AstroNotes 2021 February Vol: 60 issue 02

Contents . Edtor’s Message . Ottawa Skiesi . The Ottawa Observatory . FLO Moments . When You Least Expect It… . Stan Mott . Astro-Philately . Monthly Challenge Objects . Submitted Images . Estelle’s Pick of the Month . Carp Star Parties . FLO Star Parties . Next Meeting . Centre Information



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Editor’s Message

We have another big issue for you this month with lots of images, but I know you only get it for the articles.

As we continue to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the FLO, Rick Scholes continues his series of articles based on the last 50 years of FLO logbooks and it continues to be fascinating reading. Rob Dick is providing us with bio’s of some of the people whose names are attached to various features of our Centre. This month his focus is on Stan Mott, after whom our library is named. He also shares some of the (amusing in hindsight) history of how the observatory and warm room got to their current location from their original site at North Mountain. And we have a few FLO Moments to share with you and we hope you will share your’s with us in future issues.

COVID 19 has had a big impact on all of us over the past year. It has put a halt to our Public Star Parties and significantly changed how we (read Dave Chisholm) do Outreach. It has had an impact on our Member Star Parties as well. For many of us though, it has been an opportunity to learn something new. For Boni Penna it has meant expanding his interest into a previously unexplored area, Astro-Philately. Have you started something new or rekindled an old passion to help you cope with the Pandemic Blues? We would love to hear about it even if it not astronomy related.

Did I mention we have lots of images this month?

Clear skies and stay safe,


Ottawa Skies

By David Chisholm

Comet 141P/Machholz steadily climbs in altitude as it moves east this winter. Stars in this and all maps are shown to magnitude 6 unless otherwise noted.
Chris Marriott's SkyMap

February 27 - Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 08:19 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Snow Moon because the heaviest snows usually fell during this time of the year. Since hunting is difficult, this moon has also been known by some tribes as the Hunger Moon, since the harsh weather made hunting difficult.


Not Visible

Rise/Set 07:49/18:18 -> 05:40/15:23



Not Visible

Rise/Set 06:54/15:53 -> 06:40/17:05


Visible in the evening.

Rise/Set 10:42/01:06 -> 09:37/00:41


Not Visible

Rise/Set 07:23/16:46 -> 05:54/15:33


Not Visible

Rise/Set 07:09/16:20 -> 05:32/14:50


Visible all evening.

Rise/Set 10:37/00:29 -> 08:52/22:43


Visible early evening first half of the month.

Rise/Set 08:58/20:13 -> 07:14/18:31

The Ottawa Centre Observatory:

A History -

Book 2: The Indian River Observatory and Comet Fame (1977-1980)

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of what is now known as the Fred Lossing Observatory (FLO). Logbook 2 spans the first three years of its residence on the grounds of the Mill of Kintail, near Almonte, where it is still located. The grounds are part of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Area (MVCA), through which the Indian River runs.

As before, I present the observatory logbook highlights in chronological order, selecting entries for their interest, significance, or humour. Additional information from a source other than the logbook has occasionally been inserted in [square] brackets.

IRO Opening and First Winter

Indian River Observatory Book 2 covers the period from its opening in October 1977 through September 1980. Like Book 1, it is composed of loose-leaf pages bound in rigid a green duo-tang folder. The first page begins with “Chapter II IRO”, plus the site longitude, latitude, and elevation. [Curiously, comparison with Google GPS coordinates indicates that the degrees and minutes were correct, but the seconds of longitude and latitude were interchanged.] [The relocation was paid for through donations from members and directed by a committee comprised of Peter McKinnon, Robert Dick, Art Fraser, Barry Matthews, and Rolf Meier.] Rolf is again the scribe for “Opening day!? Cloudy of course” on 8 October.


Fred Lossing doing the official opening of IRO, note the 2 plaques on the wall, the original one for NMO, the new plaque for IRO – Photo courtesy of Cathy Hall.

