Astronomy Cafe – Jan 17, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

Meeting notes

  • A Woman of Astronomy – Marji Welchframe
    • Urania, Muse of Astronomy
    • Seal of the RASC – “Quo Ducit Urania” (i.e. where Urania leads, we follow)
    • Urania is 1 of 9 Muses of the Arts in Greek Mythology
    • Uranometria star atlas by Johann Bayer (1603) – published and sold by Sky & Telescope (Willman Bell section)
  • Early computer memories
    • LGP-30 tube-based computer used at the University of Alberta in Edmonton by John McDonald in 1958
    • Reminisces from various members about early computers, calculators, slide rules, and other computing devices and programming languages they used decades ago.
  • Lunar Puzzles – Randy Enkin
    • 100-piece from NASA
    • 1000+ piece from Cobble Hill
    • 1000 piece from Four Point
    • 3-D printed Moon puzzle – Randy and his daughter assembled it
  • Reports  from Lauri Roche
    • 2022 RASC Calendars have still not arrived
    • Sky Cultures of the World: RASC World Asterisms Program – Charles Ennis, 1st VP with RASC National – FDAO Star Party – this Sat, Jan 22nd 7-9PM – available on Zoom and Youtube
    • Eclipses for 2023 and 2024 – Education & Public Outreach Committee task force headed by Randy Attwood. Thousands of eclipse glasses will be available and sent to RASC Centres. Members can participate on the committee – contact Lauri.
  • JWST Update – Chris Gainor
    • Mirror Segment Deployment Tracker – activating the actuators behind the mirror segments
    • JWST enters a halo orbit around L2 position this Sunday, Jan 23rd
  • Astro Cafe next week – Jan 24, 2022
    • Dr. Tanya Harrison, “a professional Martian” – our Astro Cafe speaker next week
    • David Lee will be hosting
  • Scarlett Caterpillar Club – a parasitic fungus Bill Weir found near the observatory at Pearson College

Extras

  • NASA 3D Resources – 3D models of equipment, models of celestial and solar system objects, space missions (like JWST). Various media for download: fly-throughs, interactive visualizations, 3D printer files, stereo images.

President’s Message – Dec 2021

Posted by as President's Message

Ah 2021. What a strange trip around the Sun! I am writing this letter on the day of the winter solstice. There is a waning gibbous moon shining high in the east, when I go to bed, and it is high in the west to greet me in the morning. I take great solace in watching and thinking about the dependable motion of the Earth through the Universe, while so much of life and news this year has left me feeling unsettled.

Randy Enkin using his sextant
Randy Enkin using his sextant

Nearly as dependable as the astronomical objects has been you, our astronomical community. I am so pleased when I see the 30 or 40 of us gather each Monday evening at our virtual Astro Café. We are an appreciative and supportive community. Look at all the different skill sets and experiences that get shared every week. And look at those beautiful photos and sketches that we have created. I particularly wish to mention the personal observatories (I know of 3!) that are getting designed and built by members of our centre, as well as the fantastic work by our technical committee in upgrading the Victoria Centre Observatory.

Our group has motivated me to try new astro-projects – whether observing sunspots with a solar telescope borrowed from the Centre (thanks to the capable curation of our telescope collection by Sid Sidhu), or star hopping to those faint fuzzies that you deep space observers like. And I love the expressions of appreciation when I show off my lunar sketches to our crowd.

Do remember that our community survives on the strength of our volunteerism. We have a specific requirement this year for a new secretary and a new vice president. Don’t feel you aren’t up to the job! I still feel like a newbie in the role of president, but there is no shortage of good council from the many past executives who continue to be active. Come join us on the inside, and you will feel even more affection for the Centre.

I wish us all a fruitful and fulfilling new year, with many clear skies.

