Sunshine Coast Centre RASC

Speaker for July: Dr. Rob Thacker

Rob+Thacker+copyAt 7:00 PM, 2020 July 10 12, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Rob Thacker, whose topic is: Computing the Cosmos.

Modern supercomputers allow astronomers and astrophysicists to create digital simulations of entire universes of unprecedented size and accuracy. These “virtual universes” can also be tuned to obey a different set of Laws of Physics. What might our Universe have looked like under different sets of physical laws? Using digitally created movies and images from these simulations, Dr. Thacker will explore how these techniques work, review spectacular progress that has resulted from these techniques, and examine what future research can tell us.

Admission is free. Use the link below to join the meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87381512720?pwd=aUZsVGhjek8raFpPbjdrNGVHay9LUT09

Online Speaker for June 12: Dr. Jess McIver

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At 7:00 PM, 2020 June 12, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Jessica McIver, whose topic is: Spacetime, black holes, and cosmic collisions! Sensing gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO.

The Advanced LIGO detectors measure gravitational waves (GWs), tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime emitted by accelerating mass. Kilometer-scale interferometers like LIGO can decode the signature of highly energetic systems that are otherwise hidden from us in the dark of deep space. In just four years, GWs have already revealed 11 black hole collisions and two neutron star mergers, one with a spectacular light counterpart signal.

Dr. McIver will summarize what General Relativity, spacetime, and gravitational waves can tell us about the Universe. She will discuss the technology of laser interferometers like Advanced LIGO and how we’re able to sense incredibly small spacetime fluctuations induced by GWs. She will also give an overview of the results from the past LIGO-Virgo observing run, and prospects for the future of gravitational wave astronomy.

Admission is free.

The link for the meeting is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88194515739?pwd=dk1NUFA4SE5UQmE5TkhaWFBXS1QrUT09

In Memoriam: Scott Harlow

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Scott doing solar observing with a hydrogen alpha scope at the Botanical Gardens in Sechelt

Scott Harlow joined our Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC in September 2011. Scott served on the Board of our Centre as a member at large, librarian and “quartermaster” from 2013 to 2019. Scott almost always was the first person arriving at the venue for the Centre’s monthly meetings, setting up chairs, managing the registration table at the door to greet guests and receive donations, and after the meeting putting things away and running around with a vacuum to do cleanup. He was the last out of the building. Scott manned the information booth at all outreach events (until 2019 when his health forced him to stand down), handing out materials and fielding questions. Scott attended all observatory events: He usually was the first at the gate at opening and was the one putting out the traffic cones and barricades and helping roll back the observatory roof. Scott lived closest to the observatory, and was our “eye on the sky” to advise us if the weather was going to permit us to open the observatory for viewing: He posted frequent e mails updating members on sky conditions on viewing nights. Scott went all around Sechelt every month on foot putting up promotional posters for Centre events. He came to all the work parties at the observatory. He attended every monthly Astro Café meeting. From 2011 to 2019 he monitored membership and contacted members to remind them to renew their membership. Scott received donations of telescopes, etc. for our Centre through his workplace, the Shell station in Wilson Creek. I fully intended to put in an application next year to the Awards Committee recommending him for a Service Award, as he would have had the required 10 years of service to qualify by then.

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Scott manning the information booth at Canada Day

Scott did all this volunteer work while dealing with diabetes, which regularly resulted in serious blood sugar monitoring issues which escalated in recent months. Scott knew that his eyesight was degenerating (he’d inherited a condition from his mother) and that eventually he’d not be able to do any more viewing, and I’m sure this pushed him to do as much astronomical viewing in the time that he had and work through his medical issues.

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Scott staining at the observatory

On 6 May 2020, Scott passed away. At this time we do not have any information suggesting this was related to Covid 19: Scott was certainly at risk with his medical conditions but the frequency of interventions had accelerated in recent months and in recent weeks Scott had succumbed to several seizures at work. Scott clearly went into a diabetic coma and this time help did not get there soon enough. Scott was a pillar of our astronomy community, and always had a smile and a good word for everyone. This is incredibly sad news. He will be missed by us all.

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Scott observing the night skies at our observatory

Monthly Meeting: 8 May (Online)

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Mike Bradley at our SCC Observatory

With the current pandemic, we’ve had to make adjustments for the safety of the public and our members, so we’ve decided to hold our upcoming meeting at 7 PM, Friday, 8 May, as an online webinar using Zoom. As always, this meeting is open to the public. Night Lights co-host and Centre President Bruce Fryer will be doing a presentation on the Skies This Month. Centre VP Michael Bradley will be doing the main presentation on Image Processing for Beginners. If you’ve been thinking of getting into astrophotography, this information will be useful for you.

You can use this link to access the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/93061580203?pwd=cEdLMUJTaHQ1VFloWUwvSlRLOEJnQT09

 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

NOTE: This is the first time we’ve used this online format for a meeting. If it is successful, we’re planning to do live streaming on YouTube for future meetings as well.

Closure

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  https://www.coastreporter.net/news/local-news/covid-physician-task-force-community-update-7-march-22-possible-impacts-on-coast-1.24103679 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: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

Sincerely, Charles Ennis

2nd Vice President, RASC

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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.

M

We Tried!

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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

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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.

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