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

President’s Message – August 2021

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I’ve had a couple of requests this summer to help friends who have never seen Saturn through a telescope with their own eyes before. One of them was lent the wonderful 1970s Tasco 60mm refractor that I bought off Reg Dunkley, at our Astro Cafe exchange, way back when we could meet in person. Reg says this telescope kindled his interest in astronomy years ago, so it is fun to give this equipment to another enthusiastic newbie. The other request is from Toronto and I’m getting a RASC Toronto Centre loaner scope ready, for when I’m there next week. We do indeed belong to a great society that gives us these opportunities.

Saturn – by Brock Johnston

But what is it about seeing the beautiful objects in the sky ourselves? There are much better images available on the internet. Nothing we can see from Earth compares to the pictures of our sixth planet sent by the Voyager and Cassini spacecraft. Saturn especially has been something that has turned on people from all walks of life to the delights of the night sky. Indeed, the design specifications for the “Galileo-scope” included the possibility to see the rings of Saturn, because they knew that that view is the gateway to spending more time with a telescope (I have one, and it works!).

Saturn is certainly other- worldly. It is beautiful in its form and symmetry. The physics which produce the rings are non-intuitive. It is a challenge to see it, but not an unreasonable challenge for most. But there must be more.

Each time I take my telescope out, I fall in love again with the universe we live in. Even when I am alone, I sometimes swoon out loud. I don’t know why, but I sure am glad I get to share the feeling with my astro-friends. As our friend Diane Bell told us: “the sky is a gift!”

Enjoy the sky. Share it.
Look Up,
Randy Enkin, President email

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

President’s Message – July 2021

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Do we ever get tired of the view?

I recently picked up my niece from the airport. When we got our first sight of the Olympic Mountains towering over the Juan de Fuca Strait, she asked if people in Victoria ever get tired of the view. I don’t think so.

Similarly, I observe that amateur astronomers just don’t get tired of looking up. The beauty takes our breath away. There is a joy in learning the constellations and getting competent at star hopping. There is the awe in learning more about the processes that produce the spots and fuzz-balls in the night sky. I never tire of improving my knowledge of the craters and mountains on the Moon, but often I just wander about the Moon in my eyepiece, appreciating the view. We keep improving our equipment, trying to see that little bit of extra detail. Why? For the joy and sense of accomplishment.

At the Astro Cafe this week, we hosted two distinguished selenologists. Gary Varney, from Florida, is a renowned lunar astrophotographer who waxed eloquent about the details he loves to watch at the terminator – the line that separates day from night on the Moon. Brian Day, from California, leads a program at NASA that presents map and data portals, available for free on the Internet, of the planets and moons. Brian told us that he enjoys ending his day by flying around over the Moon with Moon Trek, enjoying the view and trying to figure out how features were formed.

We had dinner guests this week, and I got to show them the young (27 hour old) moon through the 8 inch Dob I’m borrowing from the club (Nelson Walker’s old telescope). One guest had never seen the craters on the moon and got wonderfully excited. Do I ever get tired of the view? Not at all. It feels as fresh and exciting as when I first saw the craters when I was 8 years old.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin, President@Victoria.RASC.ca

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

Astronomy Cafe – July 5, 2021

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Meeting transcript video

  • Intro – Chris Purse
    • Next week’s Astro Cafe – Lunar session – Randy Enkin & Mike Nash
    • Photos of the July 4th fireworks from Lopez Island by Randy Enkin
  • Astrophotography of the Year 2021 – Royal Observatory, Greenwich – a short list by Barbara Lane
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Moonsweep – rising Moon over Edmonton time lapse – Luca Vanzella & Alister Ling
    • Solar images – Abdur Anwar using a solar filter and C8
    • Solar sunspot sketches – Berta Beltran
    • All sky display of noctilucent clouds time lapse – Murray Paulson
  • Dave Payne’s M57 image data reprocessed – John McDonald
  • SIGs – David Lee
  • Hubble – David Lee & Chris Gainor
    • Uses 386-based processors, upgraded to 486
    • Video on Hubble current status – an explanation of what’s happening
    • Discussion about Hubble systems and updates
  • Henrietta Leavitt Memorial Horizon Watch – July 4th, 2021 – Reg Dunkley
    • Lopez Island fireworks display
    • 28 kms away eastward
    • 5 members setup at Cattle Point
    • Sequence of photos of fireworks
  • Victoria Centre Observatory report – Reg Dunkley
    • Work party getting the two new telescopes operational
    • Refining the pointing accuracy of the Paramount ME with the new telescopes now mounted
    • Discussion about removal of existing Takahashi focuser so Feathertouch focuser can be mounted and used
    • Servicing the Paramount gearing
  • DASCH: Digital Access to a Sky Century – Harvard’s photographic plate collection
  • UVic Observatory Open House – this Wednesday – history of astronomy – zoom info provided in the chat

Astronomy Cafe – June 28, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the online meeting

  • Photos from Edmonton – Dave Robinson
    • Noctilucent Clouds – Alister Ling, Bruce McCurdy, Tom Owen’s daughter
    • Diffraction corona on setting Sun – Eric Klaszus
    • Bubble Nebula – Tom Owen
  • Impressions of the GA and AGM
    • Another virtual GA for next year – Chris Purse
    • Gather Town
      • a challenge to use by some attendees
      • tablet app was beta – difficult to use – Bill Weir
      • could easily locate or follow people
    • Tours on Monday were excellent
    • Presenters were very good – Reg Dunkley & David Lee
    • A generational transition is happening within RASC – Chris Gainor
      • nextGen committee
      • Invite Karun’s students and Vic High students to get involved in Victoria Centre
    • AGM – Chris Gainor
      • Robyn Foret and Chris Gainor will be retiring next year
      • 3 new board members: Betty Robinson, Malhar Kendurkar, Michael Watson (all 3 year terms)
      • Next GA in 2022 will be mainly virtual
      • 2023 should return to an in-person event
      • 2024 possibly with Astronomical League in Toronto
    • Andrew MacIntosh, a non-member from Victoria won an astrophotography award
  • Trouble with Hubble – Chris Gainor
    • Payload computer problems, but main computer is still alive
    • Goddard staff will very likely fix or workaround the current problem
    • Latest Hubble updates
  • Photos of the Saturn & Jupiter with the Full Moon – Randy Enkin
  • Hot Weather Ending – Reg Dunkley
    • Lee Trough is causing the circulation for the current hot weather in our area
    • Cloud currently offshore from Washington and Oregon will move north over Vancouver Island, which will shut down the hot outflow over us
    • Warm air dome will move eastward