Sunshine Coast Centre RASC

Home » 2016 » March

Monthly Archives: March 2016

Star Badges for Girl Guides: 30 March

photo 1Sechelt Girl Guides attended our SCC Observatory on Wednesday, 30 March with their parents for a viewing session to qualify for their star badges. They viewed Jupiter and its moons, double stars, and M42.

M42 Snapshot

M42_SNAP20On Tuesday, 29 March, after doing drift alignments on the SCC Observatory telescope, David Thompson and Mike Bradley took a few short exposure images of M42 with a DSLR camera through the observatory scope. This was the first image taken through the new scope (20 seconds duration, no stacking), and while focusing could have been tighter, Mike thinks it gives a good idea of the potential of the equipment.

Astro Cafe: 15 April


Astro Cafe will convene at Pier 17 in Davis Bay at 7:30 PM on Friday, 15 April, 2016. Public are welcome!  We’ll have coffee and weather permitting will take our telescopes out to the south end of the seawall for public viewing.

Public Viewing SCC Observatory: 9 April

We will be having a public viewing session at the SCC Observatory on Saturday, April 9, 2016, at 8:00 PM (weather permitting). The SCC Observatory is at the Sechelt Airport: entrance is at the gate at the top of Field Rd where you will see this sandwich board sign:

IMG_1901 sign

Check out our Observatory page for more information on the SCC Observatory. Please, no food or drinks and only use red light flashlights to preserve viewer’s night vision. No pets or laser pointers please: They are prohibited by Transport Canada regulations for this airfield. We will update this post on 9 April to advise whether the weather will permit us to open that night.

UPDATE 8 April: The forecast is looking very promising for the viewing session tomorrow!

UPDATE 9 April: The skies are looking good for the viewing session tonight. See you all at the observatory!


Observatory Update: Drift Alignment

On 18 March, David Thompson and I returned to the observatory to verify last months handset based, polar alignment. We used the classic Drift Alignment method using stars at E/W extremes and south/meridian extremes. In this method the mount is slewed in an easterly direction for 60 seconds and then westerly for the same time. If properly polar aligned, an equatorial mount should return the star to the exact same spot in an eyepiece. At one time eyepieces with crosshairs were used for this but today cameras make the process a lot easier, and let you record the results. We connected a DSLR directly to the scope visual-back using the Celestron adapter, we did this to eliminate any misalignment that a poorly collimated diagonal may have introduced.


Drift alignment photo from the SCC Observatory: Flat line indicates perfect alignment

In the attached image the bright spot was the starting position where we held the star for 5 seconds, the light trail is the trail marked out as the star was slewed 60 seconds in each direction. The outward trace and the inward trace completely overlap one another indicating a very close alignment, a narrow horizontal V shape would have indicated misalignment. It would have been better if we’d had better “seeing” as the sharper the star image the more precise the information the test gives about the accuracy of the alignment. Still, we were very happy with the results we got!

Mike Bradley


We brought members of the public up to the observatory after Mike and David finished the drift alignment and had a great viewing session as the clouds opened up to give us a view of the sky. They got a glimpse of the moon, Jupiter and its moons, the Orion Nebula, and the double star Mizar/Alcor.

Charles Ennis

Coyote Science Update

In the end, due to the production team’s scheduling issues, the episode “Big Bang” of the Coyote Science show being filmed for APTN was filmed at the Rolling Earth Farm in Roberts Creek during the day using “Hollywood magic” to simulate night time, rather than doing a night shoot at the SCC Observatory.


Mike with his solar scope and some of the film crew in the background

Mike Bradley set up solar scopes and was filmed with some teen aged First Nations actors looking at solar flares.


Director Nathaniel giving the crew and actors instructions

Meanwhile Charles Ennis and another two teen aged actors simulated a night viewing session. The whole process took several hours and the producers thanked us for helping them make this science show become a reality.


Filming some closeups of the First Nations actors by the telescope

8 April 2016- Dr. Catherine Johnson: The InSight Mission

dr. Catherine Johnson

At 7:30 PM, 8 April 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast Centre welcomes Dr. Catherine Johnson from UBC, whose topic will be The InSight Mission: Journey to the Center of Mars

Orbital and lander missions to Mars over the past several decades have revealed a wealth of information about the planet’s surface geology and raised many unanswered questions about the planet’s past climate conditions. Key to answering many of these questions is understanding the planet’s deep interior, about which we know very little. Mars’ interior is also a fingerprint for the earliest stages of evolution of any of the terrestrial (rocky) planets in the inner solar system. The InSight mission, planned for launch in 2018, will deploy a seismometer, a heat flow probe and several other instruments on the surface of Mars. I will talk about how InSight will monitor the Red Planet’s “vital signs” – “pulse” (seismicity), “temperature” (heat flow) and “reflexes” (wobbles) – to determine Mars’ interior structure and evolution.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.