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Harry’s Sky

Harry Andinda, in Kabale, Uganda, whom you met in our YouTube interview in May has been busy observing using the telescope we sent him in December 2020. Harry tells us he has been observing Venus and its phases. On June 14 Harry had what he calls a “globular cluster marathon”, observing 4 globular clusters consecutively: M92, M80, M4 and M5. Harry loves that part of the sky around Sagittarius and Scorpius, which for him at this time of year is almost overhead at 1 am. So do I: There are a lot of things to see in that area. Harry’s got a better view of these than we do here on the Sunshine Coast of BC as for us they are close to the horizon, so we’re looking through 3 times as much atmosphere.

Harry at the eyepiece with a friend looking on

Harry was also observing Omega Centauri, the largest known globular cluster in our galaxy. He says it made him “hungry for globular clusters.” I wish I could see that, but I’m too far north!

He also found the Ring Nebula in Lyra, which is a favorite of mine. I’m encouraging him to try for the Dumbbell Nebula, Messier 27. It is nearby.

He tells me he is now hunting down Messier 31, the Andromeda galaxy. He missed it the other day because it rises very late.

On 16 June he sent me videos of him observing the moon shot using his phone camera. It’s hard to hold the camera steady by hand to take shots like this: He’s done quite well. Check out the details on YouTube here.

Some images of the planets I have taken over the past year from Sechelt using my 8″ Celestron SCT. They were stacked and then processed using wavelet decomposition.

Very welcome solar prominences!

I captured a few small prominences and an active region (2827) in H alpha last Thursday (June 1st). Atmospheric conditions were very good even though is was high noon. Images were taken with a PGI 1.3MP monochrome Chameleon on Lunt 60mm scope and then stacking 250 FITS images in AS3. This is a composite of 2 stacks, one prom, one surface. It’s nice to see the proms back again. Michael

Sunspot AR2824

This is a view of the sun in hydrogen alpha showing AR2824 taken on May 25. Also visible are a couple of loop prominences.

Sunspot AR2824

I took a look at the AR2824 sunspot today. Appearances can be deceptive, this small, peaceful looking sunspot is actually the one that has been so active recently, unleashing a sequence of solar flares unlike anything we’ve seen in years. In only 24 hours, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded 10 C-flares and 2 M-flares. The region was still active yesterday and made for an interesting sight in both Ha and white light. In the images the umbra and penumbra are clear with evidence of a light bridge and with lots of pores in the solar surface of the region. Get your solar scopes out and have a look while we have the chance – who knows, it may flare again.

Image was taken in Roberts Creek at 1300 May 22 with PGI Chameleon, Herschel Wedge, ED80, stacked with AS3.


Explore the Universe Challenge: Summer Targets

At 7:00 PM, 2021 June 11, online on Zoom, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presented the Explore the Universe Challenge. Sunshine Coast Member Charles Ennis introduced the RASC’s Explore the Universe Program and taught viewers how to find the objects in the Summer viewing portion of the program. Later this year Charles will come back on Zoom to teach the Fall and Winter segments. You can check out the YouTube video here. Here is the PDF:

The RASC Explore the Universe program (awarded since 2002) is aimed at the novice visual astronomer. Those who complete the program may apply for a certificate and pin—this is open to all, RASC members and non-members alike. This program will:

  • Stimulate an interest in observational astronomy.
  • Introduce good observing practices and techniques.
  • Provide an introduction to all aspects of visual astronomy including stars and constellations, lunar, Solar System, deep sky, double stars, and some optional activities, including variable stars.
  • One of the special features of this program is that it can be completed entirely using binoculars and the unaided eye. 

NOTE: If you choose to use a telescope, automatic (GoTo) functions are not to be used.

A choice of objects is provided so that you can start the program at any time of the year and easily complete the requirements in three to six months time.

Want to get started? Download the Explore the Universe program requirements and start your observing program today! All you need to do is find half of the 110 objects on the program list.

Téléchargez le programme Explorez l’Univers en français et débutez vos observations dès aujourd’hui.

If you are looking for a guide to getting started, consider purchasing the Explore the Universe Guide (2nd Edition) in the RASC store.

Speaker for May 2021: Ray Kostaschuk

On Zoom at 7 PM (Pacific) on Friday, 2021 May 14, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Ray Kostaschuk, a geoscientist specializing in sedimentary processes in rivers, lakes and estuaries. He was a Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph for 25 years. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Environmental Science at SFU where he works with Professor Jeremy Venditti and graduate students on sedimentation in the Fraser River. His topic will be: Rivers of the Solar System

A river is a channel system constructed by naturally flowing liquids moving towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. Rivers create diverse drainage patterns and a stunning variety of erosional and depositional landforms that provide important clues to the climate and geological framework of the landscape. Active rivers flow on Earth and Titan and ancient rivers are common on Mars and Venus. Rivers on the rocky planets are created by water flowing over rock or sediment but on Titan the rivers consist of liquid hydrocarbons eroding a crust of water ice.  

You can view this presentation here:

Meet Harry Andinda

Our Center sent a telescope to Ugandan high school student and amateur astronomer Harry Andinda in December 2020 and he’s been exploring the skies. Centre Past President and current RASC 1st Vice President Charles Ennis has previously been communicating with him by email, answering Harry’s questions and helping him set up his telescope. On Tuesday, 2021 April 6 I joined Harry on Zoom and had a conversation with him about his viewing experiences which is now available to view on YouTube.

On May 4 at 8 AM Pacific (that’s 6 PM for Harry) I’ll be having another Zoom meeting with Harry. If you’d like to join us, here is the link:

Speaker for April 2021: Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya

On Zoom at 7 PM (Pacific) on Friday, 2021 April 9, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya, Susan Cunningham Research Chair in Geology at the School of Earth, Environment and Society (SEES), McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, whose topic will be  The Origin of Life and Martian Possibilities.

Is life on Earth an exceptional occurrence or an inevitable consequence of its habitability? What  events in the history of life on earth are exceptional versus inevitable? Could life on Earth have originated elsewhere? These questions are paramount in investigation of ancient watery environments that may have been habitats in the search for  early life on Mars.

Although few doubt that Mars had flowing water in its past, there has been significant debate as to how persistent these flows were; whether they were driven by precipitation or melting of groundwater during impacts and how extensive and persistent standing bodies  of water were during Mars early Noachian history. There are also debates as to whether Mars ever had a full-fledged ocean.

There is now extensive evidence of meandering channels and deltas associated with Noachian-age crater lake deltas such as found in the  Eberswalde and  Jezero craters where Perserverance is about to begin exploring. The Eberswalde delta shows clear evidence of meandering streams feeding a series of delta lobes that record a complex history of migration, avulsion and bifurcation, suggestive of a crater lake that may have existed for thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Jezero channels are straighter and may indicate a shorter-lived systems.

Evidence from Gale crater also supports water-laid sediments,  and features that resemble stromatolites have been found that are similar to the earliest forms of prokaryotic life on early earth.  This supports the hypothesis that early Mars was both warmer and wetter during the Noachian and contained watery habitats that are now being investigated for evidence of possible extinct Martian life.

You can view this presentation here:

Rolling Out My Heavy Telescope

Check out Danny Sklazeski’s presentation on how he modified his telescope to roll out of his storage shed to facilitate viewing: