President’s Message – May 2022

Posted by as President's Message

Every year, the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada sponsors two awards at the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair. Well, not every year – we missed the last two years because of covid. This year, the Science Fair was virtual and about one quarter the size of the pre-covid event – 52 projects – with 6 assessed to be on astronomical or astronomy-adjacent themes. Many thanks to our representatives, Dorothy Paul and David Lee, for interviewing the students and arriving at their decisions. Each winner received a recognition certificate, a RASC family membership (for the student and one adult), a copy of Explore the Universe, and the offer of a classroom visit from our Schools Programs officers. We also invited the prize winners to present their projects at the Astro Café.

Nathan Hellner-Mestelman and Beata Ariana-Minniti
Nathan Hellner-Mestelman and Beata Ariana-Minniti

Grade 7 student Beata Ariana-Minniti created a very clever solar heat collector, coupled to a battery charger. Nathan Hellner-Mestelman (Grade 9) worked out the optimal orbit for cube-sats to avoid chain-reaction collisions. These students wowed us with their presentations at the Astro Café. Nathan was included in Team Vancouver Island at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and went on to win a silver medal.

As this year of Astro Cafés come to a close, we should all thank Joe Carr and Chris Purse for getting us through the fully online times and the transition to hybrid meetings. We have grown closer, despite the isolation of the last couple of years, because of their efforts. We’ll see you again at Astro Café starting in September. It is essential that we get more people to step up to help continue the Astro Café.

I want to congratulate our strong community who pulled together to put on all the facets that went into International Astronomy Day on May 7. We did not have much time to organize, as we did not even know if there would be in-person events until March. David Lee and Laurie Roche coordinated our volunteers wonderfully. There are others among you who are perfectly capable and I hope willing to take on their roles for future events. Astronomy outreach is very satisfying. Let’s share the load in making these opportunities happen.

The amateur astronomy community in Victoria is strong. Our club is extremely fortunate to have sufficient funds to make fund-raising unnecessary and sufficient volunteers to put on several high quality events. We are not lacking a strong Board and Council. Nevertheless, some members are not joining in, I think because they have not imagined that their contribution would be valuable and fun. Let me assure you that indeed you will get more out of such volunteerism than you put in.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin (email)

Astronomy Day 2022 – Victoria

Posted by as Special Events

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

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum, virtual online, and Observatory Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

Press Release – contact Randy Enkin, President (email)

2022 Astronomy Day in Victoria
2022 Astronomy Day in Victoriaposter (88Mb PDF) & poster suitable for printing (3Mb PDF)

Telescope at Astronomy Day 2017

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 3PMevent

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

  • Interactive activities outside on the plaza
    • View the Sun safely through solar telescopes (weather permitting)
  • Interactive activities inside in Clifford Carl Hall (Museum main level)
    • Telescope show-and-tell – try out telescopes and ask questions
    • Astrophotography – take photos of the night sky with your own camera and see our members’ work
    • Children’s astro crafts – kids make their own astronomy and space souvenirs
    • Ask an Astronomer – find answers to those questions about astronomy and space you always wanted to ask
    • Responsible Lighting – get pointers on how to reduce your own light pollution, and feel better for it

Public Lectures in Newcombe Auditorium

  • 10:30AM – Tracking the Moon for 30 Years – Randy Enkin, President, RASC Victoria Centre
  • 11:30AM – Observing the birth of planets in the universe – Ruobing Dong, Physics & Astronomy, University of Victoria
  • 12:30PM – Cosmic Collisions and the Fate of the Milky Way – Mallory Thorp, Physics & Astronomy, University of Victoria
  • 1:30PM – Demystifying Machine Learning – Karun Thanjavur, Physics & Astronomy, University of Victoria

Please Note:

  • 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 exhibits and IMAX Theatre.
  • A concise handout for beginners: Interested In Astronomy?
  • After visiting our Astronomy Day in Victoria event, please let us know what you thought – survey – thanks!
  • We host public events with measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Please do not come if you are sick or have been recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. We strongly recommend wearing masks while inside buildings with crowds. Wearing masks in public indoor settings is not required by BC public health. Wearing a mask is a personal choice.

Asteroid Hunters – IMAX Theatre (admission applies)

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), Asteroid Hunters ventures into deep space for a fascinating look at asteroids, their cosmic origins and the potential threat they pose to our world.

Written and produced by Phil Groves, produced by Jini Durr and directed by W.D. Hogan, Asteroid Hunters introduces asteroid scientists – the best line of defense between Earth and an asteroid’s destructive path – and reveals the cutting-edge tools and techniques they use to detect and track asteroids, and the technology that may one day protect our planet. The effects of an asteroid impact could be catastrophic and while the current probability of an event in our lifetime is low, the potential consequences make the study of asteroids an incredibly important area of scientific research. Witness the latest in planetary defense and how science, ingenuity and determination combine to explore the world’s most preventable natural disaster.

Asteroid Hunters has a run time of 38 minutes and is presented by IMAX here in Victoria in association with Huahuang Pictures.


Shooting for the Moon – 4-6:30PM – cross-Canada RASC webinar

The party begins at 4 pm PDT on Zoom with a pre-recorded talk and a live Q&A with Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques from the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal! Following the Q&A, at 5 pm PDT, we will start our National Livestream on both Zoom and Youtube, featuring live views of the Moon from across Canada (including Victoria), RASC Member’s moon content, and more! Register here


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

Reserve Your Tickets (free) – only ticket holders will be admitted to this evening event. (Daytime events at the Museum do not require tickets!)

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Presentation – 8:30PM & 9:30PM – The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope – Dr. Chris Gainor
    • Summary: The stories of the two largest space telescopes: The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 and is still operating after 32 years, and the James Webb Space Telescope, which is about to begin operations in space after its launch last December 25.
    • Biography: Christopher Gainor is a historian of technology specializing in space exploration and aeronautics. He has written four books on the history of space exploration and two on Cold War history. His most recent book is a history of Hubble Space Telescope operations published by NASA. Gainor is editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly. From 2018 to 2020, he was President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and he is a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Gainor holds a Ph.D. in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has worked as a history instructor at the University of Victoria and the Royal Military College of Canada.

Astronomy Day 2022 photo gallery

Press Coverage

President’s Message – Mar 2022

Posted by as President's Message

What is it that links our community together? Every year, we recognize a few members of the Victoria Centre and present them awards of appreciation and excellence. We announced the recipients at the Annual General Meeting. I had the pleasure last week of driving around Victoria handing out their framed certificates. I enjoyed seeing these stellar members of our community in their home settings. It is one of the great privileges of being president. Everyone was proud and delighted, and often surprised at the recognition. We are far greater than the sum of our parts. These members have gone an extra length to make our community stronger and more active. Thank-you!

Awardees (clockwise from top left): John McDonald, Chris Purse, Alec Lee, Bruce Lane, Barbara Lane, Cameron Burton.

We have a wide range of backgrounds and interests. We spend our time with a variety of aspects spanning the range of amateur astronomy. I particularly like the feeling of connection with people around the world and throughout time. Some are interested to produce the best image of an astronomical object. Some are keen to know their way around the constellations.

There is a huge hunger for astronomical knowledge out there in the bigger public. This was made very clear this last week with front page articles and television features about our friend and astro- buddy Sid Sidhu; on the occasion of having an asteroid named after him. Sid has been central to our public outreach and society in- reach activities over a period of decades!

What is it that links our community together is that the wonders of the sky fill us with awe and with pleasure.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin (email)

President’s Message – Feb 2022

Posted by as President's Message

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