The list of 18 attendees included Fred Lossing [Ottawa Centre president in 1977-78] and several familiar names from the North Mountain years: Pete MacKinnon, Cathy Hall, Robert Dick, Stan Mott, Doug Welch, and Chris Martin. Rolf writes, “Indian River Observatory was officially opened tonight by Dr. C.S. Beals [honorary president and retired Dominion Astronomer]. But it rained tonight. Oh well, maybe it will be better tomorrow night.” So, Rolf stayed overnight, and then “Awakened to more rain.” Despite the foul weather, another 20 names are listed including Barry Matthews, Robin Molson, Frank Roy, and Doug George. A visitor from the Toronto centre noted “A most impressive facility” and finally “P.S. anyone finding any pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, please save for Doug Welch.” A cloudy night pastime ...

Cake baked by Cathy Hall for the opening of IRO - Photo courtesy of Cathy Hall

The skies finally cleared on the night of October 13, so Rolf “observed and photographed Comet Koehler, M31 40min, Helix 50 min, Andromeda 40 min, Jupiter tri-x, fine viewing of M42. Also freezing.” Fred Lossing was meanwhile “installing little white house”, assisted by Gordy Grummett. [Nobody I’ve contacted can remember what gear this structure contained.] On 5 November Ken Tapping noted “first parts of Radio Telescope on site.” The “RT” setup continued through November. Star Nite on 10 December was “c-c-c-cold!! very clear” and was attended by about 25 people including, apparently, “Mr. Spock, Mr. Sulu, and Mrs. Spock”.

Entries during that winter mention the roads being plowed irregularly and occasional problems with the drive electronics. On March 31, Rolf notes during an afternoon visit, “Snow drifts on road not melted in spots. Road soft; unable to drive in. Hill seems solid. Some water on observatory floor.” A couple of nights later, on April 2, we find his first mention of “1/2 hr. C.S.” [comet search, presumably] along with other observations and photography. The Star Nite on April 8 was attended by 31 people. However, on the following “more peaceful” night Rolf noted, “Observatory speaker broken. control cable broken” along with a gentle reprimand to irresponsible attendees. A group of 25 young guests were hosted by Dick and MacKinnon on April 24, leaving comments that ranged from “so so” through “interesting” and “neato” up to “spectacular”.

Comet Fame

On April 26, 1978, three people visited the facility, noting “mice have attacked sponge in observatory.” Below this, Rolf Meier has written simply, “Above must have left before dark. Discovered a comet at +53° 47’ 7h 18.7m 21:00” [9pm]. The 47 has been crossed out and replaced with 52. He rated the sky conditions at 9/10. A couple of congratulatory messages have been added in the margins.

Two nights later Fred Lossing confirms “to new COMET MEIER!” I can imagine Fred feeling like a proud father. Comet 1978f was the first to be discovered by a Canadian, from Canadian soil. J. Garneau has written, “to see Meier himself!” and below that Rolf adds, “humbly.” This was the first of four that he would eventually discover, and of the five in total that would be discovered over the next 11 years with the IRO 16” telescope.

The astronomy author Terry Dickinson visited with Rolf on May 2 to observe “Fantastic! Structure in M82. Trip to Hercules cluster! Etc.” On May 4 Rolf took “Photographs of Observatory for MacLeans” [magazine], his achievement having made national news.

Ed: Here is a link to Terry Dickinson’s 1978 MacLean’s article:

On May 10, Brian Burke noted, “Bright aurora. Observed Uranus, could see two of its moons. Looked at Comet Meier for first time.” Rick Wagner added, “Nice comet, Rolf.”

Star Nites Galore

We can imagine site usage increasing after this exciting discovery. On 27 May, there are nearly 30 names listed, mostly members, with someone adding, “All of these people and nobody using the 16.” Some attendees must have been bringing their own gear. The following week another interesting entry in Rolf’s handwriting notes, “Tonight we had a semi-pseudo-quasi-partial star night. 3.00am this is unbelievable - the females out here outnumber the males 2 to 1 - first time ever?! Amazing. Cleaned up dishes. Looked at M13, M57, M27, M8, M51, etc. Note: Astroscan now at IRO.” [The Astroscan was a small portable 105mm reflector originally produced by Edmund Scientific in the 1970s.]

