Astronomy Cafe – Apr 15, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Oak Bay Lighting in Uplands – Dave Robinson
    • Resident pressure stopped replacement of existing historic lighting
    • Proposed lighting upgrade is a poor idea
    • There are good options available for “historic” light fixtures
    • RASC Victoria should approach the mayor
    • Email to
  • Solar Eclipse Reports
    • Aboard the Discovery Princess – 125nmi SW from Mazatlan, Mexico
      • Joe Carr
        • John McDonald and Bill Weir and his wife from Victoria were also onboard the ship
        • Pastry chefs served eclipse cookies
        • Princess Cruises and the ship’s officers were very well prepared for this special cruise, giving out eclipse glasses to both passengers and crew, communicating the ship’s position and heading would be, and having two experts aboard to give presentations on the subject and answer questions.
        • Observed a beautiful Green Flash at sunset the night before the eclipse
        • Ships within a few miles: Zaandam, Koningsdam, Sh Diana, and Ruby Princess
        • John and Joe observed from Joe’s balcony, since it was on the side of the ship facing the Sun
        • Eclipse photos and videos
          • Partial phase
          • Projected images of the eclipsed Sun through deck chair webbing
          • Totality, including prominences, plasma streamers, Diamond Ring at C3 and the planets Jupiter and Venus near the Sun
          • Wide field time lapse video of the eclipse
        • A 10ºC temperature drop was measured with a portable weather station during the eclipse
      • John McDonald
        • Eclipse shadows spelling words
        • Lots of great food onboard the ship
        • Observed and photographed partial phases and Totality
        • It was very dark overhead but quite light around us
        • Lots of excitement onboard among the passengers after the eclipse
      • Bill Weir
        • Observed from the top deck with a Coronado PST for Ha and a small Apo refractor with white light filter
        • Night sky viewing with Dr. Matt or Prof. Shelly on the top deck
        • Showed lots of passengers solar images
        • Saw Jupiter, Venus and a glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet
        • Corona was a spectacular flower-like apparition
        • Enrichment Speakers
          • Dr. Matt – dinosaurs, meteorites and astronomy
          • Prof. Shelly Bonus, UCLA, Mt. Wilson – friend of John Dobson
        • The ship was remarkably stable
    • Sherbrooke, Quebec – Alex Schmid
      • Drove to Quebec and back from BC!
      • Problems with telescope tracking and camera
      • Perfectly clear on eclipse day
      • Observed prominences, Venus and Jupiter
      • Lots of traffic on the roads after eclipse
    • Miramachi, New Brunswick – Clayton Uyeda
      • Had concerns about all the clouds, but it cleared
      • Observed from a remote site with his wife
      • Twilight but not dark
      • Indigenous smudging, drumming nearby
      • Students are back in Victoria High School. John Geehan trying to start up the trans-Neptunian Objects initiative with the high school’s new observing deck.
    • Central Texas – Peter Jedicke
      • Drove from Ontario
      • Weather was iffy, but it cleared for lots of glimpses of the eclipse
      • Enjoyed reports from dozens of people spread out all along the path of totality
    • Kingston, Ontario – Marjie Welchframe
      • Cloudy during the eclipse, but usable observing
    • Photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – by RASC Victoria Centre members
  • Activities along eclipse path – Randy Enkin
    • AirB&B occupancy map
    • Traffic maps and delays
    • Air traffic
    • observations
    • Eye pain queries
  • Victoria Centre Observatory – David Lee, Randy Enkin and Reg Dunkley
    • 7 observers at recent observing session on April 13th
    • A glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet just after sunset
    • Mike Nash and Randy Enkin observed and photographed the Moon
    • Used a half hour on the Takahashi telescope to sketch Theophilius crater
    • Some first-time VCO observers had an interesting time
  • Chris Gainor
    • Met with Jenna Hinds at RASC National
      • Insurance coverage for VCO will be put in place
      • GA planned for May 4-5
      • Shot a video during the eclipse from Colchester Harbour, Ontario
  • Upcoming Activities
    • Council meeting on April 23, 2024
    • Astronomy Day planning meeting on April 25, 2024

Marjie Welchframe will host next week’s Astro Cafe on April 22, 2024.

