AstroNotes 2017 February Vol: 56 issue 02

Announcements . Get Involved . Volunteer opportunities . Member News . Bookshelf . Call for Exhibitors . The Starry Nights Exhibit . Next Meeting . Centre Information



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 56 - No 2 – February 2017


The Centre would like to announce an exciting new project in collaboration with the City of Ottawa: Starry Nights will be a month-long public art exhibit at the Shenkman Centre next summer. The official announcement is found below, and please read Paul Klauninger’s article explaining and promoting this wonderful opportunity for all our astrophotographers, sketchers and artists to show their work in public.

A very generous memorial donation in excess of $3000 has been received from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation “in honour of their Xilinx colleague Rolf Meier”. Thank you! Members are reminded the RASC is a registered charity, and that donations may be directed specifically to our Centre.

Get Involved!

By Carmen Rush

I have been a member of the Ottawa Centre RASC since 1984. I first heard of the club after reading a brief advertisement in the Ottawa Citizen about a Star Party that was to be held in Vincent Massey Park. I went to it and I was amazed at the enthusiasm of the members of the club. In those days many built their own telescopes and through one of these I saw Saturn and its rings up close. I was hooked!

I started going to meetings, in those days at the NRC building on Sussex Drive. Since the 1990's I've given talks on the biographies of famous and not so famous astronomers. I couldn't help but start to get more involved because the enthusiasm of the club has always been strong and, if you let it, it becomes infectious. It was Paul Comision who first persuaded me to run for a Council position. It was not something that I had ever considered. It took a suggestion from a fellow club member to bring me to do it but I have never regretted it. As I look back, I can honestly say the volunteering I have done has made my club membership much more rewarding.

Please consider getting more involved in the club if you are not already. It will really enhance your enjoyment of your membership. It's a great way to get to know other members. Everyone has their own talents and we need that diversity in our volunteers. If you feel that you don't have enough to contribute, you are underestimating yourself. We need you and every member is valuable. You don't have to be a longtime member to be able to do this. If you are approached by someone, like I was by Paul Comision to ask for help, please seriously consider it. Often it takes someone else to shift your direction in a new but unexpectedly rewarding way. I guarantee you will not regret it! If you feel that you could help out in part with a position and not in full, that too is a valuable contribution!

Open Positions Looking for Eager Volunteers

For more detailed information on any of the following important positions please contact Tim Cole.


This person will help to design, and do the ongoing maintenance and updating of the Centre's website at, working with the newsletter editor to incorporate newsletter content on an ongoing basis. Some experience with content management systems, especially Drupal, would be very useful. The position may be shared by more than one Ottawa Centre member.

FLO Director

This person will recruit and oversee a crew of volunteers to assist with the physical and technical maintenance, security and operations at the Fred Lossing Observatory near Almonte.

Light Pollution Abatement Coordinator

This person will set up and implement a program to collect and distribute relevant information on responsible outdoor lighting practices to both members and the public.

Public Outreach Coordinator

This person will develop and implement a program of outreach events aimed at the general public, schools, etc. and their promotion using our website and social media platforms; recruit volunteers and supervisors for these events in collaboration with the Star Party Coordinator as appropriate. The position may be shared by more than one Ottawa Centre member.

Star Party Coordinator

This person will manage the logistics of our regular public star parties, including the recruitment, training and coordination of volunteers, site management (permits, safety, fulfilling insurance requirements); and assist the Public Outreach Coordinator with promotion of these events. The position may be shared by more than one Ottawa Centre member.

Member News

Our Centre continues to grow: a warm welcome is extended to these new members announced
at January’s meeting: Brian Blak, Peter Dolan, Glen Golden, Martin Jensen, Colleen Mahoney,
Maya Meeds, Patrick Meeds, Etienne Rollin, Ethan Solis Sanchez and Peter Yunker. To all of you,
please don’t hesitate to ask questions and get involved.

Space exploration buffs: the recent film ‘Hidden Figures’ is based
on an excellent book which was reviewed at our last meeting by
Dave Chisholm. If you missed it, please check out the meeting
video here. (And thanks once again to Eric Kujala for producing
and posting these videos.)

The most recent free telescope clinic was held on January 21 at
the Beaverbrook branch of Ottawa Public Library. Mike
Moghadam organized the event and reported a great success
with 20 attendees and 8 volunteers.

Robert Dick will teach a three-week U of Ottawa Continuing
Education course Jewels of the Night Sky, beginning Feb 27.

Fibre art by Janet Tulloch, on display
at Mississippi Valley Textile Museum
until February 25

Janet Tulloch and Gordon Webster will once again offer their Art and Astronomy weekend
workshop at the Ottawa School of Art’s Orleans campus on March 3 – 5.

