Astronomy Cafe – Oct 18, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of meeting

Dr. Michelle Kunimoto
Dr. Michelle Kunimoto

Dr. Michelle Kunimoto is a postdoctoral associate working on NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)mission. She leads the Quick Look Pipeline team at MIT which is dedicated to analyzing TESS data to discover and characterize exoplanets. As an undergraduate, her discoveries of four planet candidates landed her on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017. Michelle is BC born and raised and received both her undergraduate degree and her PhD at the University of British Columbia.

Finding Earth 2.0 – Dr. Michelle Kunimoto

Michelle spoke about how we find exoplanets, identify potentially “habitable” planets, about what she does as a researcher with NASA’s TESS mission, and how anyone can join the hunt for new planets.

  • Are we alone? What would other life look like?
  • Assuming Earth-like conditions for life
    • Small, rocky, watery planet with an atmosphere
    • In the habitable zone around a host star
    • Stars that are similar to our Sun – “just right” and stable, long-lived
  • 30 years ago, the first exoplanets were discovered by Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail
  • Gordon Walker actually discovered an exoplanet back in 1988 from Victoria, but not confirmed until 2002
  • How to detect an exoplanet
    • Pulsar
    • Doppler shift due to Stellar Wobble – radial velocity
    • Transit – the method Michelle uses in her work
    • Direct Imaging
    • Astrometry
    • others…
  • Kepler – NASA’s first exoplanet discovery mission 
    • Used the transit method from 2009 to 2013
    • 150,000+ stars observed for 4 years
    • Revolutionized exoplanet by discovering over half of all dis
    • K2 mission extended the discoveries to 2018
  • Tess – NASA mission started in 2018
    • Full sky coverage
    • Orbits around the Earth in a following, elliptical orbit
    • 27 days to a full year of observations for each object
    • Automated detection, then manual verification to avoid false positives
    • Michelle has discovered 1,600 candidate planets
    • Whole mission has confirmed 152 out of 3,285 candidate planets
    • A total of 4,531 exoplanets have been discovered (not just from the Tess mission)
    • Diversity of exoplanets is extensive
    • TRAPPIST-1 System
      • 7 exoplanets
      • 3 in habitable zone, and Earth-sized
      • James Web space telescope will examine this system in detail
    • 20 candidate exoplanets have been discovered that are Earth-sized and appear to possibly support life as we know it
    • Keppler-452b – most Earth-like exoplanet
    • Transmission spectroscopy – detect the characteristics of an exoplanet’s atmosphere
    • Habitable Exoplanet Observatory – a proposed space telescope that will perform direct imaging of exoplanets
    • How you can hunt for exoplanets
      • Anyone can access the data from the Mikulski Archive
      • Michelle found 4 candidate planets during a summer project
      • Planet Hunters TESS site – the public can help with this work – just visual pattern detection
      • Anyone can join the TESS vetting team and interact with the rest of the team
    • Upcoming missions
      • PLATO – 2026 mission
      • NRT – mid-2020s
    • Q&A

Members’ Reports

Victoria region Sky Quality Map - East
Victoria region Sky Quality Map – East
  • FDAO Star Party – Oct 30th AGM starting at 7:00PM and Brenda Matthews’ work at ALMA – Lauri Roche
  • Nerd Anomoly – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Nathan’s cartoons to be published in Skynews magazine
    • Shared some of his cartoons
  • Randy Enkin
    • A rainy day at Fairfield Fall Fair!
    • Sunspotter demo
    • Aurora photo taken from Mt. Tolmie
    • Victoria Philharmonic Choir – Hayden’s Creation was performed to a small, live audience – shared an audio clip
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Aurora by Eric Klaszus’ mother, Abdur Anwar, and an all sky camera
    • Elephant Trunk dark nebula – Abdur Anwar
  • Light Pollution Survey – David Lee
    • Last light pollution survey – Sep & Oct 2010 (maps)
    • Over a dozen members have already volunteered to re-do the survey
    • Victoria Centre will borrow 3-4 SQM meters from National, and also use members’ own SQM meters
    • First week in November is first target time to conduct the survey
    • Perhaps take a wide angle photo of the sky at each location to record light source conditions – Dave Robinson
    • Last time it took 2 nights in September and again in October
    • Contact David if interested in participating

