxies – very little Dark Matter – unusual!
    • Modified Newtonian Galaxy – alternate theory to Dark Matter
  • What about outside galaxies? – Deborah’s main study
    • Detecting faint gas emissions using ultra-narrowband filters
    • Simulated Ha observations from EAGLE cosmological simulation that should be possible using Dragonfly
    • Mounting the ultra-narrowband filters in front of the lenses would improve the result, and tilting the filter improves performance
    • Discovered a new Ha shell around M81/M82
    • 0.8nm filters will be used on new array
    • 30 new lenses to start with for testing and fine tuning

Members Reports & Presentations

  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • NGC 4565 Needle Galaxy with many tiny galaxies in the field – Denis Boucher
    • Comet C/2020 L3 (Atlas) – Alister Ling
    • NGC 281 emission nebula – Tom Owen
  • Galactic Atmospheres gallery – Jim Hesser
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Astrophotography – Wed
    • Makers – Thu – using Arduino microprocessors
  • Gov’t of Canada Citizen Science Portal – David Lee
  • James Web Space Telescope update – Chris Gainor
    • Pointing, focusing and alignment of the mirrors is complete
    • Now aligning the various instruments and guidance sensors
  • “Not Yet Imagined” History of Hubble – printed book now available from Chris Gainor (email)
  • Next week’s Café on March 28 – Jeff Pivnick
    • Invited a guest speaker. Vickie Siegel of Stone Aerospace who will be speaking about exploration using remote autonomous vehicles.
    • Crybots and AUVs intended for exploring Europa’s subsurface seas

Astronomy Cafe – March 14, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • A printed copy of the Hubble history book “Not Yet Imagined: A Study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations” written by Chris Gainor can be requested from NASA by email for no cost. Kindle, ePub and PDF electronic versions are also available for free download.
  • Locating Endurance– Randy Enkin
    • Shackleton’s exploration ship Endurance in Antarctica has been located on March 5, 2022
    • Crew manned a lifeboat from Elephant Island to South Georgia and all crew were eventually rescued
    • Review of navigation in that era
    • Refer to: On the Location of Shackleton’s Vessel Endurance by Lars Bergman and Robin G. Stuart, published in  the Journal of Navigation: 29 July 2021 
    • Endurance had 24 chronometers!
    • Chronometers were referenced to occultations that happened along the route at the time
    • Ship was found 6.4 km south of the original reported position of the sinking
    • The just-completed National Geographic mission was privately funded – about $20 million
    • The Perfectionists by Simon Winchester – describes Harrison’s chronometers – Martin Gisborne
  • Report on construction of new 32″ telescope for Edmonton Centre by Roman – Dave Robinson
  • Astrophoto of NGC 2264 Cone Nebula in RGB – Brock Johnston
    • May use narrowband next time to tease out more detail
  • FDAO Star Parties – Lauri Roche
    • March 19th 7-9PM presentation “Direct Imaging of Exoplanets” – Garima Singh, NRC/HIA
      • Zoom link will be sent out to RASC members
    • April 16th – 2 presentations
      • ARTEMIS mission – speaker from Canadian Space Agency
      • Plaskett’s Star by Dennis Crabtree
  • May 7th – Astronomy Day national events – Lauri Roche
    • Launch of Chris Gainor’s book “Not Yet Imagined: A Study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations” on the Hubble History
  • Astrophotos – Martin Gisborne
    • Rosette Nebula – with and without star reduction – Nikon D850 dSLR
    • Flame & Horsehead Nebula
    • M51 galaxy – first attempt using his new big telescope
    • M81 galaxy – small refractor photo from last year
    • M101 galaxy
    • Astronomy book reviews
  • Cone Nebula and Plaskett’s star location – David Lee & Randy Enkin
  • Two photos from the RASC Plaskett night (Mar 5th) processed and posted by Dan Posey – presented by Joe Carr
  • Painting of a tiny Arctic plant by Marjie Welchframe
  • Fr. Lucien Kemble – Roman Catholic Franciscan priest well-known as a visual observer from Alberta and Saskatchewan. Kemble’s Cascade, chain of stars in the northern sky. Photo by Charles Banville – Bill Weir
  • Speaker for Mar 21 Astro Cafe: Deborah Lokhorst will be speaking about the Dragonfly Telephoto Array 

Astronomy Cafe – March 7, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Uncategorized

