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Moon Occults Aldebaran/ Sunspot AR2529

On 10 April between 2:48 and 3:28 PM our members gathered at the SCC Observatory to witness the Moon occulting Aldebaran.

Our treasurer Bruce Fryer reports:

“My wife and I also enjoyed Sunday afternoon stargazing and getting a donor scope out of mothballs.  The clouds cleared back, the sun shone warmly and then Aldebaran popped out from behind the moon—a tiny pinprick of light in the blue sky—only visible if you knew exactly where to look.  Who would have thought!  Thanks, Neil and the rest of the gang that came along.”

Our VP Mike Bradley used our Malincam to get this photo of the Sun. Mike reports:

“Here is an image of sunspot AR2529 taken on Sunday during the Moon/Aldebaran outing to the observatory.


‘Clouds made observing the occultation rather challenging, although David was skilled enough to be able to glimpse it. The rest of us spent time looking at the sun as well. The image here was taken through the Mallincam using a Mylar style filter on an ED80,  as a 2 minute video and then stacked and colourised. If you have a suitable solar scope, this is a very impressive sunspot  group, with definite umbra and penumbra features, it may have a few more days before it fades – so take a look.”

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 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.

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.

Assisting with Bobcat Research

IMG_1410aBack in February 2015 while waiting for our observatory work crew to show up at gate 2 at the Sechelt Airport I heard a sound behind me and turned around to see a bobcat a short distance away. A short time later another one came out to join the first. I stood in the doorway of my car and got a number of photos with my I Phone. They trotted off up the road before the rest of the crew arrived.

Yesterday the Coast Reporter ran an article advising how MSc Candidate TJ Gooliaff, a Biologist in Training (BIT) at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, was looking for photos of bobcats for a study he was doing to determine their populations. I sent these off yesterday afternoon and he sent me a thank you note this morning. If any of the rest of you have photos (which don’t have to be great photography), please share them to further this worthy cause.


Clear Skies, Charles Ennis


SCC Observatory Nominated for 2016 Wood Design Award


SCC Observatory

Our SCC Observatory has been nominated for the 2016 Wood Design Awards in British Columbia. Representatives from our SCC have been invited to attend Wood WORKS! BC at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre on Monday, February 29th to present project story boards during a cocktail reception prior to a sit down dinner and awards. Congratulations to Adrian Payne, our Design Engineer!

Observatory Director and Introductory Observatory Class

photo 1Our Vice President, Mike Bradley, put his name forward as Observatory Director and this assignment has been approved by the Board of the SCC. Mike has put a lot of work into the observatory and is responsible for the design of the electronics for the mount and telescope. Mike has his own observatory in Roberts Creek and is an avid astrophotographer. Mike will be in charge of scheduling and maintenance for our SCC Observatory.

We will be teaching an introductory course on the use of our SCC Observatory at our meeting at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre at 7:30 PM on Friday, 11 December. People interested in becoming Qualified Operators of the SCC Observatory should attend this session. The Operations Manual for the SCC Observatory can be downloaded from the Observatory page of our web site.

Observatory Update: New Telescope Cover, New Heater, Updated Manual

David Thompson with the new telescope cover

David Thompson with the new telescope cover

Our new telescope cover has arrived and was installed this weekend by David and Michael. Unlike the previous cover, this one is insulated. They also installed a new custom heater box to maintain the temperature inside the cover to suppress dew formation. These changes have been incorporated into the Operational Manual, which you can download from the Observatory page of our website.