Astronomy Cafe – Jan 30, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of the meeting

  • Special General Meeting – Feb 13, 2023
    • Adopting amendments to the Centre’s Purposes (under our Constitution) and Bylaws for RASC Victoria Centre – requires a 2/3 vote by members
    • This meeting will be held at the start of Astro Cafe that evening
    • Quorum is 25 members
    • Proxies to exercise your vote can be given to another RASC Victoria member who will be attending
    • After the business meeting: Sara Ellison, Astronomy Professor at the University of Victoria, will present A brief history of galaxies: from the discovery of island universes to clash of the titans.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF – Dave Payne
    • Reviewed data acquisition and processing methodology
    • 8 second and 2 minute exposures over two nights used
    • Preliminary results, including video showing the comet’s motion through the sky
    • Members’ comet observing stories
  • Angular Momentum – Marie Welchframe
    • APOD image from a couple of days ago used the term “angular momentum”, so Marjie looked it up
    • Video explaining angular momentum for kids – law of physics
    • Group discussion: what happens to angular momentum when….
  • FDAO Astro Jeopardy – Lauri Roche
    • James, Ben & Dan were the contestants last Saturday evening
    • One unanswered question: /Which planet has the most moons?/ Unanswered so far. Saturn (83) or Jupiter (80) according to NASA.
  • Astronomy in Victoria – John McDonald
    • A presentation to Berwick House residents
    • Reviewed Plaskett’s work, DAO imaging exoplanets, forming stars
    • RASC out reach and in reach
    • Silent Sky at Langham Court Theatre – Play at Langham Court about Henrietta Leavitt
    • Laurie and Calvin presented four times in the past at Berwick a few years ago
    • Discussion of Christian Marois’ discovery of the first imaged exoplanet
  • Virtual presentations from RASC National – Lauri Roche
  • RASC Victoria Centre Picnic at Pearson College – Bill Weir
    • Late August would be best
  • AAS conference in Seattle – Chris Gainor
  • RASC Victoria AGM tentatively to be held on March 13

Astronomy Cafe – Jan 23, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Cowichan Valley Starfinders (CVSF) – Brian Robilliard  and Ed Nicolas
    • 30 members at the peak, but now very few members
    • 5 members left to run the star party, which is not enough coverage for ISP
    • CVSF meetings held at Brian’s place until pandemic
  • Island Star Party (ISP) – Brian Robilliard and Ed Nicholas
    • ISP History
      • 27 years ago, the ISP was held at a member’s farm
      • Moved ISP to the Duncan Airport
      • Moved to the Victoria Fish and Game on the Malahat, including a joint star party with RASC Victoria in 2009
    • Observing field is reserved for this year’s event at Bright Angel Park – Aug 11-13, 2023
    • Perseids under a New Moon should be a good show on the morning of the 13th
    • Accommodation and Transportation
      • Tenting and RVs welcome on the observing field
      • Driving from Victoria to Bright Angel Park is less than an hour
      • Guest houses and hotels are available in the Cowichan Valley for those who do not want to camp
    • Discussion of field setup
    • Volunteers needed
      • Promotion – Joe Carr
      • Door Prizes – Bruce Lane?
      • Speakers – 
      • Nature Walk – Cowichan Valley Natural History Society
      • Food vendors would require an additional permit
      • Volunteer-run BBQ can work – pay by donation
      • Dave Payne is coordinating with CVSF
      • Setup, teardown –
    • Finances and Equipment
      • Tents, tables and other ISP gear – new storage site needed
      • Overnight campers – charge a fee
      • Drop-ins – no charge
      • CVSF can contribute some funds
      • To-do List – Brian
      • Dave Payne will ensure our national event insurance will cover the ISP event
      • Tent rental will be needed
  • Venus-Saturn Conjunction – Randy Enkin
    • Weather in Victoria was frustrating
    • iPhone photo through a 400mm telescope – Chris Purse
    • Better conditions elsewhere in the world
  • Comet ZTF C/2022 E3 – Randy Enkin
    • Star chart – passing between the Big Dipper and Little Dipper
    • Observing hints –
      • easy observing with binoculars or telescopes
      • higher altitude in the early morning hours
    • Getting brighter as the comet is nearer to Earth – maybe Magnitude 5 by mid-February
    • Review of comet photos found online
    • Members who have observed the comet – Reg Dunkley, Mike Webb, Bill Weir
    • How to observe this comet –
    • Comet disconnection event photo by Adam Block from Arizona
  • FDAO Star Party – Lauri Roche

