Messier Marathon 2014

Posted by as Observing Highlights, Special Events

The Messier Marathon from Victoria was a bust this year.  Both March 28 and 29 were cloudy, so it was called off.

Our member Elizabeth van Akker spends her winters in New Mexico, and had much better luck:

Hello, all, from sunny New Mexico. My friend Lesa and I successfully completed the Messier Marathon. The weather was great, the skies dark. We especially enjoyed watching the summer Milky Way rising in the early morning. From here, all of Scorpio is visible, and Sagitarius is glorious. The most difficult part was the beginning, 77, 74, 33, 31, 32, 110 were low in the west and only just visible. We are delighted with our results!

Elizabeth van Akker.

Early bird registration for the 2014 General Assembly

Posted by as Special Events

Register for the GA today!Join the RASC Victoria Centre as we host the 2014 GA from June 26 – June 29.

Register before midnight on April 10th, 2014 and take advantage of the $130.00 early bird registration fee.

The 2014 GA registration fee increases to $145.00 as of April 11th, 2014.

Don’t forget to select your meals while you are in the registration site, so you can join your fellow RASC members from across the country. It is especially important that you register for the GA Banquet and the BBQ on Observatory Hill! Be sure to order a commemorative golf shirt and embroidered hat while you are in the GA site.

Register Now!

Astronomy Day – May 3, 2014

Posted by as Special Events

Time/Location: Saturday, May 3, 10am-4pm at the Royal BC Museum, and 8pm-11pm at Observatory Hill

Event Poster (4.9Mb PDF)

It was wonderful to see so many enjoy themselves!

In spite of the cloudy weather during the day and evening, the Victoria Centre’s International Astronomy Day celebration was a huge success. The total count this year was: 700 attending during the day at the Museum and 212 attending during the evening. These numbers would have been much higher if the weather had cooperated. Oh well, may be next year!

Our sincere thanks go to all the volunteers for their contribution to make this year’s IAD celebration an enjoyable experience for everyone. This year we were very fortunate to be back at the Royal BC Museum. It is a good site to attract a large public audience. Many thanks go to the Museum staff for their cheerful cooperation.

Royal BC Museum – 10am-4pm

  • Solar viewing (weather permitting)
  • Solar System model – walk among the planets on the plaza outside
  • Ask an astronomer – ask those astronomy questions you always wondered about
  • General information table – RASC Victoria Centre
  • Science Venture – interactive science exhibits from UVic students
  • Astrophotography display and information – learn how to use your camera to take night sky photos
  • Pearson College science exhibits – interactive and innovative science for kids of all ages
  • Telescope making table – learn how to grind a mirror to make your own telescope at home
  • Children’s Activity table – hands-on crafts, planet making, etc.
  • Static displays
    • Antique brass telescope from the CU museum
    • Other telescopes
  • Video media displays – 3D video displays, desktop planetarium, images from space missions
  • The physics of Angry Birds
  • Bad Science


  • 11AM – Mars Explorations – Chris Gainor, Canadian space author
  • 2PM – Worlds Without End – James Di Francesco – The recent discoveries of hundreds of planets by NASA’s Kepler satellite observatory have profound implications about the proliferation of planets within our Galaxy.  Namely, the latest statistics show that the number of planets in the Galaxy is likely larger than the number of stars.  Also, every star in the sky likely has at least one “Earth-like” mass planet.  James will summarize the most recent discoveries made by the Kepler team, and highlight the prospects of further discoveries by Canadians with the new Gemini Planet Imager.
  • Galileo might even make an appearance!

Observatory Hill – 8pm-11pm

Return to Observatory Hill

On International Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 3rd the RASC and the NRC Herzberg invites everyone back up onto Observatory Hill where the Centre of the Universe displays and the historic Plaskett Telescope will be re-opened for night sky public viewing.

Opening of the Hill is from 8 pm to 11 pm. Please wear warm clothing as it can be cool and windy in the evening. Parking is very limited so please follow all the directions of the Commissionaires for access.

