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Yearly Archives: 2020

We Have A YouTube Channel!

We’ve just started a YouTube channel to share presentations by astrophysicists, cosmologists, etc. that have done presentations for our club over the years as well as our popular “Skies This Month” by Bruce Fryer. Here’s the link:

Speakers for 8 January 2021: Michael Bradley & Richard Mitchell

At 7:00 PM, 2021 January 8, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presented Michael Bradley and Richard Mitchell of the RASC Sunshine Coast Centre, whose topic was “The Sun is Awakening: How Can We View It?”

Michael setting up to view the Mercury transit of the Sun in 2019

Contact Information: 

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

Helping Harry

The Sunshine Coast Centre is helping Harry Andinda in Kabale, Uganda, realize his dream of one day working in astrophysics. We’ve mailed him a telescope and given him a membership in the RASC. If you’d like to help Harry achieve his dream, contact us at We’ll be telling you his story in more detail in the upcoming issue of SkyNews Magazine, the RASC’s astronomy publication.

Speaker for December 2020: Don Hladiuk

Don at a Falcon Heavy launch

On December 11 at 7PM Pacific Time, join us and our guest speaker Don Hladiuk as Don shares his experiences as an observer and expedition leader chasing some of the more dynamic events we can observe from planet Earth. Don will focus on the significance of space debris impacting our atmosphere and the visceral experience of standing in the shadow of the Moon during a total solar eclipse, as he has done 15 times.

Don was born, raised and educated in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a BSc (Hons) degree in Earth Science in 1979.

Until 2016, Don worked as a geologist in the energy industry. He is an avid amateur astronomer and has twice been President of the Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Since 1984, Don can be heard on the CBC morning show “the Calgary EyeOpener” where he shares recent space science news. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Don was an enrichment lecturer on a Hurtigruten ship off the coast of Norway for Road Scholar’s “Astronomy Above the Arctic Circle” program. He has been an expedition leader for solar eclipse tours all over the globe and has seen 15 Total Solar Eclipses, three annular eclipses and two rare Venus Transits. Don has asteroid 73704 named after him for his many years of community service. In November 2020 he was nominated to become a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Use this link to join our Zoom Meeting;

Speaker for November 2020: Theresa Fisher

At 7:00 PM, 2020 November 13, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents astrobiologist Theresa Fisher from Arizona State University, whose topic is “Next Generation Biosignatures for Exoplanets: A Network Approach.”

UPDATE: If you have questions for Tessa, you can reach her on Twitter at spacermace or at her podcast: Assigned Scientist at Bachelor’s

Speaker for 9 October: Arif Babul

At 7:00 PM, 2020 October 9, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Arif Babul, whose topic is Probing the Large-Scale Structure of the Universe Using Galaxy Clusters.

Cosmic structures in the universe span a broad range of masses, from dwarf galaxies at the one end of the spectrum to clusters of galaxies at the other.    Clusters of galaxies, the focus on Arif’s talk, are the largest, most massive gravitationally bound objects in the Universe.  They are also the most recent of the cosmic objects to form.   In currently accepted model for the formation of cosmic structure, the increase in the number density of galaxy clusters (i.e., the number of clusters per unit volume) over the recent past, cosmologically speaking of course, depends sensitively on the parameters describing the large-scale geometry and the expansion history of the universe. For this reason, galaxy clusters are regarded as important cosmological probes.    Using clusters as such, however, is not straightforward.  For example, we need to be able to “weigh” them.   Here, Arif will discuss what “weighing them” entails, explain some of the challenges involved,  highlight new insights that Arif and his collaborators were able to bring to the problem, and describe what the resulting cosmological analysis yielded.    One intriguing outcome is that values of the  parameters describing our universe are subtly but non-trivially different from those derived from the cosmic microwave background.   More intriguingly,  this tension may be hinting at new physics.   Arif will speculate about what these might be.  

Use this link to join our Zoom Meeting:

Speaker for 11 September: Charles Ennis

At 7 PM on 11 September, 2020, the Sunshine Coast Centre will feature a presentation on Ancestor’s Skies by Charles Ennis, 1st Vice President of the RASC. The meeting will take place on Zoom.

