Astronomy Day 2024 in 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 and Observatory Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

2024-PressRelease-IAD – contact Randy Enkin (email) (250) 893-9067

2024-Astronomy Day Poster – (6.4Mb PDF printable at 8.5″x11″)

Astronomy Day 2024 – event photos

May 19, 2024 – Yesterday the Victoria Centre held a highly successful IAD event at the Royal BC Museum and at the Centre of the Universe. We had big crowds taking in our presentations at the RBCM during the day, and in the evening at the Centre of the Universe.

I want to thank everyone whose great work contributed to this success, notably the volunteer team headed by Randy Enkin, with big assists from Lauri Roche and David Lee, amongst many others. I also want to thank the people at the RBCM, the Friends of the DAO, and the other groups who made Astronomy Day a success.

I also thank the Victoria Times-Colonist, which ran articles on IAD two weeks ago and yesterday, along with photos in today’s newspaper. 

Christopher Gainor, FRASC, President, Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 3PMevent

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

Interactive activities outside on the plaza

  • View the Sun (video) safely through solar telescopes (weather permitting)
  • Ask an Astronomer – find answers to those questions about astronomy and space you always wanted to ask
  • Interactive activities inside in Clifford Carl Hall (Museum main level)
    • Telescope show-and-tell (video) – try out telescopes and ask questions
  • Astrophotography (video) – take photos of the night sky with your own camera and see our members’ work
  • Children and families 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 (video) – get pointers on how to reduce your own light pollution, and feel better for it
  • UVic Astronomy & Physics – interactive astronomy for students
  • Science Venture – hands-on, minds-on science, engineering and technology learning opportunities for youth entering grades 1 through 12 (STEM). Experience the Spiro Mars Rovers (robots)!
  • Camosun College Astronomy – astronomy courses, university transfer
  • Oak Bay High & Monterey Middle schools – students, teachers and parents

Public Lectures in Newcombe Auditorium video

You Versus the Universe – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman

Nathan Hellner-Mestelman

Abstract: During our everyday lives, we donít usually think about the mind-boggling scale of the universe around us, the enormous history of our cosmos, and the epic future awaiting us. Prepare to leave our little planet behind on a quirky voyage across time and space!

Bio: Nathan Hellner-Mestelman is an impassioned astronomy nerd in Grade 11, and recent author of Cosmic Wonder: Our Place in the Epic Story of the Universe. He enjoys reciting slam poetry, playing the ukulele, and sharing the wonders of the universe with all.

The Stars – John McDonald

John McDonald

Abstract: When I was a child I was fascinated by the points of light in the sky we call stars. What are they, where did they come from and how far away are they? Are they all like our sun with planets travelling around them and are any of those planets inhabited? In this talk I will tell you some of the fascinating things astronomers have learned about stars.

Bio: John McDonald is a physicist, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta. His research was in particle physics contributing to the work at TRIUMF in Vancouver and CERN in Europe. Currently, John is enjoying retirement in Victoria and having a great time observing and photographing the sky.

North Star to Freedom – Amy Archer

Amy Archer

Abstract: What is the connection between the 100,000 people that traveled the underground railroad and the night sky? Can you imagine the logistics of using stars to guide you over such a far distance, while in immediate peril? Do you want to know how a meteor shower helped connect families of enslaved people that had been separated? From a young age Amy has thought it fascinating how the night sky could be used to navigate a people from unspeakable hardship to freedom.

Join Amy Archer to hear stories about how the night sky played a hand in helping people navigate from unspeakable hardship to freedom. The night sky is full of new discoveries waiting to be had, and there are so many stories to share of its rich history, join us as we explore vignettes about the Underground Railroad and the Night Sky.

Bio: Amy is a first generation Canadian with roots from Trinidad and Tobago, she was born in Edmonton, Alberta and has spent most of her life on the West Coast. Amy is the mother to one very inquisitive teenager, whom she is always learning from. Amy is the Vice-Chair of the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO) and has been involved with the organization for the last 7 years. Amy is constantly fascinated by the knowledge of the astronomers and can be found at most Saturday Night Star Parties either behind the scenes or looking through her favorite telescope.

Making the Most of Spilled Milk:  The Story of the Milky Way, Our Home Galaxy – Simon Smith

Simon Smith

Abstract: We live in the Milky Way galaxy, a swirling sea of old stars and young stars, bright stars and faint stars, and massive clouds of gas and dust. But where did our stars, gas, and dust come from, and how did they all arrange themselves into the soft glow of light we see splashed across the sky on a crystal clear night? In this presentation, I will share with you our best understanding of how the Milky Way formed from the chaotic early Universe, how it built up all the many stars we see around us, and its likely fate in both the near and far future of the Cosmos.

Bio: Simon is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Victoria. He studies the smallest galaxies in the Universe – known as ‘Dwarf’ galaxies – and has helped discover several of these tiny galaxies in and around our cosmic neighbourhood. Originally from the small town of Oxenden, Ontario, Simon has lived in Victoria for three years and has been a keen participant in the astronomy outreach community.


IMAX Cosmic Series – May 17-19, 2024


Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PMevent

The Hon. Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor looking through Chuck Filnesss' telescope

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

Reserve Your Tickets (free – available May 15th) – only ticket holders will be admitted to this evening event. (Daytime events at the Museum do not require tickets!)

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Planetarium shows
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Virtual reality with the Rift
  • Centre of the Universe gallery
  • Children’s Activities
  • Gift shop
  • Presentation – Looking for precious metals at the end of the galactic rainbow – Dr. Trystyn Berg

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.


Press Coverage

Astronomy Cafe – May 13, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript for meeting

  • Intro by Marjie Welchframe
  • Aurora – David Lee
    • Huge Sunspot Wednesday of last week
    • Coronal Mass Ejection
    • Friday evening at Cattle Point was very popular by the public observing the aurora
    • Various types of aurora – BBC Sky At Night
  • Cosmic Wonder book – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
    • Nathan worked on his first astronomy book over last two years
    • Existential thoughts
    • Are we alone?
      • Carbon and water – source of life on Earth as we know it
      • Other elements are probably the source of life on other worlds
    • Where are we from?
    • Where are we going?
    • Don’t stress about our ultimate destruction!
    • Q&A
  • The Geomagnetic Field and Solar Storms (Aurora) – Randy Enkin
    • Zoozve on Radio Lab t-shirt t-shirt
    • Aurora photos from Sechelt Peninsula at Sunshine Coast RASC Centre
    • Geo-magnetism
    • Earth’s magnetic field
    • Sun’s magnetic field and solar winds
    • Julius Bartels – Kp index
    • Number of Sunspots correlate with magnetic disturbances
    • How human night vision sees auroral colours
  • Electromagnetic Spectrum Display – story boards for Astronomy Day – Dorothy Paul
    • A Brief History of Chronobiology and Light
    • The Electromagnetic Spectrum, Light, and Life on Our Home Planet
    • Responsible , good-neighbourly outdoor lighting
  • Brock Johnstonphoto gallery
    • Aurora photos from Central Saanich
    • M91, M95 & M96 spiral galaxies
  • Event info
  • Aurora – May 10, 2024 – a collection of photographs of the aurora taken by our members – a once in 20 year apparition of the Sun at maximum, with coronal mass ejections causing amazing displays!

There is no Astro Cafe next Monday on Victoria Day, May 20th. The last Astro Cafe will be held on May 27th, hosted by Brock Johnston. We take a break over the summer months, resuming in September.

