Sunshine Coast Centre RASC

Speaker for May 2021: Ray Kostaschuk

On Zoom at 7 PM (Pacific) on Friday, 2021 May 14, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Ray Kostaschuk, a geoscientist specializing in sedimentary processes in rivers, lakes and estuaries. He was a Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph for 25 years. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Environmental Science at SFU where he works with Professor Jeremy Venditti and graduate students on sedimentation in the Fraser River. His topic will be: Rivers of the Solar System

A river is a channel system constructed by naturally flowing liquids moving towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. Rivers create diverse drainage patterns and a stunning variety of erosional and depositional landforms that provide important clues to the climate and geological framework of the landscape. Active rivers flow on Earth and Titan and ancient rivers are common on Mars and Venus. Rivers on the rocky planets are created by water flowing over rock or sediment but on Titan the rivers consist of liquid hydrocarbons eroding a crust of water ice.  

Use this link to access the meeting:

Meet Harry Andinda

Our Center sent a telescope to Ugandan high school student and amateur astronomer Harry Andinda in December 2020 and he’s been exploring the skies. Centre Past President and current RASC 1st Vice President Charles Ennis has previously been communicating with him by email, answering Harry’s questions and helping him set up his telescope. On Tuesday, 2021 April 6 I joined Harry on Zoom and had a conversation with him about his viewing experiences which is now available to view on YouTube.

On May 4 at 8 AM Pacific (that’s 6 PM for Harry) I’ll be having another Zoom meeting with Harry. If you’d like to join us, here is the link:

Speaker for April 2021: Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya

On Zoom at 7 PM (Pacific) on Friday, 2021 April 9, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya, Susan Cunningham Research Chair in Geology at the School of Earth, Environment and Society (SEES), McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, whose topic will be  The Origin of Life and Martian Possibilities.

Is life on Earth an exceptional occurrence or an inevitable consequence of its habitability? What  events in the history of life on earth are exceptional versus inevitable? Could life on Earth have originated elsewhere? These questions are paramount in investigation of ancient watery environments that may have been habitats in the search for  early life on Mars.

Although few doubt that Mars had flowing water in its past, there has been significant debate as to how persistent these flows were; whether they were driven by precipitation or melting of groundwater during impacts and how extensive and persistent standing bodies  of water were during Mars early Noachian history. There are also debates as to whether Mars ever had a full-fledged ocean.

There is now extensive evidence of meandering channels and deltas associated with Noachian-age crater lake deltas such as found in the  Eberswalde and  Jezero craters where Perserverance is about to begin exploring. The Eberswalde delta shows clear evidence of meandering streams feeding a series of delta lobes that record a complex history of migration, avulsion and bifurcation, suggestive of a crater lake that may have existed for thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Jezero channels are straighter and may indicate a shorter-lived systems.

Evidence from Gale crater also supports water-laid sediments,  and features that resemble stromatolites have been found that are similar to the earliest forms of prokaryotic life on early earth.  This supports the hypothesis that early Mars was both warmer and wetter during the Noachian and contained watery habitats that are now being investigated for evidence of possible extinct Martian life.

You can join us in the meeting on Zoom here:

Rolling Out My Heavy Telescope

Check out Danny Sklazeski’s presentation on how he modified his telescope to roll out of his storage shed to facilitate viewing:

Explore the Universe Challenge 2021

At 7:00 PM, 2021 March 12, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presented the Explore the Universe Challenge. Sunshine Coast Member Charles Ennis introduced the RASC’s Explore the Universe Program and taught viewers how to find the objects in the Spring viewing portion of the program. Later this year Charles will come back on Zoom to teach the Summer, Fall, and Winter segments.

The RASC Explore the Universe program (awarded since 2002) is aimed at the novice visual astronomer. Those who complete the program may apply for a certificate and pin—this is open to all, RASC members and non-members alike. This program will:

  • Stimulate an interest in observational astronomy.
  • Introduce good observing practices and techniques.
  • Provide an introduction to all aspects of visual astronomy including stars and constellations, lunar, Solar System, deep sky, double stars, and some optional activities, including variable stars.
  • One of the special features of this program is that it can be completed entirely using binoculars and the unaided eye. 

