AstroNotes 2018 November Vol: 57 issue 07

Editor’s Message . Ottawa Skies . FLO Update . Monthly Challenge . Objects . Volunteering . Annual Dinner . Announcements . AstroNotes Bookshelf . Log Keeping . FLO Star Parties . Next Meeting . Centre Information



Download PDF version: 


The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 57 – No. 7 (actually 8 or 9?) – November 2018

Editor’s Message

In this issue we have lots of stuff for you.

With the Annual General Meeting as part of the December 7th meeting, we thought it
might be a good idea to share some of the duties involved in being on Council to
maybe give those of you who are thinking of volunteering to help run the Ottawa
Centre the little nudge you might need to step forward. As you will see in the article,
the duties are quite light. What you won’t see is that the rewards outweigh the

Because the Annual Dinner Meeting is at the end of the month, we felt it wouldn’t
hurt to run Mike Moghadam’s piece about this event again. If you don’t have your
tickets yet, please use the link in the article to purchase them. It promises to be an
interesting presentation and the food is GREAT.

At a meeting a few month ago, a question was raised about logbooks and log keeping.
I have taken the liberty of preparing a review of the basics of keeping an astronomy
log. As well I have included a couple of sample log pages which you are free to use
as is or modify to suit your needs.

There are all the regular features as well. Take a look at the Monthly Challenge objects. These are a lot
of fun to hunt down and really rewarding when you find them. You can even use one of the logbook
pages to record your observations. If you aren’t comfortable sharing what you find in front of the group
at the meetings, then please consider sharing them with us in AstroNotes. We will publish any and all
that are submitted: sketches (we love sketches); digital images/photos; even your written description.
One final plug for the FLO Star Parties. There is one on November 10th and another on December 8th.
The sky this time of year is full of treasures and while the temperature may be cold, the companionship
is warm. And if that isn’t warm enough for you, we also have the warm room.

Clear skies,

Gordon Webster

Ottawa Skies

By Dave Chisholm

Full Moon November 23rd

The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the night of November 5.
The thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for viewing. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. The waxing gibbous moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what could be a good early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Rise/Set 09:57/18:32 -> 06:41/16:00
Greatest Eastern Elongation, November 6th
Look for it just after sunset in the western sky.

Visible in the early morning last half of month.
Rise/Set 07:09/16:53 -> 03:54/14:33

Visible first part of evening.
Rise/Set 15:07/00:47-> 12:47/23:31

Not visible.
Rise/Set 09:26/18:41 -> 07:06/16:07

Visible first part of the evening.
Rise/Set 12:21/20:58 -> 09:38/18:16

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 17:25/06:58 -> 14:29/03:58

Visible all night.
Rise/Set 15:50/02:52 -> 12:55/23:53

FLO Update – Watch this space!

The SkyShed Pod observatory for the Meade 14” SCT has been moved to the FLO and the material for the wood deck is in place for construction to begin. If we can, we hope to have the deck built and the dome installed on it before the end of November. If you are interested in assisting with the deck construction, please contact Chris ( or me, Gordon ( We are hoping to have 3 or 4 people to help which will allow us to complete the deck in a few hours. If you know how to operate a hammer, you meet the qualification.

Monthly Challenge Objects

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 e-transfer 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). Jan 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 e-transfer ( and pick up your tickets at the dinner.

Volunteering at the Ottawa Centre

By Gordon Webster and Mike Moghadam

Consider the following member activities: Monthly meetings; the Fred Lossing Observatory and star parties; the public stargazing program; the outreach program; the telescope loan library; the astronomy book library; telescope clinics; AstroNotes; our web site; and, the annual member dinner. None of this would happen without the volunteers who have stepped forward, unleashing their creative talents and sharing their time. This may sound like a very strong statement, but it is true; all the programs you see in the Ottawa Centre are a result of the dedicated work of volunteers.
So why do members volunteer at the Ottawa Centre? We have asked this question of volunteers many times. We encounter the following answers over and over:

• “I want to contribute. I have benefited from the RASC and I like giving back”.
• “It is personally rewarding to me”.
• “I have certain skills and like to offer them to the RASC”.
• “I volunteered because I wanted to take my involvement with the RASC to another level.”
• “I like being around people who care about astronomy and care about sharing it with others. It is very motivational”.

And why do people NOT volunteer?

• “it will take up too much time”
• “I’m too busy”
• “Someone else will do it”
• “I don’t know enough about it”
• “I’m not a leader”

New members often approach us and ask how they can contribute as a volunteer. In this article, we will answer this question.

How do I find out about Ottawa Centre programs and areas where I can volunteer?

All the programs noted above are described on the website. We strive to keep it current so that members can have a broad awareness of the programs that are offered.

