Astronomy Cafe – May 31, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of the meeting

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

President’s Message – May 2021

Posted by as President's Message

Part of the fun of amateur astronomy is getting caught up in “rabbit holes”. You see something on Facebook, that gets you looking up articles in the popular press, and then into academic publications, and they lead you in a different direction and everything is so fascinating and time just rushes by…

The Moon aligned with Ogden Point breakwater - Randy Enkin photo
The Moon aligned with Ogden Point breakwater – Randy Enkin photo

My current example is looking into the timing of craters on the moon – when they enter and exit the umbra or full shade of the Earth. It was an important way to figure out the time, and therefore one’s longitude, before reliable clocks were made. In the 18th century, astronomers recognized that there is a problem (La Hire, Tabulae Astronomicae, Paris 1707); the earth’s shadow is over 100 km bigger than expected. The anomaly is bigger than can be explained easily with the atmosphere. One would think this is a simple geometric problem that is fully understood, but it is still under study!

Amateur astronomers are helping collect the necessary data. Sky and Telescope publishes predicted times for when the shadow is expected to cross 24 prominent craters, and they request people to email in their observed times. Upcoming May 26, 2021, eclipse online info. Up to 2011, their database includes 22,539 observations by 764 different people. If the sky is clear between 02:52 and 05:48 on Wednesday May 26, I hope to add my name to the list!

The point is, we are a community of interesting and interested people. We set challenges for ourselves. Some are simple; some are very difficult. Get your telescope to track better. Process an image to show more detail. Understand black holes a bit more. Learn another myth of a constellation. And then we get together (virtually, these days) and support each other in these pursuits.

Astronomy Cafe – May 17, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

VIdeo frame of ISS taken through an 8" Dobsonian by Nathan
VIdeo frame of ISS taken through an 8″ Dobsonian by Nathan
  • ISS photo – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Used a iPhone mount using a 30-min video slow motion through a 5mm  eyepiece, 2.5x Barlow and 8″ Dob (1,200mm f/l), so about 600x magnification, 2-3 arc secs 
  • Astronomy Day on May 15th – Randy Enkin & Lauri Roche
    • We were so fortunate to have a clear sky for this online event
    • Reviewed all the presenters and thanked everyone
  • Spectroscopy – Tom Field
    • Intro by David Lee
    • 70-80% of astronomical research is done with spectroscopy
    • – spectroscopy software for amateur astronomers
    • Bunsen invented his burner to burn elements to see their component spectra
    • Emission and absorption lines in spectrum
    • “The Computers” Annie Jump Cannon – they created categories for spectral plate analysis
    • Equipment to use for capturing spectrum
      • Star Analyser Grating – US$195
      • Other adapters and gear available
      • A slit instead of a grating, which yields more resolution, but costs more and requires better technique
    • Compared spectra of 8 different stars – Torsten Hansen
    • Doing science
      • Graph the results
      • Spectroscopy is more immune to light pollution than traditional astrophotography, so urban observing works
      • Wolf-Rayet stars (WR140) – shows this late-stage star with carbon-rich spectra
      • Spectra can be measured of: planets, comets, meteors, the Sun, Supernova, stars
      • Measuring Doppler Shift, or is it red/blue shift?
      • Extended objects like nebulae need a slit instead of a grating
      • Black Hole? no, but the accretion disk emits light
      • Calculating red shift
    • Spectroscopy can reinforce other observational skills
    • Distance between sensor and grating needs to be precisely setup
    • Emission versus absorption lines
    • Can use other grating, since RSpec can calibrate to other grating resolutions. RSpec grating uses 100 lines/mm which is easy to use, and yields brighter spectra.
    • Calibrate on a known star, then study other objects


  • There is no Astro Cafe next Monday due to the Victoria Day holiday. The next Astro Cafe is scheduled for May 31st.
  • If anyone would like to lead a citizen science group, please contact David Lee
  • Total Lunar Eclipse is coming up on May 26th

Astronomy Day 2021

Posted by as Special Events

A celebration of International Astronomy Day in Victoria, BC, Canada was held on May 15, 2021 as a virtual online event, sponsored by the Friends of the DAO and RASC Victoria Centre. Hundreds of people attended this live-streamed 4-hour event through both Zoom and Youtube.

Thanks to everyone who made this event a success!
Thanks to everyone who made this event a success!

The program lineup

  • Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) Virtual Tour
  • Live Solar Viewing from the DAO with David Lee, Sid Sidhu & Chris Purse
  • Guest Presentation – “Fossils in our Galaxy” by Dr. Kim Venn, a specialist at UVic in observational stellar spectroscopy, and the chemo-dynamical analysis of stars in the Galaxy and its nearby dwarf satellites. Stars contain a fossil record of the chemistry of the Universe at the time and place where they were born. Stars formed early in the universe contain very low amounts of elements heavier than Helium, and astronomers call these stars ‘metal-poor’. They are the fossils of ancient star formation in the galaxy. By studying the most metal-poor of these stars, we can read that fossil record to learn about the origin of the elements and formation of the Galaxy. Dr. Venn discussed the recent results on the metal-poor galaxy, including newly discovered streams in the halo, very metal-poor stars found in the Galactic Centre, and metal-poor stars in the Galactic disk that orbit in the opposite direction.
  • University of Victoria Telescope Tour with Karun Thanjavur
  • Ask an Astronomer (or two) with Jason Beaman and Nathan Hellner-Mestelman, hosted by Amy Archer
  • Astrophotography Gallery with Marjie Welchframe, David Lee and friends featuring music from Vox Humana, Jeff Enns (composer)
  • Planetaruim Show from the CU – Draco & Hercules – Aaron Bannister & the constellation blanket
  • Live Stream from the Plaskett Telescope, the Centre of the Universe (CU) and other locations featuring David Lee, Dan Posey, Dave Payne, and Brock Johnston – the RASC Electronic Assisted Astronomy Group and hosted by Ruhee Janmohamed

