AstroNotes 2018 October Vol: 57 issue 06

Editor’s Message . Ottawa Skies . FLO Update . Monthly Challenge Objects . Archaeoastronomy . Annual Dinner . Announcements . FLO Star Parties . Next Meeting . Centre Information



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 57 – No. 6 (actually 7 or 8?) – October 2018

Editor’s Message

November is rapidly closing in on us and with it the colder weather, but it’s not all
bad: the nights are longer; and the mosquitos are all gone. November also has our
Annual Dinner. This November we are also continuing our FLO members star parties
and there is even a public star party planned for Carp. It is also the month before
our Annual General Meeting and the election of your Council. November is the time
you might want to think about stepping forward to help keep the Ottawa Centre
running the way you want and moving in the direction you think it should go. We
will have more on this in next month’s issue which will be out before the December

In this issue, in addition to the usual feature, we have a call for discussion on
Archaeoastronomy as a result of a presentation last April by Dr Andrea Lobel. Our
own Dr. Janet Tulloch has some expertise in this fascinating area and has promised
us a series of articles on it.

We have an update on the FLO. If you haven’t been there recently, say in the past 2
weeks, you are really in for some surprises. When we are finished with everything that is planned we
will have a significantly improved observing site. Read the article and then go see for yourself or join
us at eh next members star party.

I would also like to remind everyone that I welcome articles, or article suggestions, photos and
sketches or anything else you might like to see in these pages. If you have some ideas you would like
to share, I would love to hear them.

Clear Skies,

Gordon Webster

Ottawa Skies

By Dave Chisholm

Full Moon October 24th

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner Magnitude 7.6

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

On about September 20th , Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann underwent a bright outburst, morphing from a vague, diffuse 13th-magnitude patch to a bright little ball of light. At the moment, it's about magnitude 12 and ~20″ (arcseconds) across, like a small planetary nebula. It's possible it will get brighter still.

The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 8th. This will be an excellent year to observe the Draconids because there will be no moonlight to spoil the show. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The nearly full moon will block some of the fainter meteors this year, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright so it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Not Visible.
Rise/Set 07:46/18:58 -> 09:54/18:33

Not visible.
Rise/Set 10:18/19:08 ->07:17/16:57

Visible all evening.
Rise/Set 16:58/01:20-> 15:10/00:48

Visible first part of evening - first half of the month.
Rise/Set 10:55/20:24 -> 09:29/18:44

Visible first part of the evening.
Rise/Set 14:14/22:51 -> 12:24/21:01

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 19:30/09:06 -> 17:29/07:02
At opposition (closest to Earth) Oct. 23rd

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 17:53/04:57 -> 15:54/02:56

FLO Update – Trip the Light!

Stop what ever you are doing right now! Get on the internet and do a search for one of my favourite songs. It is called Trip the Light by Garry Schyman, a song I often play on my iPod at FLO. If you can listen to it right now, please do so before reading on. Its slow buildup reminds me of that transition time from day, to twilight, and finally to the cover of darkness. There is so much to this song that applies to the FLO experience.
The last three years have not been kind to us who find comfort at gazing at the sky and contemplating those deeper questions of our life (Truth, Beauty and Goodness). But the winds of change have come this summer. The proof is in the number of entries in the log book at FLO and the number of clear nights. We have had more good nights than bad, and the wild fires this year have not affected us to a large extent. It's as if nature has finally given is the “good to go” signal.

We have had a few “Members Only” star parties at FLO over the last year. Numbers have run anywhere from 6 to 60, with an average of about 20--30 observers come and go through the course of the night. Please check out the RASC Ottawa Observers Google Group for upcoming dates. I strongly encourage members to come out, even if you don't have a scope of your own. There is so much to learn at the scope from other members, even for us “seasoned” members.

Much has been put in place at FLO, and plans are now underway at expanding the mound, and yes... even erecting another observatory! It appears that we have been blessed with a gluttony of riches, motivated volunteers and passionate observers. It is a great time to be an Ottawa RASC member!

