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 12, 2021

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Transcript video of the meeting

Mike Nash and Randy Enkin hosted a special Lunar Session,  joined by special guests Brian Day and Gary Varney.

Brian is deputy staff scientist at NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. He manages data visualization and analysis projects supporting missions including Artemis. He was Education/Public Outreach lead for the LCROSS and LADEE lunar missions and has participated in various Mars analog field studies.

Gary is an amateur astronomer, planetary astrophotographer, creator of Amateur Astronomy Selenology Project on Facebook, owner/operator Varney Observatory in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and works as Telescope Technician at OPT. Online photo gallery

  • Intro – Randy Enkin
    • Clavius photos by Mike Nash & Gary Varney
    • Amateur Astronomy Selenology Project – review of the Lunar 100
    • Gary Varney and Brian Day intros
  • Lunar Imaging – Gary Varney
    • Lunar Processing Overview video
      • AutoStakkert demo
      • Registax – demo of wavlet sharpening
      • Photoshop – demo of finishing the image
    • Filters
      • Green – helps with ghosting
      • IR650 or IR742 – improvements over standard seeing
    • Completing the Lunar 100 photographically – Gary’s current mission
  • NASA’s Lunar Tools & Missions – Brian Day
    • Mare Crisium – Horseshoe Crater is a breached cinder cone
    • NASA buying commercial “rides” – Firefly Aerospace
    • Moon Trek – online tool for analyzing lunar data from missions
      • GIS for the Moon
      • Generate an STL file for a 3D print of the lunar surface features
      • Draw a path – QR code to flythrough using generic Google goggles on a smartphone 
      • Fly-to features
      • Data layers – helps to interpret the surface features
      • Also displays data from other solar system objects
    • Viper mission to the Moon – rover in 2023
      • Prospecting for water-ice
      • Want amateur photos of the mission area on the south pole
    • Missions to other areas of the Moon
    • 2 landings per year coming up soon
  • Q&A to Brian and Gary
    • US-based teachers can borrow lunar samples for the classroom
    • Touchable Moon rock (fallen to Earth) can be made available
    • Dial-a-Moon – online tool for finding lunar features
  • Lunar imaging – Mike Nash
    • Mostly using a big refractor 
    • 7″ or 8″ Mak for higher resolution
    • Filters – uses various, depending on conditions
    • Daytime lunar imaging is working well
  • Lunar poem by Bruce McCurdy – read by Peter Jedicke
  • Variable Star observing – David Lee
  • Edmonton astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Pumpkin Moon rising over Edmonton – Alister Ling & Luca Vanzella
    • Etruscan vase or omega effect with the Sun setting or rising over the ocean – query by Peter Geldart from Ottawa Centre
    • Jupiter and moon time lapse video – Abdur Anwar
  • Other photo sharing
    • Mars, Venus &  Crescent Moon – Brian Day
    • Venus &  Crescent Moon – Logan Grauer, Alec Lee
    • Ha image of  solar prominences, the Sun & ISS – Brian Day
    • Comet NEOWISE  C/2020 F3 – a tribute video by Debra Ceravolo 
    • Jupiter, moons and shadows – Gary Varney

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

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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

President’s Message – June 2021

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In praise of our Astro Cafe

Members attending Astronomy Cafe using Zoom

Every Monday evening at 19:30, the Victoria Centre runs the Astro Cafe on Zoom. I look forward to it every week! Much of our time as amateur astronomers is spent alone and I suspect that is considered a feature of this hobby by many. But we also like to share our accomplishments and problems. While we are isolated by the pandemic, Astro Cafe brings our community together.

I had been a regular contributor since I joined the Victoria Centre three years ago. Now that you have made me president, I feel that part of the job is to think of something to contribute each week. I try to riff off of some recent astronomical event, for example the summer solstice for our June 21 Astro Cafe. I am particularly excited about linking current astronomical work to the centuries and millennia of astronomers from the past, who figured out so much of how our universe works without the advantage of all the recent technologies and research.

The Astro Cafe also helps us advertise events and opportunities. It provides our members a forum to present their recent, or not so recent, work. I particularly enjoy the discussions, as we learn from each other. We have such a wide variety of specialties and levels of expertise to learn from. Our community is refreshingly supportive and non-judgemental. Everybody should consider making a presentation. If you read something that you found interesting, share it! If you feel proud of an observation, sketch, or photo, share it! If you have an astronomy question, ask it!

Special thanks go out to Chris Purse who masterfully organizes and leads the discussion each week, and to Joe Carr who curates the Astro Cafe videos onto Youtube.

Look Up,
Randy Enkin email

Astronomy Cafe – June 21, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Thierry Legault’s Astrophoto Guide
  • RASC GA and AGM – Registration site
  • Geocaching and Public Outreach for Astronomy – Malcolm Scrimger
  • Summer Solstice – Randy Enkin
    • The Solstice happens at different times 
      • Actual time depends on time zone person is in
      • Gregorian calendar causes timing anomalies (Leap Years)
      • Earth’s eccentric orbit, astrophysical and geophysical components affects seasonal timing too
      • Sun setting angles in the north – https://metcam.navcanada.ca
  • Astrophotography
    • Astrophotography SIG – John McDonald
      • This Thu 7:30PM
      • M101 Monthly Challenge
      • Beginners Introduction to planetary imaging and processing using PixInsight
    • Victoria Centre astrophoto – Brock Johnston
      • Ring Nebula M57 & galaxy (IC 1296) in the field using LRGB – Dave Payne
      • Ring Nebula M57 – more detail from narrowband Hydrogen (Ha), Oxygen, Sulphur wavelengths – Dave Payne
      • Visually observing the galaxy (IC 1296) – Dorothy Paul
      • Ring Nebula M57 – Brock Johnston
      • Eagle Nebula – narrowband using Hubble palette – Brock Johnston
      • Hercules Cluster M13 – Brock Johnston
      • Sunspot and granularity on Sun’s surface in Ha – John McDonald
      • Eagle Nebula M16 from Slooh Chile- Joe Carr
      • Recent astrophotos by Victoria Centre members
    • Edmonton Centre astrophotos – Dave Robinson
      • Dimming of Betelgeuse (ESO link) – Larry Wood 
      • Lightning storm June 15th – Stephen Olesen
  • FDAO Star Party this Saturday (youtube & zoom) – new IMT building at the DAO – Lauri Roche
  • Diane Bell’s astronomy equipment – Lauri Roche
  • Variable Star visual observing – David Lee