Astronomy Cafe – Oct 18, 2021

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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 – Oct 4, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Milky Way from Cattle Point – a photo showing no stars, just galaxies – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
  • Women in Astronomy – Marjie Welchframe
    • Isabel Williamson has an asteroid named after her
    • Dava Sobel also has an asteroid named after her
    • Profile of Dr. Kim Venn
      • UVic Astronomy & Physics professor
      • Specialist in stellar spectroscopy
      • Kim believes that very large telescopes will likely discover Earth version 2 or 3 or 4, which will greatly impact how we view ourselves
    • Dr. Michelle Kunimoto will present to us on Oct 18th about Exoplanets
  • Edmonton Centre astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Milky Way Halloween theme- Warren Findlay
    • Blackfoot dark sky area – Arnold Rivera
      • Comet 4P/Faye
      • Helix Nebula – NGC 7293 – Planetary Nebula
      • Veil Nebula – visual and photo through a 10″ Dobsonian telescope
  • Building an Astroberry Server– David Lee
    • Raspberry Pi 4 running Linux 
    • Supports the INDI – ecosystems for control and automation of astronomical devices
    • Installed PHD2
    • David just wants to implement auto-guiding
    • Runs the server through a remote desktop on his smartphone
  • Beginners SIG runs virtually tomorrow night – David Lee
  • Update from Chris Gainor 
    • Chris was interviewed by CTV News about William Shatner going into space aboard 
    • Russia is launching into space tomorrow morning
    • Chris is still waiting for his history of Hubble book to arrive
  • Sky Quality Map redo – Lauri Roche
    • Last map covering Greater Victoria (Sooke to Sidney) done in 2010
    • Victoria Centre should remeasure the data
    • We need a project leader
    • Canvas our members for interest and who has Unihedron Sky Quality Meters
  • Astronomy photos from Victoria Centre
    • Unusual Nebula NGC 6164 in Norma – observing the southern hemisphere using the Chile One Slooh telescope – Joe Carr
    • David Lee is seeking sources of data for his interest in Astrometry
    • Wizard Nebula NGC 7380 taken last Sunday night – Brock Johnston
  • Firefly Alpha rocket – photos of aborted launch from Vandenberg Air Base – Reg Dunkley

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 – Sep 20, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

  • Remembering Ed Maxfield – David Lee
  • Earth – Potentially Habitable Planet – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Earth is pretty small…some comparisons with larger celestial objects
    • Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Alpha Centauri, the Sun, Sirius, Vega, Bellatrix, Pollux, Sagittarius A, Beta Centauri,  Arcturus, Aldebaran, Rigel, Deneb, Rho Cassiopeia, Betelgeuse.
    • Red Hyper-giants:  Uy Scuti, Stephenson 2-18
    • Supermassive Black Holes: Cygnus A, Messier 84, Hercules A
    • Primary ultra-massive Black Holes: Messier 87, OJ 287
    • Ton 618 – Hyper-luminous Quasar (13.1 billion Light Years away)
  • M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy – Reg Dunkley
    • Unusual rotation indicated Dark Matter (first proposed by Vera Rubin)
    • Part of the Local Group of galaxies
    • Since it’s so faint visually, Reg uses photos to observe this galaxy – a stack of over 6 hours of subframes
    • M33 in Hydrogen Alpha photo by Dan Meek, Calgary Centre
      • NGC 604 and 595 – knots of stellar activity – nebulae and star clusters
    • Dave Payne’s photos showing NGC 604 and 595
    • Dorothy has sketched M33 from a dark observing site
  • Photos by John McDonald
    • Deer Lick Group and Stefan’s Quintet – test photo from the two telescopes at the VCO
    • Comparing the distances of the objects – millions of Light Years away
    • Eta Carina nebula photo – newly processed using PixInsight – with and without stars, and original
    • UGC12127 – nearby cluster of galaxies suggested by Dorothy & Miles Paul
    • Starnet++ – a standalone app to remove stars suggested by Dave Payne
  • Edmonton Centre photos – Dave Robinson
    • NGC 1499 – California Nebula (2 orientations) by Tom Owen 
    • Jupiter sequence of photos – Abdur Anwar and Arnold Rivera
    • Saturn – Abdur Anwar and Arnold Rivera
    • Andromeda Galaxy taken with a simple, non-tracking setup using camera and lens – Alister Ling
  • Hubble deep field photo – Brock Johnston
  • SIGs – meeting online
    • Astrophotography – Wednesday
    • Makers – Thursday
  • Fall Fairfield – RASC Victoria will be at this FGCA public event in the field – Sunday at Noon – Randy Enkin to email a notice to members

Astronomy Cafe – August 23, 2021

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Transcript video of the meeting