Astronomy Cafe – Sept 27, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Women Astronomers – Marjie Welchframe
    • Dr. Michelle Kunimoto, age 27, lives in Vancouver
    • Works (post doc) for MIT’s NASA Mission Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
  • Jan 2020 Lunar Eclipse photos – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • The Shadow of the Earth composite photo of all eclipse phases
  • Report – Randy Enkin
    • Jon Willis is selling his Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope & accessories for $1,000
    • Fairfield Fair – Sid, Dorothy, Reg and Randy represented RASC Victoria at Fairfield on a rainy Sunday – 120 attendees
    • Mike Nash’s photo compared with Randy’s sketch of the Moon
  • Events – Jim Hesser
    • 100 Hours of Astronomy – IAU event coming up this weekend
    • Harvard Radcliffe Institute virtual events – gravitational waves, AI, planetary systems
  • Edmonton Centre photos – Dave Robinson
    • Moonrise video and photo sequence over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • California Nebula (reprocessed) – Tom Owen
  • Building an Astroberry Server – David Lee
    • Using it for auto-tracking, uses a smartphone to control it
    • Writing instructions for others to make one
    • Astroberry Server software is on Github – runs on a Raspberry Pi 4 board using an INDI driver
  • NASA Observe the Moon – Oct 16 event – Brian Barber
  • North America Nebula (reprocessed 2009 photo) – John McDonald
  • SIRIL astronomy software – recommended by Brock Johnson for any computer platform
  • James Web Space Telescope – launching on Dec 18th, on it’s way by ship to Guyana for launch aboard an Ariane rocket – Chris Gainor

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 – 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 14, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Annular Eclipse – review of photos
    • Iqaluit photos by David Aglukark & Vinnie Karetak – presented by Chris Purse
    • Worldwide photo collection – presented by Randy Enkin
  • CRD Bike Trail Widening & Lighting – Dave Robinson
    • Dave has a meeting scheduled with the project team
  • Photos from Edmonton – Dave Robinson
    • Crescent Moon & Venus over the city – Alister Ling
    • Animation of Jupiter – Abdur Anwar
  • General Assembly & AGM – Chris Gainor
    • More info is posted online about the events
    • Register for GA and AGM separately. AGM is no cost.
    • Looking for Centres to host the next GAs – Bill Weir
    • Starts on June 25th – end of next week!
    • Registration site
  • Library photos – Alex Schmid
    • Historic slides and projector
    • Brass eyepieces
    • Stereo viewer
    • WW II astronomy books
    • Construction cranes on UVic building site
    • Email Alex if any member wants to borrow a book
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Makers SIG – being held this Thursday online – contact David Lee or Jim Cliffe to join in
  • Juno mission update – Reg Dunkley
    • Spacecraft flew within 625 miles of Ganymede recently
    • Close encounter with Europa and Io planned
    • Imagery is freely available to amateurs
  • Observatory update – Cameron Burton
    • Replaced the winch and made new rollers for the shutter
    • Dome bearings to be rebuilt next year, in order to implement automation
    • Discussion within group
  • FDAO Star Party – Lauri Roche
    • Thanks to volunteers at last star party
    • June 26th – next star party
      • The DAO’s “Green Building” virtual tour by Jenny Attwood and Scott Roberts
  • RASC National website – Chris Purse
    • Centre membership is now available
    • Expanded merchandise is now being offered
  • RASC Service Award for Diane Bell’s family will now happen since the pandemic rules are relaxing. Perhaps a picnic later this summer?

