Astronomy Cafe – Sep 26, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

  • Sky Brightness Survey – David Lee
    • Most data sheets have been received from the volunteers
    • Readings taken in the region last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
    • Marjie & Susan – a great experience
    • Possibly another round of data collection will be needed next month to catch missing readings
    • Lauri & Brenda – very interesting to measure the areas, app delivered higher (better) readings than the SQM, Island View Beach is very dark but some urban glow
    • John McDonald – different smart phones would probably deliver different readings from the app due to different camera configurations
    • Dave Payne – Possibly calibrate the app to the SQMs
    • Les Welch – the nature of the lighting determines the light pollution level
    • Bill Weir – SQM at Mt. Kobau was 21.8, yet it was very poor seeing due to smoke and other sky obscuration
  • Astrophotos – Brock Johnson
  • Visual Observing – Bill Weir
    • Jupiter & Saturn – great detail visible last night just before midnight
  • Astrophotography SIG – Dave Payne
    • Meeting this Wednesday
    • SIG members will be showing their work regularly at Astronomy Cafe
  • Samantha Jewett, Education and Outreach Coordinator, RASC National
    • Planning stage for 2022-23 in-reach and outreach
    • In-reach
      • Visits to Centres by Samantha and Phil
      • Attend major star parties
      • Robotic Telescope Project
        • 2022 data release on Oct 1st
        • New projects and volunteers
        • Citizen science research group
    • Outreach
      • Tour the Night Sky – Zoom nights for members
      • NOVA – material to centres by end of October – David Lee & Lauri Roche are already hosts
      • High school groups
        • robotic telescope operating and data available
        • astrophotography as well as data acquisition
      • Insider’s Guide to the Galaxy hosted by Chris Vaughan
        • Zoom & Youtube
      • Creating Resources 
        • Beginners
        • Short-form on social media
        • Families & under 12 activities
        • Shared with centres
      • Public Events
        • Solar sidewalk outside National office
        • Trade shows
        • Star parties
        • Solar Eclipses in 2023 and 2024
          • Eclipse glasses
          • Education materials for centres
      • Education & Public Outreach
      • World Asterisms Project by Charles Ennis
      • Astronomy software training by Blake Nancarrow
      • GA 2023 
        • Early May online
        • Separate from the AGM
    • 2023 RASC Calendars available for order on Oct 1st – contact Lauri
    • Send local event information to national to publicize
    • Observers Handbook
      • Coming directly from publisher this year
      • Members should review your address – go to and click on “Log in”
  • Young astronomers – Lauri Roche
    • School Astronomy Clubs  at Oak Bay (forming), Mt. Doug (forming), Vic High (in place
  • NASA’s DART small spacecraft crashed into small asteroid Dimorphos today – Bill Weir
  • Fall Fairfield Fair – Reg Dunkley
    • 400 people came by our table
    • Observing the Sun through the Solar scope was popular
    • Thanks to the volunteers
  • Donating telescopes – Bill Weir & Samantha Jewett
    • Pearson College is receiving a vintage Questar telescope donation from an estate
    • Telescopes can also be donated to National’s Dorner Telescope Museum
  • Nanaimo’s Day of Reconciliation – Janeane
    • Nanaimo Astronomy will be there this Friday

Astronomy Cafe – Sep 19, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Concert Sep 25 at Farquar UVic – Jim Hesser
    • Aurora Triptych is a multimedia blend of music, photography, and visual storytelling that follows the Northern Lights on a far-ranging journey from the Sun to Earth’s upper atmosphere.”
    • Tania Miller: Science & Symphony
    • September 25 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
  • Sky Brightness Survey – David Lee (email)
    • Interested in QGIS mapping data work – Les Welch & Jim Cliffe
    • Guidance from our meteorologist Reg Dunkley as to what day(s) are best to take readings, since it’s important that good, clear weather conditions are present
    • SQM (original, widefield), SQM-L (current, narrow FOV) – Unihedron meters
    • Find areas that we should concentrate on due to impending development or other sky quality issues
    • Duel readings with app and Unihedron meter
    • Ideal dates for taking SQM readings: Sep 23-27 & Oct 23-27 
    • Methodology
      • Record 4 raw readings, pointing in each of 4 quadrants above your head, pointing straight up
      • Throw away the first reading at each site (so take a total of 5 readings)
      • Readings – fill in form
        • SQM
        • Temperature 
        • Location – ID #, Latitude, Longitude
        • Verbose location – “corner of Wallace Drive and West Saanich Road”
        • Date and Time
        • Weather conditions and comments
      • Readings can be done using electronic or audio means, but must be in final readable form before sending to David on the forms provided
      • Sky Brightness Survey Data Entry Chart – MS Word & PDF
      • Sky Brightness Survey Data Fields – definitions
      • Taking readings at new locations is fine, but make it clear it’s new
  • Astronomy Cafe on Monday September 26th
    • Samatha Jewett will be speaking to us about RASC National
    • Possibly lunch or dinner with Samantha before the meeting –  contact Lauri Roche (email)
    • Jim Cliffe will be the Astro Cafe host
  • Chris Gainor
    • ISS Pass at 8:52PM this evening 
    • Skynews is going to be late due to paper supply issues