AstroNotes Bookshelf

Edited by Janet Tulloch

Each month our librarian, Estelle Rother, chooses one book from our library of about 800 books to feature. The library is located in a cabinet behind the Aviation Museum theatre and is open immediately after meetings. You can also consult the Centre’s website for most of our titles.

Estelle’s Pick for January:

The Great Copernicus Chase
and other adventures in astronomical history
By Owen Gingerich (Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Call for exhibitors / Appel pour les exposants

The City of Ottawa and The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Ottawa Centre presents
La Ville d’Ottawa et la Société royale d’astronomie du Canada – Ottawa-Centre présente
Starry Nights
An exhibition of the night sky / Une exposition du ciel nocturne
LaLande + Doyle Exhibition Space
Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Boulevard, Lower Level
Espace d’exposition LaLande + Doyle
Centre des Arts Shenkman, 245, boulevard Centrum, niveau inférieur
June 27 to July 25, 2017
Du 27 juin au 25 juillet 2017
Open to all RASC members/Ouvert à tous les membres de la SRAC
For entry details please contact/
Pour plus d’information, veuillez communiquer avec:
By March 31, 2017 / Au plus tard le 31 mars 2017
Final deadline for all entry materials/ Date limite pour tous les documents de participation:
April 30, 2017/30 avril 2017
TTY 613-580-2401

The Starry Nights Exhibit

By Paul Klauninger

Our Centre is buzzing with preparations for the 2017 RASC General Assembly. Holding the GA in Ottawa this year, coincident with Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, makes this a truly special occasion. One centre project in particular promises to provide a rare chance to bring our love of astronomy into the limelight for the general public. Through the extensive efforts of members Janet Tulloch and Gordon Webster, we have been granted the opportunity to organize a display of astronomical art at a prestigious venue with broad audience exposure, the Shenkman Centre for the Arts in Orleans, Ontario. The Starry Nights project will be a visual arts exhibition containing works created by RASC members and will run from June 27 to July 25.

This unique project will do more than just show some of the spectacular works created by Canadian amateur astronomers. It will allow us to:

  • Bring an appreciation of dark skies as part of our Canadian heritage to a broader public. This is especially significant nowadays, as increasing light pollution minimizes such opportunities for more and more city dwellers.
  • Sensitize and educate a new and broader audience to richness of the night sky. The Shenkman venue reaches children at summer camps, as well as audiences who attend the centre for art performances and to view the other galleries located there.
  • Demonstrate to the public that astronomically-themed works (astrophotography in particular) are legitimate art forms, which can bridge the perceptional gap between science and art, being both inspirational and instructional.
  • Offer the exhibited works for sale to the general public attending the Shenkman Centre. If a work is purchased, a 15% commission goes to the ARTicipate Endowment Fund and the balance to the artist.

The opportunity to submit a work for this exhibit is open to all RASC members in good standing, and all submissions must have been created/imaged from within Canada. Entry details can be requested by email at: While there is no fee to submit entries for initial consideration (only two submissions allowed per artist please), accepted exhibitors will be required to pay a $10 administrative fee and must cover the costs associated with printing and properly framing their works, as well as shipping to and from the Shenkman Centre, if required. The Starry Nights exhibit will contain 40 to 60 works selected from all the submitted entries. It’s your
chance to shine, so send us your best work for consideration and good luck to all!

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday February 3, 2017 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (directions).
Note: there is a $3 parking fee for museum parking. The meeting runs until 9:30 pm.

Our special guest speaker is Dr Nicolas Cowan, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University. Dr Cowan studies the atmospheres of extrasolar planets using space telescopes and novel remote sensing methods to measure their clouds, composition and winds. These are the dominant factors that determine the climate on all planets, including Earth. Dr Cowan will present an overview of his research. More details may be found here.

PLUS: all our regular meeting features: Ottawa Skies, 10-minute Astronomy, Observer Reports, and of course, the beloved Door Prize!
All RASC monthly meetings are free and open to members and non-members alike. Refreshments will be available and this will be a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends who share a common interest and chat in a relaxed, stimulating and fun environment. Please join us!
If you cannot attend in person, follow the proceedings over our live stream here.

Centre Information

General enquiries:

The Ottawa Centre 2017 Council

President: Tim Cole (
Vice President: Mike Moghadam
Secretary: Chris Teron (
Treasurer: Oscar Echeverri
Centre Meeting Chair: Kelly Jordan
Councilors: Carmen Rush, Gerry Shewan, Jim Sofia
National Council Representatives: Brian McCullough, Robert Dick
Past President: Gordon Webster

2017 Appointed Positions

Membership: Art Fraser
Fred Lossing Observatory Director: open
Hospitality: Art & Anne Fraser
Stan Mott Library: Estelle Rother
Ted Bean Telescope Library: Al Scott
AstroNotes Editors: Karen Finstad & Janet Tulloch (