Astronomy Cafe – Sep 18, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Island Star Party report – Dave Payne
    • Thanks to all the volunteers
    • Need a new leader for the star party next year
    • Activities and functions
      • Logistics
      • Coordinating volunteers
      • Coordinating with the Cowichan Valley Regional District & Parks
    • Improvements and a new vision for next year’s event
  • Astronomical Photos
    • New 32″ telescope at Black Nugget Lake Observatory (near Edmonton) – Dave Robinson
    • Ron Fisher (online gallery)
      • M45 Pleiades Cluster
      • M31, 32, 110 Andromeda Galaxy
      • Cassiopeia’s Ghost SH2-185 – Gamma Cas star
  • The Hebrew Calendar – Randy Enkin
    • Jewish New Year on Friday/Saturday just past – Rosh Hashanah
    • Based on a Lunar Calendar
    • Review of rules to determine the New Year day
    • Year number is calculated to when the human world was “created” on Oct 6, 3761 BCE
    • Comparing the lunar and solar calendars
    • Necessary and Unnecessary Miracles
    • Discussion
  • Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Updates – Mary Beth Laychak, CFHT Communications
    • Land Acknowledgements for both Hawai’i and the DAO lands
    • Mauna Kea is one of the darkest sites in the world
    • Instruments review
    • Science Highlights review
    • Planning for the future
      • Maunakea Authority
      • Maunakea Spectrographic Explorer (MSE) – Pathfinder construction
      • New capabilities for CFHT
      • Internship offer for opto-mechanical design and production
    • Outreach to the community
      • Maunakea Scholars
      • Summer Interns
      • School events
    • CFHT Staff
    • Q&A
  • Announcements
    • Makers SIG – upcoming
    • Mallory Thorpe – next week’s speaker

Astronomy Cafe – Sep 11, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video

  • Saanich Fair – Lauri Roche
    • Sep 2-4, 3 days
    • Thanks to all the volunteers, but we could use more for next year
    • 3,500-4,000 people visited the booth and telescopes
    • Solar telescopes used to show the public the Sun
    • Clear and beautiful weather except for Sunday afternoon rain
    • Telescope raffle
  • Island Star Party – Reg Dunkley
    • Very good attendance 70 + 200
    • Dave Payne project lead
    • Cloudy skies on Friday but some sucker holes
    • Pristine skies on Saturday night
    • Zero gravity chairs were popular with cheers from the crowd when the Perseid meteors streaked across the sky
    • Volunteers from Cowichan Valley Starfinders did a great job
    • Two interesting speakers on Friday and Saturday night
    • Next year: 1st weekend of August
    • Donations more than covered our expenses
    • Grand prize of a telescope and mount
  • CU Star Parties – Lauri Roche
    • Weekly events – mid-May to mid-Sep
    • Good attendance every Saturday event
    • Presentations every week – either in-person or virtual
    • Monthly events during off-season
    • Saturday FDAO Star Party (Sep 16th) – Mary Beth Laychak, CFHT Outreach will be presenting
  • Plaskett Observing – Sep 16th
    • Contact Dan Posey email
    • Starts at 11:30pm
    • Must be a member and registered as an Active Observer to participate
  • Personal Observing Reports
    • Brock Johnston – photos
      • Helix Nebula
      • Solar disk in Ha – discussion
      • Jupiter – good seeing on Saturday
      • Saturn – 3 images showing changing ring tilt
    • Explore the Universe observing group – Marji & Jill
      • 110 celestial objects
      • Observe and/or draw at least 55 objects
      • There is also an Explore the Moon workbook
      • Group of 6 observing from Cattle Point
    • Moon – Randy Enkin
      • Sinus Iridium & Jura Mountains – comparing Mike Nash’s image & Randy’s sketch
    • Island Star Party astronomy images review
  • Announcements
    • Teacher’s Workshop – Lauri Roche
      • Mary Beth Laychak, CFHT Outreach will be leading the workshop
      • Monday – 4:30-7:00pm for teachers
      • Monday after the teachers – present at Astro Cafe
      • 2019 AGM presenter
    • Council meeting – Randy Enkin
      • Tomorrow night – all members welcome
    • UVic Wednesday night monthly meetings restarting – Alex Schmid
  • Minima of Algol – David Lee
    • Eclipsing binary
    • Short cycle of 3 days
    • Magnitude 3.4 to 2.1
    • Dates coming up – ref S&T
  • Partial Solar Eclipse – Oct 14th – David Lee and Lauri Roche
    • Observe from the Centre of the Universe – 8am to 10:30am
    • Solar observing glasses
    • Safety briefing
    • Breakfast beverages and snacks
    • Activities for kids and adults
    • $5/person – registration through Eventbrite
    • Rain or shine event
    • Volunteers needed
  • Blake Nancarrow remembrance – Randy Enkin
    • Memories from Bill Weir
      • Black was Chair of RASC Observing Committee
      • RASC Double Star program – designed for small aperture urban observing
      • David Dunlop observatory champion
    • Memories from Peter Jedicke
    • Memories from David Lee and Jill Sinkwich
      • Stellarium courses
    • Double stars tribute – Randy
      • Different colours of binaries
      • Splitting the doubles, triples and quads – challenging technique
      • A Tribute to Double Star Observer and Our Friend Blake Nancarrow –The Actual Astronomer Podcast – Chris and Shane
      • Lyra – 3 doubles – Marjie Welchframe