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

Astronomy Cafe – Dec 20, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Updates – Chris Gainor
    • James Webb Space Telescope – launch on Dec 24th 4:20AM – NASA TV & Youtube live streaming
    • Parker Solar Probe – 5 min video from NASA
    • RASC Board of Directors reportNational office moved last week to College Street in central Toronto
      • RASC Centre orders for bulk 2022 Calendars – 7 centres have received their boxes, but delivery to BC centres may be delayed further
      • Observing certificates sent out today
  • Astrophotos – Ken McGill
    • Orion Nebula – ZWO 1600MC, ASI Air Live View
    • Andromeda Galaxy – Oct 30th 
    • Pleiades
  • My Astronomy Sketch of the Year 2021 – Dorothy Paul
    • Observed Nov 28-Dec 1, 2021 from the west side of Eureka Valley (NW corner of Death Valley National park)
    • Remote, dark (Mag 6.5) and cold (-5ºC)!
    • Sky Critters – Canis Major, Hydra, Leo, Ursa Major – sketched from memory, like being in a theatre
    • They had Dorothy’s Dobsonian telescope with them, but didn’t end up using it 
  • Astrophotos – Brian Barber
    • Full Moon – using a NexYZ for mounting a smartphone, PIP software to centre & size, AutoStakkert software to stack the photos
  • Building the MCD Observatory – Michel Michaud
    • Presentation to Club d’astronomie de Rimouski
    • Started July 26
    • 14′ long 4×4 timbers and special smaller door
    • Built cases over the exposed rails to protect from rain and ice
    • Paramount MX to arrive in Feb
    • Celestron Edge HD 14″ – March – Summer 2022
    • First projects
      • Photometry
      • Asteroids
    • Restarting his Pleiades project when the 14″ scope arrives
    • Currently using his Meade LX-55 mount and a 66mm refractor
  • Report on astronomy activities – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • NerdAnomaly – online cartoons
    • Learning sketching at school
    • Casual public outreach – telescope setup on the sidewalk outside the house
  • Report on astronomy activities – David Lee
    • Pivoting to maintain community – formed Victoria Centre’s SIGs
    • Personal study – astrophotography, observing, space exploration
    • VCO Technical team – work to be ready when we can open to members again
    • FDAO – collaborations with UVic – Dave Payne, Mike Nash, Dan Posey, Brock Johnston
    • Variable Star Observing – completed 3 AAVSO certificates
    • Australian sketching workshop – Dorothy Paul

Victoria Centre needs a new Vice-President and Secretary for 2022 – to stand for election, please contact Randy Enkin or Reg Dunkley

Astronomy Café will resume on Monday, January 10, 2022

Astronomy Cafe – Nov 22, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of the meeting

  • Astrophotography SIG – intro by John McDonald
    • Special Interest Group meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month
    • Challenge project – processing the recent Plaskett data
    • Martin Gisborne – a short journey to astrophotography
      • Professional photographer – worldwide
      • Telescope shop tempted Martin while he lived in Paris
      • Lived close to the Ames Research Centre and Orion Telescopes in the Bay Area of California – more temptations and motivation
      • Review of his astronomy equipment acquisitions, processing software and apps
      • Refined his methodology over the last few years since moving to Canada
      • Reviewed early astrophotos and how they are progressing
      • The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer – Charles Bracken series of books
      • His Heart and Soul Nebula photo featured on the RASC Journal 
      • Pandemic supply chain issues a challenge to new amateur astronomers to acquire equipment
      • Photo show: Pleiades (M45), Triangulum Galaxy (M33), Heart Nebula (IC 1805), Hercules Cluster (M13), Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4, Comet NEOWISE, California Nebula, Bubble Nebula, Flaming Star Nebula widefield, Iris Nebula, Moon with Mars nearby, M81 Bode’s Galaxy & M82 Cigar Galaxy 6-hour exposure.
      • He is fascinated by the history of photography being used for astronomy
      • Instagram page
      • Photo gallery
    • Joe Carr – Southern Sky Celestial Objects
      • Observing and photographing celestial objects from the southern hemisphere
      • How far south to go: Costa Rica, Atacama Desert in Chile, Namibia or Botswana in southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand
      • Photo show: Small and Large Magellanic Cloud galaxies, 47 Tucanae and Omega Centauri globular clusters, Tarantula Nebula, Jewel Box open cluster, Crux and Carina constellations, Eta Carinae Nebula
      • Southern Sky time lapse video from Atacama Lodge, San Pedro de Atacama by Jerry Black
      • Advice on observing and photographing from the souther hemisphere – some challenges for “northerners”.
    • Alec Lee
    • Brock Johnston
    • John McDonald
      • Reprocessing previous astrophotos
      • Milky Way from Cave Creek in the mountains of southern Arizona
      • Witch Head Nebula
      • Closeup of the Moon – Gassendi Crater from the Victoria Centre
      • Uranus and Neptune
      • Photo gallery
  • Lauri Roche
    • RASC 2022 Calendars – signup for a copy – contact Lauri
    • RASC workbooks and almanacs also available
    • Native skywatcher planispheres
    • FDAO Star Party last Saturday – thanks to our members who helped
    • James Web Star Party 2 on Dec 18th – Dr. Madeline Marshall, Dr. Wes Fraser
  • Alberta Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Lunar Eclipse series – Alistair Ling
  • Chris Gainor
    • James Web Space Telescope – launch delayed until Dec 22nd
    • Restoring Hubble Space Telescope to full operation – another instrument is working
  • Lunar Sketch – Randy Enkin
    • Presenting to Nanaimo Astronomy Group this Thursday
    • A new sketch of Petavius and other nearby craters on the terminator of a Waning Gibbous phase

