This is so sad to hear. Dave was such an advocate for public outreach. I have missed him at outreach events such as the Saanich Fair and as a prominent Astronomer in the parking lot for Saturday nights at the DAO. What a loss for our community. I will be certainly thinking of Susan and his family at this time.
I’m very sad to hear this news. Dave was one of many RASC members who encouraged me to be active in public outreach activities at the DAO and to pursue my interests. He was a kind, generous man.
I’m so sad to hear this. I still remember our little adventure of recording the asteroid occultation of 1263 Varsavia on July 18th 2003. I still remember being so pleased that we actually picked the right star and that it blinked out at approximately the predicted time. I have to admit it was David’s excellent starhopping skills as neither of us had goto systems. He will be missed.
It is really sad to hear the news. Dave and I [spent] many happy times doing the public outreach. When needed he was always there.
I remember Dave’s dry sense of humour the most, but also his willingness to evangelize astronomy at any and all public events. Despite professing to be a “grouch”, he was great with the younger generations interested in astronomy, challenging them to dive in. Dave was also a dedicated observer and one of the first Victoria Centre members who welcomed me to the group – thanks Dave. I certainly will raise a glass to Dave’s memory, and celebrate his contributions to amateur astronomy through RASC.
Wow this sucks. He’s been one of the members who I’ve wondered where they’ve gone. Sadly now it’s permanent. He thought he presented as a grump but always had a kind manner. Will remember him with that big blue refractor. Needs to be said, F… Cancer.
This is very sad. Dave was a member when I joined. He me feel good to be part of the group.
Very sad news, indeed. Dave was an immediately likeable fellow, whose immense astronomical knowledge and infectious enthusiasm was appreciated equally by his RASC colleagues, and the public. Dave will be deeply missed, and fondly remembered.
I remember some great conversations with Dave at outreach events and particularly at the Halifax GA (2015). Dave was a proud member of RASD and was Dave XXII. He will be missed.
Dave was an active, very friendly, welcoming member of our Centre. Betty and I enjoyed interacting with him at meetings and outreach events. We often saw Dave and Susan at Victoria Symphony concerts, too. We are very saddened at his passing.
Jim & Betty Hesser
Sorry for your loss Victoria Centre. Condolences to the family.
I’ve known Dave Bennett for most of my time in the Victoria Centre, and more recently when we lived near each other on the north end of the Saanich Peninsula. I greatly regret the press of time conflicts, work obligations and finally the pandemic that limited the time I had with Dave and Sue in recent years. Like other members of the Victoria Centre, I have many memories of Dave’s participation in our outreach activities, especially a trip that we took with Sid to a school on Saltspring Island several years ago. His love for astronomy, sense of humour and friendly manner were always front and centre at these events and at other Victoria Centre activities. I’m glad I knew him and I will miss him.
It has been five years since the astronomy bug caught me big. After the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, I started looking for a telescope to replace my old Tasco refractor. I was close to buying a used C8 Schmidt Cassegrain, but couldn’t figure out how I could fit it in my house (or life). My first “new” telescope was an adequate little Newtonian, and since then I have acquired many telescopes, mounts, and accessories; never spending more than $150 at a time, to make a Frankenscope that works for me.
During that exciting autumn of 2017, I met Lauri Roche at a science outreach event and she invited me to give a talk at the RASC Victoria Centre Astro Cafe about a “gizmo” I developed for my telescope. Soon after, I joined the Society and made friends with many of you at Astro Cafe. With the Pandemic, our online events became important social activities for me. We’ve been doing outreach and in-reach events together. We have been a wonderful supportive community, which I now treasure.
In the autumn of 2020, our then president, Reg Dunkley, sent out a desperate plea for new council members, and in particular somebody who would step up to be our next president. I felt I was still a newbie, but the community was important to me and I did step up. I’ve been having a wonderful time working with this group, and I’m looking forward to many more roles I can take to keep our programs going and growing. But I am approaching the end of my second year as president and according to our bylaws, we need a new person to put their name forward as president. We have several other Council positions to fill as well.
So here is my plea – my desperate plea: please volunteer for our council! The roles are not onerous and we have a strong volunteer base to get things done. The past executives are all very helpful and supportive, so no one needs to feel they are all alone. But our society cannot function without people in the key positions and I know there are several of you reading this not thinking that you could be one of them. You can.