Astronomy Cafe – May 29, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Beginner Observers – report by Brenda
    • Observing and sketching targets from Cattle Point
    • Trying to find another observing spot to get away from the car lights
    • Summer targets are next
    • Four observers at Pearson College two weeks ago – liked it!
    • Island View Beach may be a good observing location
    • Most of the group are working on Explore the Universe observing certificate
  • Special Interest Groups – David Lee
  • Beaveree and Seniors event at the Centre of the Universe – solar observing – Lauri Roche
  • Plaskett Observing Session – video report by Randy Enkin
    • First in-person observing session on May 19-20, 2023 since 2019
    • Supernova 2023ixf photographed in M101 as our last target, unknown to us at the time
    • Dan Posey notified Dave Bohlender at NRC, so the SN photometry was reported online quickly
    • Subsequent processing revealed the SN is a blue star
    • Koichi Itagaki, amateur Japanese discoverer of SN
    • The progenitor star of the SN now has a paper published about it
  • Thanks to Astro Cafe volunteers – Randy Enkin
  • Photos of Supernova 2023ixf (Type II)
    • Dave Payne
      • May 13-16 images of M101 without SN
      • May 20th image of M101 with the SN
    • Brock Johnston
      • GIF flashing old versus new image of M101
      • Light curve of SN from AAVSO
      • Also imaged M51 and M13
    • Sketch of SN using 6″ Dob – Bill Weir
    • Photos of SN on May 20th & 24th showing the SN enlarging – Ron Fisher
  • Plaskett Observing Session on May 19-20 – Dan Posey
    • Objects imaged before M101 are being processed
      • NGC 4565 Needle Galaxy
      • NGC 4605 Faberge Egg Galaxy
      • NGC 6914 reflection and emission nebula
  • National AGM – June 25th online – Chris Gainor
    • Restricted to RASC members – log in to member area of website
    • Reports, financial statement, bylaw amendments, elections
    • Please attend and vote
    • 2023 AGM Agenda
  • Island Star Party – Dave Payne
    • Aug 11-13
    • Still need some volunteers – sign up for email list
  • Discussion of Supernovae (in general)
    • Type I and Type II Supernovae – Dan Posey
    • SN 2016aps – Lauri Roche
  • Star Parties on Observatory Hill – Lauri Roche

This is the last Astronomy Cafe until we restart after the Summer break.. Astro Café will resume on Monday. September 11, 2023.

Image of Supernova 2023ixf acquired through the Plaskett 72" telescope by RASC Victoria Centre members.
Image of Supernova 2023ixf acquired through the Plaskett 72″ telescope by RASC Victoria Centre members. This preliminary image processed by Dan Posey.