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 8, 2024

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Meeting video transcript

Total Solar Eclipse 2024 reports

  • Montreal, Quebec – Brian & Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Ice crystal 15º ring
    • Travelled from southern Ontario
  • Montreal, Quebec – Randy Enkin
    • Family eclipse experience covered by a CBC journalist
    • Ice crystal 15º ring
    • Expo 67 island had 150,000 observers
    • Interviews: CFAX, Times-Colonist, CBC
    • Observed: “pink” fingers coming inward to the Moon
    • Temperature drop
    • Eclipse cookies
  • Windsor, Ontario – Chris Gainor
    • Drove south to get into the path of totality in Colchester Harbour to observe over Lake Erie
    • High cloud didn’t diminish the view
    • 1979 eclipse was in bitter cold, 2017 in Oregon
    • 1.5 minutes of Totality
    • First eclipse for family – they were impressed
    • Video of the eclipse experience
  • St. Catherines, Ontario – Lauri Roche
    • Heavy cloud, but saw some glimpses of partial eclipses, but no totality
    • Lots of observers at Brock University didn’t see much
    • Temperature drop
    • Sudden darkening during totality, despite not being able to observe it
  • 30km west of Montreal, Quebec – Chris Purse
    • Drove from Kingston, Ontario to western Quebec on 401
    • Hazy conditions before totality
    • Diamond Ring was spectacular
    • Lots of detail visible during totality
    • Temperature drop
    • Lots of traffic on the roads as they drove back to Ottawa
  • Ron Fisher
    • Daughter in Hamilton reported the sky cleared enough to experience totality through the clouds
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – Jill Sinkwich
    • Unfortunately thick clouds obscured the whole eclipse
    • Temperature drop, sounds, darkness
  • Mazatlan, Mexico – reported by Dave Payne on behalf of Joe Carr
    • Photos by Joe aboard the Discovery Princess cruise ship offshore from Mazatlan
    • Bill Weir and his wife and John McDonald were also aboard
    • Miles Waite was nearby on the sister ship Ruby Princess
    • Some thin high cloud, but beautiful conditions
    • Eclipse cookies
    • Diamond Ring
    • Several prominences
    • More complete report from Joe and John next week
  • 2024 Eclipse Weather – Reg Dunkley
    • Forecast models
    • Review of weather conditions and forecasts along the path of totality
    • Animation showing the Moon’s shadow travelling across North America
    • Review of weather conditions over Victoria
  • Partial Eclipse from Victoria – David Lee & Kirsten Pedersen
    • Despite the weather and 17% eclipse, attendance at the Centre of the Universe event was very good
    • Nothing much to see through heavy cloud
    • CHEK and CTV interviews by David Lee and Dennis Crabtree
  • Next Total Solar Eclipses
    • 2026 over Iceland and Spain
    • 2044 over North America

Astronomy Cafe – March 25, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • MMT Observatory – Kali Salmas, Queue Observer
    • Mount Hopkins, 55km south of Tucson, Arizona
    • Originally had six 1.8m mirrors, 4.5m collecting area
    • Now a single 6.5m mirror with 3 secondaries: f/5, f/9, f/15 (adaptive)
    • Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory facility on the mountain
    • Instrumentation
      • Binospec – wide-field opitcal spectrograph
      • Hectochelle/Hectospec – 300 fibre optic spectroscope, robotically reconfigured
      • MMIRS – Infrared spectroscopy, nitrogen cooled
    • Magellan and MMT share instrument designs
    • Operating Staff
      • Telescope Operator – 3
      • Queue Observer – 3
    • Data acquisition
      • Weather, tracking, seeing, turbulence, lenticular cloud formation
      • 7.5-12 hours observing time
      • Moon phase
    • Target Considerations
      • Both manual and automated queue scheduler
      • Sensor being used
      • Magnitude range: 11-26
      • Moon phase
    • Setup on Target – telescope operator and queue observer work together
    • Taking Data – calibration frames, guide stars, check data, add notes, move to next target
    • Q&A
  • Astro-tourism in Northern Arizona – Dave Payne
    • Flagstaff area
    • Barringer Crater – Largest meteorite at 150′ across
    • Lowell Observatory
      • Many domes
      • Original observatory built in 1894
      • Historic 24″ Refractor
      • Privately financed by Percival Lowell to map Mars
      • History of discoveries and innovations by other astronomers at the site
      • Clyde Tombaugh – discovered Pluto with a 12″ telescope
      • 5m Discovery telescope – currently being used, has 5 instruments
  • Recurrent T Coronae Borealis – David Lee
  • Chris Gainor
    • Chandra X-ray space telescope may go dark due to impending budget cuts – 25 years of work done. Save Chandra
    • David Lane, past president of RASC has died. He was the author of Earth Centred Universe planetarium software, operated a popular robotic telescope from his home in Nova Scotia, and was on staff at St. Mary’s University until his retirement.