NOTE: If you choose to use a telescope, automatic (GoTo) functions are not to be used.

A choice of objects is provided so that you can start the program at any time of the year and easily complete the requirements in three to six months time.

Want to get started? Download the Explore the Universe program requirementsand start your observing program today! All you need to do is find half of the 110 objects on the program list.

Téléchargez le programme Explorez l’Univers en français et débutez vos observations dès aujourd’hui.

If you are looking for a guide to getting started, consider purchasing the Explore the Universe Guide (2nd Edition) in the RASC store.

Here is a PDF of the presentation:

Check out the presentation here:

Speaker for 12 February: Simran Nerval

At 7:00 PM, 2021 February 12, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presented Cosmologist Simran Nerval, whose topic was “Spacetime Fluctuations from the Early Universe.” Simran explained the cosmic microwave background (CMB), motivated why we think inflation happened, explained what inflation is, explained what gravitational waves are and how inflation causes them, and how we can detect these gravitational waves in the CMB as well as directly with gravitational wave experiments like LIGO and LISA.

Simran Nerval is a master’s student at Queen’s University and a researcher with the McDonald Institute studying theoretical cosmology. She studies gravitational wave production during the expansion of the early universe. Before coming to Queen’s, she did her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in physics and astronomy. While she was there, she was a part of the LiteBIRD collaboration and worked with the Canadian Space Agency to figure out how well the LiteBIRD satellite with be able to determine what occurred during the earliest moments of the universe. Alongside her research, she spends time doing a variety of science outreach for events ranging from organizing virtual classroom visits for Let’s Talk Science to running a virtual national symposium on astrophysics for high school students.

We Have A YouTube Channel!

We’ve just started a YouTube channel to share presentations by astrophysicists, cosmologists, etc. that have done presentations for our club over the years as well as our popular “Skies This Month” by Bruce Fryer. Here’s the link:

Speakers for 8 January 2021: Michael Bradley & Richard Mitchell

At 7:00 PM, 2021 January 8, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presented Michael Bradley and Richard Mitchell of the RASC Sunshine Coast Centre, whose topic was “The Sun is Awakening: How Can We View It?”

Michael setting up to view the Mercury transit of the Sun in 2019

Contact Information: 

Check out the Sunshine Coast RASC site at: for contact and schedule information.

Helping Harry

The Sunshine Coast Centre is helping Harry Andinda in Kabale, Uganda, realize his dream of one day working in astrophysics. We’ve mailed him a telescope and given him a membership in the RASC. If you’d like to help Harry achieve his dream, contact us at We’ll be telling you his story in more detail in the upcoming issue of SkyNews Magazine, the RASC’s astronomy publication.

Speaker for December 2020: Don Hladiuk

Don at a Falcon Heavy launch

On December 11 at 7PM Pacific Time, join us and our guest speaker Don Hladiuk as Don shares his experiences as an observer and expedition leader chasing some of the more dynamic events we can observe from planet Earth. Don will focus on the significance of space debris impacting our atmosphere and the visceral experience of standing in the shadow of the Moon during a total solar eclipse, as he has done 15 times.

Don was born, raised and educated in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a BSc (Hons) degree in Earth Science in 1979.

Until 2016, Don worked as a geologist in the energy industry. He is an avid amateur astronomer and has twice been President of the Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Since 1984, Don can be heard on the CBC morning show “the Calgary EyeOpener” where he shares recent space science news. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Don was an enrichment lecturer on a Hurtigruten ship off the coast of Norway for Road Scholar’s “Astronomy Above the Arctic Circle” program. He has been an expedition leader for solar eclipse tours all over the globe and has seen 15 Total Solar Eclipses, three annular eclipses and two rare Venus Transits. Don has asteroid 73704 named after him for his many years of community service. In November 2020 he was nominated to become a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Use this link to join our Zoom Meeting;

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