President’s Message – Nov 2021

Posted by as President's Message

Everybody should have a good astro-project on the go. My current one concerns the timing of lunar eclipses.

Solar eclipse geography and timing is known with remarkable precision. So much so that people, including many members of our RASC community, are willing to plan long, difficult, and expensive trips to watch them. The timing and location of the earth’s shadow, or umbra, across the Moon during a lunar eclipse is much more variable and poorly understood.

I was delighted to learn that as far back as 1687, Philippe de la Hire published that the Earth’s shadow was larger than could be accounted for by an airless Earth, leading to lunar eclipses that start a few minutes earlier and end a few minutes later than expected. This was important work, because observing the timing of eclipses was, in principle, one way to measure longitude – as long as the expected timing was well established.

Moon on Dallas Road, Oct 8, 2021, by Randy Enkin

The problem arises from the complex nature of the earth’s atmosphere that obscures, diffracts and refracts the sun’s light on its way to the Moon. I first became aware of the role of amateur lunar crater eclipse timing just before the eclipse last May (which was clouded out), and I am certainly keen to try again on the upcoming lunar eclipse, starting around 23:19 PST on Thursday, November 18. If there are clear skies, I’ll be out with my telescope, noting the time to the tenth of a minute that the earth’s umbra darkens (“immersion”) and then departs (“emersion”) from various lunar craters. Sky and Telescope has been compiling these observations since 1956. Herald and Sinnott (2014) have analysed the compilation, extended back to 1842, with an amazing 22 539 observations. Their main conclusion is that the Earth is surrounded by a “notional eclipse-forming layer” that is 87km thick. It is a really surprising result, since even noctilucent clouds don’t show up that high in the atmosphere.

Herald and Sinnott point out that amateur uninstrumented observations provide continuity with the early observations in their compilation and provide insight into the visual response of the human eye. To help with the observations, Thursday- Friday November 18-19, I have annotated a picture of the full moon with the crater timings predicted by Fred Espenak. I hope some of you will join me making these simple but useful observations.

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

President’s Message – October 2021

Posted by as President's Message

Questions, Answers, and Questions

Randy Enkin using his sextant
Randy Enkin using his sextant

One satisfaction of astronomy is the sense of continuity with astronomers from all over the world and spanning the decades, centuries, and millennia. The wonders of the sky fill us with awe and provoke so many questions. I appreciate the multidisciplinary approach to answering these questions.

Today’s anecdote concerns an article published this week, with 25 authors from 5 countries. The Chinese Chang’e 5 probe brought back to Earth the first lunar samples in 4 decades. They targeted a place on the Moon that was suspected of being young, due to the region’s low density of craters. Galileo observed craters on the moon 400 years ago, but it was only in the 1960s that meteor impacts were confirmed to be the dominant mechanism of their origin.