Meeting video transcript

  • Intro – Chris Purse
    • Upcoming speakers
    • Working on hosting Astro Cafe in-person at the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association facilities
    • Welcome to new members
    • Garry Sedun, new VP
    • Dave Payne, new VP2
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Orion Nebula, Virgo Galaxy Cluster and other galaxies – Tom Owen
  • Recent Astrophotos – Brock Johnston
    • M78 reflection and dark nebula east of Horsehead
    • M106 galaxy and satellite galaxies
    • Horsehead & Orion Nebulae widefield, starless version
    • Brock’s online gallery
  • Comet 19/P Borrelly is passing by the California Nebula (chart) – March 23-27 – Bill Weir
  • Recent Astrophotos – Dan Posey
    • From recent Plaskett Photography 12-hour session for RASC Victoria Centre members – Horsehead Nebula, more later (data available from Dan through Astrophotography SIG)
    • M81, M82 – VCO Takahashi & Canon Ra
    • Dan’s downtown deck – telescope & CCD
      • Horsehead Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, Swan Nebula – starless versions
      • Thor’s Helmut Nebula
      • Dan’s online gallery
  • Horsehead Nebula – best astrophoto using Garry Sedun’s astro gear
  • Recent Astrophotos – Martin Gisborne
    • Markarian’s Chain of galaxies – 80mm refractor and Nikon D850 unmodified dSLR
    • Rosette Nebula
    • Horsehead & Flame Nebulae with Iridium flare
    • Flaming Star Nebula IC 405 using 8″ SCT
  • Chris Gainor
    • No news with JWST mission
    • We are probably coming to the end of Russian collaboration with the ISS due to the Ukraine war
  • Congratulations to Sid Sidhu on local press coverage for his recent IAU asteroid naming
  • FDAO – Lauri Roche
    • March 19th Star Party
    • April 16th – Artemis Mission speaker
    • May 7th Astronomy Day – may open the Centre of the Universe for a public event
  • Interest in Citizen Science group? – contact David Lee (david@victoria.rasc.ca
  • Any interest in staging a Messier Marathon? – Chris Purse (membership@victoria.rasc.ca
  • The Last Stargazers book by Emily Levesque – recommended by Martin Gisborne and others

Astronomy Cafe – Feb 28, 2022

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Meeting transcript video

  • Lisa Dang, PhD Student McGill – Marjie Welchframe (Women in Astronomy series)
    • 1st principal investigator to use JWST using MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument)
    • Hot Jupiters’ atmospheres gas giant exoplanets with very short orbital periods
  • Erin Gibbons presentation : Perseverance First Year on Mars – RASC Montreal Centre online – Jeff Pivnick
    • Erin is an Astrobiologist
    • Payload specialist for the Supercam remote sensing instrument aboard Perseverance
    • Search for life on Mars – primary mission
    • Ingenuity drone is being used to scout routes for the rover
    • Stromatolites on Mars
    • Perseverance landed on west side, inside of Jezero Crater – indications of flowing water
  • John McDonald
    • Changes at Ross Place – building a construction crane
    • Photo of the Orion Nebula and Lunar surface taken by the new Victoria Centre Observatory’s OGS telescope and QHY camera
  • Cosmic Generation – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Youth astronomy group being formed
    • First meeting was Feb 13th
    • Next meeting is Mar 13th – sign up
    • Outreach and building members phase
    • Website, magazine and social media coming soon
    • Want to hold monthly webinars
  • OCCULTATION OF ZC2118 on 22 FEB 22 observation report – David Lee
    • High winds and very cold, so used light weight rigs – camera and lens, and small refractor for visual
    • Video of Alpha 1 & 2 Librae stars ingress and egress
    • Observing reports from Sid Sidhu, Nathan Hellner-Mestelman, Chris Purse and Randy Enkin
    • IOTA lists occultations and grazes
  • Lauri Roche
    • Artemis Mission Launch coming up – Canadian Space Agency is looking for promotion to the public by RASC. April 16th FDAO event is proposed with a speaker from CSA.
    • GA is online again this year – June 24-27
      • Virtual observing across the country on two evenings – solar observing from Victoria?
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Bi-marathons – Messier & running marathon in the same night
    • Andromeda Galaxy & Ha regions & Cepheid Variable VI – Abdur Anwar
  • Lunar Occultation – 2 photos 48 seconds apart – Mike Webb
  • Chris Gainor
    • James Webb Space Telescope Report
      • Pointing and focusing 18 mirrors progressing nicely
      • Now resolving a single star with completed image stacking
      • More work on focusing required
    • Artemis Mission – probably a May launch – Chris Gainor
      • Artemis 2 mission will take humans around the Moon
    • The Ukraine war will probably affect space launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia. Other space exploration may be affected. Discussion about International Space Station.
  • Bill Weir
    • Equatorial Poncet platform for the 20″ Truss Dobsonian built by Guy Walton is now working again
    • Will be used at the Centre of the Universe for public viewing when restrictions permit events
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Beginners SIG – tomorrow evening
    • EAA SIG – Thursday – discuss a National RASC public outreach initiative using EAA

The Life and Times of the Sky Quality Meter (SQM) – Doug Welch – Feb 21, 2022

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Presentation video

RASC Victoria Centre AGM Speaker:  The Life and Times of the Sky Quality Meter (SQM) – Doug Welch, Unihedron

  • 2005 first SQM manufactured
  • Anthony Tekatch
    • co-inventor of SQM
    • PCB design, app coder (Unihedron Device Manager), production of all meters, user support
  • IR limiting filter in front of sensor
  • SQM-L – handheld +- 20º viewing angle
  • SQM-LU – USB connected device, continuous monitor, light pollution surveys with GPS 
  • SQM-L-DL – data logger, runs for about a month on AA batteries
  • SQM-LE – PoE Ethernet device, can function as a cloud monitor
    • Website illustrates the cloud sensing function
  • 10,000 SQM devices being used
  • Used for mapping night sky quality worldwide, with lots of published studies
  • Sea turtle light trespass use case
  • Car-based mobile light pollution surveys – using a SQM-LU & computer
  • Q&A
    • Victoria Centre teams mapped light pollution in our area back in 2010 – Sid Sidhu & David Lee
    • Can interface to Raspberry Pi with Python code
    • Is it weather proof? No, but a weather enclosure is available which copes with most conditions
    • Are the various models interoperable? Yes, all SQMs are calibrated before shipping. 
    • Milky Way can affect readings by 0.2 in southern hemisphere, 0.1 in the northern hemisphere
    • Driving technique – stop then take reading is recommended
    • Magnitudes/square second? It’s a logarithmic surface brightness number. Darkest are 22, meter saturates at 6 (not daytime).
    • Has the SQM been useful in reducing light pollution? Yes, promoting dark areas and encouraging change.
    • Discussion about measuring darkness from a very dark site and the contribution of the Milky Way in that case

President’s Message – Feb 2022

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Randy Enkin

A colleague recently told me that my family name, Enkin, in Japanese literally means “near-far” (遠近). One sense of the Japanese word “enkin” is “perspective”; another is “bifocal glasses”. My colleague flatteringly suggested that if we could get some of our other colleagues to spend time wearing Enkin glasses, we could probably quickly achieve consensus regarding a scientific controversy that we have been involved in for the last 30 years.

One of the joys of astronomy is using our knowledge of what is near to help us understand what is far. For me, my training as a geologist gives me a fair amount of knowledge concerning how the earth works and this informs my way at looking at astronomical objects. In my Astro Café presentations, I try to help the rest of you to see my perspective on various astronomical topics.

Everybody in the Victoria Centre has something important to contribute. You all have your personal interests and experiences, which informs what you see and understand in our common interest of astronomy. It would be wonderful to hear more of you at the Astro Café. I am quite sure our wonderful SkyNews editor would love to receive more articles for this newsletter! Presentations do not have to be polished, nor original. Your perspective is what we value. In my experience, I see that we are a particularly patient and accepting audience.

