Sunshine Coast Centre RASC


IMG_1588In view of the increasing probability of individuals acquiring and spreading the Corona Virus by community contact and in view of the warnings from the Sunshine Coast COVID-19 Physicians Task Force and in agreement with the express opinion of the Airport Manager, the executive of the Sunshine Coast Astronomy Club has decided to close the observatory and the surrounding grounds to all use, until the current danger has officially passed.

We are sorry to have to shut down the observatory and cancel our April monthly meeting in April.  Please stay as safe.

Bruce Fryer

President of the SCAC

On Behalf of the Executive


CANCELLED! Speaker for 13 March: Dr. Harvey Richer

It has come to our attention in the last hour that there are 3 positives on the Coast now for the covid – 19 virus. As of this morning there were 53 confirmed cases in BC and this number is from 9 am this morning, so it doesn’t include any positive tests that have come in today. We were already aware of several members of our Centre who were not going to be attending tonight’s meeting, either because they had the flu or because they were concerned about having conditions that put them at greater risk of contracting this virus.  This was confirmed as a pandemic by the World Health Organization just a few days ago. In light of this rapidly developing situation, it is imperative that we act responsibly to limit the possible transmission of this disease and the exposure of any of the public or our members to this virus. Therefore, we are cancelling tonight’s meeting. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this short notice may cause to the public or members, but this is a pandemic, a medical emergency, and we must act responsibly.

The public viewing session usually held at the observatory on Saturdays is also cancelled until further notice.

Here is a link to the Canadian government site with quality information and updates on the situation:

Sincerely, Charles Ennis

2nd Vice President, RASC

harvey richer

At 7:00 PM, 2020 March 13, at the Sechelt Public Library, 5797 Cowrie St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Harvey Richer, FRSC, whose topic is:

Watcher of the Sky: The Highs and Lows of Being an Observational Astronomer

Dr. Richer will discuss some of the many interesting experiences that go into shaping the career of an observational astronomer. From the early days of Chilean observing, to life with Hubble and the current issues in Hawaii, Dr. Richer hopes to give a sense of the richness of experiences he has had in his chosen career as an observational astronomer.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Speaker for 14 February 2020: Sarah Pearce

sarah pearceAt 7:00 PM, 2020 February 14, at the Sechelt Public Library, 5797 Cowrie St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Sarah Pearce, MSc, whose topic is: The History of Stellar Classification (150 years ago to today)

This talk concerns the history of astronomy. Sarah will focus on a published research paper from 150 years ago by a priest called Father Secchi, whose work and writings were on his telescope findings of the Orion Nebula.

Sarah will go on to describe the history of stellar classification and spectroscopy and hope to introduce the topic in a dynamic and engaging way. Let’s explore the stars through the lens of astronomers that were working and researching with technologies from 150 years ago.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Club Christmas Party

SCAC December meeting December 13th, 7pm, Sechelt Library

In line with what has become a club tradition, the December meeting will be our Christmas Party. There will be talks on how to select astronomy equipment, books and “apps”, how to use popular astronomy programs, like Stellarium, and more.

Of course we’ll also have our regular “The Sky this Month” presentation from Bruce and possibly a QUIZ. If you have astro gear to sell or to show, bring it along as well.

The meeting will be a pot-luck, so please bring a dish.

See you there.


We Tried!


Mike Bradley hoping for a glimpse of the Mercury transit through a hole in the clouds.

We’d been watching the forecast for days, and it was not promising: Up to 100% cloud cover would prevent us from watching the Mercury transit at sunrise on 11 November 2019. As late as 5 AM I was posting on this website that the event was off. And then I got a phone call from Mike Bradley that he and Danny Sklazeski had gone down to the Roberts Creek pier and that there was some clear sky to the east. I raced down there to join Mike and Danny. There was indeed a narrow gap in the clouds to the east giving us a nice view of Mount Baker. Unfortunately by the time the sun rose the clouds were closing that gap and we never actually got a view of the transit. We held on for a while just in case another opening presented itself, but then it started to sprinkle rain and we packed it in.

Before we left we did have a chance to interact with some people out walking their dogs and a few other club members dropped in to see if we’d had any luck.

Charles Ennis, 2nd VP, RASC


Telescopes ready… if only the sky was

Public Viewing, SCC Observatory: 2 November

IMG_1588The forecast looks relatively favourable for opening the SCC Observatory on Saturday, 2 November 2019 at 18:30 hours. We’ll update on this page around 4 PM on Saturday to confirm. The Moon is a couple of days before First Quarter.

UPDATE 11:30 AM, Saturday 2 November: The forecast is showing sky conditions degrading, with high cloud covering between 70 and 83% of the sky at opening time for the observatory with a small percentage of low cloud coming in. We will update again at 4 PM, but it isn’t looking promising for viewing at present.

UPDATE 4 PM: The sky is definitely degrading. We’re not opening the observatory tonight. See you next time.

Mercury Transit: 11 November


Mercury transiting the Sun in 2016. That black dot on the lower left is Mercury: the other dots are sunspots. Photo by Mike Bradley.

Only the inner planets, Mercury and Venus, can cross the solar disk. Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, occurring in a pattern repeating every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Mercury, on the other hand, transits the solar disk approximately 13 times per century. The last transit of Venus occurred on 2012 June 5-6 and the next will occur on 2117 December 10-11. The last transit of Mercury occurred 2016 May 9 and our astronomers viewed that from our SCC Observatory at Sechelt Airport. Mercury is next due to transit the Sun on 2019 November 11, and the Sunshine Coast Astronomy Club will be in Roberts Creek to help people view it. After this, the next Mercury transit isn’t until 2032 November 13, so you won’t want to miss this.

Only viewers in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada will be able to view the entire 5 ½ hour event, as the Mercury transit starts at sunrise in that area. Here in BC the transit will be in progress when the Sun comes up: We’ll still be able to view nearly 3 hours of transit. Our astronomers chose a location which would give us the best unobstructed view as the Sun rises to make sure that we capture as much of this transit event as possible. We’ll be setting up at the Roberts Creek pier at sunrise at 07:00 on 11 November with our solar scopes. Everyone is welcome to join us to view this event. We’re hoping for clear skies that morning.


Sunshine Coast Centre astronomers setting up solar telescopes to view the Mercury transit in 2016.

A transit of Venus can be viewed with eclipse glasses, but Mercury is too small to view in this fashion. To view a Mercury transit, you’ll need to equip your binoculars or telescope with a front aperture solar filter, use a telescope with a Herschel Wedge and filter, or use a hydrogen alpha telescope designed for solar viewing. Our members will have these solar telescopes set up to allow the public to safely view the Mercury Transit.

We’ll post updates here as the day approaches.

UPDATE: 3 pm Sunday, 10 November:

A few days back the forecast did not look good at all for Monday morning, with rain forecast. This has gradually improved as we close in on Monday morning, but still looking problematic. Before 3 am on Monday the Clear Outside forecast site is showing 100% high cloud through the day, which would make solar flares impossible to see but could allow us to see Mercury transiting the Sun. However, the forecast for medium cloud cover rises Monday morning from 17% at 4 am to 98% at 7 am, which would definitely prevent viewing. Clear Dark Sky shows transparency Monday morning as “too cloudy to forecast” from 4 am onwards, and seeing after 6 am as “too cloudy to forecast”. I’m going to check the skies between 4 am and 5 am Monday Morning to make a final decision.  I will post an update here by 5.

UPDATE: 5 am Monday, 11 November:

Viewed the sky at 3:45 am and you could just make out Vega at the zenith and one other fuzzy star (Altair?) but no others at all and a glow in the western sky behind the clouds from the nearly full Moon, but no view of the Moon itself. At 5 am the Moon had set and both stars had completely disappeared. Clouds are closing in as predicted.

UPDATE: 7 am Monday: We have some clear sky to the east! We’re going for it! See you at Roberts Creek pier!

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