Astronomy Cafe – May 15, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Intro – Jeff Pivnick
  • To the Moon, with Robots and HumansDr. Gordon “Oz” Osinski, Dept. Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario
    • Sailing ships to space missions – history of human exploration
    • The Moon has thousands of meteorite impacts
    • 2019 announcement by Canadian government
      • Canadarm 3 on Lunar Gateway outpost
      • Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) – Canadian lunar rover
    • Artemis I – launched last year
      • Lots of images from this mission
    • Artemis II – orbit Moon
      • Canadian astronaut – Jeremy Hansen
      • Crewed test flight to the Moon and Earth high orbit
      • Engineering mission, not a science mission
      • Launch – late 2024 or early 2025
    • Artemis III – land on the Moon
      • Geology training for astronauts
      • 18 astronaut candidates
      • 13 candidate landing sites – all near Lunar South Pole
      • Geological samples will return to Earth with the astronauts
      • Canada has 30 out of 200 impact craters found on Earth
      • Mistastin Lake impact structure – best analog to lunar craters since anorthosite ejecta is found here, same as on the Moon (light material)
    • Canadian Lunar Rover Mission
      • Canadensys – contractor for 30kg prototype
      • Science instruments will take about 5-6kg
      • South Pole – geology and mineral resources
      • Volatiles – water
      • Permanently Shadowed Regions – no sunlight
      • Radiation monitoring to ensure astronauts’ health, both on the Moon and future Mars missions
      • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter – images showing deep lunar shadows
    • Q & A
  • Island Star Party 2023 – Dave Payne
    • August 11-13, 2023
    • In-reach – socializing with fellow members
    • Location: Bright Angel Park – south Cowichan
    • Activities
      • Solar observing
      • Nature walks
      • Kinsol Trestle
      • Lots of activities in Cowichan Valley
      • Telescope walk, how to use a telescope, observing skills
      • Speakers – one each night
    • Perseid Meteor shower
    • T-shirts – contact Joe Carr to preorder
    • Volunteers needed – contact Dave Payne
    • ISP Volunteer Email List
  • Victoria Centre Observatory – Reg Dunkley
    • Last night – 10 Active Observers
    • Both visual and photography
    • Become an Active Observer – contact Chris Purse
  • Occultation of Jupiter by the Moon – David Lee
    • Wednesday, May 17th 4:52am – 5:33am
    • Moon 3º above the eastern horizon during the occultation
  • Astrophotography by local members
    • Astronomy Day slideshow – Ken McGill
    • Brock Johnston
      • Orion & Flame Nebula widefield
      • M94 – halo
      • Cat’s Eye Nebula & NGC 6552 barred spiral galaxy
  • Randy Enkin
    • Deep Sky Filter – a Lumicon “UHC” legacy visual filter
    • Orrery – kit build
  • Observations – Marjie Welchframe
    • Kemble’s Cascade
    • Spring double stars

No Astro Cafe next week due to the Victoria Day statutory holiday. The last Astro Cafe before the summer break will be held on May 29th.