Astronomy Cafe – Jan 16, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

Dr. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton is an astronomer in residence at the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). She received her PhD from Université Laval and is the principal investigator for the SIGNALS project. This is a large survey program aiming at observing over 50,000 resolved star-forming regions in nearby galaxies.

  • Resident astronomer at CFHT for the last 6 years
    • Started at Mont Megantic with SpIOMM instrument – spectral imager
  • SITELLE – Spectral imager
    • Started building the instrument in 2010
    • Acquires both spectra and an image of each object
    • 2017 – Instrument shipped to Hawai’i
  • Canada-France-Hawaii telescope
    • Some issues with weather (snow, clouds), earthquakes (volcanoes), but lots of clear and stable nights
    • Timelapse of telescope operation
  • Science
    • Big Bang
    • First stars formed
    • New elements
    • First galaxies formed
    • Stellar clusters form into stars
    • Stellar Initial Mass Function – stable through the whole Universe?
    • OB massive stars in H2 regions – Laurie’s study area
  • SITELLE – how it works
    • Michelson Interferometer – emission lines
    • Data cube has both imagery and spectra
  • SIGNALS – Star formation, Ionized Gas, and Nebular Abundances Legacy Survey
    • Large, multinational group of researchers
    • Star Formation Rate & Efficiency
    • Stellar Initial Mass Function
    • 9 fields to cover M33
    • More than 30,000 HII regions currently in the survey
    • Supernova remnants as well
  • U of T – new job at a development lab
    • Building a new generation of SITELLE
    • Imaging spectrograph at much higher resolution
    • The resulting instrument needs a large aperture telescope
  • Q&A
    • A dynamical Model – stellar winds affect dense molecular clouds – clumping and finger structures
    • Each pixel of data has their own interferogram
    • Initial Mass Function – huge amount of data
    • Changing instruments and telescope time at CFHT – ranking of proposals – technical and science
    • Mauna Kea Spectra Explorer – an upgrade to CFHT
      • Bigger aperture instrument
      • Using 20,000 optical fibres are part of the plan
    • Culture of astronomy – accommodating diversity and promote inclusivity
      • Mauna Kea is a sacred site
      • Include local aboriginal teachings in presentations at local astronomy groups
      • Learn some of the language used by first nations when they talk about the night sky
    • Is SITELLE technology used elsewhere?
      • Straight IR is being used in other instruments
      • The “perfect” beam splitter used by SITELLE is unique
      • Software to analyze the SITELLE data is unique
      • Size of the SITELLE detector and data throughput is also unique
    • DAO work being used by CFHT?
      • Spectroscopy innovations and staff
      • Adaptive optics systems
    • How did you get involved in astronomical research?
      • Asked a lot of questions about astronomy as a child
      • Enjoyed physics at the university

Silent Sky  at Langham Court Theatre – performances Jan 25 to Feb 11

  • Story of Henrietta Leavitt and her astronomical research done a century ago
  • Jim Hesser is the scientific advisor
  • Members of RASC urged to enjoy this performance
  • Special presentation by Sara Ellison at the Feb 5th afternoon performance

Observing Notes – Randy Enkin

  • Observers Handbook – Conjunction of Venus & Jupiter – Jan 21/22 – half a degree from Saturn just after sunset. In fact, the conjunction should be visible before sunset.
  • Sat 28th at 8PM – Uranus being occulted by the Moon
  • Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF – observable in the early morning hours – Sky At Night

Makers SIG – meeting online this Thursday – David Lee

RASC Publications for sale – contact Lauri Roche by email

  • 2023 Night Sky Almanac – good for planning your observing
  • Explore the Moon $10
  • Explore the Universe $10
  • 2023 RASC Observers Calendar – 2 left at $15 each