The observational and theoretical development of celestial mechanics, universal gravitation, the solar nebula, and planetary accretion were all required to understand dating planetary surfaces, by measuring the size and number of craters. We also needed telescopes, rockets, robotics, petrology, geochemistry, and geochronology to complement the study. The Moon is the only planetary body where impact crater ages have been calibrated with radiometric dating, but there had been no samples so far measured that are between 3.2 and 0.8 billion years old. The new samples were dated at 1.96±.06 billion years, sitting in the middle of that gap and forcing a revision of the current crater dating method. The new date is very young for the Moon’s surface and brings up new questions, like why the Moon was still melting crust so recently.

Back-scattered electron (BSE) images and false color energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) element maps of the two fragments from the Chang’e 5 sample
Back-scattered electron (BSE) images and false color energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) element maps of the two fragments from the Chang’e 5 sample

I’m filled with a sense of connection with my fellow humans who can conceive of such questions, work on them from many different aspects over the centuries, answer some, and end up with even more questions. And I look up at the sky with happiness.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin email

Astronomy Cafe – Sept 27, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Women Astronomers – Marjie Welchframe
    • Dr. Michelle Kunimoto, age 27, lives in Vancouver
    • Works (post doc) for MIT’s NASA Mission Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
  • Jan 2020 Lunar Eclipse photos – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • The Shadow of the Earth composite photo of all eclipse phases
  • Report – Randy Enkin
    • Jon Willis is selling his Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope & accessories for $1,000
    • Fairfield Fair – Sid, Dorothy, Reg and Randy represented RASC Victoria at Fairfield on a rainy Sunday – 120 attendees
    • Mike Nash’s photo compared with Randy’s sketch of the Moon
  • Events – Jim Hesser
    • 100 Hours of Astronomy – IAU event coming up this weekend
    • Harvard Radcliffe Institute virtual events – gravitational waves, AI, planetary systems
  • Edmonton Centre photos – Dave Robinson
    • Moonrise video and photo sequence over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • California Nebula (reprocessed) – Tom Owen
  • Building an Astroberry Server – David Lee
    • Using it for auto-tracking, uses a smartphone to control it
    • Writing instructions for others to make one
    • Astroberry Server software is on Github – runs on a Raspberry Pi 4 board using an INDI driver
  • NASA Observe the Moon – Oct 16 event – Brian Barber
  • North America Nebula (reprocessed 2009 photo) – John McDonald
  • SIRIL astronomy software – recommended by Brock Johnson for any computer platform
  • James Web Space Telescope – launching on Dec 18th, on it’s way by ship to Guyana for launch aboard an Ariane rocket – Chris Gainor