Astronomy Cafe – May 8, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Intro – Marjie Welchframe
  • Centre of the Universe Volunteer Coordinator – Aimee Rossen (
    • Volunteer waivers – need to have everyone sign the form after viewing the safety video
    • Volunteer list – access to Observatory Hill
    • Volunteers should arrive before 7pm on Saturday night to avoid congestion at the access gate
  • ORCASatProf. Justin Albert
    • This microsat was built at UVic and launched six months ago to the ISS, where it was deployed – ORCASat — Launch
    • ORCASat should burn up next month after six months of operation in low Earth orbit
    • Background
      • Modern cosmology started in 1929 Edwin Hubble’s assertion that the Universe is expanding
      • Cepheid variable stars tell us the absolute magnitude, hence the distance away from Earth. Henrietta Swan-Leavitt’s research enabled this process.
      • Observing past 10*7 Parsecs means using Type 1A SuperNova (White Dwarf), since Cepheids are no longer bright enough to use as a standard candle.
      • Limitations of our Knowledge of Dark Energy 73% of Universe’s mass
      • Calibration of brightness measurements are needed – flux as a function of colour
      • Dark Matter 23% of Universe’s mass
      • Atoms 3% of Universe’s mass
      • The Dark Side of the Universe
      • Supernovae are one of the powerful probes for understanding the eventual fate of the Universe
    • ORCASat is in an ISS-like orbit
      • Needs good coverage above ground observatories, so they can observe Orcasat
      • Photometric calibration – Orcasat’s absolute brightness is compared with standard stars
    • ALTAIR – Airborne Laser for Telescopes Atmospheric Interference Reduction
      • Photometric Calibration using a high altitude balloon
    • A laser photometric ratio star (LPRS) – exciting the Sodium layer
  • I Need More Space-Time – review of a science fair project by Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
    • Predict when our Universe will end
    • Used Wiseman Observatory data for Type 1 SN
      • Spectral lines: Hydrogen epsilon, Hydrogen delta
      • Examined Supernovae 30 million LY to 40 billion LY
      • Found the Hubble Constant to vary from 20 km/sec/Parsec to much bigger
    • Using Slooh data didn’t work out, since Supernovae data levels are too low
    • Project tried to infer how long the Universe will last from changes in brightness of Supernovae
    • Consensus from WMAPS
  • Q&A for both Justin and Nathan
    • Is the Universe finite or infinite? We don’t know, and possibly will never know.
    • Hot, dense start to the Universe – ratio of Hydrogen and Helium verifies this process, as does Nucleosynthesis with Quarks and Gluons (DOE Explains…Quarks and Gluons | Department of Energy).
    • LIGO and other Gravitational Wave observatories should verify how the Universe started (inflation).
  • Events
    • RASC General Assembly – Lauri Roche
    • Beaveree at Camp Barnard – May 27th (9am-2pm) – Bill Weir
    • Island Star Party – Aug 11-13 – Dave Payne
      • Permit for park use is in place
      • More details at next week’s Astro Cafe

Astronomy Cafe – May 1, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • The Dual Dipole Radio Telescope – Evan Warburton, Oak Bay High School, Grade 12
    • Io generates a band of electrons around Jupiter
    • Setup dipole antenna on the Lansdowne Middle School field
    • 20MHz ionized radiation – copper wire cut to half the wavelength
    • “Floating” coaxial shield, not grounded
    • SDR Console software – gain, bandwidth, Io A, B and C phase predictions – Software Defined Radio
    • Spectrograph software
    • Detected a radio storm – short, random bursts
    • 10-40 MHz is the observable bandwidth range
    • Observing time: about 1 hour per week
    • NASA’s Radio JOVE Project: Home Page– helpful forum
    • Project planning and execution – discussion
    • Q & A
    • Evan is travelling to the Canada-wide Science Fair in Edmonton May 13, and is attending UVic Physics this Fall with a prestigious Schulich scholarship to his credit.
  • International Astronomy Day – April 29 & 30, 2023 – report by Lauri Roche and David Lee
  • RASC Victoria Centre Council meeting on May 9th – Randy Enkin
    • Members are welcome to attend online
  • Beaveree at Camp Barnard – May 27th (9am-2pm) – Bill Weir
    • Need volunteers for outreach – email Bill
    • Solar and possibly daytime planets
    • Telescopes – both Ha and white light
  • RASC GA 2023 – CONNECT with the cosmos & community – May 5-7 – Lauri Roche
    • Gather Town – social interaction
    • Friday – Dr. Shandin Pete, Salish Sky Lore, 1 hour live from Victoria’s DAO (7-8pm) – contact Lauri to volunteer
    • Saturday – combatting science misinformation, CSA Astronaut Jeremy Hansen
    • Sunday – Dr. Linda Shore, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
    • Members: $35 admission
    • Zoom call is used for all sessions
  • Astronomy by Night – A new Canadian website for amateur astronomers. – Michael Webb
  • Explore the Universe – Marjie Welchframe
    • Lunar crater sketches
  • Astronomy Cafe – next week’s speaker is Justin Albert – cube-sat ORCASat
  • Beginner’s SIG – tomorrow night – Jill & David

