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


  • 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

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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,

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 – Dec 13, 2021

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Mission to Mars – Dr. Robert Thirsk

  • Deep space missions being planned – returning to lunar orbit, the Moon’s surface, and onward to Mars
  • Maintaining the health of astronauts will be a significant challenge to the missions
  • Mars atmosphere is thick enough to sustain windstorms
  • Surface is covered in iron oxide dust
  • International Space Exploration Coordination Group – planning for exploration of Mars
  • Lunar Gateway Spaceport to be built orbiting the Moon – build starts next year
    • Canadarm 3 – using AI, 8.5m long
    • JAXA (Japan), NASA (USA), ESA (Europe)
  • Deep Space Transport – flights from the Lunar Gateway spaceport, ultimately to Mars after test flights
  • 2030s – 2 cargo vehicles assembled in Earth orbit and flown to Mars
    • Mars Ascent Vehicle – lands on Mars
    • Facilities and crew quarters to be built
  • Mars Transfer Vehicle – astronauts travel from Earth orbit to Mars – a 6-month trip
  • Mars Base – crew quarters, nuclear reactor, supplies
  • Pressurized Mars Rover allowing crew to travel up to 100kms at 72,000 kmh
  • Crew will stay on Mars for 500 days
  • Due to the 20 minute communication delay, Mission Control’s role in the mission will be limited
  • Big issues
    • Extreme isolation
    • Medical emergencies – autonomous treatment is the only option, powered by AI, on-board medical lab analysis
    • Exercise facilities will be very small
    • Radiation shielding and a shielded safe area
  • Medical Tricorder – Star Trek – now a reality! Qualcomm Tricorder
  • Environmental monitoring of cabin conditions
  • Crew bio-monitoring – smart shirt
  • Medical technology developed for this mission can be deployed in remote areas of Canada, and even primary care can benefit


  • Radiation limits dictate that astronauts can only go to Mars once
  • Advice to students interested in space missions: physics, math, but skills diversity is important, personality traits (work with diverse community), health and fitness is important. Be persistent – may take 7-8 attempts to be selected as a Canadian astronaut
  • Canadian clinical research and remote health care – could result in a key role in space health – CSA’s Health Beyond Initiative
  • Most physiological effects can be recovered from by astronauts, but can take a year or two. Ionizing radiation is the biggest issue.
  • Spinning the spacecraft to create gravity isn’t going to happen due to engineering limitations
  • Test missions to a Lagrange Point and a nearby asteroid
  • Shielding research – NASA/Johnson and ICRP (upcoming Vancouver meeting)
  • Lunar Gateway – private partners like SpaceX are being used by NASA
  • 2 flights for 2 Canadian missions to the Moon are in place – Artemis 1 and 2
  • Would JWST failure affect the Mars missions? Not really – the missions are separate.

Transcript video of the meeting

  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Time lapse video over 2.5 hours – Arnold Rivera
  • Astrophotos – Dave Payne
    • Pleiades – pleased with the nebulosity
    • Owl Cluster NGC 457 – young star cluster
    • Cave Nebula – reprocessed using Dave’s new PixInsight script
  • Lauri Roche
    • Thanks to Jeff Pivnick for bring Dr. Thirsk to talk to us
    • Sat, Dec 18th – last FDAO Star Party – JWST speakers from the NRC
    • RASC National 2022 calendars have not yet arrived. Still a few available – contact Lauri.
  • Dec 22nd is the JWST scheduled launch update (see 60 Minutes) – Chris Gainor
  • Randy Enkin
    • RASC Victoria Centre 2022 calendar – a limited run, but 4 still available – view the gallery and contact Joe to order ($15 each)
    • Encourage members to talk to us at next week’s Astro Cafe – what interests you about astronomy?
    • Comparison of two comets: NEOWISE (last year) and Leonard (this year)
    • RASC Victoria Centre Council vacancies: 1st VP and Secretary
  • Maker’s SIG meeting online this Thursday – David Lee

The final Astro Café of 2021 will be held on Monday, December 20, 2021. Astro Café will resume on Monday, January 10, 2022.

Astronomy Cafe – Dec 6, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

  • Review next week’s presentation by Dr. Robert Thirsk – Chris Purse
    • Connection to meeting will be through a waiting room
    • Jeff Pivnick will host
    • Link for this meeting will be unique, and emailed to all RASC Victoria members
    • Maximum of 100 attendees
  • Total Solar Eclipse from Antarctica – Joe Carr
  • Astro Compass – Randy Enkin & Peter Kabel
    • Frank Younger’s estate donated the Compass Astro to Victoria Centre
    • Used in aircraft when they are flying a long way north, where the magnetic field isn’t reliable
    • “It’s a sundial in reverse”
    • Need to know your position and time, sighting on a celestial object with known Right Ascension & Declination. North will be indicated accurate to within about 1º.
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Photo of Comet C/2001 A1 Leonard near M3 cluster – Arnold Rivera
    • Sketch of Comet C/2001 A1 Leonard with observing narrative – Berta Beltran
    • Rosette Nebula photo – Arnold Rivera
  • Chris Gainor
    • James Web Space Telescope update
      • Completed fuelling operations for the JWST itself
      • To be mounted onto the Ariane 5 rocket next
      • Dec 22nd launch date
      • Launch website
    • Not Yet Imagined – Chris’ new book about Hubble Space Telescope’s history. Book should be available for sale in awhile through RASC’s e-store and FDAO’s e-store locally. Electronic versions from NASA
  • Comet C/2001 A1 Leonard – observing report by David Lee
    • Observed and photographed through some clear spots over the last few days
    • Poor conditions for photography, but managed to get a good wide field image of the comet using a dSLR and tracking mount
    • Virtual Telescope broadcast – tomorrow 8PM PST
  • Lauri Roche
    • 2022 RASC Calendars
      • Send any more requests for calendars to Lauri
      • Should be $16 each
    • FDAO e-store – astronomy and space themed fun items available for sale. Free local delivery or shipped by mail (extra cost).

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

Astronomy Cafe – Nov 15, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

The Last Stargazers – Dr. Emily M Levesque – intro by David Lee

A bird that mimicked a black hole. The astronomer that discovered microwave ovens. A telescope that got shot. The science of astronomy is filled with true stories (and tall tales) of the adventures and misadventures that accompany our exploration of the universe. Join Dr. Emily Levesque, author of the new popular science book The Last Stargazers, to take a behind-the-scenes tour of life as a professional astronomer. We’ll learn about some of the most powerful telescopes in the world, meet the people who run them, and explore the crucial role of human curiosity in the past, present, and future of scientific discovery.

Dr. Emily Levesque is an astronomy professor at the University of Washington. Her work explores how the most massive stars in the universe evolve and die. She has observed for upwards of fifty nights on many of the planet’s largest telescopes and flown over the Antarctic stratosphere in an experimental aircraft for her research. Her academic accolades include the 2014 Annie Jump Cannon Award, a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a 2019 Cottrell Scholar Award, and the 2020 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from MIT and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Hawaii.

  • The Last Stargazers – recently published popular book
    • Subaru Telescope fault – first story in the book
    • Role models for professional astronomers
    • Interviewed her fellow astronomers for their stories, including Dr. Elizabeth Griffin from the DAO
    • McDonald Observatory – 107 inch telescope mirror that was shot at
    • Parkes Observatory – Mysterious radio bursts – paper authored by Petroff et al. 2015
    • Green Bank Observatory – radio noise from squirrel trackers
    • Laser Interferometer Gravitation-Wave Observatory (LIGO) – gravitational wave detection and thirsty ravens
    • SOFIA airborne telescope
    • High altitude balloons and rockets
    • Solar Eclipse observation from Svalgaard, Norway
    • South Pole Telescope
    • George Carruthers – inventor of the IR camera taken to the Moon on Apollo 16 mission
    • Manastash RIdge Observatory – UW grad student Doug Geisler’s observing log for May 18, 1980
    • Change of technology for data capture from photographic plates to CCD digital cameras
    • Vera C. Rubin Observatory – time series survey observations
    • Q&A
  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • LBN 438 Nebula in Lacerta – Abdur Anwar
    • Nova Cass – Abdur Anwar
    • IC 410 in Auriga – Tom Owen
  • Lauri Roche
  • Lunar Eclipse – Nov 18-19
  • Global Star Party – starting at 4:00PM Nov 16th – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman and Lauri Roche will appear at about 4:30PM, DAO virtual tour (more interactive link & see the chat feed)
  • Dr. Robert Thirsk – Dec 13th – live online Astro Cafe event, but no recording will be made or posted

