AstroNotes 2020 July Vol: 59 issue 07

Editor’s Message . Ottawa Skies . Taras Rabarskyi . Tips & Tricks . 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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Editor’s Message

A few weeks ago, an email was sent to the group from former President and Ten-Minute Astronomy News presenter Al Scott announcing his new podcast 'The Rational View with Dr. Al Scott'. Finding himself with time on his hands because of the Covid-19 lock downs, Al decided to create the podcast which had been on his mind for a while. As Mike Moghadam mentioned last month, I started a couple of YouTube channels while on my Covid isolation, so I know the amount of work this takes. If you have not listened to any of Al’s podcasts you really owe it to yourself to check them out. They are very well produced, informative, thought provoking, and interesting. A lot of work has gone into them. I have subscribed and I hope you will too. Well done Dr. Scott! Here is the link.

At the June meeting, Dave Chisholm, our meeting chair, had asked members to submit any “tips or tricks” they had that helped or improved their observing sessions for the July meeting. There were about eight people presented their solutions to a variety of problems from preventing dew to moving heavy telescopes easily. A couple of presenters have sent their solutions for inclusion in this month’s issue. Anyone else who would like to forward their ideas for inclusion in next month’s AstroNotes is more than welcome. Please send them to

Oscar’s Monthly Challenge Objects are proving to be popular. Each month we have several presenters showing their photos of these objects. How about some sketches? I know I am not the only one sketching lunar and deep sky objects. Regardless of how you capture the objects you view we would all like to see them. If you are presenting them at the meeting, please think about forwarding them for inclusion in AstroNotes. This month Howard Sinkover and Bob Olson have submitted some amazing images.

As well, we have another in our Member Profiles series. This month Assistant Editor Doug Fleming looks at Taras Rabarskyi.


Stay safe,



Ottawa Skies

By Dave Chisholm

Full moon on July 5. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Buck Moon because the male buck deer would begin to grow their new antlers at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon.

Comet NEOWISE, is a retrograde comet with a near-parabolic orbit discovered on March 27, 2020 by the NEOWISE space telescope. It will pass closest to the sun on July 3, 2020. As of 10 June 2020 it was magnitude 7, and if it survives perihelion it is expected to be visible to the naked eye in July. The comet will be less than 20 degrees from the Sun from 11 June 2020 until 9 July 2020. Closest approach to Earth will occur 23 July 2020 at a distance of 0.69 AU (103 million km). It is best visible in the dawn above the north-east horizon after July 4th. It could reach magnitude 1 at that point.

The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. The second quarter moon will block many of the fainter meteors this year. But if you are patient, you should still be able to catch a few of the brighter ones. 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 05:42/20:18 -> 04:22/19:33

Greatest Western Elongation on July 22.

Look for the planet in the eastern sky just before sunrise



Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 03:29/17:53 -> 02:34/17:20



Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 00:44/12:25 -> 23:20/11:49



Visible evening and through night.

Rise/Set 21:38/06:30 -> 19:27/04:13

At opposition (closest to Earth) on July 14.



Visible late evening and through the night.

Rise/Set 21:57/07:02 -> 19:52/04:53

At opposition (closest to Earth) on July 20



Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 01:53/15:51 -> 23:53/13:57



Visible before sunrise.

Rise/Set 00:11/11:30 -> 22:08/09:31


Member Profile - Taras Rabarskyi


Childhood memories are the brightest. They remain throughout the entire life, awakening those simple emotions like excitement and anticipation of something wonderful.

One of my first childhood toys was "Lunokhod". When the second lunar rover was put on the Moon by a Soviet rocket in 1973, I was only 4. I remember the excitement the toy that resembled it was causing among us kids: it was battery operated and pushing the buttons of the wired remote was so much more than just that!


The imagination was picturing the mighty machine overcoming the obstacles of the cratered lunar surface – and you were in charge! And yes, by then we already knew that there is no air on the Moon, and it is possible to jump remarkably high there! Soviet propaganda was insisting that distantly controlled robots like "Lunokhod" were a more practical way to explore the Moon (unlike the manned landings) and we kids used to truly believe that.

No need to say that the names of almost every new cosmonaut in space were immediately learned by heart, and new and unusual records like a longest spacewalk or the first female cosmonaut in space were one of the most memorable. Then there was the "Soyuz-Apollo" mission in 1975. For some time, it seemed like those Americans are quite friendly and nuclear war was the last thing on their mind. I collected a few postage stamps dedicated to the event, and the future seemed quite bright back then. At some point the "Soyus" launches were so often that they started to seem routine, and it was easy to believe that in the future it would be possible to buy a space ticket as easily as for the airplane flight from Lviv to Kyiv.

My first encounter with the dark skies was after seeing a Horsehead Nebula picture in my sister's astronomy book while I was still only 7. The shape was so prominent that I started asking my sister many questions about it. Mysterious words like "space dust", "glowing gas", "parsecs" in her explanation were just haunting my mind. Soon after that I went outside one cold winter night to take a good look at the Orion constellation. I still remember that feeling of something greater than you gazing back through the immovable and cold majesty of its brightest stars. I needed a telescope.

My first telescope was a result of visiting a local optician where I bought "1.5 dioptre" lens, salvaging a small magnifying glass for an eyepiece, and making 2 (somewhat) tightly fit tubes out of thick paper. Distant tree branches looked dull and upside-down through it, but my excitement was peaking, especially after having a look at the Moon with it.

But it was not until I moved to Canada that my dream of having a real telescope became true. The 5" Newtonian "Go-To" scope happened to be the right tool for a beginner like me, and my first experience was unforgettable. The mount's remote control asked me to follow the 3-star alignment procedure after I turned the telescope on for the first time from my backyard, and in the process, the 2nd star which I chose for the alignment made me gasp in the astonishment: it had a tiny but clearly seen ring around it! It was not a star, it was Saturn. Right here, in front of my eyes, at seemingly reachable by hand distance in space. And it was so crisp and bright! "If a randomly chosen object can surprise you to such extend – then what a deliberate search can do?" – thought I.

And – indeed! – every new session would bring more pleasant surprises and impressions. At some point I decided to take a picture of the beautiful Orion nebula with my small consumer camera, through the eyepiece, - and there was another "wow!" factor: apparently, cameras can see even quite dim objects in colour (unlike our eyes). This discovery along with a wish to share what I saw gave the push for my new hobby – astrophotography.

After joining RASC in 2015 I found a group of like-minded enthusiasts, and the hobby became a passion, with its ever-growing demand for better equipment, dedicated time, and more frequent travels.

Now I try not to miss any opportunity to take my equipment with me and go for a trip to places, sometimes, not too far from the city, where the observing conditions are much better.

Taras in Wyoming



Monthly Challenge Objects

By Oscar Echeverri




Tips & Tricks

At the July 3rd meeting several members shared some of their solutions to observing/equipment problems or challenges and ideas to improve their observing experience. Here we will share a few of those.

$25.00 Crutches Tripod

By Dave Chisholm (


This model is based upon the model originally posted by Doug Nelle on the University Lowbrow Astronomers website:

Materials Required:

  • 1 x ½” plywood sheet 3’ x 2’.

  • 1 x 2” x 3” pine board 3’ long

  • 3 x adult aluminum crutches (available for around $5.00/each at Value Village or Thrift Store)

  • 18 x deck screws (8x1¼)

  • 6 x deck screws (8 x 2½)

  • 6 x #8 washers

Equipment Required:

  • Electric drill with ¼“ bit to drill the aluminum crutches, a 1/8“ bit to drill pilot holes and a Robertson screwdriver bit for the deck screws

  • Jig Saw

  • Circular Saw

  • Router or Table Saw

  • C-clamp

  • Level


  1. Trace a triangle with equal sides of 20” on your plywood and cut out with circular saw.

  2. Trace a 10” circle on your plywood. I found a saucepan lid that was the perfect size! Cut this out with your jig saw.

  3. Using a router or table saw cut a ¼” groove for the first 12” of the 2 x 3 pine board to a depth of approximately 3/8 of an inch. The groove should be about 2/3 of the way across the 3” side of the board.

  1. Cut the 2x3 into six 4” pieces. Three of these pieces will have the routed notch and three will be plain.

  2. Remove the hand grip padding and plastic middle from each of the crutches and reconnect the rod with the wing nut.

  3. Remove the arm pit rest from each of the crutches by drilling out the rivet with the ¼” drill bit

  4. Continue the ¼“ hole you drilled to remove the arm pit rest through to the other side of each post.

  5. Mark the centre of the 2x3 blocks (without a groove) by drawing two lines from corner-to-corner on the ends. Using the 1/8” bit, drill a pilot hole as deep as possible at each centre point. You should have drilled 6 pilot holes.