Astronomy Cafe – May 6, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Intro by Randy Enkin
  • Astronomy Podcasts – Randy Enkin
  • RASC General Assembly Report – last weekend
    • Jenna Hinds coordinated the back end
    • Gather Town wasn’t as well attended as previous years
    • John Reed’s presentation on acquiring an observing site in Nova Scotia
    • One stream this year instead of 2 or 3 previously
    • Victoria Centre Observatory
      • Video for GA by David Lee – many members related their history with the VCO, including observing experiences, construction, equipment, camaraderie with fellow members
    • Astronomy poetry by Mark Tovey, Adjunct Prof of History at Western U – David Lee
      • Based on 1940 astronomy journal found by Peter Jedicke at Western University
    • Astronomy Live by Chris & Shane – Kirsten Pedersen
    • Astronomical observing and sketching – presented by Randy Enkin and Bill Weir
  • Nathan’s Book Launch at Bolen Books (events – free tickets) on Tuesday
  • Monthly Meeting at UVic on Wed – Chris Gainor
  • Hubble Space Telescope – Chris Gainor
    • Three gyroscopes have failed, impacting operations
    • New repair mission? Not likely, but de-orbiting will happen in 10 years or so
    • Nancy Grace Roman space telescope is in the future
  • Astrophotography – Dave Payne
  • Bode’s Neighbourhood with Dust and Hydrogen – Wide-field
    • Created from 24 hours of exposure (3+ nights)
    • Bode’s Galaxy
    • M82 Cigar Galaxy
    • NGC 3077 – third “messy” galaxy in lower right
    • Many other smaller galaxies to find in the field
    • Dust in the field is from the Milky Way Galaxy
    • 17Gb JPG drizzled resultant image
  • Beginner’s SIG being held on May 15th
  • Astronomy Day 2024 – May 18th – Lauri Roche & David Lee
    • More volunteers still needed
  • Satellite tracks – image by Alan Dyer – Chris Gainor
  • FDAO Star Parties (events) – volunteers needed – Lauri Roche

Marjie Welchframe is hosting next week’s Astronomy Cafe on May 13th. There is no Astro Cafe on Victoria Day, May 20th. The last Astronomy Cafe will be held on May 27th, resuming in September.

The Photographic Legacy of the DAO and John Stanley Plaskett – Dennis Crabtree

Posted by as UVic Meetings

Date/Time: Wednesday May 8, 2024 starting at 7:30PM

Location: University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre, Lecture Theatre A104. Park in Lot 1 (pay parking) and cross Ring Road.

Transcript video of meeting presentation

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) is fortunate that John Stanley Plaskett arranged to have the construction of the Plaskett telescope photographically documented. There are approximately 150 8” x 10” glass plates that were taken during the construction. I am in the process of scanning these plates at high resolution and then “cleaning” them in Photoshop.

About three years ago, I discovered a collection of negatives and prints that were taken by John Stanley Plaskett during the period from 1910 to 1914. These images were taken in Pasadena, Wakefield Quebec, England, Germany, and Victoria.

I will show a selection of images from both of these important historical collections. There will also be a surprise show and tell.


Dennis Crabtree

We are fortunate to have Dennis Crabtree join us to do a presentation about the photographic legacy of Victoria’s Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) and John Stanley Plaskett. Dennis Crabtree is a retired astronomer who worked for the DAO for over 35 years, being a former Director of the Observatory. During his career he worked for the Canada-France-Telescope, the Gemini Observatory and at the Space Telescope Science Institute. He is the unofficial historian of the DAO.

