President's Message - October 2009

Website archive 1995-2013

Victoria Centre is part of the national Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which is dedicated to bringing information about astronomy to the general public.

Advanced Search


Image Gallery
Online Articles
Observing Highlights




October 2009

By John McDonald

This month I want to outline plans for the Victoria Centre Observatory (VCO) in the next while and highlight the work of our Tech Committee and Members-in-Charge (MICs).

The facilities at the VCO continue have evolved to the point that we have an outstanding observatory for visual and photographic work. The experience we are gaining with its use is moving us quickly to the point where we will be able to operate remotely but that has to be done with care to ensure safety and reliability. My thanks go out to all the members of the Technical committee for their fine work.

A group of ten MICs have made the VCO available for members who want to observe, photograph and generally enjoy the sky from Observatory Hill. These MICs have been responsible for meeting Active Observers at the gate, letting them in and hosting scheduled sessions twice a week since the beginning of the summer whenever weather permitted. In addition, MICs have often offered unscheduled sessions. The scheduled evenings have emphasized visual observing for the attendees until around midnight with opportunities for individual observing and/or astrophotography after that. On a few occasions a MIC has offered training in astrophotography for those attending and on other nights a MIC has held outdoor sessions on the observing pad or at the Centre of the Universe (CU). From all reports the sessions have been very successful, and I want to thank all of our hard working MICs for a job well done.

For the next few months the CU is closed in the evening hours, however we will continue to have scheduled sessions at the VCO every Friday and Saturday (weather permitting). Watch for go/nogo messages from the MIC responsible. These messages are posted on the Active Observers e-mail list usually late in the afternoon of the scheduled session. Any member not currently on the Active Observers list who wishes to become an Active Observer should review the procedures and then contact Vice President, Lauri Roche.

In order to avoid burnout on the part of the existing MICs , I have asked for permission to add an additional 5 to the group, and the DAO has agreed. As of the time of writing this we have 4 new MICs, Michel Michaud, Sherry Buttnor, Dirk Yzenbrandt and Nelson Walker. These new MICs will be trained and begin to share in MIC duties later this fall. Thanks to all of them for being willing to volunteer their time.

As we gain experience with the VCO we are also refining our procedures for use of the facility. In addition to the 2 scheduled nights per week, MICs will continue to offer sessions on some of the other nights. Until now we have not had any way for MICs and Active Observers to "book" the facility for their own "Special Sessions". For the next few months we would like to make opportunities for "Special Sessions" available on many of the unscheduled nights. To make this work we need to have a booking protocol, so we will try the following to see if it meets our needs. In all cases at least one of those who book a "Special Session" will have to be a MIC:

bulletMICs may book a hosted session open to all Active Observers up to one week in advance.
bulletSpecial Sessions can be booked on a first-come first-served basis up to 3 days ahead by posting a message to the Active Observers list and listing the MIC responsible and other Active Observers planning to attend.
bulletOccasionally the VCO will be unavailable as a result of maintenance and upgrades. Every effort will be made to schedule these times more than a week in advance.

Hopefully every member who wishes to use our new observatory will find a session that suits their needs over the next few months.

� 2014 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre
All text and images are Copyright their respective owners
Victoria Centre adheres to our National Privacy Policy
Website: - Contact us

RASC Victoria Centre does not endorse nor is responsible for the content of external websites. External links will open in a new window.
Last updated: January 29, 2014

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is dedicated to the promotion of astronomy and its related sciences; we espouse the scientific method, and support dissemination of discoveries and theories based on that well-tested method.

Web hosting & email services provided by Matthew Watson