Astronomy Cafe – April 24, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of the meeting

  • Pendulum Experiment To Measure Local Gravity – Kemi Daniel (Grade 5, PCS)
    • Gravity in her house is slightly lower than earth’s gravity
    • Science Fair winner
  • Astronomy by Night – A new Canadian website for amateur astronomers. hosted by Carina Ockedahl (former editor of Skynews)
    • Reached out to contributors – Chris Vaughan, Dan Kusz, Alan Dyer, Charles Ennis, and others
    • AstroPhoto of the Week – not just for Canadians
    • Newsletter
    • Collaboration with SkySafari
    • This Week’s Night Sky
    • Gear Reviews & Tech
    • Columns
      • World’s Asterisms
      • Research
    • Profile
    • Podcast – 2 per week
    • Video – interviews
    • Star chart – from Heavens Above
    • News – both from International and Canadian sources
  • International Astronomy Day/Weekend – David Lee, Lauri Roche
    • Speakers are lined up
    • Local astronomy organizations will be there
    • Observatory Hill on Saturday night – 29th
    • UVic on Sunday daytime – 30th
  • SpaceX Starship Launch on Apr 20, 2023 – Chris Gainor
    • Huge amounts of smoke and debris at launch
    • Disintegrated 4 minutes into the flight
    • Rocket left a huge crater at the launch site
    • Questions and discussion
  • Hybrid Solar Eclipse – April 20th – Randy Enkin
    • 1 minute duration
    • Total & Partial Solar Eclipse
    • Solar maximum corona, so lots of plasma streamers visible
    • Time & Date – particulars of this eclipse
    • Photos & video of eclipse chasers
  • Other events and discussion

Astronomy Cafe – April 17, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Regional Science Fair – report by Randy Enkin
    • 3 prizes awarded
    • Measured the period of the pendulum
    • Supernovae red shift analysis – Nathan Mestleman-Keller
    • Double Di-pole Radio Telescope – Io/Jupiter generates – Evan Warburton, Oak Bay High School, Grade 12
    • Distinguished Service Award to Randy
  • Astronomy by Night – new astronomy website hosted by Carina Ockedahl (former editor of Skynews), Chris Vaughn, Charles Ennis, and more contributors
  • JUICE – Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer launch – Randy Enkin
    • ESA launched this mission to Jupiter on Friday
    • Lunar-Earth flyby a year from now
    • Venus and Earth flyby
    • Arrives at Jupiter – July 3031
    • Multiple flybys of Jupiter’s icy moons
    • Orbit Ganymede for 3 years
    • 10 instruments onboard
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Makers SIG
    • Astrophotography SIG
  • International Astronomy Day – Lauri Roche & David Lee
  • Neutron Stars – The Quest to Understand the Zombies – a book by Katia Moskvitch – review by Ron Fisher
    • Latest research and very interesting story
    • Research in Italy
    • NGC 4993- emitted radio waves and captured visual light from neutron star collision
    • CHIME – fast radio bursts
  • Astrophotos and Sketches
    • Double Transit – John McDonald
      • Planets and shadows visible
      • Moon Shadows on Jupiter – video
    • SkAc1 faint Planetary Nebula – Dave Payne
      • Challenge by Bill Weir
    • Double Transit sketch – Bill Weir
    • Orbital Motion of Venus – Marjie Welchframe
    • Bode & Cigar Galaxies, Horsehead & Flame Nebulae – Ken McGill

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 3, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • SIGs – David Lee
  • Mallory Thorp – profile by Marjie Welchframe
  • Island Star Party 2023 – Dave Payne
    • Speakers TBA
    • Telescope tours and tutorials
    • Make suggestions for activities
    • Tue, April 11th – kick off meeting
    • Contact Dave (email) or

