Astronomy Cafe – Oct 25, 2021

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Video meeting transcript

  • Canadian Women Astronomers – Marjie Welchframe
    • Dr. Victoria Kaspi
      • Moved to Canada when she was 7 years old
      • McGill & Canadian Space Agency
      • X-ray astronomy expert
      • Herzberg Canada Gold Metal winner for 2016
  • Astronomers Find a ‘Break’ in One of the Milky Way’s Spiral Arms – Dorothy Paul
  • Randy Enkin
  • Record Maritime Bomb – Oct 24-25, 2021 – Reg Dunkley
    • Low pressure weather event hitting us over the last couple of days
    • Maritime Bomb caused by energy sources: colder air from the north moving south; hurricanes from the south
    • Mesoscale Wind Forecast – better resolution models showing SE winds in Georgia, Haro and Juan de Fuca Straits
    • Review of weather data from buoys and weather stations
    • Weather system time lapses & video
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • M31 redone using PixInsight – Denis Bouche
    • Coathanger area – Alister Ling
  • Events & SIGs – David Lee
    • Astrophotography SIG this Wed – John McDonald
    • Makers SIG (7PM), then RASC Light Pollution Survey (8PM) this Thursday – David Lee
    • FDAO AGM (7PM) & Star Party (8PM) this Saturday – Lauri Roche
    • NRC meeting with W̱SÁNEĆ Elders on Friday – James di Francesco
  • Astrophotos – Brock Johnston

President’s Message – October 2021

Posted by as President's Message

Questions, Answers, and Questions

Randy Enkin using his sextant
Randy Enkin using his sextant

One satisfaction of astronomy is the sense of continuity with astronomers from all over the world and spanning the decades, centuries, and millennia. The wonders of the sky fill us with awe and provoke so many questions. I appreciate the multidisciplinary approach to answering these questions.

Today’s anecdote concerns an article published this week, with 25 authors from 5 countries. The Chinese Chang’e 5 probe brought back to Earth the first lunar samples in 4 decades. They targeted a place on the Moon that was suspected of being young, due to the region’s low density of craters. Galileo observed craters on the moon 400 years ago, but it was only in the 1960s that meteor impacts were confirmed to be the dominant mechanism of their origin.

The observational and theoretical development of celestial mechanics, universal gravitation, the solar nebula, and planetary accretion were all required to understand dating planetary surfaces, by measuring the size and number of craters. We also needed telescopes, rockets, robotics, petrology, geochemistry, and geochronology to complement the study. The Moon is the only planetary body where impact crater ages have been calibrated with radiometric dating, but there had been no samples so far measured that are between 3.2 and 0.8 billion years old. The new samples were dated at 1.96±.06 billion years, sitting in the middle of that gap and forcing a revision of the current crater dating method. The new date is very young for the Moon’s surface and brings up new questions, like why the Moon was still melting crust so recently.

Back-scattered electron (BSE) images and false color energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) element maps of the two fragments from the Chang’e 5 sample
Back-scattered electron (BSE) images and false color energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) element maps of the two fragments from the Chang’e 5 sample

I’m filled with a sense of connection with my fellow humans who can conceive of such questions, work on them from many different aspects over the centuries, answer some, and end up with even more questions. And I look up at the sky with happiness.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin email

Astronomy Cafe – Oct 18, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of meeting

Dr. Michelle Kunimoto
Dr. Michelle Kunimoto

Dr. Michelle Kunimoto is a postdoctoral associate working on NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)mission. She leads the Quick Look Pipeline team at MIT which is dedicated to analyzing TESS data to discover and characterize exoplanets. As an undergraduate, her discoveries of four planet candidates landed her on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017. Michelle is BC born and raised and received both her undergraduate degree and her PhD at the University of British Columbia.

Finding Earth 2.0 – Dr. Michelle Kunimoto

Michelle spoke about how we find exoplanets, identify potentially “habitable” planets, about what she does as a researcher with NASA’s TESS mission, and how anyone can join the hunt for new planets.

  • Are we alone? What would other life look like?
  • Assuming Earth-like conditions for life
    • Small, rocky, watery planet with an atmosphere
    • In the habitable zone around a host star
    • Stars that are similar to our Sun – “just right” and stable, long-lived
  • 30 years ago, the first exoplanets were discovered by Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail
  • Gordon Walker actually discovered an exoplanet back in 1988 from Victoria, but not confirmed until 2002
  • How to detect an exoplanet
    • Pulsar
    • Doppler shift due to Stellar Wobble – radial velocity
    • Transit – the method Michelle uses in her work
    • Direct Imaging
    • Astrometry
    • others…
  • Kepler – NASA’s first exoplanet discovery mission 
    • Used the transit method from 2009 to 2013
    • 150,000+ stars observed for 4 years
    • Revolutionized exoplanet by discovering over half of all dis
    • K2 mission extended the discoveries to 2018
  • Tess – NASA mission started in 2018
    • Full sky coverage
    • Orbits around the Earth in a following, elliptical orbit
    • 27 days to a full year of observations for each object
    • Automated detection, then manual verification to avoid false positives
    • Michelle has discovered 1,600 candidate planets
    • Whole mission has confirmed 152 out of 3,285 candidate planets
    • A total of 4,531 exoplanets have been discovered (not just from the Tess mission)
    • Diversity of exoplanets is extensive
    • TRAPPIST-1 System
      • 7 exoplanets
      • 3 in habitable zone, and Earth-sized
      • James Web space telescope will examine this system in detail
    • 20 candidate exoplanets have been discovered that are Earth-sized and appear to possibly support life as we know it
    • Keppler-452b – most Earth-like exoplanet
    • Transmission spectroscopy – detect the characteristics of an exoplanet’s atmosphere
    • Habitable Exoplanet Observatory – a proposed space telescope that will perform direct imaging of exoplanets
    • How you can hunt for exoplanets
      • Anyone can access the data from the Mikulski Archive
      • Michelle found 4 candidate planets during a summer project
      • Planet Hunters TESS site – the public can help with this work – just visual pattern detection
      • Anyone can join the TESS vetting team and interact with the rest of the team
    • Upcoming missions
      • PLATO – 2026 mission
      • NRT – mid-2020s
    • Q&A

Members’ Reports

Victoria region Sky Quality Map - East
Victoria region Sky Quality Map – East
  • FDAO Star Party – Oct 30th AGM starting at 7:00PM and Brenda Matthews’ work at ALMA – Lauri Roche
  • Nerd Anomoly – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Nathan’s cartoons to be published in Skynews magazine
    • Shared some of his cartoons
  • Randy Enkin
    • A rainy day at Fairfield Fall Fair!
    • Sunspotter demo
    • Aurora photo taken from Mt. Tolmie
    • Victoria Philharmonic Choir – Hayden’s Creation was performed to a small, live audience – shared an audio clip
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Aurora by Eric Klaszus’ mother, Abdur Anwar, and an all sky camera
    • Elephant Trunk dark nebula – Abdur Anwar
  • Light Pollution Survey – David Lee
    • Last light pollution survey – Sep & Oct 2010 (maps)
    • Over a dozen members have already volunteered to re-do the survey
    • Victoria Centre will borrow 3-4 SQM meters from National, and also use members’ own SQM meters
    • First week in November is first target time to conduct the survey
    • Perhaps take a wide angle photo of the sky at each location to record light source conditions – Dave Robinson
    • Last time it took 2 nights in September and again in October
    • Contact David if interested in participating

Astronomy Cafe – Oct 4, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Milky Way from Cattle Point – a photo showing no stars, just galaxies – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
  • Women in Astronomy – Marjie Welchframe
    • Isabel Williamson has an asteroid named after her
    • Dava Sobel also has an asteroid named after her
    • Profile of Dr. Kim Venn
      • UVic Astronomy & Physics professor
      • Specialist in stellar spectroscopy
      • Kim believes that very large telescopes will likely discover Earth version 2 or 3 or 4, which will greatly impact how we view ourselves
    • Dr. Michelle Kunimoto will present to us on Oct 18th about Exoplanets
  • Edmonton Centre astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Milky Way Halloween theme- Warren Findlay
    • Blackfoot dark sky area – Arnold Rivera
      • Comet 4P/Faye
      • Helix Nebula – NGC 7293 – Planetary Nebula
      • Veil Nebula – visual and photo through a 10″ Dobsonian telescope
  • Building an Astroberry Server– David Lee
    • Raspberry Pi 4 running Linux 
    • Supports the INDI – ecosystems for control and automation of astronomical devices
    • Installed PHD2
    • David just wants to implement auto-guiding
    • Runs the server through a remote desktop on his smartphone
  • Beginners SIG runs virtually tomorrow night – David Lee
  • Update from Chris Gainor 
    • Chris was interviewed by CTV News about William Shatner going into space aboard 
    • Russia is launching into space tomorrow morning
    • Chris is still waiting for his history of Hubble book to arrive
  • Sky Quality Map redo – Lauri Roche
    • Last map covering Greater Victoria (Sooke to Sidney) done in 2010
    • Victoria Centre should remeasure the data
    • We need a project leader
    • Canvas our members for interest and who has Unihedron Sky Quality Meters
  • Astronomy photos from Victoria Centre
    • Unusual Nebula NGC 6164 in Norma – observing the southern hemisphere using the Chile One Slooh telescope – Joe Carr
    • David Lee is seeking sources of data for his interest in Astrometry
    • Wizard Nebula NGC 7380 taken last Sunday night – Brock Johnston
  • Firefly Alpha rocket – photos of aborted launch from Vandenberg Air Base – Reg Dunkley