Observatory Hill road update – Lauri Roche

  • Probably another couple of months before the road is open to the public

Astronomy Cafe – Jan 9, 2023

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Intro – Randy Enkin
    • We still don’t have approval to hold monthly meetings at UVic, so speakers will continue to present at Astronomy Cafe
  • Learning Astrophotography – Reg Dunkley
    • Dec 6th Astro Cafe presentation by Ron Fisher on his adventures learning astrophotography – thanks Ron!
    • Victoria Centre Observatory can help members to start taking astrophotos using our centre’s gear once the VCO reopens – soon now. Bring your own dSLR to use on our Takahashi refractor, or use our 61 mpix mono astro camera on our OGS Ritchey–Chrétien telescope.
  • Far Side Amateur Astronomers Observing a Supernova – Reg Dunkley
  • Laurie Rousseau-Nepton from CFHT is the speaker for next week’s Astro Cafe – Dave Payne
    • Hydrogen star-forming regions
    • Observing with the SITELLE sensor on CFHT
  • RASC Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • WR134 Wolf-Rayette star and region – Abdur Anwar
  • Sunrise, Sunset and the Path of the Sun – Randy Enkin
    • Why does the shortest day not happen at Winter Solstice? – question posed by Marjie Welchframe
    • Obliquity – plus or minus 8 mins variability for a “day” – tilt of the ecliptic to the equator
    • Eccentricity – Kepler’s Second Law – causes variation between civil time and solar time
    • Sun compass – uses local solar tip and longitude, corrected for DST
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Beginners Group – back to basics
    • Electronically-assisted Astronomy – winding down
    • Citizen Science – starting up
    • Astrophotography – had a meeting in Dec, and will report to Astro Cafe in a couple of weeks
    • Makers – David building an “environment box”
  • President’s Announcements – Randy Enkin
    • Soliciting feedback from members on the new proposed bylaws by Jan 15th – send to Secretary and President.
    • Special meeting to adopt the new bylaws
    • Hold AGM under (hopefully) new bylaws
    • Members should consider standing for election to an officer’s position – contact Reg Dunkley, Nominations – email
  • Handbooks for Explore the Universe and Explore the Moon are available at $10 each. Also some 2023 RASC Observers calendars are still available at $15 each. Contact Lauri Roche by email
  • Observing Opportunities

President’s Message – December 2022

Posted by as President's Message

We are members of this venerable institution because we share a bond of fascination with the wonders of the sky. I don’t think any of us joined the Centre to worry about the details of how it runs.

These are the opening lines of an email I sent on December 10 to all the Members of the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. We are proposing a new Constitution and Bylaws to run the Victoria Centre. Did you receive it? Please read it! I hope we explain well enough why the amendments are necessary and how they will make our centre operate better.

Randy Enkin using his sextant
Randy Enkin using his sextant

The Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada was founded in 1914. We’ve been through a lot! But all organizations need to ride with the times. The fact that we now communicate electronically has to be acknowledged and embraced by our bylaws. But once we opened the doors to an amendment, then it became clear that there are many other issues to modernize or fix.

Fortunately we have some remarkable members in the Victoria Centre, who understand how constitutions and bylaws are supposed to be worded. The committee which produced the amendments was chaired by our vice president, Dave Payne, who has experience running non-profit organizations. The other members of the committee are our secretary, Jill Sinkwich, who had previously worked for the Ministry of Finance on the BC Societies Act; our Membership Chair, Chris Purse, who participated in writing the previous version of the bylaws and is a font of institutional memory; Dan Posey, who has experience writing provincial legislation; and me, president and cheerleader for this group of awesome hardworking members.

We request that you read and provide comments on the draft Constitution and Bylaws by January 15, 2023 to We particularly need to know if there are issues that would prompt you to vote against adoption of the bylaws at the upcoming Special General Meeting, which will be scheduled in February. The Bylaws must be passed with a special resolution of the centre by a 2/3 vote.

We know they are not perfect, but we feel that they are a significant improvement over what we are currently working under.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin,