Astronomy Cafe – Oct 18, 2021

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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

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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

Astronomy Cafe – Sept 27, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Women Astronomers – Marjie Welchframe
    • Dr. Michelle Kunimoto, age 27, lives in Vancouver
    • Works (post doc) for MIT’s NASA Mission Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
  • Jan 2020 Lunar Eclipse photos – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • The Shadow of the Earth composite photo of all eclipse phases
  • Report – Randy Enkin
    • Jon Willis is selling his Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope & accessories for $1,000
    • Fairfield Fair – Sid, Dorothy, Reg and Randy represented RASC Victoria at Fairfield on a rainy Sunday – 120 attendees
    • Mike Nash’s photo compared with Randy’s sketch of the Moon
  • Events – Jim Hesser
    • 100 Hours of Astronomy – IAU event coming up this weekend
    • Harvard Radcliffe Institute virtual events – gravitational waves, AI, planetary systems
  • Edmonton Centre photos – Dave Robinson
    • Moonrise video and photo sequence over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • California Nebula (reprocessed) – Tom Owen
  • Building an Astroberry Server – David Lee
    • Using it for auto-tracking, uses a smartphone to control it
    • Writing instructions for others to make one
    • Astroberry Server software is on Github – runs on a Raspberry Pi 4 board using an INDI driver
  • NASA Observe the Moon – Oct 16 event – Brian Barber
  • North America Nebula (reprocessed 2009 photo) – John McDonald
  • SIRIL astronomy software – recommended by Brock Johnson for any computer platform
  • James Web Space Telescope – launching on Dec 18th, on it’s way by ship to Guyana for launch aboard an Ariane rocket – Chris Gainor

Astronomy Cafe – Sep 20, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Remembering Ed Maxfield – David Lee
  • Earth – Potentially Habitable Planet – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Earth is pretty small…some comparisons with larger celestial objects
    • Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Alpha Centauri, the Sun, Sirius, Vega, Bellatrix, Pollux, Sagittarius A, Beta Centauri,  Arcturus, Aldebaran, Rigel, Deneb, Rho Cassiopeia, Betelgeuse.
    • Red Hyper-giants:  Uy Scuti, Stephenson 2-18
    • Supermassive Black Holes: Cygnus A, Messier 84, Hercules A
    • Primary ultra-massive Black Holes: Messier 87, OJ 287
    • Ton 618 – Hyper-luminous Quasar (13.1 billion Light Years away)
  • M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy – Reg Dunkley
    • Unusual rotation indicated Dark Matter (first proposed by Vera Rubin)
    • Part of the Local Group of galaxies
    • Since it’s so faint visually, Reg uses photos to observe this galaxy – a stack of over 6 hours of subframes
    • M33 in Hydrogen Alpha photo by Dan Meek, Calgary Centre
      • NGC 604 and 595 – knots of stellar activity – nebulae and star clusters
    • Dave Payne’s photos showing NGC 604 and 595
    • Dorothy has sketched M33 from a dark observing site
  • Photos by John McDonald
    • Deer Lick Group and Stefan’s Quintet – test photo from the two telescopes at the VCO
    • Comparing the distances of the objects – millions of Light Years away
    • Eta Carina nebula photo – newly processed using PixInsight – with and without stars, and original
    • UGC12127 – nearby cluster of galaxies suggested by Dorothy & Miles Paul
    • Starnet++ – a standalone app to remove stars suggested by Dave Payne
  • Edmonton Centre photos – Dave Robinson
    • NGC 1499 – California Nebula (2 orientations) by Tom Owen 
    • Jupiter sequence of photos – Abdur Anwar and Arnold Rivera
    • Saturn – Abdur Anwar and Arnold Rivera
    • Andromeda Galaxy taken with a simple, non-tracking setup using camera and lens – Alister Ling
  • Hubble deep field photo – Brock Johnston
  • SIGs – meeting online
    • Astrophotography – Wednesday
    • Makers – Thursday
  • Fall Fairfield – RASC Victoria will be at this FGCA public event in the field – Sunday at Noon – Randy Enkin to email a notice to members

