President’s Message October 2019

Posted by as News, President's Message

As a baby boomer I feel very fortunate to have lived before the development of adaptive optics, the era of the Hubble Space Telescope and Voyager’s mission to the outer planets. Blurry vision concealed the secrets of the solar system and we were engulfed in an aura of mystery. Then in 1964 Gary Flandro, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer realized that the planets were in a rare alignment that would enable a momentum robbing technique to conduct a Grand Tour of the Solar System. The Voyager mission arose from Gary’s vision and rendezvoused with Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989. This mission enjoyed a spectacular success and each encounter dramatically transformed and improved our understanding of these planets. What a treat for the astronomical community … both professional and amateur. It was like watching a fascinating sporting event unfold in slow motion. This was before the era of High Definition TV and the instant communication of the internet. I remember eagerly awaiting for the arrival of the next issue of Sky and Telescope and then pouring over the stunning imagery and reading about the discoveries detected by the array of instruments.

So, perhaps you will understand my excitement when JPL scientists Linda and Tom Spilker, address our meeting on Wednesday October 9th. Not only did Linda and Tom have front row seats on the Voyager Mission, they got to turn some of the dials as well! As is often the case, the Voyager mission generated more questions than answers. Linda was deeply involved in the remarkably successful followup mission to Saturn called Cassini. As the Cassini Project Scientist she will update us with some of the latest findings of that mission.

Tom Spilker is a Space Mission Architect. It would be difficult to invent a more exciting job title! He currently works with space agencies around the globe and has participated in the Voyager, Cassini, Genesis, and Rosetta missions. In addition to sharing findings of these missions I hope that Linda and Tom will be able to convey what it is like to be involved in such exciting and important mission’s of discovery. If you think that some of your friends might find this evening of interest please invite them along. There is no admission charge. In anticipation of a larger audience we have moved the event to Flury Hall in the Bob Wright Centre at UVic. We hope to see you there at 7:30PM.

A more modest event held locally had it’s own element of excitement. For the second year in a row we held our Victoria Centre Star Party in the serene yard of St. Stephens Anglican Church. Last year, within 5 minutes of erecting my brand new second hand Kendrick astronomy tent the first rain in 7 weeks began falling. It seemed more promising this year and on Friday afternoon I arrived in the church yard in a sun beam. Within 10 minutes, however, hail was bouncing off my car and a deluge of biblical portions followed. We received one quarter of the normal September rainfall in one hour! Perhaps the “committee aloft” that controls things was sending me a message.

Never the less we persevered and a beautiful Saturday afternoon graced our “StarBBQ”. This was perhaps the highlight of the weekend and thanks to Deb Crawford and her team of flippers for making it happen. The sunshine seduced many RASCals to set up scopes. We were, however, stabbed in the back by Friday’s storm and in a return circulation it delivered cloud from Idaho over the church yard Saturday evening. Being swaddled in cloud kept conditions mild and the dew at bay. Around midnight there were still several pockets of RASCals participating in discussions on a wide range of topics. If we had experienced clear skies I imagine that many of those same RASCals would have retreated to their own scopes and resumed observing in isolation. It takes a lot of time and energy to put on a Star Party and I would like to thank all the volunteers who lent a hand. Thanks also to Dr. Chris Gainor and Dr. Robert Beardsall for delivering the interesting evening presentations. In particular I would like to thank Bruce Lane for planning this event and effectively recruiting and directing RASCals.

Cloud Free Nights

Reg Dunkley

October Speakers: Linda and Tom Spilker

Posted by as Meetings

Cassini’s Intriguing New Discoveries and the Design of Space Missions

The Cassini Project Scientist and a Space Mission Architect Share Their Insights

7:30 PM Wednesday October 9th 2019, Flury Hall, Bob Wright Centre, UVic

Cassini’s Intriguing New Discoveries

Abstract: Dr. Linda Spilker, the Cassini Project Scientist, will present updates of the highlights of Cassini’s 13-year mission of discovery at Saturn. Since the end of Cassini’s mission scientists have been teasing out new information about Saturn, the rings and moons from the huge stock of data collected during the mission. Some of the most surprising results were discovered during the final orbits of the mission, diving through the gap between the rings and Saturn for the very first time.

