President’s Message – March 2021

Posted by as President's Message

The RASC Victoria Centre welcomed me 3 years ago. I was asked to give a talk about my moon observations at the Astrocafe, and then I became a regular. Now you have given me the opportunity and challenge to be this community’s president.

Ten-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Hamilton, Ontario, 1970-07-10. (Photo credit, Eleanor Enkin)
Ten-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Hamilton, Ontario, 1970-07-10. (Photo credit, Eleanor Enkin)

Astronomy has been a big part of my life since I was 8 years old, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. While my friends wanted to become astronauts, my attention was on the people on the ground who were so enthusiastic about the science, and I decided I would become an astronomer. The path one walks in life is seldom a straight line, and mine brought me to earth science. I am a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada, studying the physical properties of rocks and sediments. But I have always dabbled in astronomy.

Fifty-six-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Victoria B.C., 2017-08-21. (Photo credit, Randy Enkin)
Fifty-six-year-old Randy projecting the solar eclipse in Victoria B.C., 2017-08-21. (Photo credit, Randy Enkin)

I have learned during the last three years that the amateur astronomy community comprises people with a wide range of interests, skills, and levels, but with a common passion to enjoy and share the sky. I have been involved with many volunteer organizations, and my impression is that the RASC Victoria Centre has an extremely high level of volunteerism and mutual support. During my tenure as president, I hope to help nurture this spirit, and support our ongoing inreach and outreach efforts within the broader Victoria Astronomy community. I look forward to getting to know more of you and learn what aspects of astronomy bring you joy and fulfilment.

It is fun to see the various ways astronomy-buffs sign off their letters. “Clear Skies” is wonderful. My predecessor liked “Usable Skies”. My sign-off comes from a note my sister has posted over her computer to remind her to get away from it as often as possible. I like the many meanings these two words hold for us:

Look Up

Randy Enkin

Astronomy Cafe – March 15, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

Presentations and discussion

  • International Women scientists – Ken Atkinson
    • Oral histories/interviews at the National Science Foundation website – Vera Rubin & Helen Hogg
    • Amalie Emmy Noether – showed mathematically the conservation of energy – Theoretical Minimum
    • Augusta Ada King – ADA computer language, worked with Charles Babbage as the first computer programmer
    • Mary Somerville – first female member of the RAS same time as Caroline Herschel. Wrote translation of La Place’s book The Mechanism of the Heavens into English.
    • Alexander von Humboldt – brilliant lecturer at the university he founded in 1812. Took magnetometer measurements in his worldwide travels. His books are free on Google Books.
    • Ken’s Women In Science presentation with media and links – PDF (837 kb)
  • Stars in Motion – Randy Enkin
    • 2012 Don Petit photo from the ISS – star trails around the axis of the Space Station
  • The Sky This Week – Randy Enkin
    • This Week’s Sky from Skynews
    • March Equinox – the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – equal day and night
    • Lunar X visible on March 20th, but it’s a bit early for Victoria at 6:30PM
    • Vesta asteroid can be observed with binoculars over the next few days – Bill Weir
  • First Steps of Perseverance rover on Mars – Reg Dunkley
    • Proposed route for the mission
    • High resolution photos
  • AAVSO – Reg Dunkley
    • Comparing CCD and CMOS Sensors –  Arne Henden
    • K2 Rotation Rates in Young Clusters – Dr. Luisa Rebull
    • Good starter program for amateurs to get started measuring variable stars
  • Slooh – David Lee
    • Acquiring southern hemisphere images
    • Quests – active learning programs
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Makers SIG is kicking off this week
    • Other SIGs are enjoyable and motivating
  • Antikythera Mechanism – Garry Sedun
    • An ancient Greek hand-powered orrery mechanism
    • Experts finally figured out how it works and have a digital model of it
  • Skynews Managing Editor Allendria Brunjes will present at next week’s at Astro Cafe

Astronomy Cafe – Monday March 8th 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Video transcript of the meeting

Virtual Messier Marathon: Saturday March 13th

Mount Lemmon Sky Centre near Tucson Arizona is hosting a Virtual Messier Marathon starting at 5PM PST on Saturday March 13th. Learn more

Hear all about Cosmic Dust at UVic Observatory Open House Wednesday March 10th

You are invited to a UVic Observatory Open House Zoom Presentation by Dr. Gordon Walker at 7:30 PM PST on Wednesday March 10th. Join the Zoom Session

Astronomy Cafe – March 1st 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Transcript video of the meeting

The Invisible Universe: A Perimeter Institute Webcast 4PM PST March 3rd

The Perimeter Institute is offering a webcast by Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University. To learn more click this link.