On August 11 there are 21 names listed including the Montreal Centre president, another Star Nite, presumably, and a reference to “Meteors after meeting!” [In those days there was an observers’ group which met separately from the main centre meetings.] In September Ken Hewitt-White’s name reappears, with the comment, “A visit from the rainy city.” Together with Rolf he noted that deep sky observing was interrupted by aurora, covering most of the sky.

The Sixth Annual Deep Sky weekend was held from 7-9 October 1978 with a couple of dozen attending. Dave Fedosiewich slept out in a tent and discovered it was not waterproof. Rolf Meier reported that the Sunday night was clear with no aurora and listed the many objects observed including “Pleiades nebulosity.”

The Difference Forty Years Makes

That year various log entries remind us what the site looked like 40 years ago. Gravel was added to part of the access road, which in those days was an extension of the driveway of the century farmhouse on Concession Road 8. Other notes read, “Trap door on roof blown off and there was water on floor,” - the clubhouse still had the original flat roof, and “Horses and calves were in the pasture today!” - the immediate surroundings were farmlands, and many of the nearby trees had yet to be planted. Pierre Lemay painted the steps that summer - a set of wooden steps once led up onto the observatory mound from the clubhouse – and also noted that a horse (on the observatory grounds) could be “an excellent way of getting the grass cut!” A “Criterion 31” pier and an 8” telescope were installed by Rolf, but, like Fred’s little white shed, there are few other specific mentions of this equipment in the logbooks.

The Radio Telescope (IRORI)

Throughout 1978 work continued on the radio telescope: drilling, adding plates and wires, raising antennas. On Saturday October 21, Frank Roy recorded “Radio Telescope WORKS”, and Ken Tapping wrote “Got Cygnus A.” The official IRO Radio Interferometer Opening Day took place on October 28, with 20 names listed. They “Got Virgo A [M87] then to Sun for opening.” A couple of weeks later Frank Roy wrote “Staying over to observe the sun at 170MHz, below which Doug George wrote, “Viewing stars at 4000-7000 angstroms.” Local press coverage [presumably for the radio telescope] occurred in early November when “The Citizen came today” and then “Astronotes came today”. Identification of Quasar 3C48 followed on 25 November by Frank Roy, Pierre Lemay, and Ken Tapping, while Doug George and Rolf Meier did visual comet searches and observed aurora. Radio entries compete with optical for logbook space through this era.

Note the colour of the scope tube.  When the scope was at North Mountain, the tube was grey.  When it was moved to Indian River, they painted it blue.  Easy way to tell photos of locations apart. - Photo courtesy of Cathy Hall

Lake Lossing and A Second Comet

On March 8, 1979, Rolf reported, “Road is clear. Now I can observe again.” On March 22, Dave Fedosiewich wrote, “Try for Pluto. Got it. Very faint m 13.7.” He continued to follow it throughout that summer.

That spring the snow melt resulted in the formation of “Lake Lossing” at the site. On April 24, there are two pages of notes on observatory conditions and repairs by Ted Bean and Fred Lossing, and then a reference to the “IRO committee” by Robert Dick. Pierre Lemay noted that the clubhouse needed repainting and carried out the job that summer. He also made reference to the Quiet Site needing much work and cleaning, so it was still in operation at that time. A work crew dumped “42 wheelbarrow loads” of soil to shore up and enlarge the observing mound.

Dave Fedosiewich made several extended stays on site that summer. He plotted the reappearance of Comet Meier during June and July, observed various asteroids, did some photography, maintenance and cleanup work. During the day he passed time fishing in the Indian River (with success) and visiting with the Cochrane’s (the nearby homeowners) but avoided their dog (who was unfriendly). Mrs. Cochrane kindly gave him a lift to Almonte for groceries on one occasion. A photograph of him asleep in the clubhouse has been jammed into the logbook pages.


Rolf Meier’s ongoing comet searches paid off a second time on 19 September 1979. The Star Nite held two days later attracted at least 28 people to see the Comet Meier 1979i and offer congratulations. His searches continued through the fall, though in November he took time to view Mars (“not bad”) and Saturn (“Shadow of rings on Saturn but no rings”). The decade ended that December with Doug George climbing into the clubhouse through the roof hatch after the door became jammed.

The Observatory Committee

Observatory committee members Pierre Lemay, Robin Molson, and Ken Tapping visited for a site inspection in February 1980, noting, “We have problems.” After a long list of jobs done including removal of the clubhouse refrigerator, fixing the observatory door lock, and various other jobs they ended with, “... and we want a medal.” [When the IRO was opened in 1977, then President Fred Lossing established an operating committee to manage the site. The first committee had been comprised of MacKinnon, Meier, Dick, Fraser, and Tapping. By 1980 it was Lemay, Molson, Tapping, and then Past President Lossing.]

At the bottom of a page for April a mosquito corpse has been sealed under transparent tape and labeled “first kill of 1980.” Bean and Lossing were called in to perform mirror and diagonal cleaning, polar alignment, guide scope adjustments, and to troubleshoot drive problems. Barry Matthews repaired the Konig eyepiece which had been found cracked. Robin Molson [future director] cut the grass and performed structural repairs. Pierre Lemay changed the locks. There was lots of teamwork!

Visual and radio observations continued in parallel. Lemay hosted a Radio Quebec crew filming a documentary on amateur radio astronomy. A “Discrete Radio Source Study for GA Project” was begun. A dipole antenna was added. The IRORI chart recorder is often mentioned as having spewed out reams of paper, going off scale, or running out of paper.

In addition to dishes and some food, jugs of water were kept in the clubhouse. However, there was no phone at IRO. One night Frank Roy and Robert Desbiens had car problems, reporting, “We had to spend the night. Got up at 7:00 o’clock and went over to the farm to phone a garage.”

Frank Roy hosted several outreach events that summer. A Girl Guide group visiting in May wrote many compliments, although a parent helper did comment, “the coffee is terrible!” Twenty people attended in August for a “Star Gazing” program arranged by the MVCA for the Almonte Centennial. The only comment was, “It’s dark.” A cloudy Star Nite in September somehow drew 12 people, at which an unimpressed visitor felt the need to inscribe for posterity, “I never coming here again” [sic].

Next month: Book 3 – The Indian River Observatory in the 1980s (1980-1989)

FLO Moments

From Brian Burke

I was pleased to learn that there will be events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the observatory.

I remember being driven out to the NMO along with a few other new members on the second night of the opening celebrations by Dr. Lloyd Higgs, who was the Centre president at the time. Stepping out of the car and looking up I was awed by seeing so many stars. It was the first time that I was at such a dark site.

From Gordon Webster

A few years ago, when my daughter Julia was between 6 and 8, she wouldn’t let me go to the FLO without her. She had her own telescope which she insisted on taking, but I was the one who had to set it up. Once her’s was setup, she would start observing while I setup my equipment. Without fail, within 10 minutes of my telescope being setup she would be tired and want to go home. The things fathers do…

On the hour-long drive home, she would suddenly be wide awake and would start to ask all kinds of really deep questions on Science. Is it true that the Universe is really only a hologram? Is there life on other planets? How would we communicate with them? What came before the Big Bang? (I said Frasier!) We talked about the Moon landing and the formation of craters. She always said this was her favourite part of going to the FLO. Mine too.

Julia, now 11, doesn’t come with me to much anymore, and I miss our chats on the way home.

The Value of FLO to Me.
Douglas Fleming

FLO is a wonderful space since it provides a safe nighttime dark site to set up my scope. Importantly, it is also place at which one can socialise and where a novice like me can learn from others. Stu, Gordon, Rick, Ghislain, Jim, Atilla and many others stand out as great “in the field mentors” and colleagues. The events Gordon has organised over the last couple of years have been especially meaningful. And, of course, the clubhouse/warm hut is undoubtably a big draw this time of the year.