Astronomy Cafe – May 10, 2021

Posted by as Uncategorized

Video transcript of meeting

  • Pocket sundial demo – Randy Enkin
    • Apply equation of time, time zone, longitude, latitude, north
    • Kala family makes this precision analemma design in Vienna
  • RASC Creation Station – May 15 – June 13 – Lauri Roche
    • A place to put stories, drawings, comics or poems about Astronomy and Space
    • Local Centres can help
    • Hope to highlight student’s work at the upcoming GA
  • Astronomy Day – May 15th – Lauri Roche
    • Virtual Star Party starts at 8PM with live-streamed events
    • Registration required – free
    • Plaskett history
    • Fossil Stars in the Galaxy – presentation by Dr. Kim Venn
    • Astrophotography display with VOX Humana audio
    • Ask An Astronomer 
    • Tours of the UVic & Plaskett telescopes
    • Ends by 11PM
  • Science Odyssey – Virtual tour of Plaskett – May 13 7PM – Lauri Roche
  • NightScaper Conference virtual conference – May 10-12 – David Lee
    • Air glow caused by the Sun during the day, is visible at night until it fades
    • Fixed tripods, tracking mounts, panoramas
    • Planning tools & software
    • US National Parks – permits and other restrictions
    • Female astrophotographers
    • Science of colours in the night sky – an analysis
  • Spectroscopy – David Lee
    • RSpec software
    • David is taking the course and reviewed his previous attempts at capturing spectra
    • Citizen science is a possibility – new SIG? Contact David.
  • General Assembly 2021 – June 25-28  – Chris Gainor
    • Speakers: Emily Calandrelli, Dr. Katie Mack, Kate Russo, Aaron Prasad
    • Panel discussion on Mars
    • AGM business meeting, elections
    • Nominal registration charge – $15
  • RASC National – Chris Gainor & Chris Purse
    • National staff are supporting members to access the new website
    • Members need to reset their passwords
    • New website supports many more features like: store, discussion groups and forums
  • Edmonton photos – Dave Robinson
    • Comet Atlas C2020 R4 – Arnold Rivera & Alister Ling
  • Helen Sawyer Hogg Lecture by Prof.  Andrea Ghez – tomorrow afternoon
  • No Astro Cafe on Victoria Day, May 24th
  • May 31st Astro Cafe – Lisa & Cameron will show their moving of Bill Almond’s observatory to their home

Astronomy Cafe – May 3, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of meeting

  • New RASC national membership site is now live – reset your password! – Chris Purse
  • Explore The Universe certificate – presented by Randy Enkin to Chris Purse
    • Chris reviews all the national observing programs, and how he completed the ETU
    • Double Stars program is now live, and can be done even from light-polluted locations – Blair Stunder
    • There is no time limit on completing any of the certificates
    • Goto mounts and setting circles can be used in addition to finding objects using traditional star-hopping
  • International Astronomy Day – May 15th 7PM-11PM – online event by FDAO
    • Registration required – free
    • Plaskett history
    • Fossils in Our Galaxy – presentation by Kim Venn
    • Astrophotography display with VOX Humana audio
    • Ask An Astronomer 
    • Planetarium show
    • Tour of the UVic telescope
    • EAA group to show
    • Live streaming from the Plaskett – weather dependant
  • Coronado 90mm solar telescope acquired by the FDAO to use for public outreach
  • Edmonton RASC photos – Dave Robinson
    • Solar prominences in Ha – Abdur Anwar
    • Moonset on April 24th over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • Solar Ha 80mm Lunt – Arnold Rivera
    • Moonset at Sunrise over Edmonton – time lapse movie by Alister Ling
  • Possible Undiscovered Planets in our Solar System – Astronomy XKCD comic – Randy Enkin
    • Based on recent Planet 9 WISE research
    • Logarithmic distance scale
    • Amended comic with more facts and embellishments
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Getting Started in Astronomy – Tue evening
    • EAA & UVic students – Wed evening rehearsal for upcoming Astronomy Day
    • EAA – Thu evening
    • Makers – info sent by Jim Cliffe to email list
  • End of a series of low tides – tied to the Moon – Dave Robinson
    • High Spring tides are following later this month
    • Total Lunar Eclipse coincides with this month’s Full Moon
  • Variable Star observing – David Lee
    • Target yet to be picked, but probably a rapid period variable first
    • Can use imagers or visual observing
    • Basic methodology: measuring a comparison star against the target variable star brightness