A second way to stay plugged in is by attending the Ottawa Centre monthly meetings. There is a lot of thought put in to the content of the meetings and the announcements that are made every month. Look at
the people who contribute - the meeting chair, the people who deliver talks and so on. These are volunteers. We also make announcements about vacancies in our volunteer programs at the meetings.

A third way to learn about Ottawa Centre programs and volunteer opportunities is by reading AstroNotes, our Centre newsletter – what you are reading now! Each issue is jam-packed with topics that typically arise from member activities. Each contributor is a volunteer who had an idea and desire to share something.
There is something especially noteworthy in each issue of AstroNotes. Scroll to the end of AstroNotes, where you will see a description of the current Ottawa Centre Council. The Council is another area where you can contribute as a volunteer. The remainder of this article will review Council positions and opportunities for members.

The RASC Ottawa Centre Council – what does it do?

The Council is responsible for the oversight and the administration of the operations of the Ottawa Centre. Our Centre is officially designated as a charitable organization. To maintain our charitable status and function as a Centre within the RASC, we must have several elected officers to provide governance and oversight of finances. The Council must operate according to the Ottawa Centre Bylaws, which is essentially the constitution of the Ottawa Centre.

Council also has a strategic orientation. There are regular discussions about our Centre’s vision and where we are headed with member programs and benefits.
Council is made up of Directors who are elected each year at the AGM. Council also appoints members to several special positions. The roles of each member will be described next. As you read the descriptions of these roles, please keep in mind that they are filled by volunteers.

Elected members of Council

The elected members of the Ottawa Centre include the:

  • President, who represents the Ottawa Centre and presides over Council meetings.
  • Vice-President, who supports the President of the Centre, especially when the President is unavailable to fulfill her/his duties. She/he also organizes the Annual Dinner Meeting.
  • Secretary, who is essentially the chief administrator of the Centre. The duties are outlined in the Centre Bylaws.
  • Treasurer, who manages and reports on Centre’s finances.
  • Centre Meeting chair, who organizes the content of the monthly meetings and runs the meetings.
  • Councillors, who act as advisors and provide valuable input to the operations of the Ottawa Centre.
  • Past President, who continues to give wise counsel and runs the Nominating Committee.
  • National Council representatives, who are the Centre liaisons to the national office of the RASC.

The term of elected members is one year. In particular, no one may hold the office of President, Vice-President or Meeting Chair for more than two consecutive years. The other positions have no term limits. An election is held at the annual general meeting.

Appointed Positions

Council appoints members to these special positions:

  • Membership, who manages the list of members
  • Star Party Coordinator, who manages the public star parties
  • Observatory Director, who is responsible for the operation, maintenance and safekeeping of the Centre’s observatory(ies) and observatory programs
  • AstroNotes Editor, who is responsible for the publication of the Centre newsletter.
  • Webmaster, who is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Centre’s web site
  • Librarians, who are responsible for operating the library and the safekeeping of the library assets. Currently, the Ottawa Centre has two libraries: the Stan Mott Astronomy Book library and the Ted Bean Astronomy telescope library.
  • Public Outreach Coordinator, who manages public outreach activities, other than public star parties
  • Light Pollution Abatement, who monitors light pollution actions at various municipalities (This position is currently open and needs a volunteer.)
  • Hospitality, who organize refreshments after each monthly meeting

In summary, there are many areas where members can contribute as volunteers on Council. If you have ideas on growing our Centre or adding new programs, please consider volunteering.

Additional Volunteer Opportunities

As our Centre grows and evolves, new volunteer opportunities will arise. In fact, as we write this a discussion is evolving about a completely new opportunity that we may be able to offer our members by next spring if everything comes together. Fortunately for us, the Ottawa Centre has a lot of talented members who have much to contribute.

Why Not You?

Most people shy away from volunteering because they feel it will take up too much of their time and/or they do not feel they have the necessary knowledge to help. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a councilor, you only have four meetings a year, each scheduled for about two hours (although with the meeting after the meeting you might want to block off three hours). Aside from that there is the occasional email discussion. If you take on a project, which is entirely up to you, you possibly need to
dedicate more time. Some positions might require a few hours a month, but others are only a few hours a year.

Of all the people we have ever spoken to who have volunteered not one has ever regretted it. All have said that they have gotten more out of doing it than they ever put in. They also say that they are more aware and get more out of their involvement. Remember, it is your unique perspective that keeps our Centre, fresh, current and moving forward. We need your vision.
Want to talk about this more about volunteer opportunities? Please feel free to contact anyone on Council (remember – go to the end of AstroNotes to see the names of current Council members).


