2019 Transit of Mercury

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2016 Transit of Mercury - prize-winning photo by John McDonald. Mercury is the tiny dot just above the trees, not the big sunspot in the middle of the Sun!
2016 Transit of Mercury – prize-winning photo by John McDonald. Mercury is the tiny dot just above the trees, not the big sunspot in the middle of the Sun!

This transit of Mercury will be well underway when the Sun rises at 7:00AM on November 11th. Observers in our location on the west coast of Canada will need to get up early and setup in the dark or pre-dawn, so familiarize yourself with your chosen observing location a few days before this event!

2019 Mercury Transit – gallery of photos and sketches from RASC Victoria Centre members.

Transit timing for Victoria, BC, Canada – Nov 11, 2019 – Pacific Standard Time (PST) – 2 hours & 45 minutes long

  • First contact (ingress, exterior): sun below horizon
  • Second contact (ingress, interior): sun below horizon
  • Sunrise – 7:00AM in the SE
  • Greatest transit: 7:20:26 AM PST
  • Third contact (egress, interior): 10:03:02 AM PST – Sun Altitude 19°
  • Fourth contact (egress, exterior): 10:04:43 AM PST
2019 Mercury Transit world map - Fred Espenak
2019 Mercury Transit world map – Fred Espenak

Observing

2019 Mercury Transit diagram - Fred Espenak
2019 Mercury Transit diagram – Fred Espenak

You should try out any gear you propose to use before Nov 11th. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you will be using. Take test photos of the Sun well before this event, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. 

Unlike a total solar eclipse, there is no safe time to take off your solar filters when observing a planetary transit across the Sun. Solar filters must be used the whole time you are looking at the Sun for this event!

Choose a location that has a clear view to the east and southeast, since the transit will be in progress as the Sun rises. Being located on a hill will be an advantage for observing the Sun (and transit) sooner.

Mercury is too small to see without using some magnification, so at a minimum, use solar filters on binoculars or a small telescope to observe with. Mercury will be impossible or extremely difficult to see with unaided eyes or pinhole projectors.

Timing and azimuth of sunrise from Victoria on Nov 11, 2019
Timing and azimuth of sunrise from Victoria on Nov 11, 2019

Finally, relax and enjoy this event. Sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses and filtered binoculars or telescope handy, and enjoy!

Resources

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

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.’

New Horizons Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt – a public talk

Posted by as Events

May 14, 2019 – 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Victoria Conference Centre
Lecture Theatre, Level 1

Click here to register

ABOUT THE TALK
In July of 2015 the New Horizons spacecraft flew through the Pluto system, completing humanity’s reconnaissance of the classical planets. Pluto turned out to be a world of remarkable geologic diversity, and its surfaces display a range of ages, suggesting geologic activity of various forms has persisted for much of Pluto’s history. Images looking back at the sun through Pluto’s thin atmosphere led to the discovery of numerous haze layers, and it turns out Pluto has a blue sky. Pluto’s large moon Charon was active early in its life, with a very large cyrovolcanic event that covered large areas of the moon.

On January 1st of 2019 (yes this year!) New Horizons encountered its second target, a smaller Kuiper Belt Object approximately 30 km across that is 43 times farther from the sun than the Earth is. This is the farthest planetary body ever explored in detail by a spacecraft. We are in the beginning stages of understanding this unique world, but I will highlight what we have learned so far and present the latest images.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Dr. Kelsi Singer is a senior research scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO and a Deputy Project Scientist on NASA’s New Horizons mission. Dr. Singer’s graduate work focused on the geology and geophysics of the icy moons around Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. She also studies impact cratering across the solar system (from Mercury to the Kuiper belt!).

Astronomy Day 2019 in Victoria

Posted by as Events, Special Events

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal BC Museum present

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum

Press Release

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

Astronomy Day 2019 in Victoria poster
Astronomy Day 2019 in Victoria (printable poster – 201k PDF) – please spread the word and stick a reminder on your fridge

All Astronomy Day activities are FREE and available to the general public. Membership in RASC is not required.

Regular admission applies to the Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre.
Astronomy Day 2019 photo gallery

Telescope at Astronomy Day 2017

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 4PM

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

  • Interactive activities outside on the plaza
    • View the Sun safely through solar telescopes (weather permitting)
  • Interactive activities inside in Clifford Carl Hall (Museum main level)
    • Telescope-making – grind a mirror and build your own telescope
    • Telescope show-and-tell – try out telescopes and ask questions
    • Astrophotography – take photos of the night sky with your own camera
    • Children’s astro crafts – kids make their own astronomy and space souvenirs
    • Ask an Astronomer – find answers to those questions about astronomy and space you always wanted to ask
    • Light-based Science – light is energy, and energy is a big part of our Universe
    • Responsible Lighting – get pointers on how to reduce your own light pollution, and feel better for it
    • Planetarium – cruise the night sky during the day while sitting on a couch

Presentations in Newcombe Auditorium

  • 11:00AM – Exploring a New World on the Edge of the Solar System, New Horizons and 2014 MU69 – by famed solar system expert JJ Kavelaars of the NRC. Poster (837kb pdf)
  • 12:00 Noon – Space Suite I – Our wondrous universe set to a timeless score – presented by Knowledge Network and Two Story Productions. Poster (837kb pdf)
  • 1:00PM – Observing Planet Formation around Young Stars – planetary researcher Ruobing (Robin) Dong from U Vic. Poster (577kb pdf)
  • 2:00PM – Space Suite II – Our wondrous universe set to a timeless score – presented by Knowledge Network and Two Story Productions. Poster (837kb pdf)
  • 2:30PM – Science & Storytelling: How discoveries of new worlds help tell stories of family – Elizabeth Tasker and Ria Voros. The two authors will discuss how they came to work together unexpectedly through Ria’s novel. Poster (2Mb pdf)
    • Elizabeth Tasker is an Astrophysicist at the Institute for Space and Astronautical Science at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Her forthcoming popular science book is “The Planet Factory”, on planet formation and exoplanets. The updated paperback edition comes out in Canada late April.
    • Ria Voros is a local Young Adult novelist whose forthcoming book is coincidentally titled “The Centre of the Universe”. In this story 17 year old Grace’s mother is missing. Grace is obsessed with exoplanets and she meets Elizabeth a few times in the book.

Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PM

The Hon. Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor looking through Chuck Filnesss' telescope

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Lecture – 8:30PM & 9:30PM – Science & Storytelling: How discoveries of new worlds help tell stories of family – Elizabeth Tasker and Ria Voros
  • Only holders of (free) tickets will be admitted to this evening event!
  • Click Here to Reserve Your Tickets – currently sold out, but click the link to check back later!

Lauri Roche awarded the RASC Service Award for 2019

Posted by as News

I’m pleased to announce that our own Lauri Roche has won the RASC Service Award.

The Service Award is a major award of the Society given to a member in recognition of outstanding service, rendered over an extended period of time, where such service has had a major impact on the work of the Society and/or of a Centre of the Society.

We all know the many things Lauri does in the Victoria Centre, and at the national level she has also made major contributions, including her work with education programs.

Congratulations Lauri!

Chris Gainor, Ph.D.
President
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

Lauri Roche

Lauri Roche has been a member of RASC since 1995. She was an elementary and middle school teacher for many years, using her Masters of Education from Carlton effectively to support kids with a wide range of disabilities as a special education teacher. Lauri switched to teaching grade 7-8 math and science through to her retirement, and she continues to substitute teach those subjects, and tutors students as well.

Lauri has been active in Victoria Centre, volunteering for or leading countless public outreach events, including: International Astronomy Day, public nights at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), Vancouver Island Regional Science Fairs, numerous public observing events, and bringing astronomy to the very popular Saanich (agricultural) Fair.

RASC booth at the Saanich Fair – 2009

Lauri is also active at the National level of RASC, contributing to the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) committee. During 2018, she co-hosted a national contest in honour of the RASC sesquicentennial called Imagining the Skies. This online contest highlighted astronomical media through photography, sketching, art and crafts.

Serving terms on Victoria Centre’s Council as Treasurer, Vice-president, and President, Lauri has shown great leadership through collaboration with many Centre members. Her past efforts to involve RASC members in public outreach have resulted in many members who continue to support this most important mission to engage the public in science and especially astronomy. Her support of others’ leadership of events speaks to her excellent collaborative approach to public outreach, and using volunteerism as a fun, social activity to get members involved in RASC’s main mission.

Lauri Roche introducing Nathan Gray at the 2014 General Assembly. Photo by Real Roi

As one of the lead members of the Victoria Centre’s School Telescope Program, Lauri has lent her considerable expertise in interacting with students of all ages (kindergarten to high school), and has helped make this program the most sought after by teachers beyond the local area schools.  In the 2017-2018 school year more than 2,000 students took advantage of this program, involving 80 presentations and night sky viewing sessions.

Lauri’s support of astronomy outreach to the public on Observatory Hill through Saturday night events during the summer months at the Centre of the Universe and the historic Plaskett telescope predates her involvement in the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO). That said, she joined the board of the FDAO very soon after its inception and has been one of its strongest resources for outreach and education ever since, as the FDAO strives to revitalize EPO on Observatory Hill.