Astronomy Cafe – April 29, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Observatory Tour video for GA – David Lee
    • Would like some live video
  • RASC General Assembly – May 4 & 5, 2024 – Lauri Roche
    • $15 for whole event
    • Bill Weir & Randy Enkin giving presentations Saturday morning
    • Gather Town – Saturday evening
  • Eclipse photos for 2025 Observers’ Calendar – submission deadline tomorrow
  • Street Lighting in Uplands – Dave Robinson
    • Dark sky friendly fixtures in original design, but overruled by Oak Bay Council after public hearing
    • Victoria Centre held a one hour meeting with councillors
    • Issue being taken back to council to reconsider a better option
    • Possible impact on Cattle Point dark sky site if planned fixtures are installed
  • Vancouver Island Science Fair – Randy Enkin
    • 63rd regional science fair for Vancouver Island
    • 100 participants this year
    • Transiting Exoplanet Data project, and two other astronomy related project
    • Prize from Victoria Centre awarded – youth memberships
    • Sending plants into high orbit using a balloon – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
  • Cosmic Wonder – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
    • Book launch event at Bolen Books on May 7th – Bob MacDonald interviewing Nathan
  • Chris Gainor
    • May 8th speaker for May 8th UVic meeting? Possibly a members’ night instead.
    • James Webb Space Telescope – beautiful new image of Horsehead Nebula
  • Astronomy Day – May 18th – Randy Enkin, Lauri Roche
    • Planning is going well
    • May 14th is final planning meeting, so email will be used for event planning
    • Royal BC Museum – daytime 10AM-3PM
      • Victoria Day weekend means traffic in the will be very congested, so volunteers should plan accordingly
      • Need volunteer to let cars have access for unloading on Saturday morning – contact Lauri Roche (roche.lauri@gmail.com)
    • Observatory Hill – evening 7:30PM-11PM
      • Tickets will be available two weeks ahead of time – event
      • Presentation – Looking for precious metals at the end of the galactic rainbow – Dr. Trystyn Berg
      • Cosmic Wonder – book selling – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
      • Refreshed shop with lots of stock
      • Volunteers with telescopes needed – contact Aimee Rawson (arawson@centreoftheuniverse.org)
      • Three Vesper telescopes – digital telescopes for outreach
      • Trainees for 16″ telescope – Sherry Buttnor is the teacher – contact Lauri Roche
  • Beginners SIG – now being held on May 15th – David Lee
  • Eclipse Topics – Randy Enkin
    • Dorner Telescope Museum visit at RASC in Toronto – hosted by Randall Rosenfeld
    • Tables of the Moon and Sun – historical book by Jean Meiss with Peter Broughton’s 1982 notes and letter
    • A Sign in the Sky: Dating the League of the Haudenosaunee – by Barbara Mann and Jerry Fields – eclipse report from Indigenous Mohawks (possibly Aug 22, 1142)
  • Astronomy History
    • Wray-Bryden telescope – more information and video presentation is needed for the Centre of the Universe – contact Lauri Roche (roche.lauri@gmail.com)
    • Gonzales Observatory – history
    • Looking Up – Peter Broughton – book of the history of RASC
  • FDAO Star Party – May 4th 7:30PM – Bob McDonald presenting

Three Astronomy Cafes left before summer.

Astronomy Cafe – April 22, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • General Assembly – Lauri Roche
    • Invitations sent out by email to all RASC members
    • $15 for two days of online activities
    • Speaker on Saturday night
    • Gather Town – meet and greet
    • Sunday Night Astronomy Show – from New Brunswick
  • Voyager 1 & 2 – Garry Sedun, Chris Gainor
    • Voyager 1 now communicating again, once a fix was installed
    • Launched in 1977
    • Now in heliopause – outside influence of the Sun
  • Regional Science Fair – Lauri Roche (roche.lauri@gmail.com)
  • Astrophotography – Dave Payne
    • Triangulum Galaxy – by John McDonald
    • NGC 2403 – about the same size bur further away
    • Markarian’s Chain of galaxies in Virgo
      • 18 hours of exposure
      • Tried 50 hours of exposure to find more Ha data
  • David Lee (david@victoria.rasc.ca)
    • Beginners’ SIG – moved to 14th
  • Recurrent T Coronae Borealis
  • John McDonald
    • Some good books by Carlo Rovelli, cosmological physicist
      • Seven Lessons on physics
      • White Holes – time reversed version to Black Holes
      • Books available in local bookshops,online and audio versions
    • 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – Composite photo of a series from partial to Totality
  • Uplands street lighting – update from Dave Robinson
    • Met with involved parties in Oak Bay
    • Will meet further with mayor and engineer to try to head off the poor choices to try to get responsible night lighting when heritage street lights are replaced
  • Garry Sedun
    • Lava Lake on Io, moon of Jupiter
    • Recent Solar Eclipse caused time shifts for satellites
  • Chris Gainor
    • Alan Dyer’s Chasing the Cross-continental Eclipse
      • Texas to Ontario to Quebec to successfully photograph the eclipse
    • Being President – odd emails
      • Where is George Ball’s observatory?
      • RASA 14″ telescope – owners want to install it at our site on Observatory Hill
  • Inflatable planetarium available – contact Lauri Roche (roche.lauri@gmail.com)
  • International Astronomy Day in Victoria – Lauri Roche
    • Posters and other graphics to share event with others
    • Contact Lauri or Randy (pastpres@victoria.rasc.ca) to volunteer
  • Astrophotography SIG – this Wednesday – Dave Payne

