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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC
Volume 58 – No. 3 – March 2019
As I write this it is snowing heavily outside so it must be Ottawa and it must be
March. It has been that type of winter this year and the observing opportunities have
been few and far between. But spring is now less than two weeks away and, despite
the snow, there are signs of the coming season. For one, this month's FLO Star Party
actual happened although we did have to do it on the Friday night instead of Saturday.
The temperature wasn't too bad. The sky was excellent. The companionship was
Another sign of spring is the longer days that come with the change to Daylight
Saving Time. With the shorter nights we will get less dark but maybe we will get
more clear. A third sure sign of Spring is that the ice in my driveway is finally
beginning to melt although it is now under four inches of new snow. Spring in
This issue contains all our usual features plus a message from our President, Mike
Moghadam. We have a book review by Patrick Brewer of an earlier Estelle's Pick of
the Month. My Assistant Editor, Doug Fleming, waxes philosophical on something
that has affected all of us at one time or another, something he calls Aperture Fever.
Paul Klauninger has shared a couple of his amazing astrophotos. Centre Information
Every year at this time as we enter Daylight Savings Time, I encounter news articles about people
complaining about the difficulty adjusting to the time change. According to news reports, the loss of one
hour’s sleep gives rise to an increase in car accidents and heart attacks on the following Monday
morning. For some ardent stargazers, who feel they are losing an hour of stargazing, Daylight Savings
Time is more aptly called ‘night ruining time’. We could even give it a catchy acronym – NRT.
Joke aside, after the long winter we have experienced (and continue to experience), the later sun set
makes me feel that spring is coming. With that, the leaves will appear, and our public stargazing
program will start up again. For many of you, it will mean looking through your telescope for the first
time in several months (I am in this group).
While many of us have been in hibernation for the cold winter months, our public outreach program has
been very active. We have supported multiple requests from Girl Guides, Scouts and seniors residences.
Dave Chisholm has been extremely active delivering astronomy talks and even stargazing when the
weather permitted. Dave, thank you for your generous contribution of your time. I have seen how
organized you are. I have also read the positive feedback that has come back from the community
Danel Polyakov, our outreach coordinator, has also been active responding to requests and rallying
volunteers. I have always been impressed at how comfortably and confidently Danel writes in his
emails. Recently the demands of High School became too much for him to continue as our outreach
coordinator. Danel, thank you for your contribution. You are welcome to come back anytime!
I would be remiss if I did not extend thanks to Gordon Webster, AstroNotes Editor, former President,
and Fred Lossing Observatory (FLO) star party champion for his enthusiastic support of year-round
members-only star parties at FLO. Thanks Gordon.
Back to Dave Chisholm. Dave is a familiar face in the Ottawa Centre. He delivers the monthly Ottawa
Skies segment at our meetings, where he shares objects of current interest to observe. I am delighted to
announce that Dave will be taking over the role of meeting chair starting in January 2020. Oscar
Echeverri, our current chair, will be stepping down from his role to spend more time with his family in
The question that I am sure is in your head is “who will be our meeting chair from June to December
2019?”. I am hoping it will be several of you. Some of you have expressed interest in being the meeting
chair but are not ready to commit to a two-year term. We now have an opportunity where you can try
out the meeting chair role for one or more months – dip your feet in the water. If you are interested in
the meeting chair role and wish to try it for a month, please send me an email.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Janet Tulloch for her recent award. As you heard at the March
meeting, Janet won an award in the RASC’s sesquicentennial-year contest, Imagining the Skies. Her
submission, titled “Twilight of the gods” won the Creative Works category, Experienced Level award.
The judges commented: “Good balance of line, texture and form with rich coloration;” and “A delight
for the senses.” According to Chris Gainor, the RASC President, “Congratulations to you for this fitting
recognition of your efforts to celebrate the beautiful skies that for countless eons have inspired humans,
including members of the RASC since our founding 150 years ago.” We are proud of you Janet!