  1. Mark the middle edge (2” mark) of your three 2 x 3 blocks you just drilled with pilot holes.

  2. Mark the edge of your circular cut-out with three marks 120 degrees apart.

  3. Align your three 2x3 blocks with pilot holes against the edge of your circle with them centred over the marks made in step #10. Clamp them in place with a C-clamp and attach them to the circular cut-out with 3 x 8x1¼ deck screws per block.

  4. Attach the three crutches to these blocks by putting a washer on the 8 x 2½ deck screw, inserting this screw (with washer) into the holes you drilled in steps #7 and #8. Align this screw to your pilot holes and tighten using your electric drill and bit.

  5. Stand your tripod up and place the remaining three 2 x 3 pieces into the hand grip rods using the grooves. Tighten them into place using the wing nuts.

  6. Place your triangle piece on top of the three 2 x 3 pieces from step #13 and pull the tripod legs tight up against the edges of the triangle

  7. Using your level, adjust all three legs until the top is level in every direction. When level, secure the triangular tray to each of the blocks using three 8x1¼ deck screws per block. Make sure that your screws avoid the grooved area of the block as it might cause it to split.

  1. Number the end of each of the blocks and the leg so that you can put it back together in the correct level position.

  2. Trim the pointed ends off the triangle.

How to Get Your Scope Under the Night Sky More Often

(Wheels for Your Scope)


By Bob Olson


This article is intended to be a continuation of my presentation at the July 3, 2020 Ottawa RASC meeting, not a replacement for it. If you missed the meeting you can see it at:

My presentation starts at 1:42.


That being said, the gist of my presentation was: if your scope is too heavy or too complicated to be set up easily you will not use it much. My scope is both, that is heavy and complicated, (figure 1) and my

solution was to put wheels on the scope to easily wheel it out of my observatory and onto my observing platform. (figure 2)


There were two immediate problems that needed to be solved. The first was, I wanted the scope to be easily aligned. This was accomplished by having index pins (figure 3) on the scope’s pier that would

drop into holes in my concrete observing platform. The second was, lifting and lowering my heavy telescope safely and smoothly. This was done using homemade electric jacks. (figure 4)


I showed this image in my presentation but there were no dimensions shown. All the parts in this image are made of mild steel which I purchased from a local metal dealer. As you can see from the cross-section cuts all the tubes are thick-walled. The basic idea is that the motor turns the attached Acme threaded shaft into a nut on the 1” x 4” round tube. This forces the wheels down, which in turn lifts the leg of the pier.

The motor and shaft are surplus car seat adjusters which I purchased at Princess Auto. I have no idea if Princess Auto still carries this motor, but it should be available from any auto parts supplier or wrecker. Or Google 12V DC Right Angle Drive Electric Car Seat Motor.

The casters are 3 inches and designed to carry heavy loads. My scope weighs several hundred pounds so if yours is lighter, a less robust caster might do.

Figure 5 shows the parallel arms that allow the wheel to go up and down but still stay vertical. If the wheel is not vertical, it will want to travel in only one direction, probably not the one you want. These arms are made from half inch-thick aluminium plate. This material was chosen because it is easy to work with and I had some in my scrap bin. Most of the channel iron that I used in this project was originally rectangular tubing that I cut along its length to make the channel. This image also shows some odd protrusions that are remnants from previous versions of this apparatus.

The arms are pivoted on ¼ inch bolts held in position by nylon insert lock nuts as shown in figure 6.

Figure 7 shows the double pole double throw (DPDT) switch that is used to reverse the motor. This allows the operator to raise and lower the scope.

My original idea was to power the motors with a power supply, but this turned out to be a terrible idea. I seemed to be running over the chord all the time. So, I switched to an 18V portable drill battery. (12V DC motors run very well on 18V) I started by clipping the leads to the battery but then converted a battery charger (donated by a friend) into a battery socket. You can see this set up in figures 8 and 9.

In figure 10 you can see my pier. It is a copy of the Astro Physics 8-inch portable pier. The AP pier is made with an aluminium tube but mine is stainless steel as that is what I had available.

