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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Lee – original text Joe Carr – updated for 2022 Brenda Stuart – illustrations
After visiting our Astronomy Day in Victoria event, please let us know what you thought – survey – thanks!
We host public events with measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Please do not come if you are sick or have been recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. We strongly recommend wearing masks while inside buildings with crowds. Wearing masks in public indoor settings is not required by BC public health. Wearing a mask is a personal choice.
Asteroid Hunters – IMAX Theatre (admission applies)
Narrated by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), Asteroid Hunters ventures into deep space for a fascinating look at asteroids, their cosmic origins and the potential threat they pose to our world.
Written and produced by Phil Groves, produced by Jini Durr and directed by W.D. Hogan, Asteroid Hunters introduces asteroid scientists – the best line of defense between Earth and an asteroid’s destructive path – and reveals the cutting-edge tools and techniques they use to detect and track asteroids, and the technology that may one day protect our planet. The effects of an asteroid impact could be catastrophic and while the current probability of an event in our lifetime is low, the potential consequences make the study of asteroids an incredibly important area of scientific research. Witness the latest in planetary defense and how science, ingenuity and determination combine to explore the world’s most preventable natural disaster.
The party begins at 4 pm PDT on Zoom with a pre-recorded talk and a live Q&A with Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques from the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal! Following the Q&A, at 5 pm PDT, we will start our National Livestream on both Zoom and Youtube, featuring live views of the Moon from across Canada (including Victoria), RASC Member’s moon content, and more! Register here
Reserve Your Tickets (free) – only ticket holders will be admitted to this evening event. (Daytime events at the Museum do not require tickets!)
Plaskett telescope tours
Observing through telescopes
Presentation – 8:30PM & 9:30PM – The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope – Dr. Chris Gainor
Summary: The stories of the two largest space telescopes: The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 and is still operating after 32 years, and the James Webb Space Telescope, which is about to begin operations in space after its launch last December 25.
Biography: Christopher Gainor is a historian of technology specializing in space exploration and aeronautics. He has written four books on the history of space exploration and two on Cold War history. His most recent book is a history of Hubble Space Telescope operations published by NASA. Gainor is editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly. From 2018 to 2020, he was President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and he is a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Gainor holds a Ph.D. in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has worked as a history instructor at the University of Victoria and the Royal Military College of Canada.
Chris Boar is a self professed Apollo program space nerd, having met 12 Apollo astronauts including 4 moonwalkers. This presentation is about his visit to Johnson Space Center in Houston back in November 2019, interspersed with tales of meeting the Apollo Astronauts. Chris attended the JSC Level 9 VIP tour, which includes visits to NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, where current astronauts train for spacewalks. Also visiting “Building 9” containing mockups of the International Space Station, Soyuz, and SpaceX hardware. And finally visiting the current ISS Mission Control Center, and personal highlight of the tour for Chris, stepping inside the recently restored historic Apollo Mission Control room, a designated US National historic landmark.
Chris Boar is the President of the Nanaimo Astronomy Society and an avid Apollo space nerd along with being a keen astrophotographer. Chris is a full time professional photographer living in Nanaimo shooting weddings and real estate.
2019 visit to Johnson Space Center in Houston
VIP Level 9 Tour – 4-5 hours
Lunar Exploration Module (LEM)
Neutral Buoyancy Lab
Met Micheal Collins: Gemini 10, Apollo 11
ISS Mission Control
Saturn V rocket with F1 engines
Apollo 8 mission
Jim Lovell – Gemini 7, 12, Apollo 8, 13
Space Vehicle Mockup building – ISS, SpaceX, Soyuz
Apollo 9 mission
Alan Bean, Apollo 12 LMP, Skylab II
Restored historic Apollo Mission Control room – all original and working consoles
Apollo 13 mission – Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert
Apollo 15 mission – Dave Scott, LEM
Apollo 16 mission
Apollo 17 mission – Gene Cernan, the last man on the Moon