AstroNotes 2017 October Vol: 56 issue 08

Announcements . Member News . Partial Eclipse at CASM . National Update . Busy Summer at FLO . AstroNotes Bookshelf . Next Meeting . Centre Information



Download PDF version: 


The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 56 - No 7 - October 2017


Our final public star party for 2017 is scheduled for 20 October (rain date 21 Oct). For details and guidelines see .

And for Members Only, a special star party at our own Fred Lossing Observatory is scheduled for 14 October. For details and directions contact Gordon Webster.

Procedures for borrowing equipment from the Ted Bean Telescope Loan Library have been updated. For details and the catalogue of telescopes available, see
our Centre website.

More opportunities to participate in public viewing events are offered by Astro-Pontiac (Observatoire Pontiac), who sponsor events at the Luskville Falls entrance to Gatineau Park on
13 and 20 October. More details here.

A talk on Meteors & Meteorites will be presented by member Howard Simkover to the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club on the evening of Tuesday, 14 November, at 7:30 p.m. OFNC meetings are held at the K.W. Neatby Building, Salon B, at 960 Carling Avenue.

An exhibit called New Eyes on the Universe, dealing with the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, will be at Carleton University this month from 3 - 23 October. Details here.

Reminder: the old email discussion list will soon be discontinued. You should now use to share and respond to astronomical questions, comments
and stories of interest to all the other list subscribers. To subscribe or unsubscribe, contact BTW, please don’t respond to email you receive from our
announcement list (all-members AT; this list can only be used by Centre Council to send out important information that needs to reach all Centre members, not just those who have subscribed to the discussion list.

Member News

At last month’s meeting we heard stories and saw images of our joint experience of the solar eclipse, from those who helped share the partial eclipse with the public locally to some who travelled further afield in pursuit of totality. At least 23 members sent in personal stories to the Centre’s discussion list, and we present here two additional representative reports that were submitted to AstroNotes.

Frank Bayerl: I observed 2 minutes and 18 seconds of totality from North Menan Butte, 30 miles north of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Sky conditions were near perfect after some overnight and early morning cloud cleared away. This was my fifth total solar eclipse (all under clear skies) and I did not attempt any photography this time, given the short duration of totality. Instead, I used 15x70 binoculars with solar filters, eclipse glasses and naked eye. I could see both diamond rings, several prominences, chromosphere and the corona, which appeared quite elongated and had two spikes in one direction and one in the other. Since I wanted to concentrate on the sun itself, I did not attempt to see shadow bands or the approaching shadow. This was part of a tour organized by Omega Travel, a British company that seems to specialize in eclipse tours, and I believe I was the only Canadian on board. We also visited Salt Lake City, the Craters of the Moon in Idaho and Yellowstone National Park, so the trip had other rewards besides the eclipse.

Mike Hammell: My family and I viewed the eclipse from Guernsey, Wyoming. The skies were completely clear with not even a wisp of cloud. The corona seemed to extend forever. We used eclipse glasses and I brought along some 15X50 IS binoculars (filtered of course). No photos, we were strictly visual. This was our first eclipse so we heeded the advice to “relax and just soak it all in”. We all laughed when our teenage son, who was celebrating his 19th birthday that day, declared that he would be happy to let us take him around the world to see another. Despite the traffic jams in Wyoming, it was totally worth it. If you ever get a chance to see totality, GO!

These new members have joined our Centre in the last month: Sushma Bahal, Anna, Joseph & Robert D'Attillio, Nikki Jones, Michael, Patrick & Pauline Heffernan, Nosberto Lou, Franco Momoli, Mary O'Connor, Navjeet Pandher and Jesse Rogerson. Please join your Centre Council in extending a warm welcome to all of them.

Partial Eclipse Event at CASM

By Mike Moghadam

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum (CASM) was 'the place' to be in Ottawa for the partial solar eclipse. Our Centre was fortunate to be partners with the museum at this wonderful event. In the days leading up to the eclipse, media coverage grew steadily. Our Ottawa RASC media liaison, Gary Boyle, had been interviewed over a dozen times by local, regional and national media. Jesse Rogerson, a science advisor for CASM, was also actively promoting the eclipse.

As a result, on 21 August people came to CASM in unexpectedly large numbers. The line-up for free solar viewers started around 11 am. By noon, approximately 2,000 viewers had been given away. We had completely run out of supplies more than one hour before the start of the eclipse.

Another surprise was the heavy car traffic. There were early reports that a line-up of cars extended to Montreal Road. Later reports came in that the traffic backed up all the way to the Queensway. If you were in any doubt, this was indeed a large event. Crowd estimates ranged from minimally 5,000 to between seven and nine thousand.
Large crowds enjoy views of the partial solar eclipse at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum Photo by Chris Teron

Altogether there were 17 telescopes aimed at the Sun, including filtered white light, H-alpha, and various adaptors for projecting the solar image. Some RASC members also brought binoculars equipped with solar filters while one member, Chris Teron, brought his colander. That's right - his colander! It turns out that sunlight passing through the holes of a colander will project many images of the crescent-shaped eclipsed Sun on to the ground or a piece of paper. This turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser. Finally, there were many pin-hole camera and mirror inventions that worked well to show images of the eclipsed Sun. Regardless of the viewing method, barely a moment passed without someone saying, "Oh that is so cool." In an instant, people felt amply rewarded for their efforts to travel to the museum.

It was interesting to watch people go from one telescope line-up to the next to observe different views of the eclipse. While waiting in line, several members of CASM and the RASC engaged the public in discussions about the Sun. Feedback from attendees was very positive. A lot of people thanked us for sharing our time and equipment.