I’ve had the pleasure of bringing some of my friends and family out to enjoy the heavens, even during the pandemic (respecting limits, of course). Sophie, my spirited golden retriever, accompanies me at least half of the time and I’m very grateful for how welcoming our friends have been to her presence. I am mindful of how important it is to keep her wagging tail away from expensive equipment and confine her to the car after dark (she freaks out whenever the coyotes howl, as they often do). I’m lucky in that she isn’t much of a “barker”.

My fondest memory to date is the way in which Taras and Konstantin (safely) introduced my children to the StarMaster. While I fumbled around setting up my rig one evening not long ago, they patiently showed Pat and Dani the capacities of the 18” with views of Jupiter, Saturn and a couple of nebulae. Previously, I had cajoled the kids into coming out to the Aviation Museum for the partial solar eclipse a few years ago and viewing the Neowise comet while we were out camping last summer.

I suspect that the principal reason they humored me on this particular occasion was because they were getting quite bored during the current pandemic. They have always had an interest in nature and the outdoors, but Taras and Konstantin showed them that their “old man’s hobby” was more than just a way to blow their inheritance on expensive equipment that keeps their father off the streets!

When you Least Expect it . . .

Robert Dick

Back in the 1970s the RASC, especially the Ottawa Centre, offered interesting projects for those open to the challenge. Two of these challenges were the building of the North Mountain Observatory, and another was its relocation from south of Ottawa over to the west. I was responsible for the development of the site. Lessons were learned by all.

One problem we faced was the need to do everything “on the cheap” with volunteer labour and donated services from contractors. The problem with accepting donated services is that the donor may not give the work as much due diligence as they would normally if they were paid. And since we were not [yet] professional project managers, we trusted the contractors to do it right.

One task was the physical move of the warm building (hut) and the roll-off roof of the observatory - the main physical assets of the facility next to the telescope.

The day began with the arrival at NMO of the contractor who was to make the move. We had jacked up the building so his flatbed trailer, pulled by his dump truck, could be manoeuvred under it. However, we should have been worried when we figured out that he needed our help to put the observatory roof on his dump truck - on top of the “box” of the dump truck. Fortunately, we had a small army of keen members to lift each side of the roof as the driver backed the truck under it.

Imagine if you will, a large dump truck, pulling a flatbed with an over-wide building with an oversize peak roof precariously resting on the box. If you think that would look strange, think of it driving down county roads followed by a half dozen cars of various descriptions and roadworthiness, and filled with bright-eyed naiveties.

About halfway to the new Indian River Site, we were joined by another car, but this one had red flashing lights on the roof. All this was being recorded on film by Jon Buchanan Film Productions – so there IS proof.

We had left the details up to the contractor. We did not know how the contractor was going to move the buildings, or the route he was going to take. So, what we should have known, and what he didn’t know, was that a highway permit was required with proper safety vehicles. You get the idea.

We were ordered to stop and “drop the load". Fred Lossing and Tom Tothill (the most senior members of the convoy) negotiated with the officer so that we could continue on for a while with the police car acting as a safety vehicle until we reached one of the parking lots for the Conservation area on the west side of County Road 6 (Roger Stevens Drive) south of North Gower. We reversed the loading procedure and there it sadly sat through the following week – an amusing sight for site visitors.

During the week we contacted the “real company" that we had contacted earlier in the project but had found the price too high. Hence the reason we used a donated service.

The company realized that we were just a small club, so they offered to do the remaining move for much less than their earlier estimate. Later that week, they loaded up the building and roof, end to end, on a much longer flatbed and delivered it to the IRO site.

While watching them unload the buildings, it was evident they knew what they were doing. Apparently, they had developed the experience when moving homes away from a flooded portion of the Rideau River. They also knew how much they could “abuse" a building without damaging it and they didn’t want our help, or our muscles. They kept us away from the work area. In less than an hour it was all done.

Lesson learned? You can make your own list.

