AstroNotes 2018 July Vol: 57 issue 05

Editor’s Message . Ottawa Skies . Mike Moghadam Qilak Award . Carp Public Star Party . Schedule . The Hug . Monthly Challenge Objects . Buy or Borrow? . AstroNotes Bookshelf . Announcements . Next Meeting



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 57 – No. 5 (actually 6 or 7?) - July 2018

Editor’s Message

As I mentioned in the last issue, this role as Editor has its challenges. The challenge this time
was, well, time. There doesn’t seem to have been much of it to spare around here the past
couple of months. To those of you that I gave deadlines that have long since passed, my
appreciation and apologizes. This issue has been a long time coming but I’m sure you will
find it is full of lots of interesting things.

The weather, while being very warm, has been very clear and looks like it will continue that
way for a while. Our Public star parties and the FLO Members only parties for May and June
all ran to one degree or another. I know the June FLO party had some wonderful conditions.
There was a good turn out and the bugs were only a minor issue for about half an hour. I’m
told that has changed!

Our Ted Bean Loan Librarian, Darren Weatherall, shares with us some thoughts on the
benefits of using this great resource and the process involved. Our Ottawa Skies guru, Dave
Chisholm, tells us how to find and calculate the passage of the ISS. We have some images
submitted for the Monthly Challenge to share with you in this issue. And along with our
regular features, we have a book review by Pat Brewer.

As many of you will have heard, Mike Moghadam is the 2018 National recipient of the Qilak
Award for outstanding service in Astronomy outreach. This will not come as a surprise to most of you as Mike’s
name is synonymous with “outreach” in the Ottawa Centre. We have a photo of him receiving the award at the
Calgary GA thanks to Karen Finstad. As well, we have the Citation for the award. Congratulations Mike. It is
well deserved.

While on the subject of outreach, we have a wonderful article by Stuart Glen entitled “The Hug”. It captures a
moment in time at a recent Carp Star Party that shows why we do outreach. It is beautifully written and if you
have ever shared the view through your eyepiece, you will definitely relate.

I hope you will enjoy all we have on offer this issue.

Clear Skies,

Gordon Webster

Ottawa Skies

By Dave Chisholm

Full Moon July 27th
Total Lunar Eclipse in Australia on July 28th

The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. The full moon will be a problem this year. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Rise/Set 7:17/22:18 -> 07:17/20:36
Greatest Eastern Elongation on July 12th
Look for it low in the western sky just after sunset

Visible all month just after sunset.
Rise/Set 08:47/23:06 -> 09:50/22:11

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 22:55/07:34-> 20:49/04:56
At opposition (closest to Earth) on July 27th

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 16:10/02:08 -> 14:15/00:11

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 20:25/05:09 -> 18:19/03:02

Visible in the early morning.
Rise/Set 01:37/15:11 -> 23:36/13:16

Visible in the early morning/late evening.
Rise/Set 23:59/11:09 -> 22:00/09:09

International Space Station
How to figure out best viewing date…
Make sure you set your location to Ottawa in the upper-right-hand corner

Mike Moghadam - Qilak Award

The Qilak is a national award sponsored jointly by RASC, FAAQ, and CASCA (professional astronomers society) so it's a big deal. The Qilak Award / Prix Qilak is intended to recognize Canadian residents "who have made an outstanding contribution, either to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy in Canada, or to informal astronomy education in Canada, and to promote such activities among the members of the sponsoring organizations."

This year the winner is our very own, very deserving Mike Moghadam. Here is his Citation as submitted by the Ottawa Centre Council.

Mike Moghadam has been an RASC member since 2003, most of it with the Ottawa Centre. During that time Mike has served as Outreach Coordinator (2009 to 2011), Meeting Chair (2014-2015) and currently as Vice President (2017- 2018). Through this entire period there has not been a time when Mike was not actively involved in trying to promote the RASC and educate as many people as possible about the night sky. In his roles as Meeting Chair and Vice President, Mike’s focus and motivation is outreach.

During his time as Outreach Coordinator, Mike organized and promoted our monthly public star parties that run from May through October. He worked with the City to secure an easily accessible, secure, relatively dark site to host the events. He publicised them and built them to the point where we routinely had 250 people attending regularly. For a while he even tried to have a second event running in the opposite (East) end of the City to accommodate those who were not prepared to make the longer drive to the outreaches of the west end.