Bio: Dr. Linda Spilker is a NASA research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. She is currently the Cassini Project Scientist and a Co-Investigator on the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer team and has worked on Cassini since 1988. Since joining JPL over 40 years ago she has worked on the Voyager Project, the Cassini Project and conducted independent research on the origin and evolution of planetary ring systems. She enjoys yoga and hiking in National Parks, including her favorite park, Yosemite. She is married, with three daughters and eight grandchildren. She received her B.A. from Cal State Fullerton, her M.S. from Cal State Los Angeles, and her Ph.D. from UCLA.

Designing Space Missions

Abstract: Dr Tom Spilker, “International Space Mission Architect” will share some of his experiences with multiple NASA centers, such as JPL, Goddard Research Center, Glenn Research Center, and Langley Research Center, multiple universities, and private corporations and companies, on a variety of space flight mission concepts and instrument concepts. Tom recently architected a large, rotating space station for the Gateway Foundation and its operating arm, Orbital Assembly Corp. Among other important functions, that space station should make it much easier to implement planetary science missions, trips to the moon, and large telescopes in space.

Bio: Dr. Tom Spilker spent 20 years at JPL as a”Mission Architect” after a PhD at Stanford doing research associated with spacecraft-based planetary radio occultation experiments, with a couple of courses in orbital dynamics. He has worked on Voyager, Cassini, Genesis, and Rosetta missions. He has, and continues to work with both science and engineering aspects of mission planning. He retired from JPL in 2012 and is now an independent consultant working with space agencies all over the world.

September Speaker: Canada’s role in the next generation wide field spectroscopy

Posted by as Meetings

Dr. Alan McConnachie

7:30 PM Wednesday September 11th

Room A104 Bob Wright Building, UVic

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT, 1979-) is a 3.6-metre class facility that has been a consistently productive and competitive instrument during its decades long life. Science evolves, and the instruments for science must evolve too. The Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) is an ambitious 11.25-metre dedicated multi-object spectroscopic facility that is intended as a major refurbishment of the CFHT. It is designed to fill an outstanding critical niche in the future astronomy facility landscape and first light is planned for 2029. Canada is one of the leaders in the project, which represents an exciting opportunity for the country and its international partners to tackle key science ranging from the nature of the dark matter particle to the origins of the elements of the Periodic Table.


Alan McConnachie received his PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge in 2005. He then moved to Canada, and held postdoctoral positions at the University of Victoria and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO). He then became a Research Officer at DAO, a position he has held since 2011. Dr. McConnachie specialises in observational studies of nearby galaxies, their resolved stellar populations, and the tools we need to understand them. He is the author of more than 120 peer reviewed publications. He is one of the originators of the MSE concept, and served as Project Scientist from 2014 – 2018. He is currently the MSE Project Spokesperson.

President’s Message September 2019

Posted by as News, President's Message

As the Victoria Centre slides into September the Summer season is still winding down just as we kickstart our Winter program. This makes it the busiest month of the year and there are many ways to deepen your engagement in Astronomy in general and within the RASC in particular.

During the first week, for instance, just as the Island Star Party at Bright Angel Park closes the Victoria Centre stages a major outreach event at the Saanich Fair. This significant undertaking is organized and championed by our human dynamo, Lauri Roche. Then at 7:30PM on Wednesday September 4th there is the Victoria Centre Council Meeting in the Fourth Floor Lounge of the Elliot Building at UVic. All RASCals are welcome to attend. On September 7th the final DAO Saturday Star Party of the season occurs … bringing our total to a record 22 Star Parties this year! Special thanks must go to David Lee for recruiting and introducing the speakers, Lauri Roche for being a key ring leader with our cousins the Friends of the DAO, Michel Michaud and Dan Posey for operating the Plaskett Telescope and the many RASCals who generously share their telescopes, knowledge and enthusiasm with a most appreciative Public. This is Public Outreach on steroids!