Astronomy Cafe – July 19, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • ISS Transits of the Moon – Randy Enkin
    • Enkins Daily Moon on Facebook
    • Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse with ISS transiting – Thierry Legault
    • ISS Transit Finder
    • Photo of the ISS and Mars – by Tom Glenn
  • Hubble status – Chris Gainor
    • Hubble HST Computer Problem is solved with the swap to the backup Control Unit/Science Data Formatter
    • First images from rebooted Hubble
    • Operating on 3 out of 6 gyros
    • James Webb and Kepler space telescopes discussed
  • FDAO Star Party – Lauri Roche
    • Solar observing early at 7:30PM – David Lee & Sid Sidhu
    • 8-11PM this Saturday – history of the Plaskett telescope by Dan Posey
    • Scott Wilkinson and Dennis Crabtree – narrator and Ask An Astronomer
    • Event info
  • RASC National – Lauri Roche
    • RASC Robotic telescope demo of acquiring exoplanet data – Samantha Hewitt and Jenna Hinds -Wed nights starting in August –  more info
    • Aug 29th – EPO Astrophotography processing workshop for data from the Mars Perseverance mission – info pending
  • Diane Bell Tribute – planned for Aug 15th, Sunday afternoon at the Aviation Museum – tour by Gord Bell
  • UVic Observatory Open House this Wednesday evening – David Lee
  • NOVA – New Observers of Visual Astronomy program – Lauri Roche
    • Modules are being revamped so it is both virtual and in-person
    • Being done over about four months
  • Edmonton photo – noctilucent clouds – presented by Dave Robinson
  • Victoria Centre photos
    • Venus & Mars conjunction – Mike Webb
    • Solar prominences & surface features – John McDonald
    • Test photos using the new telescopes at Victoria Centre observatory – John McDonald
  • Observing Planets
    • Planets in good positions at 3AM
    • Visual observing of planets at more civilized hours coming up in a few weeks’ time
  • Moon observers – Lauri Roche
    • Completing the RASC Lunar Observing programs
    • Lunar atlases that are useful for finding features
  • The Last Stargazers a book by Emily Levesque – David Lee
  • Resuming in-person meetings discussed
    • Astronomy Cafe in Fairfield – likely to resume mid-September in hybrid form (online & in-person)
    • Monthly meetings at UVic – no plans in place yet
    • Annual picnic at Pearson College observatory – possibly late August, depending on Bill Weir’s schedule

Astronomy Cafe – June 28, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the online meeting

  • Photos from Edmonton – Dave Robinson
    • Noctilucent Clouds – Alister Ling, Bruce McCurdy, Tom Owen’s daughter
    • Diffraction corona on setting Sun – Eric Klaszus
    • Bubble Nebula – Tom Owen
  • Impressions of the GA and AGM
    • Another virtual GA for next year – Chris Purse
    • Gather Town
      • a challenge to use by some attendees
      • tablet app was beta – difficult to use – Bill Weir
      • could easily locate or follow people
    • Tours on Monday were excellent
    • Presenters were very good – Reg Dunkley & David Lee
    • A generational transition is happening within RASC – Chris Gainor
      • nextGen committee
      • Invite Karun’s students and Vic High students to get involved in Victoria Centre
    • AGM – Chris Gainor
      • Robyn Foret and Chris Gainor will be retiring next year
      • 3 new board members: Betty Robinson, Malhar Kendurkar, Michael Watson (all 3 year terms)
      • Next GA in 2022 will be mainly virtual
      • 2023 should return to an in-person event
      • 2024 possibly with Astronomical League in Toronto
    • Andrew MacIntosh, a non-member from Victoria won an astrophotography award
  • Trouble with Hubble – Chris Gainor
    • Payload computer problems, but main computer is still alive
    • Goddard staff will very likely fix or workaround the current problem
    • Latest Hubble updates
  • Photos of the Saturn & Jupiter with the Full Moon – Randy Enkin
  • Hot Weather Ending – Reg Dunkley
    • Lee Trough is causing the circulation for the current hot weather in our area
    • Cloud currently offshore from Washington and Oregon will move north over Vancouver Island, which will shut down the hot outflow over us
    • Warm air dome will move eastward

Astronomy Cafe – May 31, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of the meeting

  • CRD lighting of Galloping Goose Trail from Selkirk Water to Lochside/Borden and Spectrum School – Chris Purse & Dave Robinson
    • Dave has given CRD feedback – dark adaption is adequate, so opposed
    • Members should give CRD feedback through the online survey
  • Moving and installing Bill Almond’s observatory – Cameron Burton & Lisa Meister
    • Disassembly
    • Moving from Bill & Janet’s home
    • Installation at Cameron and Lisa’s home
    • Victoria Centre’s history with Bill Almond and reminisces from members
  • Total Lunar Eclipse – Randy Enkin 
    • Review of online photos (since we were clouded out)
    • Diameter of the Earth’s shadow is larger than expected – more to come
  • Edmonton photos – Dave Robinson
    • NGC 6946 Fireworks Galaxy – Tom Owen
    • Moon over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • Sunspots – Arnold Rivera
  • Edmonton Centre’s new observatory – Dave Robinson
  • SIGs – David Lee