Astronomy Cafe – Jan 23, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Cowichan Valley Starfinders (CVSF) – Brian Robilliard  and Ed Nicolas
    • 30 members at the peak, but now very few members
    • 5 members left to run the star party, which is not enough coverage for ISP
    • CVSF meetings held at Brian’s place until pandemic
  • Island Star Party (ISP) – Brian Robilliard and Ed Nicholas
    • ISP History
      • 27 years ago, the ISP was held at a member’s farm
      • Moved ISP to the Duncan Airport
      • Moved to the Victoria Fish and Game on the Malahat, including a joint star party with RASC Victoria in 2009
    • Observing field is reserved for this year’s event at Bright Angel Park – Aug 11-13, 2023
    • Perseids under a New Moon should be a good show on the morning of the 13th
    • Accommodation and Transportation
      • Tenting and RVs welcome on the observing field
      • Driving from Victoria to Bright Angel Park is less than an hour
      • Guest houses and hotels are available in the Cowichan Valley for those who do not want to camp
    • Discussion of field setup
    • Volunteers needed
      • Promotion – Joe Carr
      • Door Prizes – Bruce Lane?
      • Speakers – 
      • Nature Walk – Cowichan Valley Natural History Society
      • Food vendors would require an additional permit
      • Volunteer-run BBQ can work – pay by donation
      • Dave Payne is coordinating with CVSF
      • Setup, teardown –
    • Finances and Equipment
      • Tents, tables and other ISP gear – new storage site needed
      • Overnight campers – charge a fee
      • Drop-ins – no charge
      • CVSF can contribute some funds
      • To-do List – Brian
      • Dave Payne will ensure our national event insurance will cover the ISP event
      • Tent rental will be needed
  • Venus-Saturn Conjunction – Randy Enkin
    • Weather in Victoria was frustrating
    • iPhone photo through a 400mm telescope – Chris Purse
    • Better conditions elsewhere in the world
  • Comet ZTF C/2022 E3 – Randy Enkin
    • Star chart – passing between the Big Dipper and Little Dipper
    • Observing hints –
      • easy observing with binoculars or telescopes
      • higher altitude in the early morning hours
    • Getting brighter as the comet is nearer to Earth – maybe Magnitude 5 by mid-February
    • Review of comet photos found online
    • Members who have observed the comet – Reg Dunkley, Mike Webb, Bill Weir
    • How to observe this comet –
    • Comet disconnection event photo by Adam Block from Arizona
  • FDAO Star Party – Lauri Roche

President’s Message – September 2021

Posted by as President's Message

Carolyn Shoemaker
Carolyn Shoemaker (Nature)

Carolyn Shoemaker died last month. After her children had grown up and she was 51 years old, she started her astronomy career. She helped establish the Palomar Asteroid and Comet Survey, and for decades she studied the photographic plates coming off of the 18 inch Schmidt wide-field telescope, located in a dome next to the Palomar 200 inch telescope. At an average of 1 discovery for every 100 hours spent at the stereoscopic microscope, she became the world’s top comet finder.

This was more than a job. Everybody who knew her emphasizes her enthusiasm and humour. Among these friends is an acquaintance of several of our centre members, David Levy. On March 23, 1993, David passed some photographs he had just taken of the region near Jupiter, and Carolyn exclaimed that she saw in these images a strange “squashed” comet. This comet became known as Shoemaker-Levy-9. It was actually the 11th comet they had discovered together, but two were aperiodic and so had a different naming convention. I remember the excitement, when 4 months later, 21 fragments of SL9 crashed into Jupiter with images from professionals and amateurs alike started pouring in. We got to watch a cosmic collision in real time!

What kept Carolyn Shoemaker at this slow, painstaking task was similar to what many amateur astronomers feel. She said “The thrill of discovery is deeply satisfying”. Few of us will get the opportunity to do cutting edge science with the best instruments available, but all of us get our own personal thrills. Whether the discovery is at the eyepiece, or on the computer monitor, or from a revelation that comes during a talk at our Astro Cafe, the experience continues to be deeply satisfying. In memory of Carolyn Shoemaker, I wish you all many more of these deeply satisfying moments!

Look Up,
Randy Enkin, President email