      Randy Enkin Email

      to help out with this fun event
  • Fast Radio Cosmos lecture by Victoria Kaspi – Reg Dunkley
    • Uses the CHIME radio observatory near Penticton
    • 3 additional outrigger radio telescopes:  160 kms from Penticton, Green Bank, WV, and Hat Creek, CA
    • Good Q&A at the end of the lecture video
    • Skynews – Feb 2017 issue highlights the CHIME instruments
    • DRAO open to the public starting April 8th
    • Discussion of radio interference when using radio telescopes
  • Astronomy Day – Lauri Roche
    • FDAO Star Party – Observatory Hill – April 29th – evening hours
      • Need astronomers with telescopes to volunteer 
      • Starlink speaker
    • UVic – April 30th 11AM-4PM
      • Lots of volunteers have signed up, but everyone welcome to help, especially someone to lead the event promotion and communications – contact Lauri by email
      • Astronomy labs open
      • 6 speakers 
      • Free parking
  • Virtual General Assembly 2023 – May 5-7
    • Jeremy Hansen, CSA astronaut – speaker
  • RASC Victoria Hopes & Dreams – Randy’s list

    Randy Enkin Email

    • Open Council meetings. Now that we have a smaller Council, we should make more effort to advertise the meetings to the entire membership – and possibly lay the foundation for more recruitment to leadership.
    • Closer ties to UVic. I often hear that members want to get back to meeting at the University. I also think we should offer programs that encourage undergrad students to be active in the RASC-VC.
    • Closer ties with the FDAO. We have overlapping mandates and volunteer bases. Closer coordination will benefit both organizations.
    • More in-person events, especially under the night sky.
    • More scheduled and ad hoc evenings at the VCO
    • More diversity in membership and leadership.
    • A budget!
    • Revised Statement of Goals of the Society.
    • Calendar on the website
    • Documented Council job descriptions
    • October 14 Solar Eclipse event
    • Display of Astrophotographs
    • Support Vic High club, Oak Bay, Mount Doug
    • Prizes or other activities with UVic students (Volunteerism, Outreach)
    • Using the telescope collection to support School Clubs.
    • Help with the telescope lending library
    • Recruitment and Retention of membership.
    • Sustainability of Volunteers and Council members
    • Organize the Google Drive. Make more complete.
    • Member survey
    • Diane Bell Award for Astrosketching
    • Car share to VCO
    • NOVA program!
    • Schools Program – with FDAO?
    • Liaisons with school groups
    • Mentors with school groups
    • Join in school-group observing nights
    • Prizes and goodies for school groups
    • Support for Science Fair – volunteers for judges, prizes, handing our RASC bookmark etc.
  • Sky At Night Podcasts – Bill Weir & David Lee
    • Lance Bass  (nSync boy band) – selected to be a Russian cosmonaut! “The last Soviet citizen”
    • JWST podcast series
  • Victoria Centre Observatory (VCO) – Reg Dunkley
    • Active Observers to have access soon
    • Tech committee needs to check on the health of systems up there first
    • No more than 16 people at a time, with social distancing and health precautions (personal choice)
    • Ad hoc observing sessions for favourable weather to start with
    • Scheduled observing sessions later
    • Must be an Active Observer and must adhere to safety procedures
    • Gate codes for existing MICs have been refreshed for the coming year
  • Astrophotos during galaxy season – Dave Payne
    • M94 galaxy – elliptical shape and outer ring of material
    • M106 and friends – 4 arms in M106
  • National Council – Chris Gainor
    • Complete staff turnover at the National office is ongoing
    • Randy Atwood is interim Executive Director, working with the Board to recover
    • Annual Report – Victoria Centre’s report still needed
    • Skynews magazine is still being wound up

There will not be an Astro Café next week as it is a holiday Monday. We will be back on Monday, April 17

Island Star Party 2023

Posted by as Events

August 11-13, 2023

Island Star Party 2023 poster

Location: Bright Angel Park at rural and dark Cowichan Station, in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on southern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Gates will open at 2pm on Friday. Camp on the field, setup your telescope and bring binoculars to enjoy observing the night sky from a dark site.

Cost: Free of charge for drop-ins! Suggested donation of $20/Adult observers who camp overnight (cash only) – one night or two. Kids camp free.

Everyone who is present is entitled to tickets for door prizes, can attend planned activities and have access to the observing field. Prizes include a telescope!

