AstroNotes 2017 September Vol: 56 issue 07

Announcements . Member News . National Update . Members-Only Nights & FLO Update . Public Star Party Report . AstroNotes Bookshelf . Next Meeting . Centre Information



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 56 - No 6 - September 2017

Editor’s Message

That was a fabulous General Assembly! Congratulations to all the volunteers and speakers from our Centre who made this an event to be proud of - most especially to GA Committee Co-chairs Brian McCullough and Tim Cole. Gordon Webster’s words of appreciation from our last monthly meeting are reproduced below.

If you want to re-live the fun, Brian’s wonderful daily wrapups have been posted to the website here, and Steven Nourse’s great photos taken during the weekend, including the group photo, can be viewed here (User: RASC,
pw:GA2017). Thank you Brian and Tim By Gordon Webster

In October 2015, I received a phone call from then President James Edgar wondering if the Ottawa Centre would be interested in hosting the 2017 GA. Time was short. It meant that we would only have a little over 15 months to get everything in place during Canada's 150th celebrations. This is a project that typically takes two years or more to pull off.

I made a few phone calls before accepting. I needed to be sure we had someone crazy enough and willing to take on such a large project, and it had to be someone capable of handling it. Brian McCullough immediately stepped forward. I knew we were in good hands so I called James and confirmed Ottawa Centre would be glad to host the 2017 General Assembly.

One of the first things Brian did was bring Tim Cole on board to work with him. Together they arranged for amazing speakers from our own Centre as well as from the professional astronomy community. They found and reserved rooms for our out of town visitors and they set up some fabulous tours. There was even a star party. And they are still talking to each other.

They worked tirelessly to be sure this would be an outstanding GA and as anyone who was there can tell you, they succeeded. Brian and Tim, you did Ottawa Centre proud and I know I speak for all when I say, “Thank you for a great job.”

Thank you Brian & Tim


Sincere and copious thanks are due to our new Ted Bean Telescope Librarian Darren Weatherall and FLO co-directors Rick Scholes and David Lauzon. Paul Sadler has stepped up as Acting Star Party Coordinator (tell him what a wonderful job he’s doing and he may stay on). They all have our undying gratitude and you can too! We still need a Public Outreach coordinator(s) and a Member Events coordinator(s). Email Tim Cole if you are interested.

Help is needed with the ongoing FLO renovations: painters, installers for the new sign and locks, assistance with pouring concrete and installation of the 18” Starmaster. And does anyone have a lawnmower to donate? To volunteer, contact David Lauzon. Note training sessions on the Starmaster will be announced later this fall.

We are now officially a Museum Affiliate of the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum (CASM), the location of our monthly meetings. We do not pay for the use of the theatre and will take a more active role in helping the museum with astronomy events. Our support for their events fits perfectly with our public outreach objectives and we really appreciate the use of their theatre and equipment for our monthly meetings. Thank you, CASM!
Heads up - changes are coming to Centre email communications. The Centre currently operates an email discussion list ('rasc-members') which, due to the growth in subscribers, cannot now serve our needs. Therefore we are switching to Google Groups - complete information will be circulated via email from the announcement list ('all-members', which will not be affected) so check your inbox! Details will also be forthcoming at the September meeting and in an article in the October AstroNotes. Please note, you must opt-in to the discussion list, but everyone is automatically on the announcement list.

Partial Solar Eclipse: We will provide SAFE solar viewing (telescopes with solar filters and pinhole cameras only please) to the public at CASM on August 21 from 12 noon to 4 pm. The eclipse begins at 1:17 EDT, with maximum coverage of 61% at 2:35. Free RASC solar viewers will be available and there will be an indoor talk by Dr. Jesse Rogerson. For more on the eclipse see Gary Boyle’s The Sky This Month . Send in your Eclipse Report! We expect our members will observe the eclipse from far and wide. Drop us a line ( and we will compile a summary for AstroNotes of where our members were for the eclipse, sky conditions, observing methods, who was present, etc. It would be great to have a round-up of our collective experiences in the next issue, so please send in a brief note to tell us what you saw, and from where, even if it was only clouds. N.B. If you took photos, consider showing them during the Observer’s Reports portion of the monthly meeting; AstroNotes cannot do your photos justice.

Member News

At the GA, three of our members were honoured with the RASC National Service Award. Please give your warmest congratulations to Chuck O’Dale, Mike Moghadam and Simon Hanmer. Read their Award citations (and those of all other 2017 recipients) on the national website here.

Congratulations to Janet Tulloch and Paul Klauninger for curating and mounting the astronomical art exhibit Starry Nights, which got a rave review here.

New members! Yay!! Welcome one and all: Jackie Bastianon, Todd Bastianon, Brian Bennett, Robin Bennett, Abdesselam Bouhia, Mike Blois, Karen Cunningham, Michael Egan, Leah Eustace, Michael Garrison, Chris Gendreau, Doug Griffith, Remi Lacasse, Tara Marshall, Natan Mitten, Kyle Slinn, Jim Sparks, Brad Stewart, Jim Thompson, Jonah Wilbur, and Dan Vasiu.

National Update

Some very sad news for Canadian astronomy; Professor Robert F. Garrison, Associate Director Emeritus of David Dunlap Observatory and Past President of the RASC and of the Royal Canadian Institute, a wonderful researcher, teacher and science communicator, passed away on August 13. You can enjoy Bob’s engaging and humorous style in a talk given to the Ottawa Centre in 1996 about the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile here.

Time to celebrate: 2018 will mark the RASC’s 150th Anniversary. At the GA, History Committee chair Randall Rosenfeld presented a preview of what’s in store (including a podcast series and imaging competition!) during the next year, and you can view his Powerpoint presentation here.

Hot off the presses is a new edition of RASC’s Explore the Universe Guide. Designed to help new observers learn the basics and guide them through their first observing projects, this guidebook coordinates with the RASC ETU Observing Certificate, for which the Ottawa Centre is now a Local Certification Centre. The Guide is available from the online store.

Members-Only Nights at FLO

By Gordon Webster

Back in May, while we still hoped the summer would bring lots of good observing opportunities, we introduced “Members-Only” Star Parties at the Fred Lossing Observatory. For many years we have been hosting public star parties in Carp but these are not ideal for members wanting help with their take advantage of this wonderful (reasonably) dark site available to them not far from home, and to provide an opportunity for newer members to get some assistance.

Over the past couple of months, we have been doing a lot of work to refresh the buildings at the FLO (see right). The observatory and the warm room have been freshly painted. A new sign is almost ready and a new lock will be installed for the warm room. When that happens, all members will have access to the warm room regardless of whether they are trained on any of the new telescopes being installed. This means a place to warm up on those beautiful, but cold winter nights.

Our first party was held on Saturday, May 27 and what a night it was. Although the group was small, we had a marvelous time, with a great sky and even an amazing auroral display around 11:15. Unfortunately, this has been the only star party we have been able to hold due to the weather.

The next scheduled members-only nights are Saturday, August 19, September 23 and October 14. Recently someone asked if we will be continuing these events through the winter months and I suspect we will – watch for an announcement at a later date.

For those of you who have never been to the FLO, it is easy to find. It is located on the grounds of the Mill of Kintail at 365 Bennies Corners Rd. which is off Hwy 29 about a third of the way between Almonte and Packenham. See the map below or Google it. There is a gate which should be open about an hour before sunset. There is a freshly pumped Porta Potty. I will send a reminder email to the membership mid-week before the scheduled date. I will make the go-no go call about noon on the day of and send it out via email.

FLO Update

Team leaders Rick Scholes and David Lauzon and their helpers have been very active this summer out at FLO and report the following improvements. More help is needed! See the Announcements section above.

  • The 16" telescope has been removed to temporary storage pending possible donation to North Frontenac.
  • Repairs to the RA drive of the 16" are in progress.
  • Painting of structures on site is 90% complete.
  • C-beams have been raised and cinder-block wall cracks sealed.
  • A general cleanup and re-organization inside the clubhouse has been done.
  • A new fence was built for the observatory mound.
  • The outhouse has been pumped.
  • A storage shed for the lawn mower and gasoline was installed.

If you have never been to the FLO, or you have not been to one of our star parties there, you really are missing something. It is a great site and the parties are always fun. Come and see!

If you have any questions about either the FLO or the stars parties there, please feel free to email me directly.

Public Star Party Report

By Paul Sadler

Thanks to all who came out with their scopes for the public star party on Saturday July 15. It was clear enough to see the whole sky - just not all of it at once! And thank you to our partners at the Diefenbunker and Carp Public Library for their continued support with the site and the dousing of the lights.

The two highlights of the evening were of course Jupiter and Saturn, with both hanging around for almost the entire night. Mercury hung too low in the horizon's haze, unfortunately, and we had sporadic clouds that at times wiped out major sections of the sky. By 11:30 p.m. it was socked in, and so we were all packed up and gone by about 12:15 a.m.

At one point I counted 28 scopes, including a couple who were up in the second level, and I would guess around 150 people milling around. I also heard a wide variety of languages-- English, French, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, and a couple of others I couldn't identify.

Thanks also to Rick for bringing the signage to direct people for parking so they aim their headlights towards the road and away from the scopes. We now have a set of guidelines for our visitors posted to the website here.

Here’s the schedule for star parties for the remainder of the summer:
Primary date (Carp)
Rain date (Carp)
Members-Only (FLO)

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 August

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday September 8, 2017 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (directions). Note there is a $3 parking fee for museum parking. The meeting is free to all and runs until 9:30 pm.
Featured speaker will be Jesse Rogerson of CASM. He will be speaking about Cassini's 20 years of accomplishments. Also up is Stephan Paape on Astro-Pontiac and 14-year old Daniel Polyakov will tell us about Mars. Join us, do!

PLUS: all our regular meeting features: Ottawa Skies, 10-minute Astronomy, Observer Reports, and of course, the beloved Door Prize!
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
Outreach / Star Parties: Open
Fred Lossing Observatory: Rick Scholes & David Lauzon
Hospitality: Art & Anne Fraser
Stan Mott Astronomy Library: Estelle Rother
Ted Bean Telescope Library: Darren Weatherall
Webmaster: Taras Rabaryski
AstroNotes Editors: Karen Finstad & Janet Tulloch (

photo credit