There is no Astronomy Cafe on April 1 due to Easter holiday. The April 8 meeting will be online only, since many members will be away to observe the Total Solar Eclipse from the path of Totality.

Astronomy Cafe – Mar 18, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Edmonton RASC’s BNLO Black Nugget Lake Observatory Unyk-Drew 32″ Telescope – Alister Ling
    • 32″ 0.8m folded f/4 128″ focal length Newtonian Alt/Az
    • Donation from Bob Drew, built by Roman Unyk, and funds from Alberta gamblers
    • East of Edmonton, fairly dark site, about 1-hour drive from the city
    • County land and camping, surrounded by farm land
    • Visual use only for public and member events
    • 3 observers at a time inside the dome
    • Observations
      • Crescent Nebula NGC 6888 – sketch by Berta Beltran
      • Einstein’s Cross – 17th Magnitude, gravitationally lensed quasar
      • Veil Nebula – amazing detail
      • M36 Pleiades cluster – FOV is too narrow to appreciate star clusters
      • Pease 1 planetary nebula in M15 globular cluster – star hopping required
      • NGC 40 – planetary nebulae are ideal for this telescope – colour apparent
      • M76 Little Dumbbell – lots of detail
      • M1 Crab Nebula – OIII filter reveals detail
      • Planets – not great targets for this telescope, but moons of Uranus: Umbriel, Titania & Ariel can be detected
      • NGC 891 – edge-on galaxy – irregular dark lane is obvious
      • Stephan’s Quintet – not an exciting object, so perhaps airglow and/or aurora degradation
      • M33 – good detail
      • NGC 206 Andromeda starcloud
      • M31 Andromeda Galaxy – core – scotopic & photopic vision – green colour visible
      • Colour of the core of the Orion Nebula – Hydrogen a, b, g, d – green colour visible
    • Comments from Bob Drew
  • Astrophotographs and Sketches
    • Observing from Victoria Centre Observatory – Randy Enkin
      • Photos of Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks using 12″ Dob and 20″ Obsession with new tracker
      • Moon sketch using 20″ Obsession
    • Mike Nash’s lunar photo compared with Randy Enkin’s sketch – both from their homes
    • Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks
      • Mar 18, 2024 APOD – red spiral core of the comet featured
      • Dan Posey’s photo of the comet and beautiful tail
  • Leap Year 2024 – Jeff Pivnick
    • Common Year, Solar Year and Sidereal Year
    • Leap Years started with Julian calendar
    • Gregorian calendar – more accurate compensation to define leap years
    • Accuracy of calendars adjusting for leap years
  • Events – David Lee, Randy Enkin, Lauri Roche
    • Makers SIG cancelled for this month
    • Next week’s Astro Cafe – presenter Kali Salmas, Operating the MMT Telescope in Arizona
    • FDAO Star Party – March 23 starting at 6:30PM

Astronomy Cafe – Mar 11, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Astrophotography – Dave Payne
    • Orion Nebula, M78 – reflection, emission and dark nebulae
    • Triangulum Galaxy M33
    • Monoceros (next to Orion) – Fox Fur Nebula
  • Barbara Lane 1955-2024
    • Memories of Barbara shared by Randy Enkin and other members
    • Hosted Astronomy Cafe along with her husband Kurt
    • Awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in 2022 for her contributions to Victoria Centre
    • Past Secretary of Victoria Centre, creating wonderful annual reports
    • Kurt and Barbara were a team, volunteering at public outreach events
  • New Crescent Moon of Ramadan 1445 – Randy Enkin
    • Muslim months start at the first glimpse of the New Crescent Moon – beginning of Ramadan
    • Observing a very new Crescent Moon is tricky!
  • They Promised Her the Moon – Dennis F
    • A local play by St. Luke’s Players
    • Originally, women were being tested for the Mercury Program
    • Chris Gainor added to the history of women in space
  • Chris Gainor
    • Canada Post 2024 Eclipse stamp – available this Thursday from your local post office
    • Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks – brightening as it falls apart. It might be visible during Totality on Total Solar Eclipse day.
  • Discord for RASC Victoria – Darren Delorme
    • Private chat room with channels and discussion threads for specific topics
    • Useful as an alternative to email
    • Post information of interest to everyone
    • Join the RASC-Victoria Discord Server!
  • UVic presentation this Wednesday at 7:30PM – Reg Dunkley
  • Volunteers needed
    • Astronomy Cafe – Randy Enkin email
    • Astronomy Day – Lauri Roche email
    • Victoria Centre’s Volunteers List – Marjie Welchframe email

Astronomy Cafe – Mar 5, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

  • 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) Information and Discussion
    • Randy Enkin
      • Observing the 2024 TSE from Montreal, Quebec
      • Review of the cosmic geometry for a solar eclipse
      • Track of Totality
      • Totality versus partial eclipse
      • How long have you been in the shadow?– list of top eclipse chasers
    • Joe Carr – 4 TSEs
    • Mike Webb – 8 TSEs
      • Totality flies by quickly, so relax and experience it
    • David Lee – 2107 in Oregon
      • Be sure to practice with your observing and photography gear ahead of time
    • Leslie Welch – 9 TSEs
      • Be sure to visually observe and experience the whole eclipse
    • Neil Banera – 2 TSEs
      • Luckily the cloud parted during Totality when observing from Austria
    • Lauri Roche – 2 TSEs
      • Observing the 2024 TSE from St. Catherines, Ontario
      • Solar Eclipse glasses available from the Centre of the Universe – about 100 left – email
      • – best Eclipse 2024 resource for teachers and students
      • Eclipse 2024 – RASC National listing of TSE events (scroll down)
      • 2024 Eclipse Ontario Education Bundle – comprehensive eclipse information for teachers and students
    • Reg Dunkley
      • Look at this forecast site starting two days before eclipse day – Astronomical Cloud Cover – refer to Eastern United States – 12 UTC
      • Video of 2017 TSE from Western Oregon University’s observing field
    • Leah & Cathy – observing 2024 TSE from Niagara-On-The-Lake
  • SIGs – David Lee
  • Chris Gainor
    • 2017 TSE from Madras Oregon
    • Observing the 2024 TSE from Ontario, near the USA border
    • Lauri Roche – CHEK News profile – Inspiring Island Women
    • RASC Victoria Centre Council Meeting on Thursday evening
  • Astrophotography – Matt Neild – Bubble Nebula
  • UVic Monthly meeting – Reg Dunkley
  • RASC Victoria Social Dinner – Lauri Roche
    • Over 60 attended last Monday, Feb 26th
    • Many new people
    • Thanks to all the organizers – a fun evening!

Galaxies at the Dawn of Time with JWST – Dr. Leonardo Ferreira, UVic Postdoc

Posted by as UVic Meetings

Date/Time: Wednesday March 13, 2024 starting at 7:30PM

Location: University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre, Lecture Theatre A104. Park in Lot 1 (pay parking) and cross Ring Road.

JWST First Deep Field Image: Galaxy Cluster SMACS 0723
JWST First Deep Field Image: Galaxy Cluster SMACS 0723

The new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) brought upon us a golden era for the study of distant galaxies. For the first time, we are capable of seeing the visible light of galaxies during the first billion years of the Universe. Understanding their shapes and forms, and how they changed since this epoch, reveals not only how they formed and evolved, but how our own Universe evolved as well.

This talk will highlight groundbreaking discoveries made with JWST and illustrate how they alter our understanding of the cosmos compared to the pre-JWST era. We will also address misconceptions that have arisen in the mainstream media regarding these new insights into cosmology and how our concept of galaxies has evolved dramatically since 1920.

Biography: Leonardo Ferreira was born in Brazil and pursued an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in physics at the Federal University of Rio Grande, where he first began his work on the morphology of galaxies. He then moved to the UK for his PhD studies in Astronomy, focusing on how galaxies evolved across cosmic time. In 2023, Leonardo joined the University of Victoria as a Postdoctoral Fellow, working within Prof. Sara Ellison’s group on the topics of galaxy evolution through merging interactions. Leonardo has led pioneering studies on the morphology of distant galaxies using JWST and remains actively involved in this research area.

2024 AGM – Awards

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Certificates of Recognition and Excellence for 2023

Congratulations to all the award winners who were announced at the RASC Victoria Centre Annual General Meeting held Feb 12, 2025!

Chris Purse – Certificate of Appreciation – Since the outbreak of the Covid Pandemic in 2020, Chris helped implement Astro Cafe Zoom sessions and has scheduled, hosted and coordinated these meetings. This contribution ensured that the Victoria Centre remained active and connected during a challenging interlude and has emerged as a preferred way for many to attend sessions.

David Payne  – Certificate of Appreciation – FOR organizing, coordinating, and executing a very successful 2023 Island Star Party at Bright Angel Park. Dave navigated bureaucratic hurdles and logistical challenges along the way. As a result, the many who attended will fondly remember this special event.

David Lee – Token of Appreciation – the Victoria Centre “renaissance Man” – in recognition of his many and wonderful contributions.

Lauri Roche – Token of Appreciation – the Victoria Centre “Energizer Bunny” – in recognition of her many and wonderful contributions.

Award of Excellence in Astro-Imaging – TO Ken McGill FOR his black and white image of the Horsehead Nebula and Neighbourhood.

Award of Excellence in Astro-Sketching – TO Bill Weir FOR his Comet C/2022 E3(ZTG) sketched on Feb 15, 2023 Using a Televue NP101 Refractor at 90x.

Installing gear on the 16″ Obsession – Miles analyzing the next step

RASC National Ken Chilton Prize in recognition of a significant piece of astronomical work carried out or published recently – TO Chris Gainor. His book Not Yet Imagined, documents the history of the Hubble Space Telescope. Citation

Ernie Pfannenschmidt Award for Telescope Making – TO Miles Waite FOR many improvements to the VCO 20 Inch Obsession Telescope including attaching digital setting circles and designing bumpers to safeguard these delicate sensors, as well as devising a customized system to stabilize the platform.

Newton-Ball For Distinguished Service to the Victoria Centre RASC – TO Alex Schmid – Alex has been an active member of the Victoria Centre for over 30 years. Accompanied by his iconic handmade Newtonian telescope, Alex has been introducing treasures of the night sky to the Public at DAO Star Parties for decades. His custom crafted tray at the VCO allows eyepieces (to be) safely stowed and readily available. As the Victoria Centre librarian he also prepares coffee, cookies, and wonderful cakes for monthly meetings at UVic. Alex also provides technical support at the Astro Cafe and serves as a Director at Large on Council. The Victoria Centre is very appreciative for the many contributions Alex has made over the years.