Star Party Poster – please print it, stick it on your fridge and share with friends! PDFs: 8.5″x11″ & 11″x17″

Don’t want to camp? No problem…it’s no more than a 20-minute drive from most areas of the Cowichan Valley, and only a 45-minute drive from Victoria. Live out of town? Stay in one of the many guest houses, hotels and motels in the Cowichan Valley, however reserve early, since accommodation fills up during the summer.

Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – do not use white lights, including cellphone flashes!

Come observe the stars and the Perseid meteor shower from this dark site in the Cowichan Valley. Lots of amateur astronomers will be there to talk about astronomy and to help you observe celestial objects after dark. Observe the Sun (safely) during the day, and hike the trails, swim, play, and enjoy this natural treasure of a regional park. Two days/nights on the weekend – Friday Aug 11th starting at 2PM, all day and evening on Saturday Aug 12th. Camp overnight (1 night or 2), or just drop in for an evening of fun and fascination. A free event, but campers will be asked for a donation if staying overnight.

Schedule of Events

Friday Aug 11th

  • 2:00 pm – Gates open
  • 7:30 pm – Telescope tour
  • 8:00 pm – Welcome and door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker – Seeing is believing: capturing images of nearby solar systems – William Thompson
  • 10:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Seeing is believing: capturing images of nearby solar systems – William Thompson

Astronomers have now discovered over five thousand planets around other stars, ranging from scorching hot Jupiters, to puffy mini-Neptunes, and rocky worlds devoid of atmospheres. Now that we know planets are common, the next step is to learn more about them and compare them with our solar system.

HR8799 Planets & Orbin modelling of 51 Eridani b

In this talk, I will show how we can take pictures of nearby planets and present the latest developments in the quest to image planets just like our own.

William Thompson

William Thompson is an astronomy PhD candidate at the University of Victoria and an exoplanet hunter. He uses the techniques of direct imaging, radial velocity, and astrometric motion to find and photograph young giant planets, and to study their orbits. William will be joining the National Research Council this fall as a Herzberg Instrument Science Fellow, where he will continue to work on astronomical instrumentation and observational projects.

Saturday Aug 12th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • Nature Walk through the park trails – afternoon
  • 7:30 pm – Telescope tour
  • 8:00 pm – Door prizes
  • 8:30 pm – Speaker – Probing the Universe with Type Ia Supernovae: legacy and future – Melissa Amenouche
  • 9:30 pm – Public viewing of the night sky with telescopes on the field
  • 10:30 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please
  • The Perseid Meteor Shower will be at its peak overnight!

Probing the Universe with Type Ia Supernovae: legacy and future – Melissa Amenouche

Type Ia Supernovae (SNeIa) are very luminous explosive events in the sky. They can be detected in very remote galaxies and are excellent distance indicators. In the late 90s, the accelerated expansion of the Universe was discovered using the measurements of SNeIa, revealing for the first time the existence of Dark Energy. Today, one of the main goals of modern cosmology is to understand its nature using SNeIa measurements combined with other cosmological probes.

Vera Rubin Observatory

In the past two decades,  the number of SNeIa has drastically increased along with our understanding of these objects and their ability to indicate distances. And this will continue with the current and new generation of surveys like the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and the Large Survey of Space and Time (LSST). I will review the ongoing efforts to unlock precise cosmological measurements with ZTF samples, many of which can be extended to LSST data, with a focus on key steps of the analysis. 

Melissa Amenouche

Melissa completed her PhD in December 2022 in France. She is currently a postdoc fellow at NRC-Herzburg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre involved in a new Canadian spatial telescope (CASTOR). She is also calibrating and simulating Type Ia Supernovae data from the Zwicky Transient Facility (a great telescope in California) to help answer key questions about our understanding of the Universe and its evolution.

Sunday Aug 13th

  • Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
  • 12:00 pm – departures by Noon please!

The Island Star Party is hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre, with support from the Cowichan Valley Starfinders.