“Twilight of the Gods”
By Janet Tulloch
By Dave Chisholm
Full Moon on March 21 st . This moon is also known as the Full Worm Moon, Full Crow Moon, Full
Crust Moon and the Lenten Moon. This is the last of the super moons for 2019. Daylight Saving Time
resumes on March 10 th.
Does anyone know the significance of the dragon on today’s date? It is the Welsh dragon. Today is St.
David’s Day. As they say in Wales – “Cmyru am byth” (come-ree am bith) – Wales forever.
Everybody's favorite comet to pronounce, 29P/S-W1 hangs in western Pisces where it will be observable
through mid-February. After conjunction with the Sun in mid-March, it returns to the morning sky in
late May, still moving east in Pisces. The famed comet is subject to outbursts at any time, which can
raise its nominal magnitude of 14–15 to as bright as 10.5. The cause of the outbursts may be due to
pressurized pockets of carbon monoxide and methane beneath the crust that erupt explosively as
cryovolcanoes due to solar heating. If you happen to catch 29/S-W early in an outburst, it often looks
like a bright, compact planetary nebula. To keep tabs on it so you don't miss the show, subscribe to the
Comets Mailing List.
Rise/Set 07:12/19:20 -> 06:01/17:14
Visible in the early morning.
Rise/Set 04:57/14:09 -> 05:41/16:17
Visible first part of evening.
Rise/Set 08:51/23:01-> 08:47/23:50
Visible just before sunrise.
Rise/Set 02:31/11:10 -> 01:43/10:21
Visible just before sunrise
Rise/Set 04:19/13:06 -> 03:28/12:17
Visible all night.
Rise/Set 08:32/22:00 -> 07:38/21:10
Rise/Set 07:02/18:07 -> 06:07/17:15
by Douglas Fleming
I’m sure you have heard of aperture fever, which
Ashford (2014) in Sky and Telescope defines as the
“compulsion to buy the largest telescope you can”.
Well, several of my colleagues might say that I suffer
from “equipment fever” in that I often will compulsively
set up both of my scopes at the same time, each with a
plethora of associated accessories.
My 127mm (5") Maksutov Cassigrain (pictured here in
the foreground) is not too bad. It’s mounted on Celestron
CG4 German equatorial with no GoTo, no computer and
no drives. I’ve mastered the relatively simple process of
polar alignment and employ a limited set of filters,
eyepieces and camera adapters. The setting circles (as
inaccurate as they are) often get me close enough to poke
around the area I want to explore.
My other scope, however, is a different animal altogether.
It’s a 200mm (8") Newtonian Astrograph mounted on a HEQ5 German equatorial mount (pictured here
in the background). For this scope I employ a computer, coma corrector, anti-dew heaters, guide scope,
and a full set of filters, eyepieces and adapters. It takes a long time to set up and align. However, once
that it is done, I can simply give the mount a verbal GoTo command through an iPhone and it will point
the scope at the precise spot in the sky I want to observe. Many might say: What’s the point of that?
Of course, one scope is chiefly for the purpose of visual observing and the other for photographic.
In my defense, let me point out that I am highly challenged technically. Mastering this equipment is a
long struggle for someone like myself and I get great satisfaction in my modest achievements to date.
However, increasingly I have found it best to occasionally sit back from the equipment and just look out
into the heavens.
This is what happened by default at last week’s star party at the FLO because I had only enough time
after work that day to grab a pair of binoculars and a simple camera tripod.
Relatively unencumbered by equipment that night, I observed a number of objects that I had had some
trouble finding in the past, as faint as they were. But more importantly, I took the time to continue
learning the constellations and to stare at length at a number of more familiar objects, such as the Orion
Nebula, the Pleiades and the Andromeda Galaxy. Over time I was able to make out greater and greater
detail in these faint “fuzzies”.
Now, I had the advantage that evening of being with several of our club colleagues willing to share
views through their own equipment. So, in a sense I had the best of all worlds: a chance to appreciate the
sky, unencumbered, on a crystal-clear night, the opportunity to look at some recommended objects at
higher magnification and the priceless joy of great collegiality.