Here is a summary of the work done so far at FLO:

  • The 18” Starmaster has been installed and almost all of the kinks have been worked out.
  • About 20 members have been trained to use the scope. Respond to Rick's email call outs on the Ottawa RASC Google group for available training sessions.
  • Most of the repairs/maintenance to the clubhouse and observatory have been completed.
  • The user manual and work flow sheet for opening and closing the observatory are completed. There is a copy in the club house for reference.
  • There is a FLO user Google Group set up. If you want to join, contact Rick Scholes and he will add you..
  • Volunteers have come forth for grass cutting and a schedule has been started. The MVCA has been cutting our parking lot when they are in the area. This has saved us many hours of work! Thank you Ross Fergusson.
  • Tree removal has begun and the viewing window to the south has been greatly increased.
  • The mound will be expanded to accommodate more observers. It is now about three times the size.
  • The lane way has been graded flat for easier travel.
  • New digital lock has been installed on the observatory which will allow for a unique code for each user.
  • A key fee for the observatory was announced at the October meeting and via the email list.
  • A new mound has been created in preparation for the installation of a new SkyPod observatory housing a 14” GoTo Meade SCT. We hope to have it in place before the end of November.

I am just listening to Trip The Light, and I am profoundly stirred by the lines “We're going to trip the light. We're gonna break the night. And we'll see with new eyes, when we trip the light”. With the new eyes of the 18”, and the soon to be 14”, we will truly see with new eyes! This is in no small part to the host of volunteers that has devoted their time, energy and expertise in making this happen. There was a team that procured the Starmaster and repaired/spruced it up, an observatory improvement team making repairs to FLO, a group that dismantled, storing and repairing the old 16”, the writing team for the manual, the maintenance volunteers cutting grass, our benefactors who willed/donated to the Ottawa Centre equipment, and our task masters who motivated us stay on target. To make this all happen truly takes a community. The FLO co--directors find ourselves humbled by their charity.

Please feel free to contact the FLO co--directors if you have ideas or can help out. Many hands make light work. Also, consider venturing out to FLO for our star parties, especially if you have never come out. You won't be disappointed.

Clear Skies

David Lauzon on behalf of myself and Rick Scholes
Your FLO co--directors

Monthly Challenge Objects

Beginner Challenge: M31 Intermediate Challenge: NGC6888 Advanced Challenge: Stephan’s Quintent Lunar Challenge: Mons Hadley and Rima Hadley
Please share your observations at the next meeting and with us in Astronotes. Here is a sketch submitted by Murray Campbell of an earlier lunar challenge. Thanks Murray!

Archaeoastronomy, Can You Dig It?

By Janet Tulloch

As a onetime cultural historian of Religious Studies at Carleton University, I am still fascinated by the relationship between ancient astronomy and ancient religions.
I thought it might be interesting to continue a conversation with RASC members on this topic in our newsletter – a conversation that was began a few years ago in the form of a presentation and more recently, as a talk on ancient Near East astronomy and religions - both of which were well attended.

Some of you might recall a lecture given by McMaster associate professor Sarah Symons on “Astronomical Maps and Tables from Ancient Egyptian Tombs and Temples” in the auditorium of the Canadian Science and Technology museum. More recently, Dr. Andrea Lobel, a Religious Studies scholar, presented a talk on ancient Assyrian/Babylonian astronomy and ancient religions.

These talks suggested to me that a cross disciplinary discussion might be possible among individuals grounded in the scientific method, like Dr. Symons, and those interested in ancient astronomy as it is taught in the Humanities as presented by Dr. Andrea Lobel. In Humanities courses, ancient texts and images that connect the religious practices of historical civilizations with astronomy are treated as objective data - not as unquestioned “Truth”. Scholars of ancient religions who teach in publicly funded post-secondary institutions are historians not theologians – at least that was the ideal before Canadian universities started having financial problems.

Be that as it may, it was my hope that a topic like “archaeoastronomy” might bring together RASC members from different educational backgrounds and cultures as a focus for such a discussion.The problem, as I discovered in doing research for this article, is that nobody is quite sure what “archaeoastronomy” means.

A statement by the editors of the defunct publication, Journal of Archaeoastronomy (1977-2011), describes the term as “an interdisciplinary field incorporating the values, methodologies, and goals consistent with a number of established disciplines such as Astronomy, Anthropology (including Archaeology and Ethnology), History of Science (History of Astronomy), Art History, Geography, and Religious Studies.”
No wonder the journal went belly-up. It collapsed under the weight of its own intellectual scaffolding.