Astronomy Cafe – Sep 13, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Astro Cafe is not going to in-person meetings until the health regulations relax – contact Chris Purse or Randy Enkin if you have thoughts on how to move forward
  • History of Women in Astronomy – Marjie Welchframe
    • Dr. Tanya Harrison – “professional Martian”, planetary scientist, science team for Mars rovers
  • Finding and Observing RS Oph – star-hopping to a recurrent variable star – David Lee
    • AAVSO variable star visual observing
    • Variable star RS Oph magnitude changes more radically than most other variables
    • How he visually observed the RS Oph variable star
    • AAVSO (digital) results
  • Astrophysics of RS Ophiuchus – Recurrent Variable Binary System – Randy Enkin
  • Roadtrip to Winnipeg – Nathan and Bryan Mestelman
    • Stayed at a cottage at a dark site near Lake Winnipeg – aurora borealis, Milky Way, Moon
    • Milky Way at Lake Louise aligned with the glacier
    • Bryan explained how his Nikon camera tracked the stars at Lake Louise
  • QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter – review of a book by Richard Feynman – Dave Payne
    • Quantum mechanics all the way through to fine arts
    • This book needs to be read several times!
    • Richard Feynman’s lecture series are available online at no cost, if you are a physics nerd
  • Edmonton Centre astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Stanger Hills – a new observing site
    • Milky Way by Alister Ling
    • Soul Nebula – Tom Owen
    • Pluto – Dennis Boucher

Astronomy Cafe – August 23, 2021

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Transcript video of the meeting

  • Mark Wheen at Pearson College wants to train some people to operate the 25″ telescope – members should contact Bill Weir if interested
  • Astrophotos from Victoria Centre members
    • Intro from John McDonald
    • Brock Johnston – online gallery
      • Using new ASI 2600 camera (one shot colour)
        • Cocoon Nebula
        • Fireworks Galaxy
        • Andromeda Galaxy – 3 nights
        • Deer Lick Group – SCT Celestron Edge 9.25″
        • Jupiter 
          • Using video from ASI120 OSC planetary imaging camera
          • De-rotated about 1 minute clips
        • Saturn
          • Using video from ASI120 OSC planetary imaging camera
          • Doesn’t need to be de-rotated
        • Processing of planets: PIP > WinJupos > AutoStakkert
      • Pick objects that are rising in the eastern sky, so there is time to image them
    • Dave Payne – online gallery
      • Rosette Nebula – taken 10 months ago
        • H2 cloud, UV radiation
        • Big – about 1 degree across
        • 127mm refractor, 660mm f/l
      • Tulip Nebula – Sharpless catalog
        • Smaller
        • CDK 12.5″ 2540mm f/l
        • H2 cloud
        • Note Cygnus X1 on left side of field of view, some purple clouds driven by the Black Hole’s accretion disk
      • Iris Nebula
        • Much closer than the other nebulae
        • Blue colour indicates that this is a reflection nebula
        • PAH – life can be formed when this is present
    • Dan Posey – online gallery
      • Rho Ophiuchus – short focal length – modified dSLR, camera lens & small tracker
      • Comet NEOWISE – modified dSLR, camera lens & small tracker
      • California Nebula – tri-band filter with Askar 108mm 600mm f/l
      • Uses Starnet – to subtract and add back the stars using neural net processing
      • M81, M82 –  Milky Way background structure revealed by doing some exotic processing technique
      • Eagle Nebula – imaging from a balcony downtown at 400mm using SBIG 8300 – compared with imaging from the VCO 16″ TPO RC computer
      • NGC 7318 interacting galaxy pair – imaging using the Plaskett telescope
      • RASC Victoria might have imaging time on the Plaskett in October, so send Dan any objects of interest (if you are on the Active Observers’ email list)
    • Garry Sedun – online gallery
      • XM2000 monochrome camera, 20″ Newtonian astrograph
        • Horsehead Nebula
        • M51 galaxies
      • Moravian 16200 imager, 20″ Newtonian astrograph
        • M82 galaxy revealing the jet –
        • Jellyfish Nebula – colour and monochrome wavelengths – star colours still need work
        • M81 galaxy and blue dwarf companion galaxy – two versions
    • John McDonald – online gallery
    • Discussion among the astro imagers on technique, optics, sites, conditions
  • Scientific Narrative – Ken Atkinson
    • Ventu Sky – interesting weather maps
    • Human genomes
    • Highly magnetized  and rapidly rotating white dwarf as small as the moon
    • Books
      • Birth of a Theorem – Cedric Villani
      • Cantor’s Dilemma – Carl Djerassi
      • Newton’s Darkness: Two Dramatic Views – Carl Djerassi
      • Berlin in lights – the diaries of Count Harry Kessler – mentions dining with the Einsteins and other famous people