The film of the move is being resurrected by Jon Buchanan. The now “classic” song written by Doug Somers and Doug Welch and inspired by NMO can be heard at:

Stan Mott


Namesake for the Stan Mott Book Library, Ottawa Centre, RASC


Robert Dick

Stan was one of the original members of the Ottawa Centre “Observers’ Group” (OG) that was formed sometime in the early to mid-1960s. He was a collector of astronomy books and had accumulated a large personal library. While monthly meetings were held at the Geophysical Building on the grounds of the Dominion Observatory (DO), he brought an assortment of these to meetings and lent them to members.

The move from the DO to the National Research Council laboratories on Sussex Drive (NRCC) provided a more secure meeting venue. Eventually the task of hauling books to the meetings convinced the Centre to have a large bookcase built that could be left locked outside our meeting room (room 3001). Since it was on display to all employees it was felt it better look good, so it was built to look like a nice piece of furniture.

This bookcase would follow the OG to the main auditorium of the NRCC (in the preparation room behind the lecture theatre), then to Carleton University (Room 130 Chemistry building - again in the preparation room behind the chalk board), the Museum of Science and Technology (in a separate room from the auditorium) and then to the Aviation Museum - 5 decades of use. For this and other contributions to the Centre, Stan received the RASC Service Award in 1980 (see below) and the Ottawa Centre’s Merritt Award in January of 1984.

Stan was privileged to personally view the Giacobini-Zinner meteor storm in 1946 (see Cathy Hall’s article below). He inspired the Ottawa Centre’s meteor observing team by describing what he saw. He was recording his observations with the NRCC meteor observing team until the meteors came so rapidly, they could not be recorded fast enough. We would share a similar experience much later during the 2000 Leonid meter storm.

As with a number of prominent members of the OG, Stan was a bird watcher and photographer. We rarely saw him outdoors without his camera. He was well known at star parties, taking pictures of the activities. There would be a rousing “Stan!” and “Argh!” from people who were looking in his direction at the time he fired off his flash bulbs. These would be followed by an embarrassed apology from Stan.

His pictures recorded the activities of members for several decades. Eventually his failing health caused him to move out of his Ottawa home on Honeywell Avenue into a residence. He continued to attend meetings when other members provided him with transportation. After his death at 84-years old in June of 2007, many of his books at his home and his slides were, presumably, passed on with his estate, but the Ottawa Centre lost track of them.

Many of the books stored in the Centre Library were becoming dated so a major culling of the books was done to make room for new volumes. Some of these found their way into the hands of members.

Stan Mott’s RASC Service Award 1980, Halifax GA

STANLEY A. MOTT nominated by the Ottawa Centre. Stan is a Life Member of the Society and became a member in 1938. He was treasurer of the Ottawa Centre from 1947 to 1957, and since then has continuously held the position of Centre Librarian. He has thus served on the council of the Ottawa Centre for 32 years. As librarian he has built up and outstanding library of some 300 books, often by contributing his own money to the library fund. He is present at all lecture meetings and opens the library at every meeting of the Observers’ Group. In addition to his work with the library, he has made substantial donations to the original Observatory Fund and also to the Observatory Relocation Fund. For many years he was a very active meteor observer and was a member of the group which flew to North Bay by RCAF Dakota to observe the Giacobinid meteor shower of 1946. He was a regular member of the Ottawa Centre Meteor Observing Team during the International Geophysical Year. In addition, Stan has observed the solar eclipses of 1952, 1963, 1970, 1972 and 1979. One should also note that Stan and his flash camera have recorded many of the highlights of General Assemblies and Ottawa Centre events and one of the photographs was used in Dr. McKinley’s book, Meteor Science and Engineering. The impact of Stan’s contributions to the success of the Ottawa Centre can hardly be overestimated.

I would like to use this short note about Stan as a segue into another topic. The following is an article written by Cathy Hall about Stan’s memory of the 1946 Giacobinid meteor storm. It was originally published in the October 1998 issue of NAMN Notes (North American Meteor Network).

“Memories of Giacobinids... by Cathy Hall

Memories of the 1946 Giacobinid storm still remain strong in the minds of those who were fortunate enough to witness the event. One of these people was Stan Mott, a elderly member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, who was the recorder on the Giacobinid meteor expedition headed by the late Dr. Peter Millman. Cathy Hall talked to Stan, then in his 70's, about some of the details of the expedition, and his impressions of the meteor storm...

