AstroNotes 2020 June Vol: 59 issue 06

Editor’s Message . Letters to the Editor . President’s Report . Ottawa Skies . Understanding Astronomical Filters . Ottawa Rewind – A Review . Submitted Images . Monthly Challenge Objects . Estelle’s Pick of the Month . Announcements . Carp Star Parties . FLO Star Parties . Next Meeting . Centre Information



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 Volume 59 – No. 6 – June 2020

Editor’s Message

Are we nearing the end of the COVID-19 lock downs? The Province is beginning to lift the restrictions on public gatherings and the number of new cases does seem to be shrinking. I sincerely hope that none of you have been affected any more than the inconveniences of staying home, social distancing, and the current reality of visiting a grocery store. I must say that our meeting organizers have been doing an amazing job of producing our virtual meetings these past three months, but I still look forward to a return to our in-person meetings. I miss the social aspect of them very much.

This month, as promised, we have Part II of Jim Thompson’s article on Astronomical Filters. I have not even tried to convert it to a text-based article but have chosen to use Jim’s Power Point slides instead since they present the information base. Part III was presented at this month’s meeting and is now available online.

We have a few words from our President this month and Assistant Editor Doug Fleming has provided us with a book review. We even have a letter to the Editor!

On June 20th we have a member’s star party scheduled at the FLO. As usual, I will make the GO/NO GO call about noon on Saturday. Once again, I will ask those interested in attending to “Reply All” to the GO/NO GO email so we can have an idea of how many will be attending. Due to Provincial regulations we still need to limit the number of people attending to 10{ish ;-)}. For those of you who have been longing to use the 18” scope, it will be available on Saturday night, weather permitting.

Stay safe,


Letters to the Editor

Hi, Gordon.

The article about Joe Dafoe brought back memories of my early years as a member of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC. I joined in the early 1970s so I did not know Joe, but I was an occasional member of the Meteor Observing Team. I remember Quiet Site very well and the long and enjoyable nights lying in the "coffins" chatting in between meteor sightings.

The article does not mention how the demise of the Quiet Site began. When the observatory was re-located from its original site 40 km south of Ottawa to its current site members found that site better due to darker skies and the fact that it had an observatory. It became even faster traveling to the observatory when the Queensway (417) extension was completed. Some meteor observing was done at the observatory using folding lounge lawn chairs. However, it just was not the same experience as being in the Quite Site "coffins" which I think had a heater in the center.

The caption for the photo of the site on page 13 is in the third paragraph on page 14. The caption should probably be below the photo.

By the way, who is the author of this article? A by-line does not appear at the beginning of the article.

Another enjoyable AstroNotes. Well done.

Brian Burke

Ed. Hi Brian,


Thank you for your comments. I didn't pick up on the shift in the caption as I was arranging the article and lay out of the issue. I also missed the byline for Rob Dick, but I did mention it in my Editorial.

President’s Report

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are enjoying the warmer temperatures and doing some stargazing. The pandemic has certainly limited our outreach program, but it hasn’t stopped our ability to enjoy the night sky privately or even with friends when physical distancing measures are respected.

One positive outcome of the pandemic - if there could possibly be one - is that I see more collaboration with other RASC Centres. Consider the number of presentations that are shared via Zoom from other Centres. Every week there is an announcement of a special guest speaker. Many of the talks are very interesting, with engaging speakers. I’m sure you will agree that our Centre’s contribution, organized by Ottawa Centre Meeting Chair Dave Chisholm, is certainly worthy of praise.

Recently the Vancouver Centre hosted the annual General Assembly (GA). This was the first-ever online ‘virtual’ RASC GA. It included wonderful presentations from several energetic speakers including Joshua Kutryk, a CSA astronaut; Joshua Sara Seager, a prominent MIT exo-planet researcher at MIT; and Bob McDonald, the host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks. If you missed the GA, I encourage you to watch them on YouTube – search for “RASC GA 2020” within YouTube to find them. I’m confident you will enjoy them and learn something as well.