Astronomy Cafe – Aug 16, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

Location, Location, Location (Plaskett history) – Dennis Crabtree, NRC Herzberg

  • John Stanley Plaskett – took lots of photos
  • Site testing for proposed 72″ telescope used a Cooke 4.5″ equatorially-mounted telescope, mainly operated by W.E. Harper
  • Plaskett’s 1913 tour to Medicine Hat, Penticton, Victoria (for possible observing sites), then the USA before returning to Ottawa
  • Victoria site on Observatory Hill was the obvious choice after site testing
  • Q&A
    • Plaskett’s photos were “lost from memory” – Dennis discovered them in the archives
    • Plaskett hired Edward Fleming as a photographer for the observatory site construction
    • 1 arc second seeing at the Victoria site seems too good to be true – site testing today is done over years, not weeks. See Harper’s paper for the site testing report.
    • Plaskett 72″ mirror was replaced in the 1980s with modern glass
    • High resolution scans of glass plates and negatives are impressive
  • Dennis wants to present these historic photos to the world – archival site

  • Astronomy Cafe – Sep 13 meeting – first in-person Astronomy Cafe in Fairfield
  • Perseid Meteor Shower on Aug 12th – Sid Sidhu
    • All-sky camera – 2 composite photos covering 2 hours each
    • July 13th – sporadic meteor
    • Feb 23rd – another sporadic meteor with gas plasma visible
    • Discussion about meteor trains, fireballs and bolides
  • Jupiter & Perseid photos – Randy Enkin
    • Double transit of Jupiter’s moons with their shadows merging – Christopher Go
    • Perseid Meteor shower photos of note from the Internet
  • Edmonton photos – Dave Robinson
    • Noctilucent clouds – Alister Ling
  • Cave Nebula photos by Dave Payne – processed and presented by John McDonald
  • Events – Lauri Roche
  • Progress on Andromeda Galaxy mosaic – Dave Payne

Astronomy Cafe – August 9, 2021

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Transcript video of meeting

  • Randy Enkin
    • Mars Retrograde – July 7, 2020 to Jan 27, 2021 at 7-day intervals from the Phillipines
    • Meteor shower in real time from Mauna Kea, Hawaii
    • ISS Synchronized Swimming Program and other space Olympics
    • Announcements
      • UVic Observatory Open House – game show this Wednesday evening
      • Fall Fairfield – Sept 26th – volunteers needed for astronomy display
  • Perseid Meteor Shower info – John McDonald
    • Perseids peak next week – 100/hour
    • Caused by debris from a comet or asteroid
    • Meteoroid (small rock in space) becomes a Meteor when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. A Meteorite is a Meteor that survives the descent to the surface of the Earth.
    • How to photograph a meteor shower
    • Small Solar System Bodies – asteroids, comets and meteoroids
    • Q&A
    • Personal observations of meteor showers
  • AstrophotosDave Payne
    • Cave Nebula
    • Mosaic of the Andromeda Nebula – work in progress
  • AstrophotosBrock Johnston
    • Sadr region
    • Cocoon Nebula
    • Andromeda Nebula
    • Fireworks Galaxy
    • Used a new OSC camera for the last two photos – ZWO ASI2600MC Pro
  • Ophiuchus Nova outburst – David Lee
  • Astrophotos from Edmonton Centre – John McDonald (for Dave Robinson)
    • Jupiter & 3 moons
    • ISS transit across the Sun
  • Nathan observed Ganymede and Europa crossing paths last night
  • Diane Bell’s Memorial – Lauri Roche
    • August 15th – 1-2PM at BC Aviation Museum
    • Diane’s brother Gord to conduct a short tour of the museum afterward
  • FDAO Star Party – next is an astrophotography star party on August 21st

