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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.

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.


Coyote Science at the SCC Observatory


Dear Members:

Cheyanna Kootenhayoo contacted me last week to ask for our Centre to assist them in filming an episode for a First Nations children’s science show for APTN: Coyote Science. This is described by them as an “Upbeat, Cultural, Educational Aboriginal Science Series 13 x 22 minute episodes | Interactive Digital Media Primary Audience: 9-12 years male and female


Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show is a leading edge science series that encourages Aboriginal youth to find out about the science of the world –from an Aboriginal perspective.  Featuring Aboriginal youth engaged in hands-on, accessible science, Coyote’s investigates how the world works, enhancing science literacy and promoting a life-long love of science and knowledge.

“Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show offers APTN’s youth audience a destination experience, consisting of a 13 -part series, interactive digital experience and community where real-life science is done by everyday Aboriginal youth, sharing their enthusiasm of learning.


Research has shown that when Indigenous children see their culture and knowledge reflected in their learning, they respond and excel. They see meaning and purpose in their education and look forward to learning. Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show offers a rich educational media environment for Indigenous children to experience Indigenous science knowledge.  Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show celebrates the genius of Indigenous knowledge and gives our youth the sense that they can be scientists in all fields –bringing their own Indigenous science knowledge to the practice of science, to help transform the foundations of technology and science in this world, while building strong Aboriginal communities and Nations.”

They will be filming their “Big Bang” astronomy episode at our SCC Observatory this coming Thursday evening, 17 March (exact time TBA). They’ll have 3 cast members, 2 youth, and 1 elder as well as a crew of 6 – 10 on site. I’ll be there to help run the observatory. Anyone else interested in assisting, please contact me ASAP!

Clear Skies, Charles Ennis

What’s the Best Night Vision Lighting for the Color Blind?

We had a discussion at the last board meeting about the best type of lighting for the observatory to preserve night vision. Our librarian Scott Harlow raised a concern that colour blindness may need to be addressed in our observatory low-level lighting set up. Some board members replied that they thought colour blindness was principally a problem of distinguishing colour accurately. They thought that even if a color blind person couldn’t distinguish color, they’d still see the lighted area. Scott responded:

“I agree with the comment of colour blindness reducing to discernment of colour, particularly red and green regions of the visible electromagnetic spectrum for a small but significant percentage of the male population, but only insofar as comfortable ambient light levels are concerned. However, it’s a different kettle of chromatic fish under conditions of low ambient lighting levels. If someone has issues discerning colour under ordinary diurnal conditions then I assert that in nocturnal environs if a bandwidth is employed at low intensity, and the viewer’s sensitivity is substandard in the utilized region, then the person so afflicted will not see as ably as one not so afflicted. As such there poses an increased risk of damage to people and property from inadequate illumination… My suggestion is that we employ low-intensity LED lighting that factors in the population suffering from sensitivity dropouts, whether amber LED frequencies best serve the purpose I don’t know….”

Dr. Bruce Woodburn, MD, FRCS (C), the director in charge of our Light Abatement efforts and a local ophthalmologist, looked into this and this is what he had to say:


“Scott is right. Amber light would provide functional ambient light, even for the ‘color blind’, without affecting dark adaptation. To understand the issues, a few points must be kept in mind.


“’Color’ is a sensory phenomenon that occurs in the brain after a huge amount of information processing by the visual system. It corresponds only approximately to the frequency distribution of light wavelengths entering the eye. Your plaid lumberjack shirt has the same colors at noon and dusk, viewed under very different lighting conditions. The same color can be produced by very different spectra, and one spectra can produce very different colors.


“The 3 color pigments in the cone receptors are called ‘red, green and blue’ but have wide, overlapping sensitivities. The green and red sensitivity curves overlap widely. When we ‘see green’, it’s not because the green receptors are stimulated and not the red. Rather, the green receptors are stimulated 30% more than the red and the visual system interprets this as pure green.


“’Color Blindness’ is a large group of disorders with many different causes. People with “color blindness” are seldom blind to colors, they just perceive them differently and have difficulty differentiating similar colors. The most common color blindness’s are red/green.


The majority of these ‘red/green color blind’ people have a defect in their red pigment so its absorption spectra is closer to green. They have difficulty differentiating red from green. They can see red and green traffic lights, but they appear the same color.


“A small proportion of patients (less than 1% of the population) have no functioning red pigment. Not only are they unable to differentiate colors, but they cannot see light in a small portion of the red spectrum where their green pigment has no sensitivity. A green traffic light appears normal, but a red light appears dark. These ‘Protanopes’ would be unable to see the red light illumination from a red LED, but would be able to see amber light.


“This makes more sense if you can look at absorption spectra of pigments and emission spectra of LED’s:


human vision


“Note: Rods (dashed black line) do not respond to red LED emission light. Hence dark adaptation is unaffected. Rods have a small response to orange LED emission, so red is preferable for the 99% of the population with normal red cone function.


“If you are interested in this stuff, read up on the evolution of colour pigments. When I was a kid, the received wisdom was that humans had the best colour visions, and ‘animals’ saw in black and white. Ridiculous.


“Colour vision was highly developed by the Jurassic Era. The early mammals had lost colour vision because they were nocturnal. When the dinosaurs were wiped out and daytime niches opened for the mammals to take over, colour vision evolved again from mutations in the mammals’ rod pigment. This can be deduced by the genetics of the pigments. However, mammals never got further than 3 color pigments, and poor performers at that. The red and green pigments are too close together, the green and blue too far apart and the blue misses out on long wavelength ultraviolet that non-mammalians can see. Even insects put us to shame in the colour perception department. Birds have 4 colour pigment, with a much better spread than our 3:


human vs animal vision

“In addition, some birds and insects can see the polarisation of light. This is an aid to navigation since polarization penetrates clouds dense enough to blot out the location of the sun.


“In summary, I think Scott’s position should be adopted. The club went to significant expense in building a wheel chair ramp to make the observatory disabled accessible We should install accessible orange lighting as well.”


Thanks for taking the time and effort to research this, Bruce! We’ll make every effort to make this lighting system functional for everyone.


Clear Skies, Charles Ennis, President.


The Sunshine Coast Centre will be offering re-loadable IGA MarketPlace cards at our next meeting. These may be re-loaded at any check out counter at all 40+ BC MarketPlace IGA stores. You can use any means of payment including your favourite credit card to collect points or miles. You can re-load between $10 and $500 each time and you can re-load the same card multiple times. You don’t have to be a member to claim one. Anyone can use these SCC Centre cards to make purchases. Give cards to grand parents, aunts, uncles and friends so they can start re-loading to help support our centre. Our Centre will automatically receive a 4% donation from MarketPlace IGA for every dollar re-loaded. No limitations-fundraise away!


WoodWorks! 2016

IMG_1043Our VP Mike Bradley attended the WoodWorks! 2016 awards ceremony in Vancouver at the Convention Centre Monday night. We didn’t win an award, but we certainly got noticed.