The Vancouver Centre has also offered a follow-up “GA-lite” program which included more speakers on June 13 and 14th. There is also a program planned for Sat June 20 and Sun June 21. The schedule is posted here, along with info on how to access the Zoom webinars. I would especially like to draw your attention to a talk by Ottawa Centre member Sharon Odell on Sunday June 21 at 12 PM PDT (3 pm Ottawa time). Sharon will give an update on our plans to protect the Dominion Observatory and site, which is potentially threatened by an encroaching super hospital planned next door. This facility and site has national historic significance to all Canadians and especially RASC members.

I have also been following with interest Gordon Webster’s videos on YouTube. We all know Gordon Webster as our AstroNotes editor, former President, FLO star party organizer and someone who occasionally shares astro-sketches at our monthly meetings. Gordon is too modest to promote himself, but his videos on YouTube on sketching with coloured pencils I’m confident will be of interest to members. For example, he recently created a video on sketching the Moon that shows his talent. You can find this video on YouTube here, and the entire list of videos he has created here. Thank you Gordon for sharing.

Clear skies.

Mike Moghadam

Ottawa Skies

By Dave Chisholm

Full moon on June 5. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Strawberry Moon because it signaled the time of year to gather ripening fruit. It also coincides with the peak of the strawberry harvesting season. This moon has also been known as the Full Rose Moon and the Full Honey Moon.


Rise/Set 06:46/22:35 -> 05:48/20:25

Greatest Eastern Elongation on June 4

Look for the planet in the western sky just after sunset.


Visible early evening and then early morning.

Rise/Set 05:30/20:55 -> 03:32/17:56


Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 01:59/12:44 -> 00:47/12:26


Visible late evening and through night.

Rise/Set 23:44/08:43 -> 21:42/06:35


Visible late evening and through the night.

Rise/Set 23:59/09:08 -> 22:01/07:06


Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 03:48/17:42 -> 01:57/15:54


Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 02:08/13:28 -> 00:15/11:34


Understanding Astronomical Filters

By Jim Thompson

Ottawa Rewind: A Review

By Douglas Fleming

Andrew King, a cartoonist and long-time regular columnist with the Ottawa Citizen, has recently published a book that compiles a number of “curios and mysteries” of local history, several of which have an astronomical focus. Each piece in the book is concise, entertaining and well-written. He answers such questions as: “Was there once a nuclear reactor at Tunney’s Pasture”?, and “Are there Freemason symbols built into the Parliament Buildings”?

In what follows, I highlight some of his stories that have an astronomical focus and that readers of Astronotes might find interesting.

  1. In 1992-93, well-known architect Moshe Safdie (of Expo 67 fame) incorporated three “solstice pyramids” into the design of an expanded City Hall complex on Green Island. The building, now named after John Diefenbaker is the current home of Global Affairs Canada. King recommends braving the cold of the winter solstice on December 21 to see how the edges of the pyramids line up with the sunset. Although there seems to be no public acknowledgement that Safdie intentionally designed the structures in this way, the original architectural plans King dug up explicitly refer to them as “solstice pyramids”. Kings’ book includes aerial photographs that seem quite convincing to me.

  2. At the corner of Bruyere Street and Sussex Drive stands the building that once housed Ottawa’s Grey Nuns convent. On the side of the building sit (lay? rest?) a set of the second oldest vertical sundials in North America. The two dials were installed by Father Jean-François Allard in 1851 and are approximately 75 feet square. King examined them and found that the dials provide accurate solar times even today. King’s book provides a photographic description of how the dials work.

  3. King’s book includes a description of the Dominion Observatory on Carling Avenue, which is of course very familiar to many of our readers. Part of this piece focuses on the contributions Miriam Burland and Francois Henroteau made to the discovery of Pluto. However, King also notes that in 1924 these two Ottawa astronomers gathered evidence for the existence of “Planet X”, the object CalTech astronomers Batygin and Brown currently believe lie beyond Pluto’s orbit. The evidence Burland and Henroteau amassed for what was then called the “Ottawa Object” were on photographic plates that now tragically lost. King research didn’t dig up the plates, but his book has nice photos of the Observatory’s 15-inch scope and the Observatory’s distinctive design.

  4. A bit of whimsey: King records how prominent Toronto architect Harry Kohl designed as set of gas station rest stops along the 401 in the early 1950’s that feature geodesic domes. For all the world (pun indented), they look like “flying saucers”. King’s book has a pic of what seems to be the last one remaining, just outside of Woodstock.