Bill Almond – 1933-2022 – in memorium

Posted by as In Memoriam, Memories & history

With great sadness the family of Bill Almond announce his passing.
Lovingly remembered by his wife Janet; children Carol (Dave) John (Barb) Dawn (Mike), Alison (Colin); 11 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and many friends.
He was loved by all and remains forever in our hearts.

Frederick W. Almond – June 12, 1933 – July 03, 2022 – obituary (Legacy/Times Colonist)

Bill became a member of RASC in 1989, and soon became involved in Victoria Centre, sharing his passion for astronomy with both his fellow members and the public. He lead Victoria Centre as President from 1997 to 1998. Bill was awarded the Newton-Ball Award in 2003 for his exemplary service to Victoria Centre. He enthusiastically helped build Victoria Centre Observatory (VCO) atop Observatory Hill, and provided valuable advice about what gear would reliably serve our members’ needs. Bill was thrilled when the VCO officially opened in 2008.

Bill worked with CCD imaging since the early 1990’s and was published in CCD Magazine with his images of M27 The Dumbell Nebula and M8 The Lagoon Nebula. He was an early leader in digital imaging at a time when the technology had very limited capability, and the gear was often beyond the means of amateur astronomers. Bill encouraged members to tackle the learning curve called astrophotography, often hosting members and groups at his home and observatory. Bill’s astrophotography

Bill Almond presents a copy of his Victoria Centre history to RASC Archivist Randall Rosenfeld

In order to commemorate Victoria Centre’s centennial, Bill applied his writing skills acquired during his career with our local newspaper The Times-Colonist, to compile historic records and media, and write and publish the history of RASC Victoria Centre. This was a daunting task, considering our Centre’s long history!

In 2021, Bill decided it was time to wind up his personal observatory, which was built beside the family home in Colwood in 1992 as a “watch tower”, and featured a Meade 10″ SCT, and later a 12″ LX200. Cameron Burton and Lisa Miester took on the considerable task of moving the observatory to their home on Elk Lake, and have rebuilt the observatory in the process. Moving and installing Bill Almond’s observatory – May 31, 2021 AstroCafe – a 1 hour video presentation by Cameron and Lisa.

What a wonderful video of Cameron and Lisa realizing the significance of my fathers hard work and combining that dome with the passion that Lisa’s father passed on to her. Thank you to the RASC Victoria members in this video who spoke fondly of my father.

John Almond (Bill’s son) – May 31, 2021

Bill Almond – in memorium – a collection of photos from Bill’s involvement in RASC Victoria Centre

Victoria Centre members remember Bill

Remembering Bill’s skill and generosity. So sad to hear that Bill is gone. I knew him from his Times Colonist days, from his diaper service, and from the RASC Victoria. Take care. – Sandy Barta

I’m very sad to hear that Bill has left us. He was president of the Centre when I came to Victoria, and of course he wrote the history of our Centre more recently. – Chris Gainor

I too am sad to hear the news about Bill. He did a fine job on the Centre History that Chris mentioned and he was helpful with advice and tips for those of us starting out. He also gave us some excellent advice when we were considering what telescope to get for the VCO. It was that we should pay the most attention to getting a quality mount. He pointed out that telescopes can be replaced but without a good mount no telescope would do a great job. – John McDonald

Bill was a leader for those of us who were exploring taking photographs of the celestial objects in the night sky. He was a great mentor, a good friend, and a generous man. – Joe Carr

I am so sorry to hear about Bill. He was knowledgable and always helpful to RASC members who were new to astronomy. I was privileged to see Bill´s Observatory Dome just last weekend at it´s new home overlooking Prospect Lake. His legacy will continue. – Lauri Roche

When I joined RASC Victoria in the early `90s I remember Bill would often host evenings at his home in Colwood which of course included a visit to his dome. He will be missed. – David Lee

Astronomy Cafe – Sep 12, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of the meeting

  • Public Outreach at the Centre of the Universe (CU) – Lauri Roche
    • Saturday Star Parties
      • Thanks to all the RASC Victoria Centre members who volunteer
      • Tickets “sell out” quickly
      • Last event on Sep 24th
    • Cruise Tours this summer – successful and a source of income for FDAO
    • CU open during the day until the end of September
  • Saanich Fair – Lauri Roche
    • 2 nice days – solar viewing
    • 3rd day had some drizzle
    • Lots of interaction with the public about astronomy
    • 1,000 entries for the telescope prize – Melissa Long was the winner, and is thrilled with her new scope
  • Island Star Party – Dave Payne
    • Successful star party – 30 people on Friday, 45-50 people on Saturday
    • Speakers were fantastic
    • Quite a few campers
    • Some members of the public stopped by despite lack of advertising and promotion
    • Revenue exceeded expenses
    • Cowichan Valley Starfinders no longer have the volunteer numbers to sustain the event going forward
    • Cowichan Valley Regional District – arrangements for overnight camping appear to be
    • Discuss next steps with Victoria Centre Council 
    • August 16, 2023 is New Moon weekend for the event next year
  • Astronomy at Victoria High School – Clayton Uyeda
    • New astronomical observing deck being built as part of Victoria High School’s seismic upgrade
    • Astronomy 11 is now a course at Vic High
  • Tour of our new Zoom equipment for Astro Cafe – Chris Purse
    • New computer, microphone, webcam
    • 2 monitors
    • Sound is the biggest issue, and the new microphone seems to be excellent
    • Webcam has good coverage of the room’s occupants
    • New WIndows personal computer system is easy to setup, and is on rollers
  • Getting Started in Astronomy SIG – David Lee
    • Group met in person at Cattle Point a few times over the summer
    • Minima of Algol observed
  • Sky Brightness Survey – David Lee
    • Reviewed our mapping in 2010 (see maps at the bottom of our Night Lighting page)
    • Will repeat the survey this September and October
    • David to distribute SQMs to volunteers who don’t own one at the next Astro Cafe
    • Need more volunteers, so contact David very soon
  • RASC Board – Malhar Kendurkar
    • Malhar is imaging with the Plaskett Telescope
    • Virtual meeting of the RASC Board on Sep 14th
    • In-person meeting of the RASC Board will happen in October
      • The Robotic Telescope should be better used
  • VIctoria Centre Council meeting tomorrow – Dave Payne (VP)
  • Green Laser course offered by RASC – Lauri Roche

Saanich Fair 2022 Report

Posted by as Special Events

Welcome to Fall. I always think that as soon as the Saanich Fair is over that it really is the start on a new season.

Solar Scopes

First of all, I need to thank a LOT of people for all their help this past weekend. It takes time and people power to organize, prepare, load, unload, set up, put out telescopes, chat to hundreds of smiling people, answer questions, give away a telescope and then take down, load and unload all over again. But we did it.

A huge thank you to our load-up and set-up crew who helped on Friday afternoon: Dave E (who also donated our telescope) and Sam F who helps on Fridays and Saturday nights up at the CU for the Friends of the DAO.

On Saturday Ken M came early along with Alex Schmid to help set things up on the tables and put out the telescopes. Dave Robinson, Michael W, Lisa M, Cameron B, Deb Crawford from the RASC and Amy and Alyssa, Rachel and Ryan, Sam F, and Evan W from the FDAO were the busy volunteers that day. It was very warm and there were thousands of people at the fair. Terrific sunspots and a beautiful prominence on Ken’s H-Alpha telescope.

RASC Victoria booth

On Sunday the drizzle started early but it never really rained. We did have some drips in the tent that needed mending and we huddled under the tent and tarps trying to keep things from getting too damp. Alex, Ken M, David Lee, Marjie Welchframe, Jill Sinkwitch, Brock J, and Gae V “personned” the RASC tent and Evan (bicycling in all the way from Oak Bay in the rain!), Ben Dorman, and Zaina S kept the group happy for the FDAO. At 3:45, fifteen minutes before we cleaned up the sun came out. ☀️

And on Monday we did it all over again. The day was beautiful, not quite as hot, but manageable. Ken was back with his H-Alpha and Alex was there for the third day in a row. 👏👏 Joining them were Chris Gainor, Dorothy P, Maryl M, John P, and Brian B, with Ben Dorman, Caitlyn, Mark L, and Patricia G-S for the FDAO.

We had a draw for a great little telescope on Monday. It was won by a woman in Colwood named Melissa L and she was thrilled to get the phone call. We had well over 1200 entries into the draw and talked to many more over the weekend.

FDAO booth

At the end of Monday Ken M, Brian B and John P took everything down and packed up. Off to the CU to unload. David Lee met us there and we did all the work to put everything back in a quick 20 minutes.

Amazing volunteers. Thank you to all of you.

And I just wanted to say thanks specially to Sid Sidhu who kept in touch from the hospital and was in our thoughts all the time. The Saanich Fair is special to him and we missed him very much.

On to next year?
Lauri Roche

Saanich Fair 2022 photo album