Steward Observatory Newsletter March 2021

Check out this link to view the rich offerings of the Steward Observatory Newsletter!

Some Award Winning Victoria Centre RASCals

Awards were announced at the Victoria Centre Annual General Meeting on February 22nd. Because the meeting was held by Zoom these patient RASCals did not actually receive their certificates until Monday March 1st. Photos of three of the recipients are included. Awards were also delivered to Dave Robinson and Joe Carr but delivery man Past President Reg Dunkley was too busy chatting and forgot to snap their photos. Because Dan Posey was hard at work, his Astro-Imaging award will be delivered at a later date. Congratulations to all!

Alec Lee displays his 2020 Award of Excellence in Astrophotography for his wonderful photo of Comet Neowise complete with a Reflection in Thetis Lake
Chris Gainor, wearing a special Hubble Telescope mask, displays his certificate of Recognition for his contribution to the history of astronomy and space technology by authoring Not Yet Imagined: A Study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations
Chris Purse holds his coveted Newton Ball Award for Distinguished Service to the Victoria Centre RASC

Virtual Tour of SLOOH Observatories at 7:30 PM PDT on Wednesday March 3rd

Karun Thanjuvar, host of the UVic Observatory Open House writes: I am really excited to let you know that this week at the UVic observatory open house, Wed 7:30-9pm, the Chief Astronomical Officer, Paul Cox, of the SLOOH observatories will give a virtual tour and demo with live sky viewing using their seven robotic telescopes in Canary Islands and Chile. Come learn about SLOOH and all its capabilities to explore space.
Wed, 7:30-9pm, UVic observatory open house
Please join on UVic Zoom:
https://uvic.zoom.us/j/93596786035?pwd=SytMSzRlZERrdjFTM0V4bytNTWtoZz09
Meeting ID: 935 9678 6035
Password: 566494

Learn more about SLOOH here.

Annual General Meeting – Feb 22, 2021

Posted by as Meetings

Video transcript of AGM

RASC Victoria Center AGM at 7:30PM Monday Feb 22nd

One Sky Many Astronomies: Talk at 3PM, Tuesday March 2nd

Indigenous star lore expert Wilfred Buck will give a public (virtual) talk sponsored by the UVic Astronomy Research Centre. This is a free public talk intended for an audience at all levels. Date: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 Time: 3:00 pm PST Registration: Free, but please register in advance:

https://uvic.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pYskIDWHTrazq-4c09vDbQ

“Every culture in the Northern Hemisphere saw the same sky at night, and they all have their own constellations, mythologies, and teachings,” says Wilfred Buck. Furthermore, “star stories are part of our belief system. Knowledge of the stars is found in many aspects of our culture including storytelling, symbolism, and religious traditions”.

We are fortunate to have Wilfred Buck joining us to discuss astronomy and the deep knowledge that First Nations people have about the sky. In First Nations communities, each star is part of a story, sometimes many stories, which convey cultural traditions and knowledge. In this seminar, Wilfred will discuss his research into the astronomical knowledge of the Ininewuk, Lakota, and Anishinaabe Peoples.

About the Speaker: Wilfred Buck is a former science facilitator at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and an Indigenous star lore expert, known as “the star guy”. Wilfred was co-curator of an exhibit featuring constellations of Canada’s indigenous cultures at Ottawa’s Canada Science and Technology Museum (2018), and he served as a storyteller and content expert in the 22-minute film “Legends of the Northern Sky,” shown at Telus World of Science in Edmonton (2019). He is author of Tipiskawi Kisik: Night Sky Star Stories and I Have Lived Four Lives, and can be contacted at https://acakwuskwun.com/

Astro Cafe – Monday February 8th 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Video transcript of meeting

Vera Rubin Observatory Zoom Presentation Wed February 10th at 7:30PM

The UVic Observatory Open House invites you to a Zoom Presentation by Dr. Zeljko Ivezic entitled “The Greatest Movie of All Time“. As Project Scientist and Deputy Director of Construction of the Rubin Observatory and he will provide detailed insight into the design and construction of this absolutely fascinating telescope.

