Welcome to Fall. I always think that as soon as the Saanich Fair is over that it really is the start on a new season.
First of all, I need to thank a LOT of people for all their help this past weekend. It takes time and people power to organize, prepare, load, unload, set up, put out telescopes, chat to hundreds of smiling people, answer questions, give away a telescope and then take down, load and unload all over again. But we did it.
A huge thank you to our load-up and set-up crew who helped on Friday afternoon: Dave E (who also donated our telescope) and Sam F who helps on Fridays and Saturday nights up at the CU for the Friends of the DAO.
On Saturday Ken M came early along with Alex Schmid to help set things up on the tables and put out the telescopes. Dave Robinson, Michael W, Lisa M, Cameron B, Deb Crawford from the RASC and Amy and Alyssa, Rachel and Ryan, Sam F, and Evan W from the FDAO were the busy volunteers that day. It was very warm and there were thousands of people at the fair. Terrific sunspots and a beautiful prominence on Ken’s H-Alpha telescope.
On Sunday the drizzle started early but it never really rained. We did have some drips in the tent that needed mending and we huddled under the tent and tarps trying to keep things from getting too damp. Alex, Ken M, David Lee, Marjie Welchframe, Jill Sinkwitch, Brock J, and Gae V “personned” the RASC tent and Evan (bicycling in all the way from Oak Bay in the rain!), Ben Dorman, and Zaina S kept the group happy for the FDAO. At 3:45, fifteen minutes before we cleaned up the sun came out. ☀️
And on Monday we did it all over again. The day was beautiful, not quite as hot, but manageable. Ken was back with his H-Alpha and Alex was there for the third day in a row. 👏👏 Joining them were Chris Gainor, Dorothy P, Maryl M, John P, and Brian B, with Ben Dorman, Caitlyn, Mark L, and Patricia G-S for the FDAO.
We had a draw for a great little telescope on Monday. It was won by a woman in Colwood named Melissa L and she was thrilled to get the phone call. We had well over 1200 entries into the draw and talked to many more over the weekend.
At the end of Monday Ken M, Brian B and John P took everything down and packed up. Off to the CU to unload. David Lee met us there and we did all the work to put everything back in a quick 20 minutes.
Amazing volunteers. Thank you to all of you.
And I just wanted to say thanks specially to Sid Sidhu who kept in touch from the hospital and was in our thoughts all the time. The Saanich Fair is special to him and we missed him very much.
Starts Fri Aug 26, 2022, 4:00 pm Ends Sun Aug 28, 2022, 10:00 am
Two Full Nights of Observing, Guest Speakers, Door Prizes, Telescope Mentoring, Walking Trails, Swimming.
Admission includes camping for two nights on the observing field in designated areas.
Motorhomes, travel trailers, campers, tents and vehicles welcome, however this is bare camping, with no services in the camping area.
Flush toilets, potable water, extra parking available a short walk from the observing field.
Not a camper? There are a good selection of accomodation a short drive away in Cowichan Bay, Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, Cowichan Station, and Duncan. Reserve early, since the Cowichan Valley is a popular vacation destination.
Gates to the park are locked at 9PM, so park outside the gate if you are not staying overnight!
Full Weekend Admission: (Includes 1 year CVSF membership) – cash only please
Family: $30.00 Adults up to 3 Children (17 years or younger)
Evening “Drop In” Free, but donations welcome
This event is open to the public. Membership in CVSF or RASC is not required.
This week, the citizens of the Earth were given a wonderful present. The Gaia Data Release 3 was publicized at 9 UT, June 13. And yes I was awake at 2 in the morning to watch the event. The Gaia satellite has been mapping 2 billion (!!!) points of lights in the sky – stars, galaxies, quasars, and solar system objects. They are measuring positions, distances, motions, colours, and spectra. For an Astro Café talk I prepared about the Gaia Data Release 2, I displayed a plot of the number and angular precision of catalogued stars. From the Hipparchus’ catalog of 1000 stars in 150 BCE to the best Earth-based collections from last century, there was a continuous but slow improvement. But with space-based measurements over the last 20 years, the catalogs have improved by orders of magnitude! And Gaia should continue collecting data through to 2025 to continue this trend.