Astronomy Cafe – Nov 1, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Comet 67P and Crab Nebula – Alister Ling
    • Pacman Nebula NGC 281 – Dennis Boucher
  • David Lee
    • Beginners’ SIG tomorrow night
    • EAA SIG Thursday night
    • Sky Brightness Survey
      • Group has met
      • Need to coordinate the SQM meters and volunteers
      • First readings are probably going to start in December
      • – using a camera and SQM meter when taking measurements
      • Discussion about urban light pollution and LED streetlights
  • Astrophotos – Brock Johnston
  • Astrophotos using the Slooh telescopes within the last few weeks – Joe Carr
  • Laurie Roche
    • FDAO Oct 30th AGM & presentation – Lauri Roche
      • ALMA – Brenda Matthews
      • Plaskett mirror re-aluminizing process – a 4 minute time lapse video will be posted soon
    • Astro Compass (W.W. Boes) from Frank Younger’s estate is available to any interested member – contact Lauri
    • RASC National Public Outreach
      • Solar Eclipses group being formed for 2023 and 2024 events
      • Need a contact from each Centre
  • Astro Cafe for Nov 15th – there will be a guest speaker
  • Driving Mercedes EQC to hunt for aurora (northern Norway) – a video by Tesla Bjorn – Mike Webb
  • Sedun’s southern Arizona ranch will be sold and Garry’s two telescopes will be installed on the Saanich Peninsula next year – Garry Sedun
  • Hubble Telescope report – Chris Gainor
    • Back in Safe Mode again
    • Most of the space craft is operating normally, but it’s not operational
  • James Webb Space Telescope – Chris Gainor
    • Launching on Dec 18th, but takes two months to unfold and arrive at the final Lagrange L-2 location
    • Tomorrow’s JWST Event or NASA TV at 8AM
    • Discussion about using the Lagrange locations
    • See also the Canadian Space Agency

Astronomy Cafe – Oct 25, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Uncategorized

Video meeting transcript

  • Canadian Women Astronomers – Marjie Welchframe
    • Dr. Victoria Kaspi
      • Moved to Canada when she was 7 years old
      • McGill & Canadian Space Agency
      • X-ray astronomy expert
      • Herzberg Canada Gold Metal winner for 2016
  • Astronomers Find a ‘Break’ in One of the Milky Way’s Spiral Arms – Dorothy Paul
  • Randy Enkin
  • Record Maritime Bomb – Oct 24-25, 2021 – Reg Dunkley
    • Low pressure weather event hitting us over the last couple of days
    • Maritime Bomb caused by energy sources: colder air from the north moving south; hurricanes from the south
    • Mesoscale Wind Forecast – better resolution models showing SE winds in Georgia, Haro and Juan de Fuca Straits
    • Review of weather data from buoys and weather stations
    • Weather system time lapses & video
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • M31 redone using PixInsight – Denis Bouche
    • Coathanger area – Alister Ling
  • Events & SIGs – David Lee
    • Astrophotography SIG this Wed – John McDonald
    • Makers SIG (7PM), then RASC Light Pollution Survey (8PM) this Thursday – David Lee
    • FDAO AGM (7PM) & Star Party (8PM) this Saturday – Lauri Roche
    • NRC meeting with W̱SÁNEĆ Elders on Friday – James di Francesco
  • Astrophotos – Brock Johnston

Astronomy Cafe – Oct 4, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Milky Way from Cattle Point – a photo showing no stars, just galaxies – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
  • Women in Astronomy – Marjie Welchframe
    • Isabel Williamson has an asteroid named after her
    • Dava Sobel also has an asteroid named after her
    • Profile of Dr. Kim Venn
      • UVic Astronomy & Physics professor
      • Specialist in stellar spectroscopy
      • Kim believes that very large telescopes will likely discover Earth version 2 or 3 or 4, which will greatly impact how we view ourselves
    • Dr. Michelle Kunimoto will present to us on Oct 18th about Exoplanets
  • Edmonton Centre astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Milky Way Halloween theme- Warren Findlay
    • Blackfoot dark sky area – Arnold Rivera
      • Comet 4P/Faye
      • Helix Nebula – NGC 7293 – Planetary Nebula
      • Veil Nebula – visual and photo through a 10″ Dobsonian telescope
  • Building an Astroberry Server– David Lee
    • Raspberry Pi 4 running Linux 
    • Supports the INDI – ecosystems for control and automation of astronomical devices
    • Installed PHD2
    • David just wants to implement auto-guiding
    • Runs the server through a remote desktop on his smartphone
  • Beginners SIG runs virtually tomorrow night – David Lee
  • Update from Chris Gainor 
    • Chris was interviewed by CTV News about William Shatner going into space aboard 
    • Russia is launching into space tomorrow morning
    • Chris is still waiting for his history of Hubble book to arrive
  • Sky Quality Map redo – Lauri Roche
    • Last map covering Greater Victoria (Sooke to Sidney) done in 2010
    • Victoria Centre should remeasure the data
    • We need a project leader
    • Canvas our members for interest and who has Unihedron Sky Quality Meters
  • Astronomy photos from Victoria Centre
    • Unusual Nebula NGC 6164 in Norma – observing the southern hemisphere using the Chile One Slooh telescope – Joe Carr
    • David Lee is seeking sources of data for his interest in Astrometry
    • Wizard Nebula NGC 7380 taken last Sunday night – Brock Johnston
  • Firefly Alpha rocket – photos of aborted launch from Vandenberg Air Base – Reg Dunkley