To Join the Zoom Meeting click the following link:
https://uvic.zoom.us/j/93596786035?pwd=SytMSzRlZERrdjFTM0V4bytNTWtoZz09

Meeting ID: 935 9678 6035
Password: 566494

How to Photograph ISS: A tutorial by Abdur Anwar

Edmonton RASCal Abdur Anwar continues to capture amazing images of the International Space Station by manually tracking his Celestron 8 Inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope. He has developed a very interesting and useful You Tube tutorial on not only how to locate and photograph the ISS but also how to process the image using 3 powerful programs call PPIP, AutoStakkert3 and Registax. Abdur suggests that a Dobsonian telescope may also be well suited for this task. Check out Abdur’s tutorial here: https://youtu.be/GSXRoo2c0s8

ISS captured by Abdur Anwar using a C8 SCT with 2x barlow, Fuji XT2, and a manual mount

Ice Sculpture Poses with Aurora at Minus 39

Edmonton RASCal Warren Findlay braved frigid temperatures to capture a beautiful image of the aurora and ice sculpture at the following link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/87433604@N05/50919180086/in/dateposted-public/

Fascinating JPL Documentary Series

Chris Gainor recommended a very interesting series of documentaries on the role of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the Space Age. If you are a fan of the history rocket and spacecraft technology then beware before clicking the following link. It is binge worthy.

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/who-we-are/documentary-series-jpl-and-the-space-age

Astronomy today, Framing the Future: Thurs, Feb 11th at 4PM PDT

Dark matter. Humans on the Moon. Black holes and exoplanets. They’re hot topics in the news, and it just so happens women are discussing them. Join us for a panel discussion that passes the Bechdel Test, bringing four great Canadian minds together to talk about observational astronomy, cosmology, astroparticle theory, planetary geology and the future of science that is out of this world.
The panel is presented by The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and SkyNews. Hosted and moderated by SkyNews editor-in-chief Allendria Brunjes and RASC outreach co-ordinator Jenna Hinds, RASC Next Gen committee chair Emilie Laflèche and RASC Diversity and Inclusivity committee chair Roland Dechesne will be moderating audience discussion.
Register here to attend on Zoom, or watch live on our YouTube channel.

Astronomy Cafe – Monday February 1st 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Transcript video of the meeting.

Family Portrait of the Neighbourhood

The Solar Orbiter Probe captures remarkable image of Earth together with it’s neighbours Venus and Mars. Check out the following link: https://www.sciencealert.com/photo-snapped-by-solar-orbiter-shows-venus-earth-and-mars-gleaming-like-stars

Cool Edmonton Morning and Other Images from Prairie RASCals

Alister Ling Captures Moonset on a Frosty Friday Morning (January 29th)

Abdur Anwar Captures Remarkable Closeup of ISS
Abdur writes: After several years and many attempts, I finally managed to get a shot of the ISS where it wasn’t a blurry mess. I can actually identify individual modules on the space station. Now that I have worked out the settings after a lot of trial and error, I can focus on actually imaging the station. Looking forward to the next attempt with a barlow. Hand tracked with my trusty C8 on a manual alt-az mount. I used my Fuji XT2 camera in video mode to capture frames.
Roman Unyk Hard At Work Building Edmonton 32 Inch Reflector
Drive Wheel Drive wheel and sector with rims tack welded on before final welding and heat treatment
Drive wheel, post heat treatment, showing the amount of deformation caused by rim material shrinkage.

New 130 mm Refractor Placed On VCO Mount

Dan Posey and Matt Watson attached the Takahashi TOA 130 S refractor to the tube of the OGS 12.5 Inch RC reflector. They are now balanced on the Paramount ME Mount at the VCO. Funding has been approved to purchase components to attach existing Feather Touch focuser to the refractor as well as a focal reducer that will allow it to function in both f/7.7 and f/5.4 modes.

President’s Message – February 2021

Posted by as News, President's Message

President’s Message February 2021

Much has happened since my previous monthly message. South of the border there was an attempted insurrection, an impeachment and an inauguration of a more temperate leader. North of the border, “NOT YET IMAGINED” the much anticipated study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations authored by Victoria Centre RASCal Chris Gainor was released. Click here for a free download. The Victoria Centre also acquired a beautiful 130 mm Takahashi refractor to pair with the OGS 12.5 inch reflector at the Victoria Centre Observatory. Meanwhile the Covid Vaccine inoculation program is gaining momentum. So one can sense a tentative positive vibe and some are speaking of a “light at the end of the tunnel”. Let us hope that the light is a very faint star “light months” away and not some bright star “light years” distant.

The compelling political drama and Dr. Bonnie’s updates have hijacked our attention and robbed us of that non renewable resource called “time”. The impact of this time theft is apparent in my household as copies of Sky and Telescope and the Journal of RASC lie half read. And then there are the many quality astronomical presentations on You Tube that I never got around to watching. While the face to face outreach activities have ground to a halt astronomical discoveries continue and the recording of Zoom presentations have significantly increased the amount of information available to digest.