So, put on some Enkin glasses. Take joy in what you see and share it with our community. We will all learn to see your subject with a new perspective, and we will gain a better appreciation of each other.
Thank you all for accepting and supporting me through my first year as President of the Victoria Centre. It is an honour to be part of this long-running institution. I look forward to year two, with lots more activities – sometimes even in person! I look forward to getting to know more of you and sharing our mutual appreciation of the wonders of the sky.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin, President@Victoria.RASC.ca

Astronomy Cafe – Feb 14, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of meeting

  • Announcements – Chris Purse
    • 2022 Observer’s Calendar – some available at $15 – contact Chris Purse or Lauri Roche
    • Astro Cafe In Person – Fairfield Gonzales Community Association
      • The portable we have been using is no longer available
      • Other rooms are available, so when we resume in-person meetings, we will be meeting in another room
      • The TV we installed will be moved to our new location
      • Monday is one of their busiest nights, so we may also move days
      • Feedback from members is welcome
  • Standing for election as Secretary – Jill Sinkwich intro
    • Now participating in RASC after 20 years of lurking
    • Interests in music and law, but also astronomy (observing certificates)
  • Quantum Gravity – Duane Weaver
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Andromeda Galaxy – Abdur Anwar tried to capture the integrated flux between the galaxies
    • A red rainbow with the Sun very low in the sky – John Wooly
  • Update on James Webb Space Telescope – Chris Gainor
    • First light shared before aligning the mirrors
    • News story about first light
    • One of the more prominent scientists for JWST at the Space Telescope Institute is a black Canadian named Jason Kallirai
  • Lauri Roche
    • 2022 Observer’s Calendars – $15 each – contact Lauri(roche.lauri@gmail.com)
    • FDAO Star Party this Saturday evening, Feb 19th – Intersection of Science and Art – Bob McDonald
    • FDAO wants to open for in-person events, starting on Astronomy Day, May 7th, but dependant on NRC and Federal pandemic rules
  • David Lee
    • Makers SIG – this Thursday
    • Lunar Occultation is coming up  – contact =David if interested (david@victoria.rasc.ca
  • Victoria Centre AGM – next Monday – Randy Enkin
    • Speaker: The Life and Times of the Sky Quality Meter – Doug Welch, Dean of Graduate Studies, and on the CFHT and TMT boards
    • Need a quorum, so if you can’t attend, contact our Secretary Barbara Lane (secretary@victoria.rasc.ca
    • Link to Zoom meeting sent to members by the Secretary
  • Astrophotos – Brock Johnson
  • Black History – event this Saturday, Feb 19th at 10AM PST – Bill Weir
    • 4 presenters
  • National Report – Lauri Roche
    • 2023 and 2024 eclipse events being planned
    • New NOVA modules available beginning of April – volunteer testers needed
    • 2022 GA being planned – contact Chris Gainor (cgainor@shaw.ca)

Astronomy Cafe – Feb 7, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of meeting

  • IAU Small Bodies Nomenclature – Chris Purse
    • Asteroid (10109) Sidhu – 1992  KQ – discovered by Eleanor F. Helin
    • Sid Sidhu was nominated by President Chris Purse back in 2018
    • Quite a few Victoria Centre members are already honoured, along with other RASC members 
    • Sid joined RASC in 1985
  • The Transformative Journey of HD 93521 (Doug Gies, et. al) – Randy Enkin
    • Rapid rotating star between Leo Minor and Ursa Major
    • Blue star 40,000 times more luminous as the Sun, Spectral Type O
    • Only 5 million years old, and burning out rapidly
    • First spectra was published by Plaskett & Pearce in 1931
    • Actually 39 million years old, but nuclear clock was reset 5 million years ago
    • Discussion about black holes, stellar dust, and star formation and evolution
  • Lunar Occultation – David Lee (david@victoria.rasc.ca
    • Zubelnelgenubi double star occulted by the Moon on Feb 22, 2022
    • Published times for various locations
    • Altitude of 20º and Azimuth 135-180º from Victoria
    • Prepare ahead of time
    • David can help anyone interested in observing or photographing this event
  • Update on Victoria Centre Observatory – Reg Dunkley
    • 20″ Obsession Dob telescope – visual observing
      • Digital setting circles to be installed
    • 12″ Dob telescope – visual observing
    • Takahashi TOA – visual and photography configurations
    • 12.5″ OGS RC – photography with a new 61 Mpix cooled camera, filters LRGB & narrowband
      • First light of the Moon – photo taken last night
    • Paramount mount still needs some service, but it’s working
    • COVID-19 Regulations – 4 members at the VCO, and 2 more members at the Plaskett parking lot. Active Observers should attest to being fully vaccinated to President Randy Enkin (president@victoria.rasc.ca) and cc to Chris Purse (membership@victoria.rasc.ca)
    • Member-In-Charge (MIC) – 2 spaces available for new volunteers. Training will be provided.
  • Update on James Webb Space Telescope – Chris Gainor
    • Last week, instruments turned on
    • First light on sensors
    • Calibrating the mirror segments is proceeding
  • History of Hubble – Chris Gainor
    • Chris will be receiving copies of the book
    • Requests can be sent to the Hubble Information Center – info-center@hq.nasa.gov
  • Observers Handbook 2022 – free one available from Joe Carr (web@victoria.rasc.ca
  • SIGs – David Lee (david@victoria.rasc.ca
    • Makers SIG meeting online this Thursday
  • Victoria Centre’s AGM – Feb 21, 2022 starting at 7:00PM PST
    • Speaker: The Life and Times of the Sky Quality Meter – Doug Welch, Dean of Graduate Studies, and on the CFHT and TMT boards
    • Need a quorum – proxies are good if you can’t attend – send to any member in good standing who will attend, or Barbara Lane secretary@victoria.rasc.ca