Responding to the numerous requests from various community groups for Astronomy events was something Mike seemed to particularly enjoy. Girl Guide and Brownie groups, Boy Scout and Cub groups were a regular with Mike. Events that he could not personally lead, he would delegate to a team of volunteers he had trained.
Mike developed and ran a school program where we would send volunteers into the area schools to encourage an awareness and appreciation of the night sky.

From 2009 onward Mike has been organizing our Astronomy Day events which draw 1000 to 2500 people depending on the weather. Ottawa Centre currently holds its meeting at the Aviation and Space Museum. Previously they were held at the Museum of Science and Technology. These institutions regular host events that have an astronomy connection and we are called on to support them. Mike always finds new and fresh ways to provide that support.

As Meeting Chair Mike worked very hard at bringing in speakers that would draw the general public to our meetings. He would usually pair this speaker with one of the many excellent speakers from the Ottawa Centre to demonstrate to value we have to offer to these “guests”. In an auditorium with seating for about 300, and a typical attendance of 125, we would have standing room only at these events. It resulted in a marked increase in our membership.

Mike has always had an eye for spotting potential volunteers and a manner that encourages them. During his term as Meeting Chair he spotted a young teenager in our midst. She had created an Astronomy themed cook book (with things like Asteroid Chunk cookies). Mike helped her with a presentation and she sold the cook book to raise money for a local charity. With Mike’s continued support and encouragement, she went on to be our Meeting Chair in 2017 at the age of 17! Her involvement led to an upsurge in young people joining our greying group and becoming actively involve. We now have another teenager (15) who has given a presentation at the meeting, published an article in our newsletter and is now our Outreach co-chair.

The result of all this is that Mike’s efforts have reached and influenced thousands of people a year. This alone would qualify Mike Moghadam to receive this award but the above only scratches the surface of the many things he has done and continues to do to promote our beloved pastime. Mike has worked at least as hard during the times he was not “officially” responsible for Outreach. After stepping down as our Outreach Coordinator, since nobody immediately stepped forward, Mike continued to organize our summer star parties and thanks to his efforts these now average 300 to 400 people at each event. He was heavily involved in our Solar Eclipse event last summer which drew 8,000 to 10,000 people. We had 2,000 solar glasses to hand out to the public and at one set per family they were gone half an hour before we officially started. The traffic was so bad the RCMP had to close the roads leading to our event.

Mike created telescope clinics for anyone needing help with any issue with their equipment. These have been well attended by new members and non-members alike. In the lead up to the recent Ottawa GA he led several outreach events for the Kanata region of Ottawa in exchange for their support for the GA. As well he acted as volunteer coordinator for the GA. He is also actively guiding our new Outreach team.
An event that really stands out for me is the Mercury Transit event on Parliament Hill. I know how much work went into this event alone because I worked with Mike on organizing it. Over a period of several months we worked with Minister Kirsty Duncan’s office to host an event on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. We had National and Local news coverage of the event that was attended by everyone
from Members of Parliament, including Science Minister Duncan and Transport Minister Garneau, to tourists just visiting the Hill. We had between 3,500 and 5,000 people attend.

From the time Mike joined us, he has been the person we think of for any Outreach event. Outreach is in his blood. No matter what role Mike is “officially” undertaking for the Centre, his direction is always outreach. Even by conservative estimates, Mike’s efforts over the past 9 years have reached over 40,000 people. We feel that Mike embodies all the values and requirements of the Qilak Award and that if any other centre has anyone who works half as tirelessly as Mike, they are indeed blessed

Respectfully submitted by;

Gordon Webster, Past President Ottawa Centre
Tim Cole, President Ottawa Centre
Chris Teron, Secretary Ottawa Centre
Oscar Echeverri, Treasurer Ottawa Centre
Carmen Rush, Councillor, Ottawa Centre
Gerry Shewan, Councillor, Ottawa Centre
Jim Sofia, Councillor, Ottawa Centre
Robert Dick, National Council Representative, Ottawa Centre
Karen Finstad, National Council Representatives, Ottawa Centre