Ben Dorman, Lauri Roche & Don Moffatt – Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Lauri has almost single-handedly kept FDAO’s fledgling volunteer daytime tours program running, not only by being lead presenter and educator, but also by organizing other volunteers to participate. She has also been a mainstay of regular Saturday Star parties for the public every summer, and unstintingly gives her time on other evenings of the week to give talks on basic astronomy and about Canadian observatories around the world  to all ages and levels of knowledge. Finally, Lauri is a strong advocate on the board for enhancing public outreach offerings and their accessibility to the widest possible public.

Collaborating with and encouraging RASC members to get involved has been the hallmark of Lauri’s approach to public outreach. Lauri’s contagious enthusiasm for astronomy and science, and her active support outside the classroom of young women choosing science careers can’t help but support astronomy being more inclusive. There is no doubt that her outreach in the classroom has helped younger people to consider scientific endeavours as cool and desirable career choices.

Nominators

Reg Dunkley, President, RASC Victoria Centre
Chris Purse, Past President, RASC Victoria Centre
Dr. Chris Gainor, President, RASC National
Sid Sidhu, RASC Victoria Centre
Dr. Ben Dorman, Chair, Friends of the DAO and RASC member
Joe Carr, RASC Victoria Centre

Total Lunar Eclipse – Jan 20, 2019

Posted by as Observing Highlights

RASC Victoria members’ photos of the 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse

On Sunday, January 20th, 2019, we will be able to view a total eclipse of the Moon (weather permitting). The Moon will be in partial phase after rising from the eastern horizon, and move into full eclipse in evening hours as it climbs in altitude and moves to the southeast. The Total Lunar Eclipse will develop over the course of about 3 hours, will be in Totality for about an hour, and 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.

ECLIPSE TIMELINE
Eclipse beginsMoon’s eastern limb enters the penumbra6:36 pm PST
Partial eclipse begins – 1st ContactMoon’s eastern limb enters the umbra7:33 pm PST
Total eclipse starts – 2nd ContactMoon entirely in the umbra;
deep orange red
8:41 pm PST
Totality9:12 pm PST
Total eclipse ends – 3rd Contact9:43 pm PST
Partial eclipse ends – 4th ContactMoon’s western limb leaves the umbra10:51pm PST
Eclipse endsMoon leaves the penumbra11:48 pm PST
Above Eclipse times are for Pacific Standard Time (PST) for the west coast of North America, and are calculated from UT as presented in the Observers Handbook 2019, pages 127-29.

What’s Happening

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.


h

Glossary

  • 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

Observing Tips

What do you need?

Everything from your eyes, binoculars and telescope are suitable. Bear in mind this is a long process and at this time of year 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 during the late stages.

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 2019, page 129.

Totally eclipsed Moon over the Salish Sea from Cattle Point – Sep 27, 2015

Photographic Tips

Equipment

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.

Settings

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 something close to this, 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

Example:

 Focal Length ApertureEffective Focal Length
with 2x teleconvertor
Effective Aperture
with 2x teleconvertor
 180mm 2.8 360mm 5.6
 480mm 6.8 960mm 13.6

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
Full Moon1/500 second at f/16
1st Contact1/250 second at f/16 see note 1.
2nd Contact1 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
3rd Contact1 second at f/16 see note 2.
4th Contact1/250 second at f/16 see note 1.
* Danjon Lunar Eclipse Luminosity Scale
 L = 1dark eclipse; lunar surface details distinguishable only with difficultly
 L = 2deep red or rust coloured eclipse; central part of the umbra dark but outer rim relatively bright
 L = 3brick-red eclipse; usually with a brighter (frequently yellow) rim to the umbra
 L = 4very 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 davidflee7331@gmail.com.


David Lee – original text
Joe Carr – updated for 2019
Brenda Stuart – illustrations


More information:

Holiday Greetings!

Posted by as News

Christmas 2018 at Astro Cafe
Christmas 2018 at Astro Cafe – photo by Wyman Lee

Please note that Astronomy Cafe will be closed on both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve but will reopen at 7:30 PM on Monday January 7th 2019.

The next Monthly Meeting of the Victoria Centre will occur at 7:30 PM on Wednesday January 9th, 2019 at the University of Victoria.

Happy Holidays to all our members and friends!

RASCals Star Party 2018

Posted by as Events, Special Events

September 7-9, 2018

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

2018 RASCals Star Party poster (719kb PDF)

 

Gates will open at 2pm 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 tickets for door prizes, presentations, and access to the observing field.