President’s Message – April 2024

Posted by as President's Message

What else can I write about or even talk about other than that celestial event that took place on April 8?

I had seen the 1979 eclipse in Manitoba and the 2017 eclipse in Oregon. After 2017, all us eclipse addicts faced a difficult decision: where should we go to see the 2024 total solar eclipse? The decision wasn’t simple because of the path of this eclipse and the fact that April weather is more problematical than the August weather conditions in 2017.

In part because of the pandemic, I didn’t make arrangements for the eclipse years in advance as I had done for 2017. As 2024 dawned, I concluded it was too late to arrange a trip to Mexico or Texas for a reasonable price. I know many people in Toronto, but I felt that too many people chasing the eclipse in Hamilton and environs might complicate things. So I decided to go to Windsor, Ontario, just outside the path of totality. We have relatives there, and it would be relatively easy to cross the border there to chase the eclipse in Ohio if necessary. But it was still a big gamble, and I made sure I had other things to do to justify the trip.

As April 8 got closer, weather predictions called for clouds in southern Ontario, and when I arrived in Toronto on April 4, I was greeted with cold, cloudy and rainy weather. Two days before the eclipse as Audrey and I made our way to Windsor, the skies cleared. Things were looking more promising, but clouds were still predicted for the eclipse.

The night before, the prediction was still more promising for Ohio than the Windsor area, and Ohio locations were closer to the centreline of the eclipse, which promised a longer period of totality. I prepared to cross the border.

April 8 dawned in Windsor with blue skies. The forecast still called for clouds in the mid afternoon, when the eclipse was due to take place. The forecasts for Ohio called for longer periods of cloudiness in the afternoon, which I feared meant thicker clouds, and so I decided to stay in Canada.

Audrey and I, along with her sister and her husband, drove south from Windsor through Amherstberg into the path of totality. Many eclipse chasers in the area were already arriving in Point Pelee Park, which was closer to the centreline but involved very limited access, so I thought we might set up in Leamington. Before we got there, we found a great spot to watch the eclipse at Colchester Harbour and Beach. The RASC Windsor Centre had set up tents and telescopes there, a restaurant, coffee shop and other facilities were nearby, and scores of people were already settling in to watch the eclipse over Lake Erie.

Looking south across Lake Erie, we saw a bank of clouds that everyone hoped would stay where it was. But true to the prediction, the clouds moved our way and covered the sun as the partial phase of the eclipse began a little before 1 p.m. Fortunately, the clouds weren’t very thick.

Finally, at about 3:12 p.m., totality began. We were amongst the first to see totality that day from Canadian soil. The transition from needing eclipse glasses to full totality with the naked eye seemed to be prolonged to me, but finally we got our 90 seconds of totality and dark skies. Venus was plainly visible through the thin layer of cloud, but I don’t recall seeing Jupiter or any other celestial object. The incandescent but not overpowering glow of the Sun’s corona took centre stage.

