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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Annual Members BBQ

Centre President Mike Bradley and Past President Bill Clark with the new telescope

Centre President Mike Bradley and Past President Bill Clark with the new telescope unveiled at the 2013 bbq

Our annual members only barbecue will be held on at 2 PM on 17 August at Mike’s Housing Coop Meeting Rooms in Roberts Creek on 17 August 2014. We’ll have the club’s solar scope there for viewing sun spots and solar flares.

Gibsons Sea Cavalcade Report


Mike, Scott, and I set up and manned our RASC booth at Gibsons Sea Cavalcade today. We had the solar telescopes functioning by 9 AM in Winegarden Park and had 100 people view solar flares and sun spots before the Cavalcade officially opened at 10. The sky remained cloudless and the sun obliged with multiple flares and sunspots. By closing time at 4 PM a total of 465 people viewed the sun through our scopes. Thanks to Errol for dropping by and assisting and for James and Stephen for dropping by to visit. Check out the photos for this event here.

First Sandy Hook Star Party Report

IMG_1004Our first Sandy Hook Star Party was a success. James, Bill, Mike, Danny, and Scott joined me at Tot Park with solar scopes and telescopes. 50 people attended including 2 Japanese exchange students. We had a clear sky and got good views of Saturn and Mars. Check out more photos of the event here.


The Local Features Our Upcoming Astronomy in the Park

Our upcoming Astronomy in the Park event got some front page coverage in The Local in Sechelt this week featuring photos from our 2009 event. Here is a link to the article:

Speaker for October 2014: Dr. Ingrid Stairs

Dr. Ingrid Stairs

Dr. Ingrid Stairs

At 7:30 PM, 10 October, 2014, at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery, 431 Marine Drive, Gibsons, our speaker for the Sunshine Coast Chapter of the RASC will be Dr. Ingrid Stairs, a professor at UBC since 2002. Stairs graduated from McGill University in 1993 with Honours in Physics, got her Master’s Degree at Princeton University in 1995, and her Doctoral Degree at Princeton in 1998. Dr. Stairs was a postdoctoral fellow at the Jodrell Bank Observatory from 1998 – 2000 and a research associate at NRAO Green Bank in West Virginia from 2000 – 2002. Her awards include:
2010-2013 NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement
2002-2007 NSERC University Faculty Award
2000-2002 Jansky Research Associateship, NRAO
1998-2000 NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship
1993-1997 NSERC 1967 Scholarship
1993 Joseph Henry Award, Princeton University
Dr. Stair’s work involves the observation of radio pulsars and their companions, with a general theme of studying binary pulsar evolution, and with sidelines in such areas as pulsar instrumentation and polarimetry, and some observations at other wavelengths.
Pulsar Searches: Large-scale pulsar surveys are underway using the 305-m Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico and the 100-m Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Local computer clusters are doing part of the data reduction, looking for the next great “find.”
Pulsar Timing: Finding pulsars in surveys is only the first step in their study – the science comes out of long-term timing follow-up of these rapidly rotating neutron stars. Some of the particular objects Dr. Stairs follows include a young pulsar with a companion of 11 solar masses, for which she is trying to understand the orbital dynamics and the interaction between the two stars; a young pulsar that switches emission states; a “missing-link” pulsar/X-ray-binary system and several double-neutron-star binaries that allow stringent tests of general relativity. Dr. Stairs is also interested in trying to derive stellar masses and understand different evolutionary theories through long-term observations of pulsar–white dwarf binaries. A long-term goal, sought as part of the NANOGrav collaboration, is the direct detection of gravitational waves using multiple pulsars.

Dr. Stairs Topic for the October presentation will be:

A Pulsar with Two White-Dwarf Companions
Millisecond pulsars (MSPs) spin hundreds of times a second, emitting lighthouse-like beams of radio waves that we can monitor with large radio telescopes.  An MSP spins so fast because it has been “spun up” by an evolving companion star, and in fact the majority of MSPs have been found in binary systems with white dwarfs (which the companion stars eventually become).  Recently, we have found an MSP that is orbited by two white dwarfs instead of just one.  This system must have had a rather unusual evolution.  It allows for some precision work in a 3-body system, with the prospect of stringent tests of an aspect of Einstein’s theory of relativity.


Dr. Van Waerbeke is Our Speaker for September 2014

Dr. Ludo Van Waerbeke

Dr. Ludo Van Waerbeke

At 7:30 PM, 12 September, 2014, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, our speaker for the Sunshine Coast Chapter of the RASC will be Dr Ludo Van Waerbeke, an associate professor at UBC and a senior fellow of the Canadian Institute for advanced Research in the Cosmology and Gravity Program. Dr. Van Waerbeke will be speaking about Dark Matter and Dark Energy. The study of the universe is stumbling upon two mysteries: it is made of 5% of normal matter, 20% of an unknown type of matter, dark matter and for 75% of a puzzling form if energy, dark energy. Normal matter can be seen with traditional observational techniques that capture light at all possible wavelength with all kinds of telescopes. Dark matter can be detected indirectly with the gravitational lensing effect. The effect of dark energy can only be measured on the expansion rate of the Universe. Using a combination of observations of normal and dark matter and dark energy, Dr. Van Waerbeke’s research is a quest for a better understanding of the Universe and its fundamental laws, the large scale structures, galaxy clusters and galaxy formation.

Observatories in Prague

Observatory clock in Prague

Observatory clock in Prague

Errol in front of the Stefank Observatory

Errol in front of the Stefank Observatory


Last September one of our newer members, Errol Lipschitz, sent a couple of photographs from his current trip to Prague. Scott, our librarian, thought the pictures may be of interest so he forwarded them to the rest of us for the sake of everyone’s interest. He also provided a couple of links for further information on the subjects of said photographs. Scott found the Stefanik Observatory bit interesting, if for no other reason than a seemingly philosophically kindred spirit with our club concerning public outreach.

Public Astronomy Presentation, Gibson’s Public Library: 3 September 2014

4IMG_0934From 6 PM to 7:30 PM, Wednesday, 3 September, our Centre will be doing a presentation on Amateur Astronomy at the Gibson’s Public Library at 470 South Fletcher Road in Gibsons. Following the presentation we’ll have the solar scopes out to view solar flares and sun spots.

Observatory News

As of July 4th David reports that we’ve got the rubber mats for the observatory floor. Adrian is finalizing plans for the access ramp and deck and arranging for Pete to finish the roof flashings. David and Mike have been working on the wiring for the scope and solar panels.
The scope has been tested on its mount and the crew is working out the winch mechanism for retracting the roof.

telescope for the observatory on its mount for the first time

telescope for the observatory on its mount for the first time

Sechelt Botanical Garden Harvest Festival: 31 August 2014

solar scopes at the 2013 Botanical Garden Harvest Festival

solar scopes at the 2013 Botanical Garden Harvest Festival













From 11 AM to 4 PM on Sunday, 31 August our Centre will have our solar scopes and an information booth at the Sechelt Botanical Garden Harvest Festival ( We were at this event last year. Come check out the solar flares and sun spots with us!