In figure 11 you can see how the legs are attached to the main 8-inch diameter tube. There are angled aluminium blocks bolted to the pier from the inside of the 8-inch tube. These blocks are sized to neatly fit inside the rectangular tubes of the legs and held in place with a 3/8 inch through bolt. I apologize for the multi-perspective diagram, but I am too lazy to re-do it!

If you were contemplating a similar apparatus, I would suggest that you use commercially made linear actuators instead of cobbling together my setup. There are 2-inch lift actuators available on Amazon or Banggood which would make the construction much easier. If your scope is not too heavy, then I would suggest a set up based on mobile tool bases. (See Figure 12) These are available many places including Home Depot.

With my rather unique observing location this rolling telescope allows me to set up in minutes. I can decide to image any time that I notice that the sky is clear and be taking pictures in 10 minutes. If I had to lug my heavy scope outside and take the time to connect all the cables needed for imaging, I doubt I would get out but a couple of times a year.

Clear skies and be safe.


Submitted Images

These pictures were taken between 4:30 a.m. and 4:40 a.m. EDT by Howard Simkover

Normally, I would have observed the conjunction from my condominium roof in Sandy Hill. The horizon from up there (14 meters off the ground) is very good in most directions. But the June 19th conjunction had an azimuth of 66 degrees at 4:30 a.m., which placed it right behind an office building in Vanier around 1 kilometer to the east of me.

So on June 18th, once I was quite sure of having clear weather at dawn on the 19th, I went on a "reconnaissance mission" into nearby Strathcona Park, looking desperately for a place which had a good horizon facing azimuth 66 degrees, down to an altitude of less than 3 degrees. It was far easier said than done, but I eventually found such a place around a 1.3-kilometer walk from my residence, right on the west shore of the Rideau River.

It was a bit strange walking down through the park at 4:10 a.m., listening to the ducks and geese in the river, but I was not concerned about any possible human presence. I saw no one.

Note that in the view at 400 mm., you can also see the crescent shape of Venus! Incredibly, the horns of the crescent Venus are pointing the same way as the horns of the crescent Moon! Hah!

The pictures were taken with a tripod mounted Nikon D5100 SLR, using a 135 mm., 200 mm. and a 400 mm. lens. Here are the details: ISO 4000 for all photsos. 1/1250 sec. at F8 for the 135 mm, 1/1600 sec. at F5.6 for the 200 mm., and 1/500 sec. at F5.6 for the 400 mm.

Bob Olson

M 64 Black-Eyed Gallaxy

NGC 5529

NGC 6578

NGC 6578 labeled

M 6 - Butterfly Cluster

M 17 – Omega Nebula (aka Swan Nebula)

M 21

M 25

M 62 – Flicking Globular

NGC 6992 – Eastern Veil

Telescope for Sale

Large aperture SCT package at a super price, in time for just after Father’s Day!

Vintage Celestron 11-inch SCT with fork mount and equatorial wedge, RA clock drive, setting circles, and steel square-tube pier with adjustable levelling plate to ensure perfect alignment.

Package includes:

  • 10x40 straight-through finder scope

  • Telrad* finder

  • Foam dew shield

  • 2-inch 90-degree star diagonal (two of them!)

  • 2-inch William Optics 45-degree image erecting prism diagonal

  • 2-inch Televue 40-mm wide angle eyepiece (65-degree apparent field)

  • 2-inch Erfle* 35-mm eyepiece (80x)

  • 2-inch to 1¼-inch eyepiece adapter, and

  • Original manual

* The Erfle eyepiece and Telrad are fitted with included custom anti-dew heater system.

Telescope has a clean, sweet optical system (2800-mm focal length, f/10 focal ratio) that offers enjoyable views of deep-sky objects, double stars, planets and – oh yes, the Moon! Pop in a binoviewer (not included) with the erecting diagonal, and “relive” the Apollo 8 experience!

This is a wonderful platform for visual observing, astrophotography, and sketching at the eyepiece. The base of the custom-made pier has four removable vanes that attach to bolts set into a concrete pad. The system is rock solid, and the square dimensions of the pier make it easy to attach power bars, lights, and other accessories.

The seller is RASC Ottawa member Brian McCullough, and this observatory-optimized super package is being offered (for pick-up only) for $3,800.

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 - Canceled

    • 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.


  • 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 August 7, 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 (