  • Mark Wheen at Pearson College wants to train some people to operate the 25″ telescope – members should contact Bill Weir if interested
  • Astrophotos from Victoria Centre members
    • Intro from John McDonald
    • Brock Johnston – online gallery
      • Using new ASI 2600 camera (one shot colour)
        • Cocoon Nebula
        • Fireworks Galaxy
        • Andromeda Galaxy – 3 nights
        • Deer Lick Group – SCT Celestron Edge 9.25″
        • Jupiter 
          • Using video from ASI120 OSC planetary imaging camera
          • De-rotated about 1 minute clips
        • Saturn
          • Using video from ASI120 OSC planetary imaging camera
          • Doesn’t need to be de-rotated
        • Processing of planets: PIP > WinJupos > AutoStakkert
      • Pick objects that are rising in the eastern sky, so there is time to image them
    • Dave Payne – online gallery
      • Rosette Nebula – taken 10 months ago
        • H2 cloud, UV radiation
        • Big – about 1 degree across
        • 127mm refractor, 660mm f/l
      • Tulip Nebula – Sharpless catalog
        • Smaller
        • CDK 12.5″ 2540mm f/l
        • H2 cloud
        • Note Cygnus X1 on left side of field of view, some purple clouds driven by the Black Hole’s accretion disk
      • Iris Nebula
        • Much closer than the other nebulae
        • Blue colour indicates that this is a reflection nebula
        • PAH – life can be formed when this is present
    • Dan Posey – online gallery
      • Rho Ophiuchus – short focal length – modified dSLR, camera lens & small tracker
      • Comet NEOWISE – modified dSLR, camera lens & small tracker
      • California Nebula – tri-band filter with Askar 108mm 600mm f/l
      • Uses Starnet – to subtract and add back the stars using neural net processing
      • M81, M82 –  Milky Way background structure revealed by doing some exotic processing technique
      • Eagle Nebula – imaging from a balcony downtown at 400mm using SBIG 8300 – compared with imaging from the VCO 16″ TPO RC computer
      • NGC 7318 interacting galaxy pair – imaging using the Plaskett telescope
      • RASC Victoria might have imaging time on the Plaskett in October, so send Dan any objects of interest (if you are on the Active Observers’ email list)
    • Garry Sedun – online gallery
      • XM2000 monochrome camera, 20″ Newtonian astrograph
        • Horsehead Nebula
        • M51 galaxies
      • Moravian 16200 imager, 20″ Newtonian astrograph
        • M82 galaxy revealing the jet –
        • Jellyfish Nebula – colour and monochrome wavelengths – star colours still need work
        • M81 galaxy and blue dwarf companion galaxy – two versions
    • John McDonald – online gallery
    • Discussion among the astro imagers on technique, optics, sites, conditions
  • Scientific Narrative – Ken Atkinson
    • Ventu Sky – interesting weather maps
    • Human genomes
    • Highly magnetized  and rapidly rotating white dwarf as small as the moon
    • Books
      • Birth of a Theorem – Cedric Villani
      • Cantor’s Dilemma – Carl Djerassi
      • Newton’s Darkness: Two Dramatic Views – Carl Djerassi
      • Berlin in lights – the diaries of Count Harry Kessler – mentions dining with the Einsteins and other famous people

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

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 – 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 – May 17, 2021

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Video transcript of meeting

VIdeo frame of ISS taken through an 8" Dobsonian by Nathan
VIdeo frame of ISS taken through an 8″ Dobsonian by Nathan
  • ISS photo – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Used a iPhone mount using a 30-min video slow motion through a 5mm  eyepiece, 2.5x Barlow and 8″ Dob (1,200mm f/l), so about 600x magnification, 2-3 arc secs 
  • Astronomy Day on May 15th – Randy Enkin & Lauri Roche
    • We were so fortunate to have a clear sky for this online event
    • Reviewed all the presenters and thanked everyone
  • Spectroscopy – Tom Field
    • Intro by David Lee
    • 70-80% of astronomical research is done with spectroscopy
    • Rspec-Astro.com – spectroscopy software for amateur astronomers
    • Bunsen invented his burner to burn elements to see their component spectra
    • Emission and absorption lines in spectrum
    • “The Computers” Annie Jump Cannon – they created categories for spectral plate analysis
    • Equipment to use for capturing spectrum
      • Star Analyser Grating – US$195
      • Other adapters and gear available
      • A slit instead of a grating, which yields more resolution, but costs more and requires better technique
    • Compared spectra of 8 different stars – Torsten Hansen
    • Doing science
      • Graph the results
      • Spectroscopy is more immune to light pollution than traditional astrophotography, so urban observing works
      • Wolf-Rayet stars (WR140) – shows this late-stage star with carbon-rich spectra
      • Spectra can be measured of: planets, comets, meteors, the Sun, Supernova, stars
      • Measuring Doppler Shift, or is it red/blue shift?
      • Extended objects like nebulae need a slit instead of a grating
      • Black Hole? no, but the accretion disk emits light
      • Calculating red shift
    • Spectroscopy can reinforce other observational skills
    • Distance between sensor and grating needs to be precisely setup
    • Emission versus absorption lines
    • Can use other grating, since RSpec can calibrate to other grating resolutions. RSpec grating uses 100 lines/mm which is easy to use, and yields brighter spectra.
    • Calibrate on a known star, then study other objects

Notices

  • There is no Astro Cafe next Monday due to the Victoria Day holiday. The next Astro Cafe is scheduled for May 31st.
  • If anyone would like to lead a citizen science group, please contact David Lee
  • Total Lunar Eclipse is coming up on May 26th

Astronomy Cafe – April 26, 2020

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Video transcript of meeting