In the moments before and after totality, the lighting of the area took on a strange hue. During totality, my viewpoint overlooking Lake Erie allowed me to see the approaching “sunset” to the west and the receding “sunrise” to the east. During this time, I took a couple of photos of the sun and of the light effects around the horizon with my iPhone, and I set up my iPad to film totality. I wanted to spend most of totality enjoying the view rather than messing with cameras.

All too soon, totality was over, and soon people started to leave. We remained for most of the rest of the eclipse to savour the incredible spectacle. By the time we got back to Windsor, all the clouds had disappeared. So had the crowds, and as a result we encountered no traffic jams.

The hours and days that followed became a gigantic debrief on this event. Who got a good view of the eclipse? Who got skunked by the weather? The evening of April 8 I joined many of you in an online Astronomy Café.

It turned out that Joe Carr, John McDonald and Bill Weir got a great look at the eclipse from their cruise ship, The Discovery Princess, and the poor weather in Texas inspired Leslie Welsh to stop in Arkansas to catch the eclipse. Thicker clouds in the Niagara region obscured the eclipse for Jill Sinkwich and Lauri Roche. Marje Welchframe saw parts of the eclipse through clouds in Kingston. The weather was much better in the Montreal area, to the delight of Randy Enkin, Chris Purse, and Brian and Nathan Hellner-Mestelman. Alex Schmid had clear skies in Sherbrooke. The clouds parted for Clayton Uyeda in New Brunswick.

Victoria Centre members’ photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Back in Victoria, David Lee, Kirsten Pedersen and others entertained a good crowd at a rainy Centre of the Universe during the partial solar eclipse here.

Before I came home, I heard about RASC Executive Director Jenna Hinds’ successful eclipse trip to Illinois. A few days later I attended a meeting of the RASC Mississauga Centre in person, and I heard about more experiences along the path of totality, including the troubled weather in Texas, which also affected our good friend Peter Jedicke from the London Centre.

So the viewing conditions for the 2024 total solar eclipse turned out to be less than perfect but better than most of us could have hoped for.

Now the question arises – when is the next one? August 12, 2026, in Greenland, Iceland and Spain. In North America, the wait will go on until August 23, 2044. How long will our waits go on? Those decisions are for another time.

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 15, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Oak Bay Lighting in Uplands – Dave Robinson
    • Resident pressure stopped replacement of existing historic lighting
    • Proposed lighting upgrade is a poor idea
    • There are good options available for “historic” light fixtures
    • RASC Victoria should approach the mayor
    • Email to obcouncil@oakbay.ca
  • Solar Eclipse Reports
    • Aboard the Discovery Princess – 125nmi SW from Mazatlan, Mexico
      • Joe Carr
        • John McDonald and Bill Weir and his wife from Victoria were also onboard the ship
        • Pastry chefs served eclipse cookies
        • Princess Cruises and the ship’s officers were very well prepared for this special cruise, giving out eclipse glasses to both passengers and crew, communicating the ship’s position and heading would be, and having two experts aboard to give presentations on the subject and answer questions.
        • Observed a beautiful Green Flash at sunset the night before the eclipse
        • Ships within a few miles: Zaandam, Koningsdam, Sh Diana, and Ruby Princess
        • John and Joe observed from Joe’s balcony, since it was on the side of the ship facing the Sun
        • Eclipse photos and videos
          • Partial phase
          • Projected images of the eclipsed Sun through deck chair webbing
          • Totality, including prominences, plasma streamers, Diamond Ring at C3 and the planets Jupiter and Venus near the Sun
          • Wide field time lapse video of the eclipse
        • A 10ºC temperature drop was measured with a portable weather station during the eclipse
      • John McDonald
        • Eclipse shadows spelling words
        • Lots of great food onboard the ship
        • Observed and photographed partial phases and Totality
        • It was very dark overhead but quite light around us
        • Lots of excitement onboard among the passengers after the eclipse
      • Bill Weir
        • Observed from the top deck with a Coronado PST for Ha and a small Apo refractor with white light filter
        • Night sky viewing with Dr. Matt or Prof. Shelly on the top deck
        • Showed lots of passengers solar images
        • Saw Jupiter, Venus and a glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet
        • Corona was a spectacular flower-like apparition
        • Enrichment Speakers
        • The ship was remarkably stable
    • Sherbrooke, Quebec – Alex Schmid
      • Drove to Quebec and back from BC!
      • Problems with telescope tracking and camera
      • Perfectly clear on eclipse day
      • Observed prominences, Venus and Jupiter
      • Lots of traffic on the roads after eclipse
    • Miramachi, New Brunswick – Clayton Uyeda
      • Had concerns about all the clouds, but it cleared
      • Observed from a remote site with his wife
      • Twilight but not dark
      • Indigenous smudging, drumming nearby
      • Students are back in Victoria High School. John Geehan trying to start up the trans-Neptunian Objects initiative with the high school’s new observing deck.
    • Central Texas – Peter Jedicke
      • Drove from Ontario
      • Weather was iffy, but it cleared for lots of glimpses of the eclipse
      • Enjoyed reports from dozens of people spread out all along the path of totality
    • Kingston, Ontario – Marjie Welchframe
      • Cloudy during the eclipse, but usable observing
    • Beauharnois, Québec – Chris Purse
      • Drove from Kingston, Ontario to much clearer skies
    • Montreal, Québec – Randy Enkin
      • A family visit worked out well, weather-wise
    • Photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – by RASC Victoria Centre members
  • Activities along eclipse path – Randy Enkin
    • AirB&B occupancy map
    • Traffic maps and delays
    • Air traffic
    • inaturalist.org submit observations
    • Eye pain queries
  • Victoria Centre Observatory – David Lee, Randy Enkin and Reg Dunkley
    • 7 observers at recent observing session on April 13th
    • A glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet just after sunset
    • Mike Nash and Randy Enkin observed and photographed the Moon
    • Used a half hour on the Takahashi telescope to sketch Theophilius crater
    • Some first-time VCO observers had an rewarding experience
  • Chris Gainor
    • Met with Jenna Hinds at RASC National
      • Insurance coverage for VCO will be put in place
      • GA planned for May 4-5
    • Shot a video during the eclipse from Colchester Harbour, Ontario – blog
  • Upcoming Activities
    • Council meeting on April 23, 2024
    • Astronomy Day planning meeting on April 25, 2024

Marjie Welchframe will host next week’s Astro Cafe on April 22, 2024.

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 8, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting video transcript

Total Solar Eclipse 2024 reports

  • Montreal, Quebec – Brian & Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Ice crystal 15º ring
    • Travelled from southern Ontario
  • Montreal, Quebec – Randy Enkin
    • Family eclipse experience covered by a CBC journalist
    • Ice crystal 15º ring
    • Expo 67 island had 150,000 observers
    • Interviews: CFAX, Times-Colonist, CBC
    • Observed: “pink” fingers coming inward to the Moon
    • Temperature drop
    • Eclipse cookies
  • Windsor, Ontario – Chris Gainor
    • Drove south to get into the path of totality in Colchester Harbour to observe over Lake Erie
    • High cloud didn’t diminish the view
    • 1979 eclipse was in bitter cold, 2017 in Oregon
    • 1.5 minutes of Totality
    • First eclipse for family – they were impressed
    • Video of the eclipse experience
  • St. Catherines, Ontario – Lauri Roche
    • Heavy cloud, but saw some glimpses of partial eclipses, but no totality
    • Lots of observers at Brock University didn’t see much
    • Temperature drop
    • Sudden darkening during totality, despite not being able to observe it
  • 30km west of Montreal, Quebec – Chris Purse
    • Drove from Kingston, Ontario to western Quebec on 401
    • Hazy conditions before totality
    • Diamond Ring was spectacular
    • Lots of detail visible during totality
    • Temperature drop
    • Lots of traffic on the roads as they drove back to Ottawa
  • Ron Fisher
    • Daughter in Hamilton reported the sky cleared enough to experience totality through the clouds
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – Jill Sinkwich
    • Unfortunately thick clouds obscured the whole eclipse
    • Temperature drop, sounds, darkness
  • Mazatlan, Mexico – reported by Dave Payne on behalf of Joe Carr
    • Photos by Joe aboard the Discovery Princess cruise ship offshore from Mazatlan
    • Bill Weir and his wife and John McDonald were also aboard
    • Miles Waite was nearby on the sister ship Ruby Princess
    • Some thin high cloud, but beautiful conditions
    • Eclipse cookies
    • Diamond Ring
    • Several prominences
    • More complete report from Joe and John next week
  • 2024 Eclipse Weather – Reg Dunkley
    • Forecast models
    • Review of weather conditions and forecasts along the path of totality
    • Animation showing the Moon’s shadow travelling across North America
    • Review of weather conditions over Victoria
  • Partial Eclipse from Victoria – David Lee & Kirsten Pedersen
    • Despite the weather and 17% eclipse, attendance at the Centre of the Universe event was very good
    • Nothing much to see through heavy cloud
    • CHEK and CTV interviews by David Lee and Dennis Crabtree
  • Next Total Solar Eclipses
    • 2026 over Iceland and Spain
    • 2044 over North America

Astronomy Cafe – March 25, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • MMT Observatory – Kali Salmas, Queue Observer
    • Mount Hopkins, 55km south of Tucson, Arizona
    • Originally had six 1.8m mirrors, 4.5m collecting area
    • Now a single 6.5m mirror with 3 secondaries: f/5, f/9, f/15 (adaptive)
    • Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory facility on the mountain
    • Instrumentation
      • Binospec – wide-field opitcal spectrograph
      • Hectochelle/Hectospec – 300 fibre optic spectroscope, robotically reconfigured
      • MMIRS – Infrared spectroscopy, nitrogen cooled
    • Magellan and MMT share instrument designs
    • Operating Staff
      • Telescope Operator – 3
      • Queue Observer – 3
    • Data acquisition
      • Weather, tracking, seeing, turbulence, lenticular cloud formation
      • 7.5-12 hours observing time
      • Moon phase
    • Target Considerations
      • Both manual and automated queue scheduler
      • Sensor being used
      • Magnitude range: 11-26
      • Moon phase
    • Setup on Target – telescope operator and queue observer work together
    • Taking Data – calibration frames, guide stars, check data, add notes, move to next target
    • Q&A
  • Astro-tourism in Northern Arizona – Dave Payne
    • Flagstaff area
    • Barringer Crater – Largest meteorite at 150′ across
    • Lowell Observatory
      • Many domes
      • Original observatory built in 1894
      • Historic 24″ Refractor
      • Privately financed by Percival Lowell to map Mars
      • History of discoveries and innovations by other astronomers at the site
      • Clyde Tombaugh – discovered Pluto with a 12″ telescope
      • 5m Discovery telescope – currently being used, has 5 instruments
  • Recurrent T Coronae Borealis – David Lee david@victoria.rasc.ca
  • Chris Gainor
    • Chandra X-ray space telescope may go dark due to impending budget cuts – 25 years of work done. Save Chandra
    • David Lane, past president of RASC has died. He was the author of Earth Centred Universe planetarium software, operated a popular robotic telescope from his home in Nova Scotia, and was on staff at St. Mary’s University until his retirement.

There is no Astronomy Cafe on April 1 due to Easter holiday. The April 8 meeting will be online only, since many members will be away to observe the Total Solar Eclipse from the path of Totality.