Annual General Meeting and Elections

Notice is hereby given to all members of the RASC Ottawa Centre that the Annual Meeting will be held at 7:30pm on December 7, 2018 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum as part of the regular monthly Centre meeting. The following business will be conducted:

  1. consideration and approval of the agenda for the meeting;
  2. consideration and approval of the minutes of the last annual meeting;
  3. consideration and approval of the reports of the Council, the officers of the Centre, and the committees of the Council, and presentation and adoption of the financial statements;
  4. presentation of the “Paul Comision Observer of the Year”, “Best AstroNotes Article of the Year” award and Best Presentation of the Year;
  5. election of Officers, Councillors, National Council Representatives and Centre Meeting Chair of the Centre;
  6. election of the auditor of the Centre as prescribed in Article 11.01; and
  7. other business.

Chris Teron, Secretary

Report of the Nominating Committee

Elections for various executive and council positions in the Ottawa Centre for 2019 will be held during the December 7, 2018 RASC Ottawa Annual General Meeting at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Nominations have been received from the Nominating Committee, led by Past President Gordon Webster and other members, for the following slate of candidates (* indicates an incumbent):

• President: Mike Moghadam
• Vice-President: Stephen Nourse
• Secretary: Chris Teron*
• Treasurer: Oscar Echeverri*
• Centre Meeting Chair: Open
• 3 Councillors: Carmen Rush*, Gerry Shewan*, Jim Sofia*
• 2 National Council Representatives: Karen Finstad*, Open
• Past President: Tim Cole

Additional nominations will be accepted for any position. Nominees must be members in good standing. National Representatives must be at least 21 years of age. Nominations must be made in writing by at least two other members and received by Chris Teron ( by 8:00pm on December 2, 2018.

Estelle’s Pick of the Month

Astronomy Log Keeping

By Gordon Webster

At a recent meeting a question was raised about log keeping and about the format for keeping a log. As was pointed out at the time, there is not one “right" way but there are several things that really are deemed to be necessary. What I will attempt here is a broad overview of various log books as well as some of the available forms that can be downloaded from the internet. We will also look at the basic requirements for a meaningful log.

Helen Sawyer Hogg said that any unrecorded observation is not an observation at all. That pretty much says it all about why you need to keep a log but there are many other reasons as well. Number one
would be to simply document what you have observed for your own records and possible future reference. If you hope to do any scientific work, you MUST record your observations. If you are completing any of the RASC certificate programs you will be required to submit your log of the required observations along with any sketches you have done.

What are the basic requirements for a log book? What is the information you should be recording? Virtually all sources suggest: date; time; location; who you were observing with; transparency; seeing; weather/environment conditions (temperature, insects, snow on the ground, heavy dew…). For each object observed you should also record: date and time of the observation; object name or designation (i.e. M74, NGC 3891, IC 1068, etc.); constellation; equipment used, including magnification and any filters; and a visual description. Record all observations including any attempted observations that failed. For more information on log keeping you can read “The Observing Logbook” by Paul Markov in the current Observer’s Handbook.

It is important that you standardize the way you enter your observations. If you use local time tonight, don’t use Universal Time tomorrow night. If you use abbreviations, be consistent in how you use them. Many people use their own system of abbreviations and short forms and create a legend at the front of their logbook so that others can understand their entries.
Some people use a simple bound journal to record their observations. The advantage to a bound logbook is that no pages get lost. The disadvantage is that it can be difficult to add pages if you make sketches or want to insert photos you have taken. David Levy and Leo Enright, whose log books are archived on the RASC website under the Observing/Resources/Logbooks tab, both used bound, lined notebooks.
Some prefer to use a computer. Many observers are now using their computers at the telescope. Some, because of the many great planetarium programs that are replacing printed star charts. Others are using the computer to control their telescopes. These programs provide extremely detailed star charts that can be manipulated to match the view through your telescope. Many of them also incorporate very good log keeping routines.

Others prefer to use a digital recorder to record what they are seeing with the need to take their eye from the eyepiece to jot down their impression. Later that evening or perhaps the next day, they will then transcript their recordings to paper or a computer log.

My preference is a plain paper log. I like to have enough space to include a sketch of the object I am observing. I have designed my own pages (sample below) which I print off in small batches as needed. For use at the telescope, I use a portfolio style clipboard. This holds 25 or 30 pages and the cover keeps the dew from creating a soggy mess. This design also gives me a place to store pencils, blending stomps and other tools I use to make sketches or take notes. Completed log pages get punched with three holes and moved to a master binder that holds years of observations.

