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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC
|Volume 58 – No. 4 – May 2019|
This month we are introducing what I hope will become a regular feature. We would
really like your feedback on it as well as any suggestions you might have for future
In my time with the Ottawa Centre I have constantly been struck by the diversity of
the membership. You (I, at least) would expect much of the membership to be from a
science background and certainly we do have a large number of our members who
make their living in science or science related fields but we also have a large number
of members whose professions are about as for from science as you can get. Take for
example the late Eric Kujala who used to video and broadcast our monthly meetings.
Eric, for much of his life, was a wedding photographer.
There were a handful of people that sparked this idea: artists; luthiers; construction
workers. One of them is where we will start this feature. There is a small group of
members who get together to go observing at the FLO or other dark sites and I have
been lucky enough to be included. On one outing one of them, Ghislain Serise,
arrived about an hour after the rest of us and started setting up his equipment. I
wasn’t paying much attention to anything but my eyepiece until I heard the gentle
sounds of an acoustic guitar and a singer quietly in the background. For about an
hour Ghislain provided a delightful musical background while the rest of us continued to enjoy the night
sky. When he stopped to do his own observing I missed the music and was delighted when he again
picked up the guitar a little while later. His playing really enhanced the observing experience that night
and subsequent evenings. Ghislain has even done this at FLO Star Parties, much to the pleasure of all in
attendance. We have included an MP3 file in the newsletter so you can get a taste of Ghislain’s talent.
If you have any problems accessing the file, please let me know and I will send you a link.
The news schedule for the Carp Star Parties and for the FLO Star Parties are included in this month’s
issue. In addition to our regular features we have a lot of images for you.
Hi Everyone, I have a few updates to share with you.
First, we continue to make progress enhancing the Fred Lossing Observatory (FLO) site. Recall last September we expanded the observing area at FLO. We cleared away bushes, had trees cut and trimmed, and greatly expanded our observing mound. We also created a new observing mound for future observatories.
We started construction on one of the new observatory platforms late last year. A team of volunteers worked hard to put the wooden support structure in place before the snow came. Recently work continued and a SkyShed POD observatory was installed on top of the platform and a 14-inch Meade was placed inside the SkyShed on a fork mount. Many thanks to Chris Teron, Gordon Webster, Rick Scholes and several others who helped move this forward, even when there was still a lot of snow on the ground.
Photo. Chris Teron inside the new SkyShed Pod observatory at FLO.
So what’s next for this new observatory? Before we release it for member use, we need to provide a training manual and operation checklist. Former President Tim Cole has offered to take this on and provide training as well. Some hardware additions may be required as well (power source: battery or long extension cord for now, until we can get a power line run to the observatory; dew heaters, dew shield and a stool). Stay tuned for news from Tim.
Other exciting enhancements to FLO are being considered by Ottawa RASC Council. I can say that we are considering the largest expansion of FLO in 40 years, however, it is too soon for me to share details, since Council is carefully reviewing proposals and plans.
Opportunities for Members
I often get questions from members who enjoy the monthly meetings and star parties but inquire about how they can contribute to our Centre. Here is a list of volunteer opportunities. The list is only limited by our imagination – I am sure there are many more roles and ideas you have in mind.
- Outreach coordinator. We frequently receive requests from community groups for us to speak or to provide stargazing. We are looking for one or more organized volunteers who can manage the communications and rally volunteers to support outreach activities.
- Public stargazing support. As you know, Paul Sadler is our high energy, uber-organized star party coordinator. I think it is not a stretch for me to say that he is deeply committed to offering the very best stargazing program. However, Paul would welcome a helping hand acting as an on-site supervisor (we call them “Marshalls”) during some of these public events. He would also welcome a volunteer making the Go/No-go call for events. Please contact Paul Sadler for more info.
- FLO support. Rick Scholes and David Lauzon are currently our two FLO site primes. Between them, they have been maintaining and repairing the FLO 18-inch observatory, providing training, cutting the grass in the summertime and on and on. They have taken on this responsibility selflessly for benefit of other members. It is a lot for them to carry exclusively. If you can help, even with something as little as cutting the lawn once or twice or helping with maintenance, please contact Rick Scholes or David Lauzon. They have a list of activities and welcome your help. As we expand FLO, we will have more opportunities for volunteers. Consider this a wonderful opportunity to learn and contribute to your Centre.
- Audio-video support at the monthly meetings. For years Chris Teron has been the audio-video technician who has been running the meetings flawlessly. While Chris is continuing in this role, we currently do not have a back-up person who can help when Chris cannot attend a meeting. Please contact Chris if you would like to contribute. Training will be provided by Chris.