Stan traveled with Dr. Millman's group by plane to North Bay, Ontario to observe, as the weather looked like it was going to be cloudy in Ottawa. Apparently, it did clear off in Ottawa, but they had decided not to take any chances. There were 4 observers, and Stan as recorder. The sky conditions were good, and the temperature a bit cold. They used heavy blankets and chairs, no sleeping bags, and in Stan's words, looked like 'Tibetan monks studying the stars for omens'...

All the meteor recording was done by hand - no tape recorders! Stan said the rates kept him 'very busy'. He said there were just so many... that for every meteor he recorded for the group members, that he probably saw about 6 himself. However, he said he couldn't really stop to watch the sky a lot - as he was the recorder. He said it 'really did look like a shower', and that 'the meteors were coming fast and furious, with several at any instant'.

There were so many meteors that they just started watching specific areas, like the head of Draco. "It looked like the eyes were just winking" Stan said, with all the many point meteors. When asked if there were lots of both bright and faint meteors, he said that most seemed to be about magnitude 2... but then added that they gave up on anything fainter than about magnitude 3! He said there were a mixture of long and short meteors, and that some had trains. Most of the meteors appeared to be white in color.
How did they manage to record the meteors with so many coming down? Stan replied 'poorly' and then smiled...

Another friend in Ottawa also observed the 1946 Giacobinids. Mary Henderson, then a girl of about 16, watched the display from the countryside just east of Ottawa. She had first noticed the shower from the driveway of her house in the city and got her father to drive her out into the country. This was the first astronomical event she had ever taken note of, so was not familiar with the normal data that one would want to record.

Having since observed meteors seriously, however, she has been able to give some comments on the 1946 storm. She said the sky was dark and clear in Ottawa. The meteors seemed shorter than Perseids, or that was the impression she remembers. There were a mixture of magnitudes. She doesn't recall whether there were trains or not, as she didn't know what a train was at the time. When asked if there was any color to the meteors, or if they just were mainly white in color, she said that she 'didn't realize that stars had any color' at the time, so no, did not note any in the meteors.

She watched for several hours, and in her words, 'was just totally overwhelmed at the marvelous display'. When asked if she noticed any lull in activity, she said no, she had no impression of any lull. They were just coming down 'so fast and furious'.

Mary went on after that to become a summer student at the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa in the summer of 1951, and was given the project in the summer of 1952 of helping Dr. Millman analyze photographs of the Giacobinids taken by a news photographer in Chicago…



by Boni Penna

An old saying says “Not all Evil comes to Harm”. In my case the evil is the novel Covid-19 virus. Being forced to be isolated for months, living in a condominium and the few clear skies we have in Ottawa, I have spent more and more time browsing the internet. This way I discovered and got hooked with an expensive but very rewarding hobby: collecting postage stamps dedicated to astronomy. There are hundreds and hundreds of stamps from countries all around the world that honor topics related to astronomy. Right now, I already have about 90 of them and a wish list of more than 300.

What is Astro-Philately? On the internet too many websites confuse this subject with Space-Philately. Astro-Philately instead exalts the human achievements in the exploration of the sky.

I always liked history. But let me explain: I hate dates, kings’ names, wars and treaties; I have been instead always fascinated by the history of how the human spirit and knowledge of science has evolved from ancient times. For instance, I enjoyed reading “A History of Astronomy” by Anton Pannekoek.

Astro-Philately covers many topis, such as astronomers and astrophysicists, the precursors of modern astronomy, ancient instruments, telescopes and observatories (including space telescopes), scientific explorations, stars and constellations, auroras, etc.

Canada Post has not issued too many stamps dedicated to astronomy. Among them, we all remember the 2 stamps issued in 2018 to commemorate the RASC’s 150th anniversary, but probably only a few have noticed two stamps issued to celebrate the 2009 “International Year of Astronomy”.