Sketching, no matter how crudely, has at least two positive effects on your observing. First, it causes you to see more. When you are sketching you are looking for details to include in your drawing, details you might otherwise overlook. Second, sketching imprints on your brain ALL the things sensed at the time the sketch was created so when you review your sketches you are transported back to the eyepiece on the night you made the observation. I was looking at an old sketch book the other day. There was a sketch of my now 30 year-old daughter at the age of seven, playing on the beach in Florida with her grandfather. When I looked at it I could feel the hot sun on my neck, the sand on my feet and I could smell the salt air. The same thing happens when I look at lunar sketches or deep sky sketches done weeks, months, or years ago. l can feel the dew in the air or hear the mosquitos buzzing round my ears or feel the cold on my toes and fingers, but I also remember what I was seeing in the eyepiece in vivid detail.

For those of you are unfamiliar with what “seeing” and “transparency” are, the following explanation may help. Seeing and Transparency are values that an observer uses to compare the quality of the sky from night to night. The values are very specific to an individual observer's visual acuity. Seeing is a measure of how stable the sky is. Transparency is a measure of how clear the sky is.

Seeing: How stable is the sky?
• E (excellent) - The brighter stars are not twinkling at all.
• VG (very good) - The stars are twinkling slightly, but the brighter planets are not twinkling.
• G (good) - The brighter planets are twinkling slightly.
• F (fair) - The brighter planets are obviously twinkling.
• P (poor) - The atmosphere is turbulent. all objects are twinkling to the points where observation is not practical.

Transparency: How clear is the sky?
Transparency is a measure of what you can see in the nighttime sky in spite of dust, smoke, haze, humidity, or light pollution. An easy way to measure this is to use the magnitude of the faintest star you can see. Ideally, this would be looking straight up at zenith. But, to make life simpler, you can use the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) if you can see it. Here is the scale.

  1. If you can't see Polaris.
  2. If you can only see Polaris.
  3. If you can see the two stars on the end of the bowl of the Little Dipper (Kochab and Pherkad).
  4. If you can see any of the stars in the handle of the Little Dipper.
  5. If you can see 6 of the 7 stars in the Little Dipper.
  6. If you can see all 7 stars in the Little Dipper.
  7. If you can see stars near the Little Dipper that are not part of the stick figure. (I envy your young eyes...)

Although atmospheric extinction will vary from season to season, and from latitude to latitude, using the Little Dipper is a simple and reasonable solution.
I hope this helps give you a better idea of what type of information you should be recording and how you want to set up your log book. Whatever you decide to use just stick with it and consistently record
your observations. It will improve your observing skills and provide you with a wonderful record of you time under the stars for whatever future use you put it to.
Below I have included a sample log sheet from the RASC website and a copy of my observing log page to give you a couple of ideas on where to start.

RASC Visual Observing Log Page:
Limiting Visual Magnitude:
Downloaded from

Using the RASC Visual Observing Log
Session Notes
The Session Notes section describes the observing conditions so that you are able to compare and contrast observations from one night to another as well as from one location to another.
Date of observation in the form of December 25th/ 26th
Time of observation specifying time zone or using Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)
Type of observing activity on this page (i.e. planetary, deep-sky, solar, lunar, etc.)
Observing location (i.e. Fred Losing Observatory)
Transparency: Subjective rating of sky clarity on a scale from
1 (hazy or murky) to 6 (perfect)
Steadiness: Subjective rating of steadiness of the atmosphere /
optics from 1 (rampant scintillation) to 7 (very steady, no twinkling even at highest power)
Limiting Visual Magnitude: Faintest naked eye star visible (refer to BOG)
Object Record
This section provides an area for detailed notes on 2 observations per page.
Description of the Object should include its:
Catalogue Number (i.e. M13)
Type OC Open Cluster, SNR Supernova Remnant, EN -Emission
Nebula, RN - Reflection Nebula, Globular Cluster, DS - Double Star, G
- Galaxy, PN Planetary Nebula)
Magnitude Magnitude of the object Size Angular size of the object.
Constellation of the object (i.e. Gemini)
Chart Ref:
Cross reference to star atlas for this object.
Size of eyepiece in mm & type / magnification
Type of filter used (if applicable).
Right Ascension (Hr, Min, Sec) & Declination (Deg, Min, Sec) of the object.
Instrument used (i.e. binoculars, 80 mm refractor)
Notes on your observation.
Drawing area
Area for a sketch of your eyepiece impressions.
Observer's Log – G. Webster
Location: Trans/Seeing: (0-5)
Object: Remarks:
Note: this page has been reduced to fit. If you wish to have the fullsize version, let me know and I will email you a copy.


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 December 7, 2018 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (directions). Note there is a $4.00 parking fee for museum parking. The meeting runs until 9:30 pm.
PLUS: all our regular meeting features: Ottawa Skies, 10-minute Astronomy News Update, 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 (