- Member program coordinator. This is a new position I am eager to fill. We are seeking a person or persons who can develop programs for members. What does this mean? Well, this coordinator may choose to organize and promote a Centre outing to a dark sky site, or the next total solar eclipse or perhaps a tour of the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. Or the focus could be local, perhaps organizing classes for members (astroimaging, telescope clinics, etc). There is no limit to what can be done in this position. If you are interested in this volunteer position, please send me a note.
Clear skies and hope to see you at an FLO or Carp star party this summer.
Mike Moghadam email@example.com
By Dave Chisholm
Full Moon on May 18. Since this is the third of four full moons in this season, it is known as a blue moon. This rare calendar event only happens once every few years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.” There are normally only three full moons in each season of the year. But since full moons occur every 29.53 days, occasionally a season will contain 4 full moons. The extra full moon of the season is known as a blue moon. Blue moons occur on average once every 2.7 years.
The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 6 and the morning of the May 7. The thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be a good show. 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 05:22/18:11 -> 05:57/21:45
Visible just before sunrise.
Rise/Set 05:02/17:32 -> 04:28/18:47
Visible first part of evening.
Rise/Set 07:55/23:31-> 07:22/22:58
Visible late evening and through the night.
Rise/Set 23:35/08:18 -> 21:24/06:08
Visible through the night.
Rise/Set 01:29/10:19 -> 23:25/08:17
Visible early evening first part of month.
Rise/Set 05:40/19:17 -> 03:46/17:28
Visible before sunrise.
Rise/Set 04:07/15:18 -> 02:10/13:23
by Douglas Fleming
New Feature: Member Profiles
This month, we have a new feature.
Its goal is to interview individual members of the Ottawa Centre about their other passion and what brings them to amateur astronomy in an effort to discover what they/we get out it.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future profiles!
This month’s profile is of Ghislain Serise, whose reflections show how we make connections between music, star gazing, daily life, and our place in the universe.
Ghislain is originally from Paris (Versailles). He has traveled a great deal, but, has made Ottawa home since 2011.
He works in IT and lives in Kanata with his wife Miruna and their three daughters (Medeea, Roxana and
Lorelei). They speak French at home but enjoy a mixture of French, Romanian and Canadian cultures.
Ghislain has always had wide interests. It has always been a great fascination for him to see the moon
floating so awkwardly in the sky and started to feel deeply connected to the stars from the moment he
understood that “everything we are made of comes from a star”.
However, his passion was really ignited when he helped his daughters understand the how the seasons
worked. He really enjoys sharing his enjoyment of nature and the night sky with his family.
On his 40th birthday (which happens to be near Christmas), his eldest daughter Medeea suggested to
Miruna that they buy Ghislain a telescope. Miruna did a considerable amount of research and settled on
an 8-inch Dobsonian. It was perfect!
But what to look at and where to go?
Ghislain researched information about how to use the scope on the internet, stumbled upon an article
about RASC and our telescope clinic (where he met Jim Thomson) and went to ask about how to operate
the scope. He soon became a RASC member and got talking to Gordon (Webster) and Stu (Glen)at one
of the Carp Library public star parties. He visited FLO soon after that.
He has combined astronomy with his other great passion: music. Ghislain is (as several of us can attest)
an accomplished guitarist with a fine repertoire of popular music from the 60’s, 70’s and beyond.
What is especially interesting about him is the way he views playing “in the background”. He does not
enjoy being the center of attention or distracting others from their activities. Frequently he brings his
guitar out to the FLO and quietly plays as he sits beside his telescope, occasionally observing, and those
around him continue observing. He doesn’t want to get in the way of people and the stars. He doesn’t
seek praise or feedback. Rather, he sees his role as lightly adding to the atmosphere of a gathering. I
personally have enjoyed his music at FLO several times and can attest to the effectiveness of his
approach. Music is (as the cliché goes) a universal language. One might say in reference to his playing,
however, that he shows that music is an astronomical language.
As we talked over beer in Grace O’Malley’s after last month’s meeting, Ghislain explained to me that
his music helps him connect to the heavens above, the wonders of nature and his friends and family.
There is something marvelous about looking through a telescope and seeing distant patterns of star
formation with the knowledge that we are all made of what Carl Sagan called “star stuff”. Certain pieces
of music help him (and his “background” audience) make these connections.