Carp Public Star Party Schedule

1. Saturday April 21st -- Special theme: International Astronomy Day @ the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
People asked for an East End event, so here it is! The outreach people are making arrangements for this event, combined with lots of other Centres across Canada, and so this is the easiest one of all for me as I'm deferring to them!
• Backup dates: None
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: TBA
2. Friday May 11th -- Suggested theme: Spotlight on Venus @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
• Backup dates: Saturday May 12th / Friday May 18th / Saturday May 19th
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA Extra dates for sidewalk viewing:
• TBA - Preference for East End (any volunteers?)
3. Friday June 8th -- Suggested theme: Spotlight on Jupiter @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
• Backup dates: Saturday June 9th / Friday June 15th / Saturday June 16th
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA -- Preference for "special" one at Mill of Kintail (any volunteers?)
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: TBA
4. Friday July 13th -- Suggested theme: Spotlight on Saturn @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
• Backup dates: Saturday July 14th / Friday July 20th / Saturday July 21st
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: TBA -- Preference for South End (any volunteers?)
5. Saturday August 4th -- Suggested theme: Spotlight on Mars @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
• Backup dates: Friday August 17th / Saturday August 18th
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA -- Preference for "special one" at Plevna or North Frontenac (any volunteers?)
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: TBA
6. Saturday September 8th -- Suggested theme: Spotlight on Uranus and Neptune @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker ** Day after RASC meeting
• Backup dates: Friday September 14th / Saturday September 15th
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: Friday September 28th / Saturday September 29th -- Multiple pop-up astronomy focus on the moon (TBC)
7. Friday October 5th -- Suggested theme: Spotlight on the Moon @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
• Backup dates: Saturday October 6th
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: TBA
• Extra dates for special events: Joint public evening with AstroPontiac @ Luskville -- Saturday October 13th
8. Friday November 9th -- Suggested theme: Space is cold and so are we? @ Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
• Backup dates: Saturday November 10th / Friday November 16th / Saturday November 17th
• Extra dates for members-only viewing: TBA
• Extra dates for sidewalk viewing: TBA
Thanks all, clear skies.
Paul Sadler
Public Star Party Coordinator / Dictator for 2018

The Hug

by Stuart Glen

On the one hand it was a routine star party at the Diefenbunker, where we in RASC Ottawa go to help others see the wonder and the beauty of the ancient celestial show over our heads. While skies were initially clear, in typical Ottawa fashion, large, thick clouds soon arrived and danced with us all night long. Crowds were thin, but enthusiastic. I actually think I prefer thin crowds because I can take more time with each person, and sometimes give them a mini-tour of the night sky, rather than the typical cut 'n paste we do when there are long lineups at each eyepiece.

The couple in question had never looked through a telescope before, or so I understood, and were very keen. Looking into their faces in the early evening, I recognized the glow that came from them both, in anticipation of the unknown sights they'd see. It is the chance to see such fleeting looks that brings me back to these events time and time again.

They kept returning all evening for peeks at what I was showing. As fortune would have it, each time they came past I was on something new, so they had the chance to see planets (Jupiter and Venus), a planetary nebula (M57), a globular cluster (M13), and several galaxies (M51 and NGC 5195, I believe, but my memory may be faulty on these last ones). However, it was the final object that was the capstone tonight.

They stayed nearly to the end, long after most others had left. We were chatting about astronomy in general when, looking over their shoulder, I saw a familiar golden glow just above the tree line. "I think that might be Saturn", I said, and manually swung my 12" Newtonian (on a powered-down AZ-EQ6 mount) over for a quick look. "Yep, that's Saturn! Hang on, just let me switch to a higher magnification eyepiece."

Was it my imagination, or did the air feel slightly electric with anticipation? I switched over fairly quickly as I had the other eyepeice in my pocket, but it wasn't fast enough for Mother Nature and by the time I was done Saturn was completely obscured by clouds. Bah, foiled again. With an apology, I told them what had happened and expressed hope that it might clear in a few minutes, but they indicated they needed to go soon. I consoled them with the words "You always remember your first Saturn, and you want it to be on a clear night. If you come back next month, Saturn will be higher in the sky and offer spectacular views." They nodded, understandingly.