Directions to the star party

Head west off the Trans-Canada Highway on Koksilah Road and turn right onto Tigwell Road. The park is at the end of the road. If you are driving a big vehicle, we suggest you turn west off the Trans-Canada Highway at Allenby Road, then turn left onto Koksilah Road and left onto Tigwell Road. This slightly longer route will avoid a low-clearance rail bridge on the more direct route.

Bright Angel Park, 4528 Tigwell Rd, Cowichan Station, BC

Lat 48° 44.0246′ N, Long 123° 40.5144’W

What to expect

Dark sky and red lights on the observing field
Dark sky and red lights on the observing field

The night sky at this location is very dark, but there is a light dome to the north from the City of Duncan. Views in the other directions and overhead are excellent, and at this time of year Sagittarius is visible in the early part of the evening to the southwest.

There is limited camping on the observing field with your tent and car where telescopes and other astronomy gear can be set up. There is some power on the field for astronomy equipment and to charge small devices. Please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park outside the gate on Tigwell Road with your headlights facing away from the field. The same parking request applies to visitors for the evening – park outside the gate and walk into the field.

  • Washrooms are a short walk from the observing field with sinks, toilets and urinals, but no showers. Red lights will mark the way at night along the forest trail.
  • Playground and workout gym on the observing field
  • Park gates are open from 7am – 9pm daily. Make sure your vehicle is outside the gates before 9PM if you plan to leave later on!
  • Explore the trails through the forest and along the Koksilah River – a nice way to spend the day. Good swimming too, although the river water is cold!
  • Pets are allowed in the park and at the star party, but must be under effective control of their owners at all times. If your dog knocks over an expensive telescope, you just bought it!
  • Drinking alcohol or smoking is not allowed in public areas of the park.
  • Trailers and motorhomes are not allowed in this regional park.
  • Dry summer conditions demand that no open flame be used. Please cook using a camp stove in the Picnic Shelter by the lower parking lot. No campfires or open flame please!
  • Although the observing field is flat, it is bumpy, so people with mobility issues may find some areas are not easy to navigate. The washrooms are accessible by using the trail through the forest and navigating a modest slope.

What’s nearby

  • Tim Horton’s fast food dine-in and drive-thru and a Co-op gas station and convenience store are both nearby at Bench Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.
  • Big box stores, grocery stores and malls are a short drive away in Duncan, Cobble Hill and Mill Bay.
  • Pizza and other fast food can be ordered from and/or picked up at numerous local establishments.
  • Espresso drinks and other fancy beverages are available in Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Cobble Hill and Mill Bay.
  • Nearby mall at the intersection of Cowichan Bay Rd & Trans-Canada Highway – Pizzeria Prima Strada, Drumroaster Coffee, Country Grocer, Dragon Yuen.
  • Whippletree Junction – a variety of eclectic stores that are worth a visit, located nearby on the highway.
  • The fascinating and historic Kinsol Trestle is a short drive from the park, where the Trans-Canada Trail crosses the Koksilah River. The trestle is an easy walk from the parking lot – level and accessible.
  • Wineries in the area are too numerous to mention individually! Look here: Wine Festival Specials
  • BC Forest Discovery Centre – steam trains, historic forestry equipment and local history – fun for all ages
  • Cowichan Bay village – fish boats, oceanfront restaurants and shops, whale watching, sea lions
Island Star Party 2023 t-shirt
2023 Island Star Party t-shirt

Island Star Party t-shirt

Fruit of the Loom quality cotton t-shirt, printed ink design. Men’s sizes in black: S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Sold out. A second order list is being taken, so contact Joe Carr – Email


  • Dave Payne – Email – mobile ‭+1 (403) 874-1980‬ – Event Lead

Photo galleries of local Star Parties

  • 2023 – Island Star Party
  • 2019 – Island Star Party
  • 2019 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2017 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2016 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2016 – Island Star Party
  • 2015 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2014 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2014 – Island Star Party
  • 2013 – Island Star Party – event & night sky
  • 2013 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2012 – Island Star Party – event & night sky
  • 2012 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2011 – Island Star Party – night sky
  • 2011 – RASCals Star Party
  • 2010 – Island Star Party – event & night sky
  • 2010 – RASCals Star Party

Press coverage