So we are presented with a challenge. How should we ration our dwindling amount of time and how much of that should be devoted to astronomy? This, of course, is a highly individual choice. I hope the word ‘joy” is at the heart of the decision and includes the joy experienced observing the night sky, the joy of learning new things, the joy of improving our understanding, the joy of unravelling mysteries and the joy of sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm with others. Another key word is “satisfaction” which for instance can be applied to the satisfaction derived from knowing our way around the night sky, the satisfaction of acquiring skills to photograph and sketch astronomical treasures, the satisfaction of mastering a technology and the satisfaction of understanding the theory which explains what we see or detect. And don’t forget the “energy” required to make it happen and the “curiosity” to learn more. If you think of astronomy as a giant smorgasbord, the challenge is to load our plate with nourishing ingredients while trying to minimize overindulgence.

During my term as Victoria Centre President I witnessed the diversity in the appetites displayed by RASCals as they have loaded up their plates at this smorgasbord. I have been inspired by the discipline of many who systematically work on observing lists, the dedication of some to improve their astrophotography skills and the time and energy that others devote to education and outreach. I am also very appreciative of the community of professional astronomers for sharing their knowledge and research with the Victoria Centre. It has been a joy to get to know our amazing group of RASCals better and I am thankful to so many for their cooperation and support while I have been at the helm. It has been an honour to serve and I encourage you to attend our Zoom AGM on Monday, February 22nd to select our next President and Victoria Centre Council. Let us hope that we will be able to gather in person by this time next year.

Stay Well … and oh yes

Usable Skies

Reg Dunkley

Astronomy Cafe – Monday January 25th 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Meeting transcript video

Introduction to Amateur Astronomy – Part 1: Our Place Among the Infinities – an unlisted video by the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society

Some Successful Urban Astrophotography – Dan Posey

Despite the glare of car dealerships, the rumble of traffic and polar alignment challenges Dan Posey persevered and obtained remarkable results.

Seagull Nebula (IC 2177)
This is 4h25m (75x3m and 80x30s) of exposures with my Askar FRA600 and Canon Ra at iso 1600 using a Hutech NB1 filter from downtown. I calibrated with bias and flat frames and stacked/processed in Pixinsight.
Horsehead Nebula (B33, IC434) 6 hours
I managed to capture another three hours of exposure on the Horsehead using a longer dew shield made out of some parcel envelopes to stop flaring from the car dealership lights.
This is 5h45m of 3 minute frames (115x3m) from our downtown balcony captured on January 16 and 18 2021 using an Askar 108mm, Canon Ra at iso 800 on the first night and 1600 the second night, and a Hutech NB1 filter.

The Crater Clavius by Pen and Pixel – Randy Enkin & Mike Nash

The Crater Clavius at 9 PM PST January 22nd 2021
This image of the Crater Clavius was taken by Mike Nash within an hour of Randy Enkin’s sketch of the same object. There is an amazing correspondence between the features and shadows drawn by Randy and the image captured by Mike.

Edmonton RASCals Go Deep: relayed by Dave Robinson

The Leo Quartet or Hickson 44 by Abdur Anwar
Abdur writes: I decided to image the faint Leo Quartet of galaxies in Leo. This was a target that I had wanted to image for many years now but it is a difficult one so I decided to keep learning and improving before attempting it. This group is also known as Hickson 44 (after Canadian astronomer Paul Hickson). The four gravitationally linked galaxies are about 100 million light years away. The brightest galaxy in the center is NGC3190 and the S shaped spiral is NGC3187. The bright elliptical at the top left is NGC 3193 and the galaxy on the bottom right is NGC3185. These galaxies are between 57,000 and 100,000 light years across and are fairly small at an angular size of 3.5-4.4 arc minutes. Their magnitudes range from 10.88 to 13.44. In the full size image, there are hundreds of background galaxies visible with many of them being up to 2.9 billion light years away. For this image, I took 1 hour and 34 minutes of 30s subs with the asi1600mm and my C11 Edge at F2. This is a center crop from the full size image. The images were stacked in DSS and processed in Pixinsight.
The Medusa Nebula by Abdur Anwar
Abdur writes: The Medusa Nebula is also known as Abell 21 and Sharpless 2-274. It was only discovered in 1955 and classified as a planetary nebula in the 1970s. It is quite large at 10 arc minutes in diameter but has a very low surface brightness. For this image, I took 1 hour and 18 minutes of 30s subs with the asi1600mm and my C11 Edge at F2.
Lower’s Nebula by Arnold Rivera on January 15th 2021
Arnold writes: I imaged this ‘bright’ (v=+10.0) and medium-sized (30.0’ x 15.0’) found between the red giant Betelgeuse and the border of Gemini. Lower’s Nebula is an H-II region on the border of the galactic region between the Orion and Perseus arms. Because of the more popular objects in Orion, this nebula is rarely shown in a list of DSO’s in this area of the sky. It was discovered by Harold Lower and his son Charles in 1939. My 2-degree fov image below is shown with the nearby 4th magnitude stars: Nu Orionis (lower right) snd f1 Orionis (upper left):