The branch of amateur astronomy pejoratively labeled “armchair astronomy” sounds very passive, but we delight in the personal journey to discovery, which the professional astronomers afford us by collecting and analysing these extreme data sets. One of my passions is following the trajectory of knowledge from the early astronomical observations to the present. For example, I love to learn how the first stellar spectra measured in the 19th century led to Annie Jump Cannon’s stellar classifications (Only Bad Astronomers Forget Generally Known Mnemonics), leading to the Hertzsprung-Russell colour-magnitude diagram, and further leading to amazing insights such as the age of stars. And now such analyses can be extended to hundreds of millions of stars with the public release of the Gaia data.
The Gaia mission is akin to a gothic cathedral. It is a huge edifice, erected with major societal investment that was accomplished by many, many ordinary people who each do their small part. This edifice is a public good which inspires, and makes us bigger and better human beings.
On Sunday, May 15th, 2022, we will be able to view a total eclipse of the Moon (weather permitting) from Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The Moon will be in full eclipse after rising from the southeastern horizon, remaining fully eclipsed for about an hour before transitioning into a partial phase as it climbs in altitude and moves to the south. The Lunar Eclipse 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.
Total Eclipse Begins
8:42PM – probably visible 10-15 mins later
Total Eclipse Ends
Partial Eclipse Ends
Above Eclipse times are for Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) for the west coast of North America, and are calculated from UT as presented in the Observers Handbook 2022, pages 127-131.
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.
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
What do you need?
Everything from your eyes, binoculars and telescope are suitable. Bear in mind this is a long process, so 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 the early fully-eclipsed stage. Observing from a hill will help you spot the rising Moon earlier than if you observe from lower elevations or sea level.
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 2022, page 131.
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.
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 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
Effective Focal Length with 2x teleconvertor
Effective Aperture with 2x teleconvertor
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
1/500 second at f/16
1/250 second at f/16 see note 1.
1 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
1 second at f/16 see note 2.
1/250 second at f/16 see note 1.
* Danjon Lunar Eclipse Luminosity Scale
L = 1
dark eclipse; lunar surface details distinguishable only with difficultly
L = 2
deep red or rust coloured eclipse; central part of the umbra dark but outer rim relatively bright
L = 3
brick-red eclipse; usually with a brighter (frequently yellow) rim to the umbra
L = 4
very 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Lee – original text Joe Carr – updated for 2022 Brenda Stuart – illustrations
After visiting our Astronomy Day in Victoria event, please let us know what you thought – survey – thanks!
We host public events with measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Please do not come if you are sick or have been recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. We strongly recommend wearing masks while inside buildings with crowds. Wearing masks in public indoor settings is not required by BC public health. Wearing a mask is a personal choice.
Asteroid Hunters – IMAX Theatre (admission applies)
Narrated by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), Asteroid Hunters ventures into deep space for a fascinating look at asteroids, their cosmic origins and the potential threat they pose to our world.
Written and produced by Phil Groves, produced by Jini Durr and directed by W.D. Hogan, Asteroid Hunters introduces asteroid scientists – the best line of defense between Earth and an asteroid’s destructive path – and reveals the cutting-edge tools and techniques they use to detect and track asteroids, and the technology that may one day protect our planet. The effects of an asteroid impact could be catastrophic and while the current probability of an event in our lifetime is low, the potential consequences make the study of asteroids an incredibly important area of scientific research. Witness the latest in planetary defense and how science, ingenuity and determination combine to explore the world’s most preventable natural disaster.
The party begins at 4 pm PDT on Zoom with a pre-recorded talk and a live Q&A with Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques from the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal! Following the Q&A, at 5 pm PDT, we will start our National Livestream on both Zoom and Youtube, featuring live views of the Moon from across Canada (including Victoria), RASC Member’s moon content, and more! Register here
Reserve Your Tickets (free) – only ticket holders will be admitted to this evening event. (Daytime events at the Museum do not require tickets!)
Plaskett telescope tours
Observing through telescopes
Presentation – 8:30PM & 9:30PM – The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope – Dr. Chris Gainor
Summary: The stories of the two largest space telescopes: The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 and is still operating after 32 years, and the James Webb Space Telescope, which is about to begin operations in space after its launch last December 25.
Biography: Christopher Gainor is a historian of technology specializing in space exploration and aeronautics. He has written four books on the history of space exploration and two on Cold War history. His most recent book is a history of Hubble Space Telescope operations published by NASA. Gainor is editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly. From 2018 to 2020, he was President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and he is a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Gainor holds a Ph.D. in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has worked as a history instructor at the University of Victoria and the Royal Military College of Canada.