But now let’s talk about some “in reach” activities. This is where RASCals recharge their enthusiasm by sharing their knowledge, interests and adventures with other members of the Astronomical Community. At 7:30PM on Monday September 9th the first Astro Cafe of the season opens its doors in the Portable behind the Fairfield Community Centre. These are informal sessions where questions are welcome and it is a great place for people who are newbies to learn more. You do not have to be a member to attend. Thanks to Barb and Kurt Lane, John McDonald and Chris Purse for hosting these weekly events that will continue through May 2020.

And then there are our Monthly meetings held on the second Wednesday of the month from September until June. They begin at 7:30PM, usually in Room A104 of the Bob Wright Centre at UVic. We have an exciting Fall lineup of speakers scheduled:
– On September 11th Dr. Alan McConnachie will describe the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer. This is an ambitious project to upgrade the Canada French Hawaiian Telescope on Mauna Kea. Upgrade you say? Yes the CFHT is 40 years old and it is time for a makeover. Yikes time flies!
– On October 9th Linda and Tom Spilker, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will share their adventures obtained while exploring the Solar System from front row seats of major Nasa missions. Linda is the Principal Investigator of the Cassini Project and has recently been featured on a number of documentaries on PBS and Netflix. Tom is a “Space Flight Mission Architect” and consults with space agencies around the globe. Doesn’t that sound amazing!
– On November 13th Dr. Philip Stooke will talk about “Lunar Exploration after the Apollo Landings”. You might not be aware that there have been numerous soft landings since Apollo and the Lunar surface is beginning to resemble a parking lot! It is a great opportunity to update you knowledge.

Joe Carr has kindly organized a weekend workshop on the incredibly powerful astrophotography software package PixInsight. It will begin on Saturday September 21st at the Centre of the Universe. One of the instructors, Warren Kellar, is an expert on PixInsight and has authored this must have “how to” user manual on this software. Click here for details. Also on Saturday the 21st we have the Fall Fairfield outreach event at Sir James Douglas School as well as an evening observing session at the VCO. The Friends of the DAO will also hold their AGM that evening! It will have a marathon quality for those “friendly RASCals” with dual membership in both organizations.

The major event of the month however is the RASCals Star Party hosted by the Victoria Centre from Friday September 27th until Sunday September 29th in the churchyard of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Central Saanich. While the public is welcome this is a great opportunity for RASCals to connect with each other. Many thanks to Bruce Lane for organizing this signature event. Click here for more details. Keep your fingers crossed for useable skies!

We hope to see you there!

Reg Dunkley

RASCals Star Party 2019

Posted by as Events

September 27-29, 2019

St. Stephen’s Anglican Church
7921 St Stephens Road – off Mt. Newton Cross Road
Saanichton, BC, Canada

2019 RASCals Star Party poster (774kb PDF)

Gates will open at 3pm on Friday. Camp on the field and setup your telescope for two nights of fun!

Cost: Free of charge! Visiting observers who stay overnight: suggested donation of $20/Adult one day or two.

Everyone who is present is entitled to a ticket for door prizes, attend presentations, and access the observing field.

Prizes for kids and adults.

Don’t want to camp? No problem if you live in the Greater Victoria area…you can drive home after spending an evening on the observing field.

Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – no white lights!

Schedule of Events

Friday 27th

  • 3:00 pm – Gates open
  • 6:00 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including a telescope!
  • 6:30 pm – Speaker: Apollo 11 – Chris Gainor
  • 7:30 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Saturday 28th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • Afternoon presentation (possible) – StarBQ location
  • 5:00 pm – StarBBQ – burgers, drinks, crispy snacks
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including two telescopes!
  • 6:30 pm – Speaker: Archaeoastronomy – Rob Beardsell
  • 7:30 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Sunday 29th

  • Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
  • Please, no parking in the church parking lot this morning in consideration of Church members attending their service!
  • 12:15 pm – solar viewing for St. Stephen’s congregation
  • Early departures are appreciated!