You should directly contact Reg, who as Past-President (firstname.lastname@example.org) is in charge of council nominations. But we know that few people ever volunteer on their own initiative. Please don’t be surprised or unhappy if you get a call from one of us. We need you. We appreciate you. We’ll have fun with you!
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
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.
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
I had the pleasure of spending a Saturday evening with Sherry Buttnor, demonstrating the 16 inch reflector up at the Centre of the Universe. It is humbling being in the dome with her, as Sherry has been operating and demonstrating the 16 inch since 1987! For most of the time, we had the telescope trained on the moon. Once the moon got too low, we moved to M13 – the Hercules cluster. Everybody who looked in the eyepiece exclaimed some version of “Wow!” Sherry often told the people, “You’ll never look at the moon the same way from now on.”
Brock Johnston that night had one of the 8″ Dobsonians set up behind the Plaskett Telescope, with a steady stream of people coming for a glimpse of Saturn. A woman who had never before seen Saturn through a telescope said she was in tears afterwards, she was so awestruck.
Astronomy outreach is fun! The people who come to star parties and other outreach events are keen to learn, and they appreciate our efforts to help them see the sky. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work, but once you are at it, it is a real high.
So make the decision to help out at our outreach events!
We need people for Saturday nights at the Centre of the Universe (contact Garry Sedun, email@example.com); especially if you are willing to set up your telescope.
We need volunteers for the Vancouver Island Star Party, an hour north of Victoria at Bright Angel Park, August 26-27 (contact Dave Payne, firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, plan to go to the star party – Dave has been working with the Cowichan Valley Starfinders Astronomy Club to create an excellent program of speakers and events.
We need volunteers for the Saanich Fair at the Saanich Fairgrounds, September 3-5 (contact Lauri Roche, email@example.com).
We need volunteers for the Fall Fairfield, Sept. 25, right outside our Astro Cafe venue at the Sir James Douglas School yard (contact Reg Dunkley, firstname.lastname@example.org).
At these events, you can typically take a shift of a couple of hours and answer questions from the eager public. I have seen members with the whole range of background and experience taking on these roles, and everybody has done well. Just show a bit of the enthusiasm that I know all RASC Victoria Centre members have.
The first science images from the James Webb Space Telescope were released to huge fanfare last week. I’m not surprised that my social media was filled with the news, commentary, analysis, and silly memes. My favourite is the melding of Van Gogh’s Starry Night into the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster. What surprised me was how much the images caught on with the general public. The images are indeed beautiful, and the public relations teams know how to get the message right. But there is a clearly a desire, a fascination to follow the story of this telescope and its potential.
I used to be “the general public”. When they went to the moon during the Apollo missions, I realized I had to learn all I could about astronomy. Most importantly, I decided to become a scientist. And through good fortune and a fair amount of work, I got to make a career as a research scientist – in geology rather than in astronomy, but my fascination with astronomy never left.
Is astronomy important? I really don’t know. But science and science literacy certainly is, and quite possibly the James Webb Space Telescope will attract the general public to find out more. People will look at the beautiful images and ask what is going on. They will learn about how 30 years of science and engineering went into producing the images. They will find out about the scientific edifice which has built up over millennia to place the new research in context.
The first batch of images masterfully span the range of subjects that the space telescope will research: the birth of stars, the death of stars, the structure of galaxies, and the early universe. The fifth image, or actually spectrum, reveals an application that could only have been dreamed of when the instrument was designed – composition of an exoplanet spectrum.
They weren’t even sure that exoplanets could be located when the space telescope was first designed. We amateur astronomers get to play an important role as more space telescope data get released. Let’s keep up with the research and help our wider community understand what it means. Let’s help with outreach events whenever possible. Let’s do astronomy.
On that note, the Victoria Centre Astro Café went virtual for two years. It was a tonic to our isolated lives during the worst of the covid-19 pandemic. Many thanks to Chris Purse and Joe Carr for their devoted work to keep Astro Café up and running so well! In May, we ran our first attempts at hybrid meetings, in person at the Fairfield Community Centre and online over Zoom. The response has been very positive, and we will continue the hybrid Astro Café format every Monday evening (except statutory holidays) at 19:30 starting September 12. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. The roles are not onerous, but they are essential. Each evening we will need a host and a tech. Please be brave. Please be generous.