The International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC) founded in 1996, describes their society as “the global professional organization promoting the academic development of archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy (known collectively as Cultural Astronomy)”. On their website, ISAAC promotes a new peer-reviewed (this confers legitimacy in academic parlance), open access journal called the Journal of Astronomy in Culture or (JAC) to be published through the University of California eScholarship twice yearly: A quick search of the
University of California’s website shows that only one issue of one volume was ever published - in 2016:

Even in Carleton University’s library catalogue, “archaeoastronomy” receives only 45 hits - many of which are duplicates. There are handbooks, readers, surveys and conference papers dating from 2001 -2015 in their collection but there is very little that is developed beyond this initial introduction.

That said, let me know if anyone is interested in continuing a discussion of ancient astronomy especially as it developed in western cultures. I have some expertise I can bring to the table, but I am interested in hearing your thoughts and what experiences of astronomy and ancient archaeological sites you might have and would like to share.

Annual Dinner Meeting - Friday Nov 30
Are We Alone? The Search for Life in the Universe

Mike Moghadam

I am pleased to share with you information about the upcoming Ottawa Centre annual dinner. If you are new to the Ottawa Centre, let me first explain what the annual dinner is all about.
Every year, typically in November, we organize a dinner for RASC members and their guests. The dinner provides another opportunity for members to meet and talk about the common interest that unites us all. The dinner includes a special guest speaker, an awards ceremony to recognize individuals who have contributed to the Ottawa Centre, and door prizes. It is a lot of fun, it is an interesting evening and a great way to get in the mood for the upcoming holiday season.

The annual dinner will occur on Friday November 30th in Salon A at Algonquin College. Here is the schedule for the evening:

Arrive, cash bar, mingle: 6:00 pm
Buffet dinner: 7:00 pm
Special guest speaker: 8:00 pm
Awards ceremony: 8:45 pm
Wrap-up: ~9:30 – 9:45 pm

Cost: $45 per person. The dinner is open to Ottawa Centre members and guests. Tickets will be available for purchase at the Friday Nov 2nd RASC meeting. You can also pay by etransfer and pick up your tickets at the dinner.

Dress: There is no dress code, however, in previous years many attendees have dressed semi-formally.

Guest speaker: I am very excited about the guest speaker this year and his topic.

Dr Jan Cami, Guest Speaker, 2018 Annual Dinner

Our speaker is Dr Jan Cami who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. He is the Director at the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory and is also the acting Associate Director at the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX). Dar Cami has a reputation for delivering lively, information-packed, thought-provoking talks.
Dr Cami’s has titled his talk Are We Alone? The Search for Life in the Universe. With so much attention currently on the search for exo-planets and even ‘exo-Moons’, this topic is certainly germane. Here is the complete abstract of his talk:

Few scientific endeavors manage to capture people’s imagination as much as the search for extraterrestrial life. In this talk, I will address what is perhaps one of the most important unanswered scientific questions: “Are We Alone?”. Is life a rarity, or is the universe teeming with an abundance and variety of life forms, separated from each other by the vast space between their home planets? How can we find out? What is necessary for life, and where in the Universe do we find all necessary ingredients for life in the right environment? We will have a look at some of the most promising places in our Solar System, and then look further out. How many planets are there that could harbor life, with possibly intelligent civilizations as a result? And if intelligent civilizations exist, why haven’t we found them yet? I will include a brief overview of the different flavors of the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and offer some prospects for the future.

If you haven’t attended an annual dinner in the past, I encourage you to consider joining us. Again, tickets will be available for purchase at the Friday Nov 2nd RASC meeting. You can also pay by etransfer ( and pick-up your tickets at the dinner.


Congratulations to Murray Campbell for completing the ETU program.

Howard Simkover will be speaking to the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club (OFNC) again this fall, this time on "Mars - The Red Planet". Tuesday, November 13, 2018, and their meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Location: Salon B, K.W. Neatby Building, Central Experimental Farm, 960 Carling Avenue. Free parking on the east-side parking lot. For more details, visit:

FLO Star Party Dates for 2018/2019

We will be continuing the Ottawa Centre’s Members Star Parties at the FLO through the winter 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.


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 November 2, 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
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: 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 (