President’s Message – Jan 2022

Posted by as President's Message

Betelgeuse winked two years ago. The bright red shoulder star of Orion became noticeably dimmer and then recovered over a number of months. I prepared a presentation on this red giant for our Astro Cafe (2020-01-27) and included a note about how some other cultures explain the phenomenon:

Randy Enkin using his sextant
Randy Enkin using his sextant

“Orion represents Nyeeruna, who creates fire-magic in his right hand, represented by Betelgeuse, to reach the Yugarilya sisters (the Pleiades). The eldest sister, Kambugudha, symbolized by the Hyades cluster, kicks sand in his face, dispelling his magic, and stops him from gaining access to the sisters. The process is described as cyclic, with Betelgeuse brightening and fading over time. The Pemon people in Brazil called Orion Zililkawai and the constellation represented a man whose wife cut off his leg. Betelgeuse’s variable brightness was associated with the cutting of the limb.”

Last weekend, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Vice President, Charles Ennis, gave a wonderful presentation at the FDAO Star Party on the RASC’s World Asterisms Project. His compilation includes 455 asterisms that include stars found in the region of the constellation Orion! At least 455 cultures from every corner of the world have looked up at the sky and were inspired to describe this same view with a story.

Charles Ennis’ presenting at FDAO Star Party

We amateur astronomers are part of this connection between all people over space and time. The sky continues to delight and fascinate us. We share our stories, and invent new ones. We look up.

I am so pleased to share the love of the sky with you. The earth has almost traveled a complete orbit around the sun since you have asked me to be the president of the Victoria Centre. Thank you for your support and trust in me. I look forward to the next orbit!

Look Up,
Randy Enkin, President@Victoria.RASC.ca

Astronomy Cafe – Jan 31, 2022

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Delivery of Calendars & Handbooks – Lauri Roche & Chris Gainor
    • Delivery of RASC 2022 Calendars for Victoria Centre should happen tomorrow
    • 4 members present still don’t have their Observers Handbooks – Duane Weaver, Brock Johnston, Bill Weir
    • The last Board meeting was dedicated to getting the delivery issues resolved
  • Pastel Paintings of the planets – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Jupiter – from Juno mission image
    • Earth and the Moon from space
    • Saturn in monochrome
    • Mars – Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris juxtaposed
    • Discussion about artistic technique
  • Cordillera Mountains & Mare Oriental lunar features – Randy Enkin
  • A Lunar Alpine Quest – Reg Dunkley
    • Original presentation to Victoria Centre on Nov 6, 2017 
    • Dorothy Paul – sketch of lunar mountains from the 2017 Solar Eclipse
    • Reg took a photo of the same area at  the 2017 Solar Eclipse and measured the height of one of the mountains on the Moon and the height of the solar chromosphere
    • Identified the particular mountain using Solar Eclipse Maestro software and some trigonometry from Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO)
    • Schluter Crater is likely the candidate for the gap in the corona imaged by Reg
    • Brock Johnston showed a photo of the partial eclipse featuring similar “bumps” in the partial eclipse line
  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • JWST telescope in a star field time lapse imaged by Anwar Abdur
    • Jan 28, 2022 text observing report from Luca Vanzella – Orion & Auriga and NGCs in Cancer, Gemini, Monoceros
  • SIG meetings – David Lee
  • James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – Chris Gainor
  • Victoria Centre AGM – Randy Enkin
    • Monday, Feb 21st – starting at 7PM online
    • Keynote Speaker: Life and Times of the Sky Quality Meter – Doug Welch