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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Bravo Said Yes!


You may recall that last February Dodie Graham-McKay and I submitted a proposal to the Bravo Network for a 15 minute documentary with the working title “Starry Nights”. Bravo contacted us two days ago to give us the green light! The announcement was posted on Real Screen here. In the next few weeks Dodie will be coming out to work on this with me as well as to fine tune the final proposal for the other project for Telus Optik.

Clear Skies!

Charles Ennis, SCC President

Speaker for June: Dr. Jim Hesser


Dr. Jim Hesser

At 7:30 PM, 10 June 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, our speaker will be Dr. James Hesser, FRASC. Dr. Hesser was the RASC’s Honorary President (2009-2013) and former Director of the NRC Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO). Dr. Hesser is past president of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Dr. Hesser is past vice-president of the American Astronomical Society. He is recipient of numerous awards, including, most recently, the RASC’s Qilak Award for his “outstanding contribution to public appreciation and understanding of Astronomy” and is a Fellow of the RASC. He was one of the first to receive the prestigious Michael Smith award, given by NSERC Canada to recognize those who inspire through the promotion of science to the general public. Dr. Hesser was the first recipient of the Newton-Ball Award, Victoria Centre’s own service award (2001). Dr. Hesser has been awarded the National Research Council’s W. G. Schneider Medal for his inspiring decades-long contribution to the pursuit of excellence in Canadian government astronomy, both as a productive researcher, and as the Director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory for nearly three decades (1986-2014). The award also recognizes Jim’s committed advocacy of astronomy as a integral part of our broader cultural life, both here and abroad.

Dr. Hesser’s topic will be: “Centenary-eve Reflections on the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory’s Role in the Development of Canadian Astronomical Excellence”


The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich: 98 years old!

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Contact Information:

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

Sunshine Coast RASC President Charles Ennis:

e mail: cuhulain@

phone 778-458-2666

2016 General Assembly: 19 – 23 May in London

I attended the 2016 General Assembly of the RASC between 19 – 23 May, which this year was held in conjunction with the 2016 AstroCats trade show in London, Ontario, at Fanshawe College.


National Council meeting at the 2016 GA

As the new National Secretary, I had many meetings to attend, including several national board meetings, including an election of officers, two national advisory council meetings, the Annual General Meeting, and the annual awards banquet. I spent many hours meeting members from RASC Centres across Canada outside of these formal meetings to discuss issues important to the society and share ideas. I was particularly impressed with this year’s National Council meeting, which involved break out sessions to work on the new Strategic Plan. Everyone who participated commented on what a great session that was. The results are being forwarded to the strategic plan task force who will present a draft strategic plan for 2017 – 2019 at the next national council meeting this coming October.

The first new publication published by the RASC since they created the RASC Calendar was my book Building a Small Observatory, which was on sale for the first time at the AstroCats trade show. Sales were brisk and we just about sold out the books brought to the show. The list of prizes donated by the various astronomical vendors at the show was extremely impressive, and many attendees left with telescopes, cameras, software, and other prizes.


Building a Small Observatory was published in time for the 2016 GA and is now available on the RASC web site


The RASC booth at the 2016 AstroCats show

I had a chance to meet Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who came to visit us at the RASC booth.


CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen with RASC National Secretary Charles Ennis

The next General Assembly will be held in Ottawa on the weekend of Canada Day, which marks the 150th anniversary of Canada as well as the Ottawa Centre. I hope that some of our members will go with me to this event. We’re looking for a national representative for our centre and the RASC will pay 80% of the cost of registration, accomodations, and travel. If you’re interested, please contact me.

Charles Ennis, National Secretary and SCC President




Science Odyssey and International Astronomy Day


visitor viewing the Mercury transit from the deck of the SCC Observatory 9 May

Yesterday was International Astronomy Day and the second to last day of Science Odyssey, which runs from 6 – 15 May. We had 5 viewing sessions at our SCC Observatory including a double shadow transit of Jupiter and the transit of Mercury. We had Steve Mairs from U Vic come to speak to us about star formation. Steve visited the SCC Observatory last night for our viewing session for Astronomy Day and spent about an hour chatting with youth who came to view the Moon and Jupiter. Although last night was less than ideal viewing conditions we still got some viewing done and had 17 people show up to view the skies.

Coyote Science Returns


I spent 6 hours at Dreamberry Studios in Roberts Creek on the set of APTN’s Coyote Science show helping them film the green screen segments for the beginnings and ends of the various episodes. We were helping them back in March when we posted this story. The director required telescopes and astronomical equipment for the set which we provided. Later some of the crew came up to the SCC Observatory to take a look.


setting up the ‘green screen’ set which will allow the producers to insert live animations and video into the background later

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Getting the actor playing the part of Coyote into costume

Transit of Mercury Report: 9 May


Families waiting to view the transit of Mercury

Mike Bradley and I were up at the SCC Observatory at 5:30 AM to open up and several members of the public were there at first light to view the transit of Mercury. The transit, which began at 4:12 AM before the sun rose, was in progress as the sun cleared the trees. Steve Sleep from Coast Cable showed up to do interviews and film the action.


Steve getting video footage of us getting video footage of the tranist

By the time the day was over we’d had 10 of our members, 1 Vancouver Centre member, and 21 members of the public drop by to view the transit. Mike and Danny got photos and Mike got some video of the event as well.


Many members brought their own solar scopes

We collected $114 in donations during the event.


That round dot on the lower left is Mercury. Photo by Mike Bradley

Charles Ennis, President

Deep Sky Poster Contest

Our Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC invites youth on the Sunshine Coast to dazzle us with their artistic creativity and scientific knowledge. We will be holding a poster contest for youth. The theme for this poster contest is the Deep Sky and should depict the wonders that can be viewed with telescopes in our skies above the Sunshine Coast. Posters should not be smaller than 8.5 X 11 inches. The original contest deadline was 15 July, but we’ve extended the contest deadline to August 10th. The awards will be handed out at the Starlight Coast Star Party on August 20th at the SCC Observatory. The winning posters will be posted on the SCC web site. Prizes include:

  • Age 9 years or less category: Celestron 76mm (3 inch) Firstscope reflector telescope kit suitable for this age group to view planets.
  • Age 10 years to 18 years category: Meade 76mm (3 inch) Jupiter reflector telescope kit suitable for this age group to engage in beginner’s astronomy.
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Prize for 9 years and younger category.

Winners of both categories will also be invited to the Deep Sky Party to view the skies using our SCC Observatory telescope.

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Prize for 10 – 18 years category

Posters can be dropped off at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre 5714 Medusa Street,  which is open Wed through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4pm , Sunday 1-4 p.m, or at the Gibsons Public Library, which is open  Monday 12:30 – 4:30, Tues –Sat 10-5:30, Wed 10-7:30, or dropped off or mailed to 5902 Skookumchuk Rd, Sechelt, BC, V0N 3A4. We don’t have a monthly meeting in July or August due to the summer holidays, so it isn’t possible to drop the posters off at a meeting at this time of year.

Please include your name, age and contact information with your Entry and indicate that it is for the Astronomy Poster Contest.

Contact Information:

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

Sunshine Coast RASC President Charles Ennis:

e mail: cuhulain@

phone 778-458-2666

Viewing Sessions to Launch Science Odyssey

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Charles setting up the observatory for viewing

Thursday night Scott, Bruce W, and I went up to the SCC Observatory and spent several hours viewing Jupiter and other wonders of the night sky. The viewing conditions were very good.

Friday morning, 6 May, David and Mike went up to the observatory and mounted the new Antares guide scope on the side of the main optical tube assembly of the SCC Observatory.

Friday night, the official opening of Science Odyssey (6 – 15 May), 8 club members set up their telescopes outside the observatory and I opened the SCC Observatory to view the double shadow transit of Jupiter. members all noted that seeing was challenging and, as James put it: “Members dug in among buffeting winds (albeit warm winds) to peer into The Jovian atmosphere.” David modeled the transit using astronomy software and was able to show us the shadow position to look for. We spotted Callisto’s shadow on Jupiter and Io transiting first with the observatory telescope, the shadow skirting the north polar region about 9 PM, with the Great Red Spot crossing the central meridian. The Antares scope proved to be lined up well with the OTA.

James reports:

“Neil carried out scientific research on the light pass of several different 2″ diagonals and we had opportunity to compare the views in James 11″ SCT Service Scope and Neil’s Shiny new 8” SCT with fresh Starbright XLT Coatings from the Celestron factory.

“We observed Jupiter and Moon’s, two shadow transits – there was a moon transit too not visible to us under the conditions –

Globular Clusters M3 and M13 – both beatifully resolved, Galaxies M82 (Neil),

M65, M66 (James ) and The Ring Nebula

Which appeared best in Neil 8” SCT.

“Just before departure Saturn and Mars arrived on the scene and we had tantalizing views of these distant world’s promising more detail to follow. We exited the Stargate at 12.50 am. A great night.”

Meanwhile Mike Bradley was photographing the event from his SunMoonStars Observatory:

“I could view the transit with my 5” Megrez and capture a movie for processing. Attached is the result from stacking 500 frames, taken at f20. As James said the seeing was not great and focus was hard to achieve. Thanks to the magic of stacking software the image isn’t too bad! The reddish cast to the image is because the camera has been modified for Hydrogen alpha, I’ll do some further processing to try to correct for this.”


Mike’s preliminary photo of the double transit


Members will be back up at the observatory Saturday night for viewing. The SCC Observatory will be open to the public from sunrise on Monday, 9 May, for the transit of Mercury, which will last until 1140 AM.

Charles Ennis, President


Deep Sky Star Party

On the weekend of July 29/31 we will have a deep sky viewing session at the SCC Observatory for members and invited guests only: This is not a public event. Members from all other RASC Centres are welcome: billets can be offered to visiting members, camping on site at the observatory optional. Attendance is by donation. Gates open at the observatory on Friday, 29 July at 5 PM to allow campers to set up. Gates will be closed Monday morning after all visitors have left. Our SCC Observatory is located at Sechelt Airport at the top of Field Rd and has wide open fields around it for camping, telescope set up, and parking. Please visit Our Observatory page for details. This event occurs two days away from the New Moon, so the sky will be excellent for viewing deep sky objects. Our Starry Nights film crew will be there to capture footage for our upcoming BravoFACTUAL documentary. Please contact our Sunshine Coast Centre if you are interested in attending.

e mail:

Phone: 778-458-2666

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Starlight Coast Star Party


dignitaries checking out the telescope once the roof was rolled back at the Grand Opening

This year we’re replacing our long running Astronomy in the Park event with a star party for the public at our SCC Observatory. This will occur Saturday, 20 August, from 1500 – midnight at the SCC Observatory. In daylight hours we’ll conduct tours of the SCC Observatory and will have solar telescopes set up for viewing solar flares and sun spots. The Rotary Club will have their concession trailer set up to serve refreshments, with all proceeds going to the SCC Observatory. As the sun sets we’ll switch over to viewing the night sky. If you haven’t yet come to see the skies at our SCC Observatory, you need to drop by and experience this. If you have, then you know you want to come back and see even more!