Astronomy Cafe – Monday January 18th 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe, Meetings

Transcript video of this meeting

FDAO Virtual Star Party – 7 PM Saturday January 23rd

The Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory are inviting you to their virtual star party which begins at 7PM on Saturday, January 23rd.

Pan-STARRS Observer, Thomas Lowe will deliver an interesting presentation entitled:

PAN-STARRS – A MAUI MARVEL

The PANoramic Survey Telescope And Rapid Response System is a world class facility on the summit of Haleakala that has made significant contributions to the field of astronomy. The Pan-STARRS project consists of two 2m-class wide field telescopes each equipped with giga-pixel CCD cameras. The observing strategy is optimized to search the sky for transient objects. PS1 has been collecting science data since 2010 and PS2 was commissioned in the spring of 2018. This talk will highlight some of its scientific achievements.

Click this Zoom Link to join the party. If you get prompted for a password, it’s May061918

Victoria Centre is forming Special Interest Groups

THIS JUST IN! Due, in large part to the initiative of Victoria Centre RASCal David Lee, the Victoria Centre is planning to establish a number of Special Interest Groups. Click this link to learn more.

New Refractor Arrives at Victoria Centre Observatory

The Victoria Centre acquired a beautiful Takahashi TAO 130 S refractor on Monday. This 130 mm F7.7 refractor has a focal length of 1000 mm. The apochromatic triplet objective is made of extra low dispersion FPL52 and FPL53 O’Hara glass which minimizes chromatic aberration. This scope will be attached to the tube of the 12.5 Inch F8.6 OGS Richey Chretien reflector that is installed on the robust Paramount ME mount.

Victoria Centre RASCal and Port Alberni resident Mike Krempotic is the previous owner of this refractor. It is in mint condition and Mike kindly drove down from Port Alberni on Monday morning and delivered it to the VCO. Due to COVID restrictions it may take a while for this scope to be fully commissioned but it will be an exciting addition to the VCO.

While on site, Mike, an enthusiastic owner of Obsession Dobsonian reflectors, inspected our 20 Inch Obsession, made some adjustments and provided a number of valuable suggestions to improve the performance of this scope. We will be installing Argo Navis setting circles to this reflector soon which promises to allow celestial objects to be located quickly and accurately.

Victoria RASCal Mike Krempotic Delivers Takahashi Refractor to VCO
The New Takahashi TOA 130S swaddled in foam
Mike Krempotic checks out our 20 Inch Obsession Dobsonian

BC Yukon Science Virtual Science Fair Looking for Judges

Every year, science fairs offer thousands of students in BC and Yukon the opportunity to develop original scientific research, innovative projects and 21st century learning skills. Students who develop science fair projects enjoy project-based learning that extends science beyond the classroom and encourages curiosity about topics of personal interest. The finalists of our provincial/territorial science fairs receive awards, scholarships and recognition for their achievements. Finalist status is also a prerequisite for competition at the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
Judging is the highlight of the science fair experience for many students. Students love the opportunity to exchange ideas with specialists in their field. In return, most judges find talking with science fair participants to be a very positive experience. The energy, enthusiasm and inspiration students bring to their projects is contagious.
In the midst of COVID-19, the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair is joining other science fairs across BC and Yukon in a fully virtual science fair. This is to ensure that every student across our province and territory has an opportunity to compete safely in a science fair this year.

As a judge of the 2021 BC/Yukon Virtual Science Fair, we ask that you:

· Register for judging by the deadline of Monday, February 15

Registration information includes contact details and questions about experience, qualifications, preferences (age categories, topics of interest), and availability, and should take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Register here.

· Join us for judge training during the period of February 15-28

Judge training will occur virtually at your convenience and will take no more than 30 minutes.