No sooner had I spoken those words than the sky cleared and Saturn shone brightly - still low, but completely free of clouds. She was over in a flash and looking through, after I'd re-centered, and her excitement was palatable. Really excited, in a little kid kind of way, and she kept looking again and again and again, with hungry eyes. Not wanting to hog it, though, she stepped back and let her partner see, who grinned appreciatively at the sight. They stepped back, and I believe both understood what I'd meant with my comment about your first glimpse of the ringed planet through a telescope. And then it happened, the first time it has ever happened at one of these events, catching me completely by surprise.

She asked if she could give me a hug, and I said yes. We hugged, and it was a special moment, for I very much understood the sentiment in which it was given. I understood the wonder she felt from all the deep space objects she had seen tonight, but especially from Saturn. That enthusiasm is inside me, as I suspect it is inside a lot of us who set up our scopes for outreach. It's what brings us out in hot/cold or buggy nights to show total strangers things they might otherwise never get a chance to see.

I don't know if my path will ever cross with this couple again, but I sincerely hope so. I also hope that they might someday set up a scope of their own at events like this, though of course that is a personal decision for them to make. Not for the first time have I wondered, and commented on, the seeds we plant on nights like this, wondering how many wither in un-watered soil and how many germinate and take root.
In a slightly ironic twist, at the other end of the parking lot, in his customary place, Attilla Danko and his monster 25" was set up and he was still busy showing people through, as he has done for more years than I know. I am part of RASC Ottawa due, in no small measure, to a glimpse of M3 through that specific scope at one of these star parties many years ago. Sometimes, just sometimes, those seeds do take hold.
And my own first Saturn? Richard MacDonald's telescope, at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. It's been pretty close to a decade now, but I can still picture it very clearly in my mind's eye. Thank you, Attilla and Richard, and I am happy to have passed on the gift you two gave me to someone else tonight. Just don't expect a hug...

Monthly Challenge Objects

April’s Challenge Objects were: M44 (the Beehive Cluster); NGC 3079 and Double Quasar; Planetary Nebula Mink 1-7 (PK189+71); the Lunar Challenge was the Crater Cepheus. Here are the submissions we received.
M44 - Photo by Paul Klauninger

NGC 3079 and the Double Quasar - Photo by Paul Klauninger
NGC 3079 - Sketch by Gordon Webster
March Lunar Challenge
Sketch of Crater Cepheus (top right) by Gordon Webster

July Challenge Objects
Beginner: Albireo – What colours do you see?
Intermediate: M20 - Trifid Nebula
Advanced: The Elephant Trunk IC1396
Lunar - Gassendi

Buy or Borrow?

When I was 18 years old, I purchased an OMCON 6-inch reflector telescope from Focus Scientific and I still remember the countless hours of exploring I did with it in my parent’s yard. My fondest memory of that scope was the first time I found Saturn. I remember it like it was yesterday, running into the house and waking my father to come and look. I also remember him not sharing the same enthusiasm as me for viewing Saturn at 3 in the morning.

I sold that telescope a year later and sadly lost touch with Astronomy. A few years have passed since then and in 2016 I found myself wanting to get back into the hobby and possibly purchase another telescope.
I started by browsing online for new and used scopes and couldn’t decide what type was best for my needs. I enjoyed the reflector when I had it, but a DOB looked interesting as did the Schmidt Cassegrain and refractor equipment. I wasn’t about to purchase one of each type, so I continued my research to determine which type of scope would be best for me.

While I was ‘googling’ for articles and opinions on equipment, a link kept showing up with the letters ‘RASC’ in it? After noticing it being present in almost every google search, curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on it to see what it was. To my surprise, not only did I discover a Society of other local Astronomers to share the hobby with, I also found that they had a telescope loan library!

With the cost of an RASC membership, this meant that I not only gained access to monthly meetings and great programs, but I could also borrow telescopes to try out.
For a low monthly cost, I would have the ability to try many different types of equipment. There were Binoculars, DOBs, Refractor, Schmidt Cassegrain or Reflector telescopes available. I was excited to have the opportunity to sign them out and determine which one would best suit my needs first hand.