Most people in the Western world have a very basic knowledge of the 88 constellations used by modern astronomers. Charles Ennis, co-host of Eastlink TV’s Night Lights astronomy show and host of the Bravo short documentary Starry Nights, will introduce you to where these constellations came from. Charles will then show you how the ancients from many cultures around the World viewed the night skies and how those views can give you a whole new perspective on the universe.


We’ll also have our popular Skies This Month presentation by Bruce Fryer and a visit from RASC Executive Director Phil Groff.

Use this link to join our Zoom Meeting:


Speaker for July: Dr. Rob Thacker

Rob+Thacker+copyAt 7:00 PM, 2020 July 10 12, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Rob Thacker, whose topic is: Computing the Cosmos.

Modern supercomputers allow astronomers and astrophysicists to create digital simulations of entire universes of unprecedented size and accuracy. These “virtual universes” can also be tuned to obey a different set of Laws of Physics. What might our Universe have looked like under different sets of physical laws? Using digitally created movies and images from these simulations, Dr. Thacker will explore how these techniques work, review spectacular progress that has resulted from these techniques, and examine what future research can tell us.

Admission is free. Use the link below to join the meeting:

Online Speaker for June 12: Dr. Jess McIver


At 7:00 PM, 2020 June 12, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Jessica McIver, whose topic is: Spacetime, black holes, and cosmic collisions! Sensing gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO.

The Advanced LIGO detectors measure gravitational waves (GWs), tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime emitted by accelerating mass. Kilometer-scale interferometers like LIGO can decode the signature of highly energetic systems that are otherwise hidden from us in the dark of deep space. In just four years, GWs have already revealed 11 black hole collisions and two neutron star mergers, one with a spectacular light counterpart signal.

Dr. McIver will summarize what General Relativity, spacetime, and gravitational waves can tell us about the Universe. She will discuss the technology of laser interferometers like Advanced LIGO and how we’re able to sense incredibly small spacetime fluctuations induced by GWs. She will also give an overview of the results from the past LIGO-Virgo observing run, and prospects for the future of gravitational wave astronomy.

Admission is free.

The link for the meeting is:

In Memoriam: Scott Harlow


Scott doing solar observing with a hydrogen alpha scope at the Botanical Gardens in Sechelt

Scott Harlow joined our Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC in September 2011. Scott served on the Board of our Centre as a member at large, librarian and “quartermaster” from 2013 to 2019. Scott almost always was the first person arriving at the venue for the Centre’s monthly meetings, setting up chairs, managing the registration table at the door to greet guests and receive donations, and after the meeting putting things away and running around with a vacuum to do cleanup. He was the last out of the building. Scott manned the information booth at all outreach events (until 2019 when his health forced him to stand down), handing out materials and fielding questions. Scott attended all observatory events: He usually was the first at the gate at opening and was the one putting out the traffic cones and barricades and helping roll back the observatory roof. Scott lived closest to the observatory, and was our “eye on the sky” to advise us if the weather was going to permit us to open the observatory for viewing: He posted frequent e mails updating members on sky conditions on viewing nights. Scott went all around Sechelt every month on foot putting up promotional posters for Centre events. He came to all the work parties at the observatory. He attended every monthly Astro Café meeting. From 2011 to 2019 he monitored membership and contacted members to remind them to renew their membership. Scott received donations of telescopes, etc. for our Centre through his workplace, the Shell station in Wilson Creek. I fully intended to put in an application next year to the Awards Committee recommending him for a Service Award, as he would have had the required 10 years of service to qualify by then.


Scott manning the information booth at Canada Day

Scott did all this volunteer work while dealing with diabetes, which regularly resulted in serious blood sugar monitoring issues which escalated in recent months. Scott knew that his eyesight was degenerating (he’d inherited a condition from his mother) and that eventually he’d not be able to do any more viewing, and I’m sure this pushed him to do as much astronomical viewing in the time that he had and work through his medical issues.


Scott staining at the observatory

On 6 May 2020, Scott passed away. At this time we do not have any information suggesting this was related to Covid 19: Scott was certainly at risk with his medical conditions but the frequency of interventions had accelerated in recent months and in recent weeks Scott had succumbed to several seizures at work. Scott clearly went into a diabetic coma and this time help did not get there soon enough. Scott was a pillar of our astronomy community, and always had a smile and a good word for everyone. This is incredibly sad news. He will be missed by us all.


Scott observing the night skies at our observatory