This week, the citizens of the Earth were given a wonderful present. The Gaia Data Release 3 was publicized at 9 UT, June 13. And yes I was awake at 2 in the morning to watch the event. The Gaia satellite has been mapping 2 billion (!!!) points of lights in the sky – stars, galaxies, quasars, and solar system objects. They are measuring positions, distances, motions, colours, and spectra. For an Astro Café talk I prepared about the Gaia Data Release 2, I displayed a plot of the number and angular precision of catalogued stars. From the Hipparchus’ catalog of 1000 stars in 150 BCE to the best Earth-based collections from last century, there was a continuous but slow improvement. But with space-based measurements over the last 20 years, the catalogs have improved by orders of magnitude! And Gaia should continue collecting data through to 2025 to continue this trend.
The branch of amateur astronomy pejoratively labeled “armchair astronomy” sounds very passive, but we delight in the personal journey to discovery, which the professional astronomers afford us by collecting and analysing these extreme data sets. One of my passions is following the trajectory of knowledge from the early astronomical observations to the present. For example, I love to learn how the first stellar spectra measured in the 19th century led to Annie Jump Cannon’s stellar classifications (Only Bad Astronomers Forget Generally Known Mnemonics), leading to the Hertzsprung-Russell colour-magnitude diagram, and further leading to amazing insights such as the age of stars. And now such analyses can be extended to hundreds of millions of stars with the public release of the Gaia data.
The Gaia mission is akin to a gothic cathedral. It is a huge edifice, erected with major societal investment that was accomplished by many, many ordinary people who each do their small part. This edifice is a public good which inspires, and makes us bigger and better human beings.
Every year, the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada sponsors two awards at the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair. Well, not every year – we missed the last two years because of covid. This year, the Science Fair was virtual and about one quarter the size of the pre-covid event – 52 projects – with 6 assessed to be on astronomical or astronomy-adjacent themes. Many thanks to our representatives, Dorothy Paul and David Lee, for interviewing the students and arriving at their decisions. Each winner received a recognition certificate, a RASC family membership (for the student and one adult), a copy of Explore the Universe, and the offer of a classroom visit from our Schools Programs officers. We also invited the prize winners to present their projects at the Astro Café.
Grade 7 student Beata Ariana-Minniti created a very clever solar heat collector, coupled to a battery charger. Nathan Hellner-Mestelman (Grade 9) worked out the optimal orbit for cube-sats to avoid chain-reaction collisions. These students wowed us with their presentations at the Astro Café. Nathan was included in Team Vancouver Island at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and went on to win a silver medal.
As this year of Astro Cafés come to a close, we should all thank Joe Carr and Chris Purse for getting us through the fully online times and the transition to hybrid meetings. We have grown closer, despite the isolation of the last couple of years, because of their efforts. We’ll see you again at Astro Café starting in September. It is essential that we get more people to step up to help continue the Astro Café.
I want to congratulate our strong community who pulled together to put on all the facets that went into International Astronomy Day on May 7. We did not have much time to organize, as we did not even know if there would be in-person events until March. David Lee and Laurie Roche coordinated our volunteers wonderfully. There are others among you who are perfectly capable and I hope willing to take on their roles for future events. Astronomy outreach is very satisfying. Let’s share the load in making these opportunities happen.
The amateur astronomy community in Victoria is strong. Our club is extremely fortunate to have sufficient funds to make fund-raising unnecessary and sufficient volunteers to put on several high quality events. We are not lacking a strong Board and Council. Nevertheless, some members are not joining in, I think because they have not imagined that their contribution would be valuable and fun. Let me assure you that indeed you will get more out of such volunteerism than you put in.
On Sunday, May 15th, 2022, we will be able to view a total eclipse of the Moon (weather permitting) from Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The Moon will be in full eclipse after rising from the southeastern horizon, remaining fully eclipsed for about an hour before transitioning into a partial phase as it climbs in altitude and moves to the south. The Lunar Eclipse will end just before midnight.
This is a perfect opportunity to visually observe this beautiful celestial event, and possibly capture some photographs from a location with an unobstructed view to the east and south.
Total Eclipse Begins
8:42PM – probably visible 10-15 mins later
Total Eclipse Ends
Partial Eclipse Ends
Above Eclipse times are for Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) for the west coast of North America, and are calculated from UT as presented in the Observers Handbook 2022, pages 127-131.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon. During a lunar eclipse the Moon’s position traverses the Earth’s shadow. The Moon’s first contact with the Earth’s shadow is at the outer band of the shadow called the penumbra. The light falling on the Moon is progressively blocked until at the moment of total eclipse the Moon is completely in the darkest central area of the Earth’s shadow called the umbra. At the point of total eclipse the process starts to reverse itself until the Moon is totally out of the Earth’s shadow.
limb – the outer edge of the Moon
penumbra – the outer band of the Earth’s shadow
umbra – the darker central area of the Earth’s shadow
partial eclipse – the Moon is positioned within the penumbra
total eclipse – the Moon is positioned totally within the umbra
What do you need?
Everything from your eyes, binoculars and telescope are suitable. Bear in mind this is a long process, so dress warmly and bring a chair if you want to be comfortable.
Find yourself a location that has a clear horizon view to the east and south especially if you wish to view the early fully-eclipsed stage. Observing from a hill will help you spot the rising Moon earlier than if you observe from lower elevations or sea level.
Keep a log of what you see and note the time. Pay attention to how much of the light on the moon is obscured and if there are any colouration changes. During the total eclipse the Moon will take on a deep orange-red colour. The colour of the Moon is a function of contaminants in the atmosphere and varies from year to year.
A good observing project for this long-lasting eclipse will be to observe the craters on the Moon as the eclipse progresses. Craters will be immersed and emerge from the Earth’s shadow on the Moon at times specified in the Observers Handbook 2022, page 131.
Any camera with the capability of setting shutter speeds and aperture settings manually will do fine. The ability to use interchangeable lenses will be an advantage for more detailed images of the Moon. For the darker parts of the eclipse, eg. totality you should use a tripod support for best results. If you have access to a telescope you can try capturing the event using prime focus techniques through the telescope optics.
Today’s digital cameras are very sensitive to light reflected by the Moon. Use ISO 400 to ISO 800 and a long telephoto lens or zoom setting. Smartphones and point-and-shoot digital cameras will not produce rewarding photos of the eclipsed Moon, but can be useful for taking panoramic shots of your surroundings which include the eclipsed Moon.
Technique for smartphone cameras
Smartphone cameras typically do not support manual settings, so using them to capture a lunar eclipse will be less rewarding than using more capable cameras. That said, smartphone cameras can be held up to a telescope eyepiece to capture an image of the Moon. Aligning the tiny lens to the eyepiece can be tricky, however there are platforms made to clamp onto an eyepiece barrel which will hold smartphones steady enough to take acceptable photos of the Moon, including the eclipsed Moon.
Technique for interchangeable lens cameras
The simplest eclipse pictures can be taken with manual settings on your camera and a normal lens, preferably supported by a tripod. For best results use a cable release to minimize vibration. Images taken in this fashion result in a small lunar image. This is why it is preferable to use a telephoto lens to photograph the Moon.
For a full frame camera try a 200mm lens or even better, a 500mm lens or higher. You may also use teleconverters to increase magnification, these typically come in 1.4x and 2x strengths. Their downside is they reduce the effective aperture of your optical system. A 1.4x teleconverter will decrease your effective exposure by 1 stop, a 2x teleconverter will decrease your effective exposure by 2 stops. Work out your effective aperture of your optical system ahead of time so you don’t have to think about it on the night of the eclipse.
Note for the smaller sub-full frame sensors of some digital cameras you gain an extra advantage as the focal length of the lens is effectively magnified by a factor. For example a Nikon DX body your 200mm lens would be effectively 300mm.
APS-C Nikon DX, Pentax : 1.5x
APS-C Canon EF-S : 1.6x
Four Thirds : 2x
Effective Focal Length with 2x teleconvertor
Effective Aperture with 2x teleconvertor
To achieve any higher magnification than what is stated above you will have to use a telescope at prime focus. For this your manual camera does need to have the capability of using interchangeable lenses. For prime focus you will use the telescope optics as your interchangeable lens. To attach your camera to your telescope you will need two things a T-adapter that fits your camera and a telescope camera adapter that fits your telescope.
The telescope camera adapter is designed to fit in the focusing tube of your telescope and is threaded to accept the T-adapter of your camera. With the magnification involved with telescopic optics it is likely that you will need to use a tracking mount. Preferably the mount should be able to track at lunar speed as opposed to sidereal but if the shutter speeds chosen are shorter than 1 or 2 minutes this is not critical.