Astronomy Cafe – July 26, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • The Heart of the Crab Nebula – Reg Dunkley
    • M1 sketched by Philip Teece
    • Images by Reg, John McDonald, Garry Sedun, and other members
    • Image and 3D model from CFHT – SITELLE spectrograph
    • Various analysis of the nebula and how this Supernova and pulsar shockwave nebula is changing size and shape
    • Discussion of Fast Fourier Transforms – used in audio processing, CHIME data beam forming, and other endeavors
    • Spectacular ‘Honeycomb Heart’ Revealed in Iconic Stellar Explosion – Martin, Milisavlievic, Drissen, et al
  • FDAO Star Party – Aug 7th – Lauri Roche
  • Diane Bell Memorial at the Aviation Museum – Aug 15 at 1PM – Lauri Roche
    • Presentation of Diane’s Service Award to her family
    • Tour of the museum by Gord Bell, Diane’s brother
  • The Centaurus A (NGC 5128) Black Hole – Randy Enkin
    • In the southern sky
    • History of the discovery of Centaurus A galaxy
    • Radio, X-ray and visible emissions, along with a jet of high speed particles being emitted – a baby quasar
    • Event Horizon Telescope – April 2017 observations just published
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Astrophotography – this Wed
    • Beginners – next Tues
    • EAA – next Thu
  • Observatory Construction on Day 1 – Michel Michaud
    • Staked out his backyard in Saint-Anaclet, Quebec
    • Sonotube – at least 5′ deep
    • Rented a Kobota digger
    • Hit rock at 4′
    • Getting construction advice from Bruno Quenneville, Charles Banville, and others
    • Proposed equipment: Paramount MX+, Celestron Edge 14″, Star Sharp 94 Triplet
    • Discussion about some observatory construction details

Astronomy Cafe – July 19, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • ISS Transits of the Moon – Randy Enkin
    • Enkins Daily Moon on Facebook
    • Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse with ISS transiting – Thierry Legault
    • ISS Transit Finder
    • Photo of the ISS and Mars – by Tom Glenn
  • Hubble status – Chris Gainor
    • Hubble HST Computer Problem is solved with the swap to the backup Control Unit/Science Data Formatter
    • First images from rebooted Hubble
    • Operating on 3 out of 6 gyros
    • James Webb and Kepler space telescopes discussed
  • FDAO Star Party – Lauri Roche
    • Solar observing early at 7:30PM – David Lee & Sid Sidhu
    • 8-11PM this Saturday – history of the Plaskett telescope by Dan Posey
    • Scott Wilkinson and Dennis Crabtree – narrator and Ask An Astronomer
    • Event info
  • RASC National – Lauri Roche
    • RASC Robotic telescope demo of acquiring exoplanet data – Samantha Hewitt and Jenna Hinds -Wed nights starting in August –  more info
    • Aug 29th – EPO Astrophotography processing workshop for data from the Mars Perseverance mission – info pending
  • Diane Bell Tribute – planned for Aug 15th, Sunday afternoon at the Aviation Museum – tour by Gord Bell
  • UVic Observatory Open House this Wednesday evening – David Lee
  • NOVA – New Observers of Visual Astronomy program – Lauri Roche
    • Modules are being revamped so it is both virtual and in-person
    • Being done over about four months
  • Edmonton photo – noctilucent clouds – presented by Dave Robinson
  • Victoria Centre photos
    • Venus & Mars conjunction – Mike Webb
    • Solar prominences & surface features – John McDonald
    • Test photos using the new telescopes at Victoria Centre observatory – John McDonald
  • Observing Planets
    • Planets in good positions at 3AM
    • Visual observing of planets at more civilized hours coming up in a few weeks’ time
  • Moon observers – Lauri Roche
    • Completing the RASC Lunar Observing programs
    • Lunar atlases that are useful for finding features
  • The Last Stargazers a book by Emily Levesque – David Lee
  • Resuming in-person meetings discussed
    • Astronomy Cafe in Fairfield – likely to resume mid-September in hybrid form (online & in-person)
    • Monthly meetings at UVic – no plans in place yet
    • Annual picnic at Pearson College observatory – possibly late August, depending on Bill Weir’s schedule