2023 AGM Slide Deck – RASC Victoria Centre

Astronomy Cafe – Feb 5, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Intro – Jeff Pivnick
  • EnceladusAPOD Feb 5, 2023 – Jeff Pivnick
    • Smaller moon of Saturn discovered by William Herschel
    • The Great Forty 48″ reflector in Slough near Windsor – Herschel’s telescope
    • Cassini Mission
      • Discoveries: magnetic field disruptions, jets of water from “tiger stripe” fissures, wobbly orbital period caused by loose crust
      • 2:1 resonance with Dione results in elliptical orbit and interior heating of the ocean below the crust
      • Cassini division in Saturn’s rings – named for Gian Domenico Cassini, discoverer
      • Mimas 1:2 resonance with Cassini division
    • Diameter 504 kms, 14% liquid water
    • Discussion
  • Randy Enkin
  • Annual General Meeting – RASC Victoria Centre – Randy Enkin
    • Feb 12 7:00PM – Zoom meeting – info and special link to be sent to members
    • Victoria Centre’s Annual Report – contact Randy Enkin with your report
    • Financial Report
    • Election – Reg Dunkley
      • Chris Gainor has agreed to stand for President
      • We now have a full slate, but further nominations will be sought at the AGM
      • New Council will be seeking involvement from members for volunteering
      • We need a quorum of 25 members. If you cannot attend, contact Randy (or another member attending) to be your proxy for voting purposes.
  • Social Dinner – RASC Victoria Centre – Four Mile Pub – Feb 26th
    • Large parking lot, but please carpool if possible
    • Sound system with microphone and speaker will be used for speakers
    • Attendees please contact Marjie to RSVP by Feb 21st
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Beginners SIG – tomorrow night’s presentation by Randy Enkin on observing the Moon
    • Citizen Science SIG cancelled
    • Astrophotography SIG – 4th Wednesday – hosted by Brock
  • Astronomy Books – David Lee
    • Observer’s Sky Atlas – Erich Karkoschka
    • 21st Century Atlas of the Moon – Charles Wood, Maurice Collins
  • Astronomy Cafe – March 4th
  • Scitech Daily
    • Perseverance Mars Lander – sedimentary layers discovered by ground penetrating radar and samples taken
    • Ingenuity helicopter has crashed

Next Astro Cafe – March 4th – none for the rest of February

Astronomy Cafe – Jan 29, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Intro – Randy Enkin
  • FDAO Star Party – Jan 27 – Randy Enkin
    • Games Night – Jeopardy – was a lot of fun
      • Teams: FDAO, RASC (Nathan, Randy, Chris Gainor)
      • Emcee: Amy
  • 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – Randy Enkin
    • 15% obscuration in Victoria
    • Observe first, photograph next
    • Eye safety – contact Lauri or Randy to pick up some eclipse glasses
    • RASC Eclipse Task Force – Lauri
      • Southern Ontario – mid-afternoon, school kids are being let out early
      • Maritimes – late afternoon, after school
      • Education of teachers in eastern Canada
    • Early March – next eclipse presentation at Astro Cafe
    • Total Solar Eclipse – April 8, 2024 | RASC Victoria
  • Victoria Centre Events – Randy Enkin
    • AGM – Feb 12th
      • Zoom only
      • Quorum of 25 needed
      • Financial Report
      • Election – slate in place except for President – contact Reg Dunkley
    • Social Dinner – Feb 26 at ~ Four Mile Brewpub
      • 22 people registered
      • Contact Marjie to sign up by Wed, Feb 21
      • 55 attendees allows exclusive use of the restaurant, so please sign up!
      • Starts at 6PM
      • Drinks and meals at own expense
      • Awards and speeches
      • Victoria Centre report of activities for 2023 – send info to Randy
    • Astronomy Day – May 18
      • Venue is the Royal BC Museum
      • Need a working committee
    • Island Star Party
      • New Moon weekend is Aug 2-4, but Aug 5 is BC Day so that is a holiday weekend
      • Following weekend to New Moon – Crescent Moon & Perseids – Aug 9-11
      • CVRD has decided no camping and no events outside of park hours, so a new venue probably needed
  • Space Missions
    • Japanese Lunar Mission – now active, despite being on its side
    • Helicopter on Mars has crashed, so that mission is over
  • Good Lighting in Metchosin – Bill Weir
    • Bill had success with controlling streetlights with full cutoff fixtures
    • Ted White is pursuing International Dark Sky certification for municipality
    • Patrick Earl and Dave Robinson will assist
  • Zoozbe “moon” of Venus – Bill Weir
    • Radio Lab podcast
    • Zoozbe is actually an asteroid!

Next Astro Cafe – Feb 5th, then none for the rest of the month. Monday, March 4th will be the next Astro Cafe after Feb 5th.