Schedule of activities:

8:00 pm Gates open to visitors

8:00 to 10:45 pm Displays open in the Center of the Universe exhibit area

8:00 to 10:45 pm Telescope viewing with the RASC – parking lot

8:15 pm Welcome ceremonies – Center of the Universe Auditorium

8:30 pm Pubic Talk: Dr. Rita Mann “Death Stars in the Orion Nebula: Recent Observations into Planet Formation” – CU Auditorium

8:30 to 10:30 pm: Tours of the Observatory and Night Sky Viewing with the Plasket Telescope facilitated by Dr. David Bohlender

9:15 pm Public Talk: Dr. Michele Bannister “The Hidden Oceans of Icy Moons” – CU Auditorium

10:45 pm Closing of exhibits, telescopes and night sky viewing

11:00 pm Departure off the hill

Please join us as we celebrate the RASC’s 100th Anniversary in 2014. Thank you to the NRC/Herzberg for permitting us to put on this special evening program with them and we hope that we will be able to have more open Saturday night sky viewing in the summer. For more information please contact: Lauri Roche by email.


Island Star Party – update on site improvements

Posted by as Special Events

Thinking forward to the August 22/23/24 Island Star Party.

I dropped in to Bright Angel Park the other afternoon and ran in to a CVRD park fellow there. (Graham).

We spoke for a few minutes about the work that is proceeding at that park and specifically about the field setup. Graham indicated that he was trying to leave as much space between the new field and the forested area “as possible” and he showed me the basic layout in the pegging on the field. I asked that they extend the buffer all the way back to the corner that previously had the baseball diamond backboard. Graham said that should be possible. Vehicle access to the field will be via a gate beside the playground (very near where we held our talks)

At present there is a new parking lot on the edge of the road approximately where we in past years put motor-homes and trailers. This lot is to accommodates the kids playground that will be installed right there, (about where our observing field was located.

The new sports field looks like it will work well as a foot traffic only observing area with vehicle parking along the forest edge. As well we should be able to use the roadside parking lot for larger vehicle if it turns out we can not accommodate them on the grass.

The lower parking lot is now gone and a bathroom is being built in its location, this facility will be ready for our star party. YES no more pit toilets. The former “upper parking lot” has been improved to take more cars.

All in all it is looking very good for the park and the Star Party.


Brian Robilliard

Through Infra-red Goggles Darkly – an engineer’s view of climate change!

Posted by as Events

Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting, held on Wednesday March 12, 2014 in room A104 of the Bob Wright Centre, UVic, at 19:30.

Arctic sea-ice thickness Jan-Feb 2011A Short Bio of Dr. Parvez Kumar, P.Eng., FCASI (this latter is Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics & Space Institute)

Dr. Kumar is an Aerospace Engineer whose career has spanned over forty years working in the Aviation and Space sectors in Government, Industry and Academia. His twenty years of experience with the Canadian Space Programme covers establishing Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) in the early 1980’s, to establishing the Canadian scientific research programme for enabling scientists to do research in microgravity onboard the ISS, to setting up the first training programme for Canadian Astronauts and being their Deputy Director General.

In his chequered career he was seconded to Aerospatiale in the early 1970’s to be Hawker Siddeley Aviation’s man in France for the development of the first Airbus A300; he then joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority in their Flight Test Department for the certification of civil aircraft; he moved to Canada in the late 1970’s to help design and set up the Flight Test Programme for the Canadair Challenger Business Jet; moved onto Transport Canada in their Airworthiness Branch; Industry Canada as the Manager of the international Airborne Surveillance Systems Programme spearheaded by Canada; in 1982 he was hired by the National Research Council in Ottawa to help establish the Canadian Space Station Programme. Amongst other assignments he was the Space Technology Advisor to Atlantic Canada; Director of the European Space Agency’s Harsh Environments Initiative under contract while he was at C-CORE, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Assistant Research Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa where he set up the first Advanced Space Studies Course and taught Mechanical Systems Design to Final Year Engineering Students; he has lectured to Universities and High Schools all across Canada as well as for Continuing Education Programmes at Carleton University and the University of Victoria. He brings a wealth of hands-on experience to his lectures.

He graduated with an Honours BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College in London, UK, and obtained his PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Southampton University, UK. He has lived and worked in seven countries and, now retired, lives with his wife in Sooke.