I guess the cure for “equipment fever” lies in taking the time to occasionally sit back and appreciate the
night sky naked eye or through a modest pair of binoculars. I will still draw satisfaction from my efforts
at mastering that equipment and the resulting observations. However, it seems to me that moderation
works for amateur astronomy. Maybe that is true for all of our endeavors during our brief time on earth.
The Witch Head Nebula
By Paul Klauninger
By Paul Klauninger
Monthly Challenge Objects
We Have No Idea
by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson
Riverhead Books, 2017
Reviewed by Patrick Brewer
“We Have No Idea” is a book about what we do and don’t know about our universe. It is written
somewhat in the style of the “Dummies” series of books, but without the sidebars. There’s lots of
humour blended with lots of knowledge. The authors contend that we only have an understanding of
about 5% of the universe and that the other 95% we have “no clue”. However, they have much to say
about that 95%. Taking what could have been a dry and complex topic, the authors have made the
subject of this unknown portion of our universe entertaining and enlightening. The book is liberally
illustrated with cartoons by Jorge Cham who is also the cartoonist behind the popular internet cartoon
series, “Piled Higher and Deeper” also known as PHD Comics. He has a PhD in robotics. Co-author
Dr. Daniel Whiteson is a professor of experimental particle physics at the University of California and
conducts research with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
The topics described are quite up to date, with the book having been published in 2017, and includes
references to the discovery by the LIGO observatory of gravitational waves. With the exception of the
Drake equation, which is dealt with in detail, the math is left in the bibliography at the end of the book.
Despite the humour the authors don’t back down from digging deeply into their subject. They aren’t
afraid of chapter headings such as, “How Big is the Universe”, “What is Space?”, “What is Time?”,
“Can We Travel Faster Than Light?”, “Is There a Theory of Everything?”, and “Are We Alone in the
Universe?” The final question they discuss is, “Why does the universe exist and why is it the way it is?”
Sometimes astronomy is frightening to ponder when you really think about it, and this book just might
compel you to do so as it delves into some of these big questions. The authors are mindful of “the
bounds of science”, and the point at which it crosses into philosophy. In the last chapter they say that,
“This book is not so much about answers but about questions.”
The authors have indicated that they intend to publish a sequel.
This book is available to borrow from the RASC Ottawa Centre library, but is also available at local
bookstores, and on-line as either a book or e-book.
Estelle’s Pick of the Month
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 NO GO
December 8 – waxing crescent Moon – 1.8% sets at 5:42 PM – can you spot it? NO GO
January 5, 2019 – New Moon & Partial Solar eclipse NO GO
February 9 – Waxing crescent – 19.5% sets at 10:09 NO GO too COLD
March 9 Held on March 8 – Waxing Crescent Moon
April 6 – One Day Old Moon 1.7% sets 9:02 PM
7:30 PM Friday April 5, 2019 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, 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!
The Ottawa Centre 2018 Council
President: Mike Moghadam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vice President: Stephen Nourse
Secretary: Chris Teron (email@example.com)
Treasurer: Oscar Echeverri (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Centre Meeting Chair: Oscar Echeverri (email@example.com)
Councillors: Carmen Rush, Gerry Shewan, Jim Sofia
National Council Representatives: Karen Finstad, Ingrid de Buda
Past President: Tim Cole
2018 Appointed Positions
Membership: Art Fraser
Star Parties: Paul Sadler
Fred Lossing Observatory: David Lauzon & Rick Scholes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Light Pollution Abatement: OPEN
Public Outreach Coordinator: OPEN
Hospitality: Art & Anne Fraser
Stan Mott Astronomy Library: Estelle Rother
Ted Bean Telescope Library: Darren Weatherall
Webmaster: Mick Wilson (email@example.com)
AstroNotes Editors: Gordon Webster & Douglas Fleming (firstname.lastname@example.org)