Prizes for kids and adults, including three telescopes! See below…

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

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

 

Observing Field at St. Stephens Church
Observing Field at St. Stephens Church

The StarBQ crowd under the tarps!
Click image for slideshow of 2018 RASCals Star Party photos

Schedule of Events

Friday 7th

  • 2:00 pm – Gates open
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including a telescope!
  • 6:30 pm – Astro Cafe – Theme: Star Parties
    • Bill Weir will share experiences from recent Mt Kobau and Merrit Star Parties.
    • Miles and Dorothy Paul will describe highlights from the latest Oregon Star Party
    • Nelson Walker will discuss his planning process for observing sessions
    • Plus Show and Tell Session
  • 8:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Saturday 8th

  • Solar viewing – all day on the field
  • Afternoon presentation – TBA
  • 5:00 pm – StarBBQ – burgers!
  • 6:15 pm – Welcome and door prizes, including two telescopes!
  • 6:30 pm – Speaker – David Lee will share his experiences, insights and beautiful images acquired on his recent trip to Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona and during his time amongst the iconic Saguaro cacti.
  • 8:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please

Sunday 9th

  • 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 please!

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 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

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 M or L sizes ($16 ea), white t-shirts available in Men’s S & XL ($12 ea), and white Kid’s t-shirts available in S & M ($12 ea).


Prizes

  • Bushnell 4.5″ reflector telescope – Friday night prize – donated by a RASC member
  • Sky-Watcher Virtuoso P114 4.5″ Matsukov telescope & computerized mount – Adult’s Grand Prize – Saturday night – donated by Quarky Science
  • Celestron Astromaster 130AZ 5” reflector telescope – Kid’s Grand Prize – Saturday night – donated by All-Star Telescope

 

 


Location

What to observe

Night sky on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:30PM
Night sky on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:30PM

FOR SALE – Meade 14″ SCT and accessories

Posted by as Buy&Sell

RASC Victoria Centre is selling surplus astronomical equipment

Meade 14″ SCT telescope, cradle mount & Hyperstar f/2

PLEASE NOTE – ALL ITEMS ARE NOW SOLD!

Photo gallery of Victoria Centre’s Observatory

 

  • Please refer to the asking prices of the items listed below. Items will be sold to the bidder who submits the highest bid price.
  • Once a bid is accepted, prompt payment by bank draft or certified cheque is preferred, payable to: RASC Victoria Centre. Payment by personal cheque drawn on a US or Canadian bank is also acceptable, but will cause delays.
  • Tie bids will be decided by the date and time the bids are first received.
  • Local pickup of items is preferred, otherwise successful bidders are responsible for shipping costs in addition to their bid price.
  • The equipment listed below has been used together for the last 10 years at Victoria Centre’s observatory. Items can be bought separately or together.
  • All equipment is sold as-is without any warranty or guarantee of fitness for purpose.

Please contact Bruno Quenneville if you need further details about the items offered for sale Email (brunoqvictoria@gmail.com) or call ‭(250) 888-3450‬.

Send your bids to Joe Carr

  • Email (web@victoria.rasc.ca)
  • Postal mail or courier: Attn: RASC Victoria Centre, 3046 Jackson St, Victoria, BC Canada V8T 3Z8.

Meade 14” f/10 SCT telescope optical tube – SOLD

  • Optical tube only – no diagonals or mounting hardware is included
  • Includes
    • Meade standard finder scope
    • Feather Touch ultra fine thread focuser upgrade – see red arrowed item in photo below
    • Dew shield
  • Other accessories available – see below for Hyperstar and cradle mount (both used with this 14″ SCT)
  • Meade’s website
  • $1,350 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks. Optics need cleaning.

Meade 14" SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2" digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)
Meade 14″ SCT, Feather Touch focuser upgrade (included), WO 2″ digital focuser (not included), Meade finder scope (included)

Hyperstar f/2 focal reducer for Meade or Celestron SCT telescopes – SOLD

  • Reduces optics from f/10 to f/2 for imaging only (not for visual use)
  • Starizona website – verify with Starizona this reducer will work with your telescope!
  • $450 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.

Cradle mount for 14″ optical tube telescopes – SOLD

  • This heavy duty metal cradle provides excellent support for a 14″ optical tube such as the above Meade 14″ SCT
  • Includes
    • Losmandy style rails suitable for attaching the cradle to a heavy duty tracking mount
    • Two (2) Losmandy style rails  on both sides for mounting additional telescopes or other gear
  • $650 asking price
  • Condition: Used showing minor wear, but in good operating condition with no marks.