Facilities

  • Camping on the observing field with your tent, trailer or motorhome – bare camping, no utilities on the field
  • Setup your telescope and other astronomy gear on the observing field
  • Some power is available on the field for astronomy equipment, but no RV plug-ins please!
  • Washrooms and porta-potties
  • Water, self-serve coffee & tea
  • Visitor and drop-in parking
  • Church hall for presentations

Please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park in the parking lot with your headlights facing away from the observing field. The same parking request applies to visitors dropping in for the evening – leave your vehicle in the parking lot and walk into the observing field.


Star Party t-shirts

A very limited supply of RASCals Star Party t-shirts will be available for sale. Pre-order yours by contacting Joe Carr. Black t-shirts available in Men’s S, M, L, XL and 2XL sizes – $15 ea, and navy Kid’s t-shirts available in S & M ($13 ea). Please make cheques payable to RASC Victoria Centre.


Prizes

We always have good prizes, and this year will be no exception!

  • TWO telescopes to be won – a grand prize each evening
  • Binoculars
  • Gift basket from The Butchart Gardens
  • Celestial sleep masks
  • Astronomy books – coffee table & for observers
  • Fun, activity-oriented kids’ prizes
Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor telescope
Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor telescope, including alt/az tripod, 2 eyepieces, red laser finder, smartphone adapter, red LED flashlight
Celestron C 90 Maksutov telescope (used, excellent optics)
Celestron C 90 Maksutov telescope (used, excellent optics, wooden tripod)

Celestron Skymaster 15×70 binoculars

Location

Star Party field map

What to observe

Map of the southern night sky for Sep 27, 2019 at 10PM

President’s Message Mid Summer Report

Posted by as News, President's Message

RASC Display at Library

The Summer is whizzing by and we are already a week deep into August! Since so much has already happened it is a good time pause and reflect on July’s accomplishments and look forward to August’s schedule.

During July most RASCals were infected with Apollo Fever. We were treated to a remarkable series of outstanding movies, documentaries, podcasts and articles about the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. The Victoria Centre participated in many related activities including:

On July 4th an Astronomy Display was set up at the Bruce Hutchinson Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library. This lunar themed display was designed to resonate with the Apollo anniversary. We received very positive comments from the library and they noted that there was a significant increase in the circulation of astronomy books during July. Thanks must go to David Lee who initiated this project and to the following RASCals who helped make it happen: Marjie Welchframe, Lauri Roche, Sid Sidhu, Dave Essery and Reg Dunkley.

On the Moon Again. RASCals joined this global lunar observing event on July 12th and set up scopes at Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park. Clouds frequently blocked the Moon but a continuous stream of cruise ship passengers marvelled at views of Mount Rainier. This intersection of Cruise Ship Buses and Cattle Point RASCals may have the makings of an astronomical outreach sausage factory. That would really boost those Galileo Moments!

Lunar Saturday Night Star Parties. David Lee scheduled a series of interesting and relevant lunar themed talks for the Saturday Night Star Parties. Our tireless cousins at the FDAO went all out during the week of the landing with Apollo talks on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Centre of the Universe. The climax occurred on Saturday the 20th with a barbecue and a 2 hour Moon Walk presentation where Dr. Chris Gainor amazed us with all sorts of fascinating Apollo anecdotes. It was a wonderful opportunity for space travel enthusiasts. If you are suffering from Apollo withdrawal there is an absolutely riveting BBC podcast called 13 Minutes to the Moon Hardcore Apollo fanatics will love it. This celebration of the Apollo provided a welcome relief from todays rather disturbing news cycle. Congratulations must go to all the RASCals and Friends of the DAO for this epic outreach event. The scale of their endeavour acquired its own “Moon Shot” magnitude.

Meanwhile progress has been made on the optical front:

A mirror washing clinic was kindly conducted by Bill Weir on Friday June 14th using the 20 inch Dobsonian mirror at the Centre of the Universe. Several RASCals have already applied this technique to their own scopes. Thanks Bill.

The 16 Inch is Back! Congratulations must also go to Dan Posey, Les Disher and Matt Watson for successfully re-collimating the 16 inch Richey Chretien reflector at the Victoria Centre Observatory. This accomplishment required troubleshooting skills , mastery of new techniques and tenacity.

Events of August:

The Fort Rodd Hill Star Party will take place on the evening of Friday August 9th. Contact Chris Aesoph at chris@aesoph.com if you plan to bring a scope and have not already notified him or if you would like to lend a helping hand.

Cowichan Valley Starfinders Star Party begins on Friday August 30th at Bright Angel Park.

Saanich Fall Fair: Saturday August 31st to Monday September 2nd. Victoria RASCals share their enthusiasm of astronomy with thousands of attendees at this annual event. We will need volunteers. Please contact Lauri Roche at roche.lauri@gmail.com

And finally I would like to extend a thank you to all the RASCals who, as Ambassadors of the Universe, generously share their scopes, time, enthusiasm and knowledge to a grateful public at the Saturday Night Star Parties. Thanks also must go to Marjie Welchframe and her team of Victoria Centre volunteers who “person” the Welcome Table.

Cloud Free Nights

Reg Dunkley

Memories of Apollo 11 Lunar Landing from members

Posted by as Memories & history

RASC Victoria Centre members who were old enough to have watched original television broadcasts and read the newspapers of the day, featuring the momentous landing of the Apollo 11 mission on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969 have some vivid memories to share. Some of their memorabilia is also fun to look at after 50 years has passed!

Jim Hesser

Front page of El Mercurio, a Chilean newspapers from 21 July 1969

As new residents of La Serena, Chile since September, 1968 (where Jim was a young staff astronomer at the new Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory), we were in Santiago the weekend of 20 July 1969. At that time TV was not yet available in La Serena, but fortunately it was in Santiago. Because the astronauts were supposed to sleep after their late-afternoon landing, we went off for an early dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Throughout our meal our young waitress was listening to a transistor radio held tightly to her ear. Mid-way through our dinner she approached to ask (in Spanish), “You are Americans, right?” “Yes, we are; why?” “Your countrymen are walking on the Moon!”

Front page of El Siglo, a Chilean newspapers from 21 July 1969

After hurriedly paying the bill, we rushed the five blocks back to our hotel, where we found all staff and guests crowded into the common room where the hotel’s single black-and-white TV was showing the grainy, but awe-inspiring, images of the first Moon walk. A voice solemnly intoned (in Spanish), “This broadcast is coming to you from the Moon.” Energy and wonder were intense in that room, indelibly burning this transformative event into our memories.

[The front pages of two Chilean newspapers from 21 July 1969 which we’ve saved for 50 years: El Mercurio (a conservative paper still publishing) and El Siglo (reflecting views of the Communist Party and which ceased publication after the 1973 military coup), both of which marvelled at the significance of this happening.]

Diane Bell

Province newspaper, mission map and log

I have searched everywhere for the one photo I took on July 20, 1969. I do remember it was a shot of the Magnavox TV console in Aunt Mickey and Uncle Bill’s den in their house in Vancouver. A black and white image showed Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Moon. A very exciting time for us – and the rest of my family on the Island !!

Parks Dish – Australia – received the lunar walk transmission

I did find another photo that I took several years ago, though. On a camping and hiking trip through Western Australia seven years go, we went through a town called Carnarvon, home to one of the radio dishes that was instrumental in guiding Apollo 11 on the way to the Moon.

I’m so glad I had the camera ready !! Getting ready to celebrate 50 years of the Moon landing….

Sherry Buttnor – Reflections from a simple mind

Here we are on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the time when humans first set foot on another world.

I remember it well; watching with spellbound attention the ethereal images on a B&W TV, breathtakingly captioned with LIVE FROM THE SURFACE OF THE MOON. I was captivated. My dad was ex-RCAF. We spend many happy Sundays at YYC watching airplanes; I inherited a love of flight from him (either by intent, or osmosis) and spaceflight was a logical progression. Even I could understand that at the tender young age of 10.

The seed was planted.

A year or two after Apollo 11, I went on a field trip one Saturday evening to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory here in Victoria. Back then, you could look through an eyepiece in the mighty Plaskett telescope, and the view through it was glorious.

The seed had germinated.

That year I asked Santa for a telescope of my own, and he obliged with a little refractor, of which I was very fond, and used often for the following decade.

The seed had sprouted.

In the early 80s, it all changed. Fuelled by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and self-study via the Open Learning Institute’s Project Universe and early computer programs on my Commodore 64, I built bigger and better telescopes, I immersed myself in the universe with a love I carry today, and the seed was in full blossom.

And here we are, on the cusp of one of the main events that started my 50-year adventure in astronomy.

Tomorrow evening, as a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, I’m privileged to be able to go up to the Observatory, where I had my first look, and show our visitors their first look through a telescope as together we recall one of the great technological moments in human history, 50 years ago.

What a journey it has been! For me, and for all of us on the Good Earth – at home.

Joe Carr

Malcom Riley’s 1963 Grades 5 & 6 class – Duncan, BC

I remember watching the first steps taken on the Moon on our black and white TV as well. I think my first live TV broadcast was of Ripple Rock being blown in 1958, but the Apollo 11 landing in 1969 stands out in my mind, because I had a passion for astronomy and space exploration that was ignited about six years previous by my grade six teacher, Malcolm Riley.

Like so many of my Baby Boomer generation, we expected that 50 years later we would be well on our way to exploring the solar system with humans aboard spacecraft. That expectation has not been met. It is with considerable dismay that I look back on the Apollo missions as the last which saw humankind travel through deep space. How much longer will we be stuck in low-Earth orbit before we venture into the rest of the Universe?

Jim Cliffe

A Study in Sepia

Dr. Carpentier’s plaque in Lake Cowichan.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing was cast by most people as a celebration. But I couldn’t help but feel sadness.

Fifty years after what was a milestone, a triumph of skill and determination, a masterful accomplishment, and we as a culture seem to be walking backwards.

I watched the moment of landing on the proverbial tiny black and white TV. My mother and sister were mildly interested and watching with me, my father was outside. I was filled with excitement and trepidation, building until “Tranquility Base here…” and I leaped up to run and tell my father.

He was outside, talking with a neighbour. When I rushed up and burst out that they had landed on the Moon, he barely nodded, ans seemed almost amused at my excitement. He kept on talking with the neighbour, a man he only knew slightly, and approved of less.

Still excited, I ran back to the television. My sister and mother had seen what they wanted to see and had left. I watched the broadcast to the end by myself.

In the half century since, we seem to have retreated from ambition and energy. Careful critical thought has given way to superficial emotion, popularity, and empty show. Great discoveries and advances have been made, but most of the population don’t care. Their attention is caught by shiny devices, exciting entertainment, and flashy celebrities.

So this anniversary, as great as it is, feels sad to me. A fin de siecle reminder of what we once dared attempt. In my imagination, the crowds leave the party. Go home, and look for the next distraction. The history, the future that might have been, and the sadness of the loss will wash over them without notice, leaving nothing.

Randy Enkin

Randy Enkin

In the summer of 1969, I was an 8-year old at Camp White Pine, in Haliburton Ontario. There were never any televisions at camp, except on July 20, 1969, when they placed two B&W televisions on ladders in the Rec Room, and a few hundred campers squished on the floor to watch the moon landing.

All my friends wanted to be astronauts. But astronauts had all trained as air force pilots, and that didn’t suit me. I remember thinking that the people in mission control, and the scientists who were telling the astronauts what to do were the people to follow.

I decided that I would become an astronomer. Very quickly I mastered the subject, but then over the following 50 years I mostly found out how little I know. In the end, I became a geologist, but astronomy, especially concerning the moon, has always been my passion. I am particularly proud to be the first member of the Victoria Centre to obtain the RASC “Explore the Moon” observing certificate.

Dr. Chris Gainor

Chris is the President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and is a prolific writer focusing on space exploration. Rather than quoting his many articles and books on space missions as they relate to Canada, we direct you to his online blog (with a pre-defined “Apollo 11” search term). Chris is a most passionate space geek, and works hard at meeting all the pioneers in the space industry. He is contracted to write the history of the Hubble Space telescope, and his book Arrows to the Moon is a fascinating read of how mankind traveled to the Moon, thanks to a good dose of Canadian ingenuity.

Chris meets Apollo 8 astronauts: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders

This documentary covers Canada’s contribution to Apollo, which is covered in greater depth in Chris’ book ‘Arrows to the Moon.’

50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Posted by as Events, Special Events

July 20th marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Due to media attention a desire to take a closer look at the Moon may grow as this date approaches. Unfortunately the Moon will not rise until 11:14PM on the anniversary of the landing. As a result the International Astronomical Union is organizing a global lunar observing event on July 12th called “On the Moon Again”. Between 8PM and 11PM on Friday July 12th, members of the Victoria Centre of RASC will set up telescopes in Oak Bay at the Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park. If weather permits they will be happy to share views of the Moon with you.

Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon

Victoria Centre telescopes will also be in position at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory every Saturday evening in July from 7:15PM to 10:45PM for weekly Star Parties. These events, co-hosted with The Friends of the DAO, will include the following Moon related lectures:

July 6th: The Voyages of Apollo by Dr. Philip Stooke
July 13th: “Explore the Moon: My 50-Year, 30-Year, and 1-Year Projects” by Randy Enkin
July 20th: The Apollo Moon Walk by Dr. Chris Gainor
July 27th: Through the Knowledge Network: Space Suite Apollo and Space Suite IV

In addition to the above programs these Star Parties also include tours of the historic Plaskett Telescope, the Centre of the Universe Museum and Planetarium shows. Obtain free tickets to the Saturday Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

During the week of the July 20th the Friends of the DAO will hold the following additional lectures on Apollo at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, starting shortly after 7:00 PM.:

Tuesday July 16: Canada’s Contributions to Apollo by Dr. Chris Gainor

Wednesday July 17: Apollo in the Age of Aquarius by Dr. Dennis Crabtree

Thursday July 18: The Voyages of Apollo by Dr. Philip Stooke

The Centre of the Universe at the DAO will also be open to the public from 10 AM to 3 PM on Tuesday July 16 through Friday July 19.

Here is more detailed information of the scheduled Saturday Star Party lectures at the DAO:

July 6th 2019 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm
The Voyages of Apollo
Dr. Philip Stooke

Abstract: A summary of the Apollo Program including its origins, steps along the way to the Moon, the choice of landing sites and a pictorial look at each mission.

Bio: Phil Stooke is a planetary scientist and cartographer with a PhD from UVic. He taught in the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration at Western University in London, Ontario until his recent retirement. He has published The International Atlas of Lunar Exploration and similar books on Mars, and is currently revising his lunar atlas.

July 13th 2019 – 8:30pm repeats at 9:30pm
“Explore the Moon: My 50-Year, 30-Year, and 1-Year Projects”
Randy Enkin

Abstract: In 1969, at age 8, the Apollo missions motivated me to become an astronomer. Very quickly I mastered the subject, but then over the following 50 years I mostly found out how little I know. In this presentation, I will present my 30-year time series of lunar phase observations, and my lunar sketches from the past year which earned me the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada “Explore the Moon Observing Certificate” (https://www.rasc.ca/observing/explore-the-moon-observing-certificate). And you will be introduced to “Enkin’s Daily Moon” where images of the moon explore “the passage of time, illumination, the feminine, and world unity”. (https://www.facebook.com/EnkinsDailyMoon/)

Bio: Randy Enkin did not become a professional astronomer. He is a Research Scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada, working on earthquakes. He is an enthusiastic member of the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

July 20th 2019 – 7:45pm to 10:45pm
The Apollo 11 Moonwalk with Dr. Chris Gainor

Abstract: This presentation will show the entire Apollo 11 moonwalk as it was televised on the evening of July 20, 1969, along with descriptive slides. Chris Gainor will discuss the flight of Apollo 11, the symbolic aspects of the first walk on another celestial body, and the scientific work carried out by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface. The presentation will begin shortly before 8 p.m., just as it did in real time in 1969, and will continue for the two hours and 40 minutes of this historic event.

Bio: Chris Gainor is a historian specializing in the history of space flight and aeronautics. He has five published books and is currently writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. He is President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

July 27th 2019 – 8:30pm to 10:45pm
Through the Knowledge Network: Space Suite IV and Space Suite Apollo

Producers – Imagine Create Media
Space Suite IV
A series of 10 short films that explore the infinite wonders of our universe and our interactions with the cosmos.
Space Suite Apollo
Trace the history of NASA’s Lunar missions from Mercury to Gemini, to the Apollo Missions that ultimately landed a man on the moon. Set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Space Suite Apollo gives viewers an unflinching look at the raw footage that continues to capture the world’s imagination.

President’s Message: June 2019

Posted by as News, President's Message

The final Astro Cafe of the season ended in fine form on Monday May 27th with an epic cookie fest. Astro cookie architect Diane Bell kindly brought tasty replicas of the M87 Black Hole. Meanwhile there were concerns that the emergency biscuit stockpile may not fair well over the summer break. So RASCals rallied to the challenge and by evenings end there was not a Viva Puff to be found. Thanks must go to Astro Cafe hosts Barbara and Kurt Lane, John McDonald and Chris Purse for maintaining such a welcoming and informal tone to the gatherings. This encouraged attendees of all ages to showcase their stunning images and projects, demonstrate techniques and gear, ask and answer questions, discuss breaking news, and share their enthusiasm and passion for all things astronomical. Thanks must also go to the presenters who made these evenings so informative and entertaining. If you have not made it to an Astro Cafe yet, doors will re-open at 7:30 PM on Monday September 9th in the Portable at Fairfield Community Centre … and oh yes … please bring a reusable mug.

We still have one more monthly meeting to go before the summer intermission. On Wednesday, June 12th, science journalist Matt Williams will give a talk on Interstellar Exploration. With the growing alarm about global warming, the search for exoplanets seems to have morphed into a “house hunting” mission. Even if we identify a suitable new planet, can we get there? Matt will explore the challenges involved and assess the feasibility. Maybe it will be easier to take better care of our home planet.

While many organizations take a break over the Summer, Victoria Centre RASCals will remain in high gear. Observing sessions are scheduled at the Victoria Centre Observatory every Friday evening. If you have not yet peered through our recently commissioned Obsession 20 Inch Dobsonian you are in for a treat. In order to participate you must be a member of the Active Observers list. Send an e-mail to membership@victoria.rasc.ca for details.

We will continue to co-host Saturday Star Parties at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory with our “cousins”, the Friends of the DAO. A record 22 Star Parties will have been held by the time this program winds down on September 7th. The combination of Plaskett tours, astronomical lectures, planetarium shows and night sky viewing through RASCal scopes makes these evenings unusually rich outreach offerings. We have recently redeployed our old 20 Inch Walton Dobsonian to the Centre of the Universe. When we roll this scope onto the adjacent patio it will help boost views of the planets during the twilight zone around the solstice and reveal deep sky objects when darker skies return near Summer’s end. If you would like to become more engaged in the Victoria Centre we are still looking for volunteers. Perhaps you would like to help Martin Caldwell operate the 20 inch Walton Dob or “person” our Welcome Desk. Maybe you have a short presentation you would like to deliver in the Black Hole Theatre. Please email me at president@victoria.rasc.ca if you would like to contribute.

A number of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing are still in the planning stage both on and off Observatory Hill. Announcements will be emailed when details are finalized. Be sure to read Chris Gainor’s excellent article about the Canadian contribution to the Apollo mission in the July-August issue of the Sky News Magazine.

In the longer term be aware that the Victoria Centre plans to set up outreach tables at both the Saanich Fair on Labour Day Weekend and at Fall Fairfield on Sept 21st. Our Victoria Centre Star Party will take place at St Stephens Anglican Churchyard between September 27th and the 29th. Be sure to guard those dates. It is shaping up to be an action packed Summer. Enjoy!

Cloud Free Nights
Reg Dunkley