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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Earth Hour: March 28, 8:30 PM


Earth Hour is a global environmental movement of WWF that mobilises hundreds of millions of people to make a difference for the planet. Its core vision is to create environmental impact by utilising the power of the crowd. Every March, Earth Hour celebrates the symbolic “lights off ” hour which has grown from a one city initiative to a mass global event involving more than 162 countries and 7000 cities and towns. The movement is collectively supported by millions of individuals, organisations and governments. In 2014, Earth Hour embarked on the most exciting stage of its evolution to be at the forefront of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing for the planet, called Earth Hour Blue. Together we can turn the inspiration of one hour into the actions of every hour.

Earth Hour began seven years ago in Sydney, Australia, out of a hope that people could make a stand against climate change. The hour of inspiration would be a moment where people can gather together to protect the planet regardless of age, gender, culture or religion. Little did they know that it would kick start a global revolution for people to take action on climate change, or that the act of turning off our lights for an hour would become an iconic symbol of people’s concern to protect the planet. As of 2014, it has grown to become the world’s largest mass participation event in history. However, Earth Hour was not created to just switch off the lights. It is part of a three part process:

Stage 1: Bring people together through a symbolic hour long event.

Stage 2: Galvanize people into taking action beyond the hour

Stage 3: Create an interconnected global community sharing the mutual goal of creating a sustainable future for the planet.

Check out the official Earth Hour website at:

Binocular Sub Group Report: 21 February

James MacWilliam

James MacWilliam

Hi Starchasers

Saturday’s Airport observing saw near perfect conditions – I could have rated them ‘perfect’ but my fingers were frozen to my Bino’s (binoculars).

When we setup, The Pleiades was rising in the East and when we departed some five hours later it was setting in the West.

I found the 10×50 Bino’s ideal for sweeping up objects like The Andromeda Galaxy and The Comet
I finally understand why The Galactic Clusters in Auriga (M36, M37, M38) are called ‘Galactic Clusters’ – in wide bino’s FOV (field of view) that’s exactly what they look like.
In fact M81 and M82 which are near the edge of visibility in my 10×50’s look just like the Auriga Clusters at 10x power.

Scott took a closer look at these objects with the 15×70’s on a tripod and Neil gave us some close up views of The Whale Galaxy and M13 Globular Cluster in Hercules in the Big Dob.

The highlight for me was looking for and finding Kemble’s Cascade – which has now been renamed (after some doughnut munching communication issues in the dark) to ‘Campbell’s Cascade’ – that familiar Scottish Cluster!  In the wide bino FOV this is a striking sight, like water splashing down an invisible heavenly staircase.

Just behind that in spectacle was ‘The Engagement Ring’.  I have seen this on Astrophotos but normally telescopic views are too narrow field to show it. It is a string of stars joined together by The North Star Polaris which forms the Diamond in ‘The Diamond Ring’. A striking sight in wide field bino’s.

Another object of note is ‘The Big S’ in Orion. Its a lazy string of stars that join Mintaka (the rightmost star in Orion’s Belt) with Alnilam (the middle star in the belt). You need a wide FOV to see this.

Gary Seronik’s ‘Binocular Highlights’ proved superb for finding objects – he plots them all on an easy finder chart at the front of the book.

Friday’s Astro-Cafe proved a nice warm up for the main feast of Stars on Saturday night.

Next outing – come early to make sure we have room at the observing site.

Clear skies!

James MacWilliam
RASC Sunshine Coast Centre

Lovejoy Update

Lovejoy 22 February

Lovejoy 22 February

Comet Lovejoy c2014/Q2 continues to impress. On Sunday night I tracked it for 2 hours taking a series of 7 second exposures on my Mallincam. Each image was separated by 2 minutes. I then stacked the 60 images using the comet as the reference. The result showing the star trails around a nice comet core is attached.

Mike Bradley

Videos Uploaded

I just uploaded links to videos of past presentations by Dr. Aaron Boley and Dr. Jaymie Matthews as well as an interview with Dr. Ingrid Stairs to the Past Presentations page. Enjoy!

Dr. Jaymie Matthews

Dr. Jaymie Matthews

Aaron Boley

Aaron Boley

Dr. Ingrid Stairs

Dr. Ingrid Stairs

Occultations and Eclipses

Jupiter and its 4 largest moons

Jupiter and its 4 largest moons

Did you know that a Solar Eclipse is not technically an eclipse but is an Occultation? An eclipse takes place when one body passed into the shadow of another as seen by an observer and an Occultation is when one passes in front of another…Lunar eclipse is correct because the moon passes through the earths shadow. So whats happening now is that Jupiter’s orbital plane is pointing directly at us so from our vantage point here on Earth we can observe Jupiter’s moons eclipse and occult each other. When one moon passes in front of the other we have an Occultation and when one moon passes into the shadow of another its an eclipse… The next visible event is this Sunday the 15th at 11:23 and again at 11:43 pm.

You can find a complete table of moon events here at:

click here for general info on eclipses and occultations:

clear skies!

Neil Sandy
member Sunshine Coast Centre RASC

Night Lights Update

Our Night Lights TV show on Eastlink Coast Cable is being uploaded to the On Demand system this week and hopefully will be available by the end of the week. Steve Sleep of Coast Cable informs us that it will be upconverted to HD. We submitted topics for the second season and will start filming in April.

working on the first episodes of our TV show

working on the first episodes of our TV show

Speaker for March 13, 2015: Dr. Chris Pritchet


Our speaker for March is Dr. Chris Pritchet, is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Victoria. Chris studies supernovae -explosions of stars that are visible across the Universe. Outside astronomy, his passions are music, canoeing, back-country skiing, and film.

Chris’ topic is Supernovae and the Mystery of Dark Energy:

The Universe is filled with a mysterious energy that causes it to expand at an ever increasing rate. The nature of this “dark energy”(not to be confused with dark matter) is completely unknown, andrepresents perhaps the greatest challenge to face Physics andAstronomy in the past century. Canada and France leadthe world in the quest to understand dark energy, thanks to our largetelescopes in Hawaii and Chile. These telescopes are used to discoverlarge numbers of faint, very distant supernova explosions, whose lighthas been travelling across space for more than half of the age of theUniverse. From these supernovae, it is possible to probe the geometryof the Universe, and detect the signature of dark energy (a small butsignificant dimming of light), with a precision that has never beforebeen attained. In this talk, Chris will focus on the telescopes that make this projectpossible, and a simple picture of how our observations measure andconstrain dark energy.