As Ghislain explained, “When I see the photos our colleagues share at our monthly meetings, I am struck by two things: individually we are small and alone. However, at the same time, we are connected to something wondrous that is much bigger than ourselves… When I play my guitar under the stars, I remember past times when I enjoyed music with my friends. They might be far away, but the stars and my ‘background’ music make me feel connected to them still”.
Monthly Challenge Objects
Howard Skimover - Moon March 7th Regarding the photo of the very "young Moon" on March 7th, at the time of the photo (18:35 EST) the Moon was just 21 hours and 31 minutes past New. The very youngest Moon I have ever seen was on April 18, 2007, from Bryce Canyon, Utah, when I observed a Moon that was exactly 15 hours "old". I may never beat that record.
Howard Skimover - Moon & Hyades, March 12th The photo of the Moon and the Hyades is interesting to me...As you know, the Moon swings by the Hyades each month, although sometimes it passes considerably north of them. It's comparatively rare to have a crescent Moon near the Hyades and to ALSO have a clear sky. In this case, on March 12th, the Moon was about 3 degrees west of the Hyades when i took the photo, although Western Canada saw the Moon much closer to the cluster, a few hours later. I was glad to have the Moon several degrees away from the cluster, since it meant that while both the cluster and the Moon still fit into the field of a 135 mm. lens, the Moon's light did not completely overwhelm the faint stars of the Hyades.
Both photos were taken from my roof in Sandy Hill, using a Nikon D5100 DSLR and a 135 mm. lens.
Howard Skimover – Moon, Hyades, Mars & Pleiades, April 8th As you know, we had 100% clouds, rain, and freezing rain all day Monday, April 8th and then snow was predicted for Monday night. Yet, at 9:40 p.m. on Monday night I looked out and I could see the Moon! There was an area of relatively clear skies passing over Ottawa. This short "break" was totally unexpected. I went up on my roof in Sandy Hill for 20 minutes and was able to photograph the Hyades, the Moon, Mars and the Pleiades - a "pretty quadruple". The clouds made the sight even more interesting. A few photos are attached. One of them includes the complete "V" of the Hyades and the red star Aldebaran at the extreme left.
Howard Skimover - Moon, Hyades, Mars & Pleiades, April 8th
Howard Skimover - Moon, Hyades, Mars & Pleiades, April 8th
Howard Skimover – Mars & Pleaides April 1st The image shows the planet Mars close to the Pleiades star cluster, which is approximately 440 light years from our solar system. It was taken on the evening of April 1, 2019, from the Gatineau Park, about 20 kilometers north of Ottawa. I used a Nikon D5100 camera and a 200 mm. Nikkor lens, at F5.6. The exposure was 20 seconds at ISO 4000. The camera tracked the stars with an iOptron SkyTracker. Over the past week or so, Mars has been gliding close to the Pleiades. Next month, on May 18th and 19th, it will be very close to the star cluster M35, thus providing another excellent photographic opportunity for a "pretty pair".
Paul Klauninger - Markarian’s Chain
Paul Klauninger – Medusa Nebula
Estelle’s Pick of the Month
Carp Star Parties
Paul Sadler has been working very hard to get the Public Star Parties organized for this season and he has just received approval from the City for the following dates. As always, these are weather dependent and subject to change.
Saturday May 25th – Star Party at the Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
Rain Date - Friday May 31st
Saturday June 22nd – Star Party at the Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
Rain Date - Friday June 28th
Rain Date - Friday August 2nd
Saturday August 24th – Star Party at the Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
Rain Date - Friday August 30th
Saturday September 21st – Star Party at the Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
Rain Date - Friday September 27th
Saturday September 28th – Star Party at the Astropontiac site in Luskville
No Rain Date
Friday October 18th – Star Party at the Carp Public Library / Diefenbunker
No Rain Date
Other Dates of Interest
Saturday May 11th – International Astronomy Day (Spring) at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
Saturday July 1st – Canada Day at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
Saturday October 5th – International Astronomy Day (Fall) at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
FLO Star Party Dates for 2019
Our Ottawa Centre’s Members Star Parties at the FLO will continue this summer. 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.
SUMMER & FALL DATES
May 4 – New Moon
June 1 – Waning Crescent Moon, 3.8% illumination
July 6 – Waxing Crescent Moon, 19.7% illumination, sets 11:53P.M.
August 3 – Waxing Crescent Moon, 2 days old, sets 9:51 P.M.
August 31 – Waxing Crescent Moon, 2.4% illumination
Sept 28 – New Moon
October 26 – Waning Crescent Moon, 3.5% illumination
7:30 PM Friday May 3, 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)