President's Message - Feb 2008

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by Joe Carr

Observatory Project

The photos included in the Observatory Project report in the January edition of Skynews showed this exciting project as we started the construction.  As promised by our Project Manager Bruno Quenneville, the project is now at the "lockup stage".  This means some minor finishing outside may still need to be done, but the door and lock are installed, and the siding and roofing are in place, and the roll-off roof rolls!  The observatory will now be able to dry out, so we can proceed with the next stage. NRC's contractors have installed the wiring conduit from the pole to the observatory. The metal pier is currently being fabricated. and installation of a power panel and work on the inside of our observatory will come next.

I encourage you to browse the photo gallery on the Observatory Project web page. We knew that building during January would present some challenges for us, and mother nature didn't spare us.  As our dedicated group of volunteers will attest,  the project continued through sleet and rain, snow and freezing cold!  A big thank you to all our volunteers for showing up when you promised to, and for your ungrudging commitment to this project.

In addition to coordinating volunteers and working on the building phase himself, Bruno has done a terrific job of obtaining support from our suppliers.  Many local companies have stepped up to the plate and either donated services and/or materials outright, or given us their rock bottom prices which they normally reserve for their best customers.  We will be recognizing these corporate contributors within the next few weeks, so stay tuned.  As you will see by referring to the budget on the Observatory Project web page, we continue to be under budget on the expense side.


There is a Total Lunar Eclipse coming up on Feb 20th, so mark your calendars, since we will have to wait another 35 months before the next one occurs!  The Moon will rise in the east already partially eclipsed, however totality begins at 7:00pm PST, so it should be a very good show.  January weather didn't give us the greatest observing conditions, however Victoria Centre members' productivity for observing and photography was pretty impressive.  Check out the Zenfolio RASC Victoria Centre Astrophoto Galleries for the latest astrophotos and sketches showcasing asteroids, nebulae, planets and a lunar conjunction.


Although the 7th Annual RASCALS Star Party doesn't occur until August 24-26, 2008, we are already doing preliminary planning.  We are also still looking for a Star Party Coordinator, so if you are interested in helping Victoria Centre stage this event, please contact Sid Sidhu or myself. I always look forward to this event, since the speakers are interesting, and I have lots of fun with the social aspect of this popular event!

Cassiopeia rising over The Plaskett - Charles BanvilleI will miss chairing the Feb 13th Regular Meeting however Patrick C�t� will be giving an update on activities at the HIA.  Patrick is a terrific speaker, and HIA's scientists and engineers play leadership roles in developing concepts for future national observatories on the ground and in space, so please plan to attend this event.

Speaking of leadership roles, I'm happy to report that Charles Banville's astrophotography work was chosen to appear on the back cover of the current issue of the national Journal (JRASC).  I was happy to formally congratulate Charles at a recent Astronomy Caf� for being the first Victoria Centre member to be so honored.  Cassiopeia rising over The Plaskett - Charles Banville


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