I quickly signed up for an annual membership, went to my first meeting and shortly thereafter borrowed an 8” DOB from the Library. I can’t emphasize how great it was to be able to try out a telescope to determine if it was the right style for me. I continued signing out different telescopes over the next year to learn how they worked and what features of each I liked best. I was then given the opportunity to take over the Ted Bean program and be responsible for loaning out the telescopes. It’s been a pleasure being able to help people discover and learn about the different scopes and help them in the same way the program had helped me
I’d like to encourage members to take advantage of this program. It provides a great opportunity to try before you buy for new members and offers portable options for seasoned members that don’t always want to haul heavy equipment to a view site. It’s also great for casual observers that might not want to make the investment of owning a telescope. Having the ability to use a scope and not have to maintain or store it has been of great benefit to some members as well.

The program and its offerings are just an email away and I’m always happy to help. As each scope is loaned out, I provide instruction on how to use it and also provide support during the rental time. You won’t be alone trying to figure out how to use it. The current list of telescopes within the library can be found here,
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about the program.

Happy observing,

Darren Weatherall.

AstroNotes Bookshelf Estelle’s Pick for July

The Universe Within by Neil Turok

Explore the Universe Guide, 2nd Edition, by Brenda Shaw (RASC, 2017)

Reviewed by Pat Brewer

This book has been published by the RASC to be coupled to the society’s Explore the Universe Observing Program ( This program is designed to introduce new members to the sky and to reward their efforts with a certificate and a pin. Both beginning observers and intermediate observers would probably find the program interesting and challenging. The website has a list of all the objects included in the program, basic information about them, and a link to a collection of Observation Report Forms ( The forms are used to submit your observations for consideration for this award.

The Explore the Universe Guide is a 74-page book that expands on the material available on the website and provides a basic introduction to astronomy. It directly references the observing program and provides some details on the objects and how to find them in binoculars or small telescopes. It is worth noting that the program does not permit using the GOTO function of your telescope for your observations.
The book covers: finding your way around the sky; the constellations; the moon; the solar system; deep sky objects; and multiple and variable stars. Included is a list of resources for beginning observers. Also, at the back of the book are 7 star charts and a map of the moon. Stars are only shown down to magnitude 4.5 or 5. These charts are all small, and another larger atlas would be almost a necessity for success in the program. Beginners would probably also need to read other material such as NightWatch by Terence Dickinson to expand on the limited information in the Explore the Universe Guide.
For beginners the book serves as an introduction to astronomy, and along with the Explore the Universe webpage, does help to set you up in a comprehensive plan for observations of a wide range of objects. Intermediate observers would probably be better off with the material on the website, and a good atlas and general reference book. Explore the Universe is available from the eStore of the RASC at or it can be borrowed for free from the Ottawa Centre Stan Mott Library.


We will be continuing the Ottawa Centre’s Members Star Parties at the FLO again this year. If you haven’t attended before, be sure to mark at least one of these dates on your calendar. You are welcome to bring family members or a guest.

FLO STAR PARTY Dates for 2018


May 18 – a wonderful evening
June 9 – a good turn out and nice conditions. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!
July 14 – waxing crescent Moon – 3.4% sets 10:11 PM – can you spot it?
August 11 – NEW MOON – for those who don’t make it to Starfest
September 8 – waning crescent Moon – rises 4:52 AM
October 13 – waxing crescent Moon – sets 9:28 PM


November 10 – waxing crescent Moon – sets 7:03 PM
December 8 – waxing crescent Moon – 1.8% sets at 5:42 PM – can you spot it?
January 5, 2019 – New Moon & Partial Solar eclipse
February 9 – Waxing crescent – 19.5% sets at 10:09
March 9 – Waxing Crescent – 8.4% sets at 9:05
April 6 – One Day Moon 1.7% sets 9:02 PM

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday August 3, 2018 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. NOTE: DESPITE BEING A LONG WEEKEND, OUR MEETING WILL TAKE PLACE THE FIRST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH due to Starfest the following weekend.

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!

Centre Information

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

The Ottawa Centre 2018 Council

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

2018 Appointed Positions

Membership: Art Fraser
Star Parties: Paul Sadler
Fred Lossing Observatory: David Lauzon & Rick Scholes (
Light Pollution Abatement: OPEN
Public Outreach Coordinator: Lathif Masoon and Danel Polyakov
Hospitality: Art & Anne Fraser
Stan Mott Astronomy Library: Estelle Rother
Ted Bean Telescope Library: Darren Weatherall
Webmaster: Mick Wilson (
AstroNotes Editors: Gordon Webster & Douglas Fleming (