  5. Somewhat connected: King describes some of the more interesting events recorded by the Canadian Department of Transport’s Unidentified Flying Object Project. The project was housed in its own building in Shirley’s Bay and utilised gamma ray counters, magnetometers and gravitometers in its quest for extraterritorial visitors. Wilbert Smith, the Project director, claimed to have invented an anti-gravity device but unfortunately succumbed to cancer before he could unveil the prototype. The Project was disbanded in 1962, although some have argued that the work continues “underground” without government support. Do any of our readers have any additional information on this?

  6. A large part of Major’s Hill Park is laid out in alignment with sunset on the summer solstice. The concrete and steel sight lines that run diagonally from the east side of the park to look over the Ottawa River to the west also seem to intersect McCathy’s statue of Samuel Champlain (with its famously inaccurate depiction of the use of an astrolabe). King’s book lays out the entire site with aerial photos. Thanks to my friend Stu, I already knew about this one and have goofed around myself on the site with my trusty smartphone’s compass. Interestingly, King adds some speculations about Champlain’s possible link to the Knights Templar and asks whether or not McCarthy reversed the proper way of holding an astrolabe up to the sky intentionally! It’s a wonderfully light-hearted conspiracy theory.

I won’t reveal any more of King’s entertaining speculations here: you’ll just have to buy the book. I highly recommend it! (I had my copy delivered to my door by Perfect Books on Elgin).

Douglas Fleming

King, A. (2019) Ottawa Rewind: A Book of Curios and Mysteries. Ottawa, Ottawa Press and Publishing.

Monthly Challenge Objects

By Oscar Echeverri

Submitted Images

Comet PanSTARR C2017-T2 – Paul Klauninger

Comet Swan C2020-F8, 2020-05-13 – Paul Klauninger

Comet Swan C2020-F8, 2020-05-21 – Paul Klauninger

Leo 1 Dwarf Gallaxy & Regulus – Paul Klauninger

Supernova SN2020jfo in M61, 2020-05-23 – Paul Klauninger

Orion Nebula – Paul Klauninger

Estelle’s Pick of the Month

Library Closed


International Astronomy Day, Fall

  • Saturday, September 26

Carp Star Parties

  • Here is the schedule for our Public Star Parties for the summer. Thanks Paul.

    • Friday, May 22 Canceled

    • Friday June 19

    • Friday, July 17

    • Friday August 15

    • Friday, September 12

    • Saturday, October 10

FLO Star Party Dates for 2020

  • 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. The GO/NO GO call will be made on the Centre mailing list, about noon the day of the star party.


  • Saturday May 23 – Waxing Crescent Moon, 1.4% illumination - GO

  • Saturday June 20 – Day before New Moon, 0.2% illumination


  • July 18 – Waning Crescent, 27 days old

  • August 22 – Waxing Crescent, 3 days, 19.7% illumination

  • September 19 - Waxing Crescent, 2 days old, 9.1% illumination

  • October 17 – Waxing Crescent, 1 day old, 2% illumination

  • November 14 – Waning Crescent, 29 days old, .01% illumination

  • December 12 – Waning Crescent, 27 days old, 4.2% illumination

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday July 3, 2020 THIS WILL BE A VIRTUAL MEETING ON ZOOM. Watch for email updates. Note there will be no $4.00 parking fee. The meeting runs until 9:30 pm

PLUS: all our regular meeting features: Ottawa Skies, 10-minute Astronomy News Update, Observation Reports and, sadly, no Door Prizes!

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

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

The Ottawa Centre 2020 Council
President: Mike Moghadam (
Vice President: Stephen Nourse
Secretary: Chris Teron (
Treasurer: David Parfett (
Centre Meeting Chair: Dave Chisholm (
Councillors: Carmen Rush, Gerry Shewan, Jim Sofia
National Council Representatives: Karen Finstad, OPEN
Past President: Tim Cole

2020 Appointed Positions
Membership: Art Fraser
Star Parties: Paul Sadler
Fred Lossing Observatory: Rick Scholes (

Light Pollution Abatement: OPEN

Public Outreach Coordinator: Jean-Sebastien (JS) Gaudet

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 (