Exposure times are the next consideration. The following exposure times are based on a medium ISO setting and an effective aperture that would be common with a long telephoto and teleconverter combination. Exposures may vary with your equipment based on ISO speed and effective aperture. The Danjon Lunar Eclipse Luminosity Scale has been included to provide better guesstimates for totality.
Exposure Times: based on ISO 400
1/500 second at f/16
1/250 second at f/16 see note 1.
1 second at f/16 see note 2.
Totality *see table below
L = 4 :
4 seconds at f16
L = 3:
15 seconds at f16
L = 2:
1 minute at f16
L = 1:
4 minutes at f16
1 second at f/16 see note 2.
1/250 second at f/16 see note 1.
* Danjon Lunar Eclipse Luminosity Scale
L = 1
dark eclipse; lunar surface details distinguishable only with difficultly
L = 2
deep red or rust coloured eclipse; central part of the umbra dark but outer rim relatively bright
L = 3
brick-red eclipse; usually with a brighter (frequently yellow) rim to the umbra
L = 4
very bright copper-red or orange eclipse, with a bluish, very bright umbral rim
Note 1. 1st and 4th contact times given for the partial phases are biased for the light part of the Moon. Remember you are dealing with vastly different exposures between the light and dark parts of the Moon during eclipse. The bias of about 1 stop minus avoids overexposure of the dominant bright area of the Moon.
Note 2. 2nd and 3rd contact times given for the partial phases are biased for the dark part of the Moon. The bias of about 1 stop plus is a good strategy for negative film not quite so good for slides and digital capture given they don’t tolerate overexposure well.
The exposure times are only recommendations. Remember the cardinal rule about photography … bracket. Always try exposures plus and minus your chosen exposure. This gives you a better chance at getting usable results. Let’s all hope for clear weather. If you have any questions please send email to David Lee at email@example.com.
David Lee – original text Joe Carr – updated for 2022 Brenda Stuart – illustrations
What is it that links our community together? Every year, we recognize a few members of the Victoria Centre and present them awards of appreciation and excellence. We announced the recipients at the Annual General Meeting. I had the pleasure last week of driving around Victoria handing out their framed certificates. I enjoyed seeing these stellar members of our community in their home settings. It is one of the great privileges of being president. Everyone was proud and delighted, and often surprised at the recognition. We are far greater than the sum of our parts. These members have gone an extra length to make our community stronger and more active. Thank-you!
We have a wide range of backgrounds and interests. We spend our time with a variety of aspects spanning the range of amateur astronomy. I particularly like the feeling of connection with people around the world and throughout time. Some are interested to produce the best image of an astronomical object. Some are keen to know their way around the constellations.
There is a huge hunger for astronomical knowledge out there in the bigger public. This was made very clear this last week with front page articles and television features about our friend and astro- buddy Sid Sidhu; on the occasion of having an asteroid named after him. Sid has been central to our public outreach and society in- reach activities over a period of decades!
What is it that links our community together is that the wonders of the sky fill us with awe and with pleasure.
A colleague recently told me that my family name, Enkin, in Japanese literally means “near-far” (遠近). One sense of the Japanese word “enkin” is “perspective”; another is “bifocal glasses”. My colleague flatteringly suggested that if we could get some of our other colleagues to spend time wearing Enkin glasses, we could probably quickly achieve consensus regarding a scientific controversy that we have been involved in for the last 30 years.
One of the joys of astronomy is using our knowledge of what is near to help us understand what is far. For me, my training as a geologist gives me a fair amount of knowledge concerning how the earth works and this informs my way at looking at astronomical objects. In my Astro Café presentations, I try to help the rest of you to see my perspective on various astronomical topics.
Everybody in the Victoria Centre has something important to contribute. You all have your personal interests and experiences, which informs what you see and understand in our common interest of astronomy. It would be wonderful to hear more of you at the Astro Café. I am quite sure our wonderful SkyNews editor would love to receive more articles for this newsletter! Presentations do not have to be polished, nor original. Your perspective is what we value. In my experience, I see that we are a particularly patient and accepting audience.
So, put on some Enkin glasses. Take joy in what you see and share it with our community. We will all learn to see your subject with a new perspective, and we will gain a better appreciation of each other. Thank you all for accepting and supporting me through my first year as President of the Victoria Centre. It is an honour to be part of this long-running institution. I look forward to year two, with lots more activities – sometimes even in person! I look forward to getting to know more of you and sharing our mutual appreciation of the wonders of the sky.