Astronomy Cafe – June 7, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Chit chat
    • Planetary imaging discussion
    • Saanich News reporting Lucky Budd’s daytime shot of Jupiter
  • RASC GA & AGM – Chris Gainor
    • Last weekend in June 25-28
    • Good speakers on all four days
    • Sunday 3PM – AGM & election – no charge
    • Monday – Virtual tours of observatories
    • Mars panel discussion
    • Registration site
  • The Sun and Stars – Randy Enkin
    • Star Dances
      • Defocus stars to see their colours when photographing them
      • Jiggle camera setup to see deliberate star tracks
      • Staying at Magic Lake on Pender Island last week – looking south
      • Jiggle the tripod to see colours in the star tracks
  • CRD lighting of bicycle trails – Dave Robinson
    • Widening trails from 2-3 metres to 6.5-7 metres
    • Lighting the whole system of trails – 3 segments
    • Please respond to the  online survey by June 13th
    • LED lights, warm colour, down-facing, 4.5m poles
    • PBX Engineering – consulting engineers – Dave wants to talk with them
    • It appears traffic volumes will increase significantly and bicycle speeds are bound to increase with e-bikes
  • Edmonton Observatory – Dave Robinson
    • Roman Unyk installing the azimuth bearing in the mount for the 32″ telescope – a time lapse video and discussion.
    • Black Nugget Lake observatory, near Riley, Alberta.
  • FDAO events – Lauri Roche
    • Star Party – this Saturday, June 12th – Is Anybody Out There? Life outside the solar system – James Di Francesco
    • Summer Solstice celebrations – June 20th
    • Annular Eclipse photos
    • Ask An Astronomer – Scott along with the RASC EAA group (David Lee, Brock, Dave Payne)
    • More star parties – ever 2 weeks for awhile, then monthly
  • Buy & Sell – Reg Dunkley
    • Gord Bell (brother) is selling Diane Bell’s astronomy gear – binoculars, telescope, eyepieces
    • Nelson Walker is selling his Tele Vue 101 apo refractor, classic tripod, and eyepiece collection
    • Both listings will appear on our Buy & Sell page soon
  • Gianluca Massi – Virtual telescope from Rome – looking for contacts here in Canada who plan to take photos of the annular eclipse for his live broadcast on Thursday – contact Randy Enkin or Gianluca directly ASAP
  • Juno orbiting Jupiter – Reg Dunkley
    • Mission extended for several more years
    • Recent close encounter with Ganymede – 625 miles!
  • 2012 Transit of Venus review – Joe Carr

Astronomy Cafe – May 31, 2021

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Video transcript of the meeting

  • CRD lighting of Galloping Goose Trail from Selkirk Water to Lochside/Borden and Spectrum School – Chris Purse & Dave Robinson
    • Dave has given CRD feedback – dark adaption is adequate, so opposed
    • Members should give CRD feedback through the online survey
  • Moving and installing Bill Almond’s observatory – Cameron Burton & Lisa Meister
    • Disassembly
    • Moving from Bill & Janet’s home
    • Installation at Cameron and Lisa’s home
    • Victoria Centre’s history with Bill Almond and reminisces from members
  • Total Lunar Eclipse – Randy Enkin 
    • Review of online photos (since we were clouded out)
    • Diameter of the Earth’s shadow is larger than expected – more to come
  • Edmonton photos – Dave Robinson
    • NGC 6946 Fireworks Galaxy – Tom Owen
    • Moon over Edmonton – Alister Ling
    • Sunspots – Arnold Rivera
  • Edmonton Centre’s new observatory – Dave Robinson
  • SIGs – David Lee

Astronomy Day 2021

Posted by as Special Events

A celebration of International Astronomy Day in Victoria, BC, Canada was held on May 15, 2021 as a virtual online event, sponsored by the Friends of the DAO and RASC Victoria Centre. Hundreds of people attended this live-streamed 4-hour event through both Zoom and Youtube.

Thanks to everyone who made this event a success!
Thanks to everyone who made this event a success!

The program lineup

  • Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) Virtual Tour
  • Live Solar Viewing from the DAO with David Lee, Sid Sidhu & Chris Purse
  • Guest Presentation – “Fossils in our Galaxy” by Dr. Kim Venn, a specialist at UVic in observational stellar spectroscopy, and the chemo-dynamical analysis of stars in the Galaxy and its nearby dwarf satellites. Stars contain a fossil record of the chemistry of the Universe at the time and place where they were born. Stars formed early in the universe contain very low amounts of elements heavier than Helium, and astronomers call these stars ‘metal-poor’. They are the fossils of ancient star formation in the galaxy. By studying the most metal-poor of these stars, we can read that fossil record to learn about the origin of the elements and formation of the Galaxy. Dr. Venn discussed the recent results on the metal-poor galaxy, including newly discovered streams in the halo, very metal-poor stars found in the Galactic Centre, and metal-poor stars in the Galactic disk that orbit in the opposite direction.
  • University of Victoria Telescope Tour with Karun Thanjavur
  • Ask an Astronomer (or two) with Jason Beaman and Nathan Hellner-Mestelman, hosted by Amy Archer
  • Astrophotography Gallery with Marjie Welchframe, David Lee and friends featuring music from Vox Humana, Jeff Enns (composer)
  • Planetaruim Show from the CU – Draco & Hercules – Aaron Bannister & the constellation blanket
  • Live Stream from the Plaskett Telescope, the Centre of the Universe (CU) and other locations featuring David Lee, Dan Posey, Dave Payne, and Brock Johnston – the RASC Electronic Assisted Astronomy Group and hosted by Ruhee Janmohamed