  • The Eagle Nebula and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), 2009 - 54 cents.

The CFHT, located near the summit of Mauna Kea mountain on Hawai’i, the Hawaii’s Big Island, at an altitude of 4,204 m. (13,793 ft), has been part of the Mauna Kea Observatory since 1979. This telescope is a Prime Focus/Cassegrain configuration with a usable aperture diameter of 3.58 m. (11.7 ft). The CFHT is currently planning a refurbishment of the facility in the 2020’s. The facility will be reconstructed with a new 11 m. telescope to produce the Mauna Kea Spectroscopic Explorer.

  • The Horsehead Nebula and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), 2009 - 54 cents.

The DAO is located near Victoria in Saanich, Vancouver Island, BC. It became operational in 1918 and it was a world-renowned facility where many discoveries about the nature of the Milky Way were made. This observatory was one of the world’s main astrophysical research centres until the 1960s, and presently it has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

For a happy ending, here is a 2018 Canadian stamp of the Milky Way for the deep sky lovers.

This is one of the two stamps that were issued by Canada Post to pays tribute to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and its commitment to promote the study of astronomy through public outreach.

It is a reproduction of Matt Quinn’s photo of the Milky Way, as seen from Bruce Peninsula National Park in Ontario (no date provided). Quinn says that he connects with the natural world by photographing the stars, this way he makes pay attention to the ebbs and flows of nature. He explains “It reminds me to place my priorities on what truly matters.

Northern Hemisphere Constellations and Saturn: Use a magnifying lens and you would see Vulpecula, Sagitta, Aquila, Scutum, Sagittarius, Serpens Cauda and Ophiuchus.

Monthly Challenge Objects

By Oscar Echeverri

Submitted Images

From Andrea Girones

M81 & 82 by Andrea Girones

Cave Nebula by Andrea Girones

M 74 by Andrea Girones

NGC 1333 by Andrea Girones

From Bob Olson

The Beehive Cluster – M44 by Bob Olson

The Pleiades – M45 by Bob Olson

IC 1613 by Bob Olson

The Owl Nebula – M97 by Bob Olson

The Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392 by Bob Olson

NGC 1055 by Bob Olson

The Jellyfish Nebula – IC443 by Bob Olson

From Paul Klauninger

Cloudy Moon with Halo by Paul Klauninger

The Pleiades – M45 by Paul Klauninger

Lunar South Polar Region by Paul Klauninger

The Rosette Nebula - NGC 2244 by Jim Sofia

Estelle’s Pick of the Month

The Library is closed until our physical meetings resume.


We have a tentative booking for our banquet.  The following is from an email received by our Vice-President Dave Chisholm from Algonquin.

We do have November 19th @ 6:00 pm available at this time and I have asked Cathy to hold the date for you.
Closer to the date we would reach out to finalize details, setup, and menu. That does not stop us from booking the date for you though!”

Let's hope that COVID has settled by then.

Carp Star Parties

We are looking for a Public Star Party Co-ordinator. If you are interested in taking on this fulfilling position please contact our new President, Stephen Nourse at

FLO Star Party Dates for 2020

  • Our Ottawa Centre’s Members’ Star Parties at the FLO will continue this winter. 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.


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

  • December 12 – Waning Crescent, 27 days old, 4.2% illumination NO GO

  • January 16 – Waxing Crescent, 3 days old, 14.5% illumination NO GO

  • JANUARY 23 – 5Oth ANNIVERSARY of founding NO GO

  • February 13 – Waxing Crescent, 2 days old, 4.5% illumination

  • March 13 – Waxing Crescent, 30 days old, 0.3% illumination

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday March 5, 2021 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: Stephen Nourse (
Vice President: Dave Chisholm
Secretary: Chris Teron (
Treasurer: David Parfett (
Centre Meeting Chair: Dave Chisholm (
Councillors: Carmen Rush, Gerry Shewan, Jim Sofia
National Council Representatives: Paul Sadler, OPEN
Past President: Mike Moghadam

2020 Appointed Positions
Membership: Art Fraser
Star Parties: OPEN
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 (