It is easy to end this report of this event by dwelling solely on the large public turnout and the 'oohs' and 'aahs' that we heard throughout the afternoon. However, there is something equally important that needs to be told. That is the commitment of the volunteers who shared their time on a very hot day. I would like to thank each of the following volunteers who took time away from busy work schedules and from family and friends, so that other people could enjoy this wonderful celestial event. A sincere thank you is due to our friends at CASM and to all of those listed below.

Jimmy Book Gary Boyle Dave Chisholm Tim Cole Attilla Danko
Rob Dick John Douglas Doug Fleming Stu Glenn Yvan Guay
Richard Harding David Milne David Parfett Boni Penna
Al Scott Chris Teron Martin Viala Michael Wolfson
Gordon Webster (and Julia and Andrew of course)

National Update

As part of the fast-approaching 150th Anniversary of RASC in 2018, plans are afoot to create a mosaic banner using photographs from each of the Centres. This will be proudly displayed on and at the 2018 GA in Calgary to celebrate Eyes on the Universe for 150 Years! The project leaders are requesting large (5x7 inches, at least), high resolution (300-400ppi) images of Centre activities and astrophotography, whether recent or otherwise. Please send your images to no later than 31 October, 2017. For recent photos where faces are visible, permission of the subject or their parent/guardian where appropriate must be obtained before submission.

A Busy Summer at FLO

By Gordon Webster

An ambitious schedule of updates and maintenance work at the Fred Lossing Observatory began back in May. Thanks to the efforts of our new directors Rick Scholes and David Lauzon and a few volunteers, the bulk of the maintenance was accomplished in a few weeks. In June, we undertook the traumatic task of removing the 16" telescope that has such a rich history with this club. Rolf Meier discovered a comet using this telescope. Many other members used it to complete their Finest NGC and Messier lists. Fortunately, we seem to have found a new home for the telescope at the North Frontenac dark sky site where it will see many more years of use.

Those of you who have used the observatory will know that the floor had cracked quite badly due to the building settling around it. The floor at each end was four inches (10 cm) lower than at the crack. A new floor was obviously required but getting someone to do it proved to be a more difficult task than anticipated. The first company I found willing to take such a small job said they could pour the concrete as soon as they had a couple of days in a row with no rain. Anyone who spent the summer in Ottawa knows that didn't really happen until September! Despite repeated promises to pin down a date, they eventually stopped returning my calls. Another never showed for an appointment to assess the project. Finally, I was referred to an Almonte local in the concrete business, John Stewart. A couple of phone calls, a visit to the site and we had a quote. Council approved it and a week later we had a new, level floor in the observatory.

As I write this, Attilla, Ingrid and Richard are fiddling and testing the installation of the 18" Starmaster. Further testing will take place over the next few days. David and Rick will be trained after that and develop a training program for Centre members. We hope to have have a training schedule ready to announce at the monthly meeting on 13 October, and if everything works as planned we will likely have an "introductory tour" for those in attendance at the 14 October members-only FLO star party. Some other changes have taken place as well. We changed the lock on the warm room to a digital lock

Instructions for using the new warm room lock

To use the lock press the "Schlage" button at the top of the touch pad. The keypad will light up. Enter the code and the lock will open. To lock the door simply close it and press the Schlage button. The door will lock. There is no need to reenter the code.

The lock is battery operated. We will be using batteries that should resist the winter cold; however the lock has a standard key that will operate the lock in the event of battery failure. That key will be available in a lockbox attached near the hydro meter on the north side of the warm room just around the corner by the door. and gave it the same combination as that for opening the site gate. This means that anyone using the site will automatically have access to the warm room. See detailed instructions above.

The key to the observatory is still to be found inside the warm room, but it is now in a lock box which hangs on the same hook where the key itself used to hang. Those wishing to use the new Starmaster telescope will be provided the code to open this lockbox once they have completed training on use of the scope. Eventually we will install a new digital lock on the observatory door and each user will have their own access code.

We are behind schedule on construction of a new observatory building to house the Celestron 14. Planning sessions to develop the design of the building will begin shortly, with the aim of starting construction in April 2018. Tree-top cutting to the south of the mound is scheduled to take place in the next couple of months. We are also planning to expand the mound. If you were at our star party on 23 September you know how much this is needed.

Thanks to the very wet summer it has been difficult to plan anything weather-dependent. This has certainly slowed us down but not stopped us. The FLO is in much better shape today than it was in the spring and we will be fully operational in a week or so. If you haven't been out to the FLO recently, you owe it to yourself to attend the next star party Saturday, 14

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 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 September

Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
by Dava Sobel An engaging biography of Galileo and his daughter Maria Celeste, with many excerpts from their surviving letters.

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday 13 October, 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.
The October meeting consists of a feature talk from Jesse Rogerson, our new museum astronomy liaison, about the Cassini mission. We will also have a short talk from Jim Thompson about his eclipse trip to the US. 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, and if you cannot attend in person, follow the proceedings over our live stream here.

Centre Information

General enquiries:

To subscribe (or unsubscribe) to our members-only discussion list ( ) please contact .

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
Star Parties: Paul Sadler (Acting)
Fred Lossing Observatory: David Lauzon & Rick Scholes
Hospitality: Art & Anne Fraser
Stan Mott Astronomy Library: Estelle Rother
Ted Bean Telescope Loan Library: Darren Weatherall
Webmaster: Taras Rabaryski
AstroNotes Editors: Karen Finstad & Janet Tulloch (