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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:

Monthly Meeting: 8 May (Online)


Mike Bradley at our SCC Observatory

With the current pandemic, we’ve had to make adjustments for the safety of the public and our members, so we’ve decided to hold our upcoming meeting at 7 PM, Friday, 8 May, as an online webinar using Zoom. As always, this meeting is open to the public. Night Lights co-host and Centre President Bruce Fryer will be doing a presentation on the Skies This Month. Centre VP Michael Bradley will be doing the main presentation on Image Processing for Beginners. If you’ve been thinking of getting into astrophotography, this information will be useful for you.

You can use this link to access the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

NOTE: This is the first time we’ve used this online format for a meeting. If it is successful, we’re planning to do live streaming on YouTube for future meetings as well.

CANCELLED! Speaker for 13 March: Dr. Harvey Richer

It has come to our attention in the last hour that there are 3 positives on the Coast now for the covid – 19 virus. As of this morning there were 53 confirmed cases in BC and this number is from 9 am this morning, so it doesn’t include any positive tests that have come in today. We were already aware of several members of our Centre who were not going to be attending tonight’s meeting, either because they had the flu or because they were concerned about having conditions that put them at greater risk of contracting this virus.  This was confirmed as a pandemic by the World Health Organization just a few days ago. In light of this rapidly developing situation, it is imperative that we act responsibly to limit the possible transmission of this disease and the exposure of any of the public or our members to this virus. Therefore, we are cancelling tonight’s meeting. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this short notice may cause to the public or members, but this is a pandemic, a medical emergency, and we must act responsibly.

The public viewing session usually held at the observatory on Saturdays is also cancelled until further notice.

Here is a link to the Canadian government site with quality information and updates on the situation:

Sincerely, Charles Ennis

2nd Vice President, RASC

harvey richer

At 7:00 PM, 2020 March 13, at the Sechelt Public Library, 5797 Cowrie St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Harvey Richer, FRSC, whose topic is:

Watcher of the Sky: The Highs and Lows of Being an Observational Astronomer

Dr. Richer will discuss some of the many interesting experiences that go into shaping the career of an observational astronomer. From the early days of Chilean observing, to life with Hubble and the current issues in Hawaii, Dr. Richer hopes to give a sense of the richness of experiences he has had in his chosen career as an observational astronomer.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Speaker for 14 February 2020: Sarah Pearce

sarah pearceAt 7:00 PM, 2020 February 14, at the Sechelt Public Library, 5797 Cowrie St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Sarah Pearce, MSc, whose topic is: The History of Stellar Classification (150 years ago to today)

This talk concerns the history of astronomy. Sarah will focus on a published research paper from 150 years ago by a priest called Father Secchi, whose work and writings were on his telescope findings of the Orion Nebula.

Sarah will go on to describe the history of stellar classification and spectroscopy and hope to introduce the topic in a dynamic and engaging way. Let’s explore the stars through the lens of astronomers that were working and researching with technologies from 150 years ago.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Speakers for October 11: Linda and Tom Spilker

Linda and Tom with RocketJPGAt 7:00 PM, 2019 October 11, at the Sechelt Public Library, 5797 Cowrie St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Linda and Tom Spilker.

Dr. Linda Spilker’s topic will be Cassini’s Intriguing New Discoveries.

Dr. Linda Spilker is a NASA research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. She is currently the Cassini Project Scientist and a Co-Investigator on the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer team and has worked on Cassini since 1988. Since joining JPL over 40 years ago she has worked on the Voyager Project, the Cassini Project and conducted independent research on the origin and evolution of planetary ring systems. She received her B.A. from Cal State Fullerton, her M.S. from Cal State Los Angeles, and her Ph.D. from UCLA.

Dr. Tom Spilker’s topic will be his work on the Gateway Foundation’s plan for a rotating space station.

Tom spent 20 years at JPL as a “Mission Architect” after a PhD at Stanford doing research associated with spacecraft-based planetary radio occultation experiments, with a couple of courses in orbital dynamics. He has worked on the Voyager, Cassini, Genesis, and Rosetta missions. He works with both science and engineering aspects of mission planning. He retired from JPL in 2012 and is now an independent consultant working with space agencies all over the world.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.


Speaker for April 12: Alan Dyer

apr 2019 dyer modified

At 7:30 PM, 2019 April 12, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents the renowned astrophotographer Alan Dyer, whose topic will be “Chasing the Northern Lights”. Alan will recount his tales of chasing the aurora in Canada and Norway, with many images and movies of the Northern Lights, including of the infamous “Steve” aurora.

Alan Dyer is co-author with Terence Dickinson of The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, and most recently of ebooks on astrophotography. He is a contributing editor to SkyNews and Sky & Telescope magazines, and a contributor to the annual RASC Observer’s Handbook. His photos and videos have appeared on, National Geographic, CBSNews, and more. The asteroid #78434 is named in his honour.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Speaker for 8 March: Eric Lanoix

eric lanoix

At 7:30 PM, 2019 March 8, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Eric Lanoix ( Eric is passionate about finding simple and intuitive solutions to complex problems. For the better part of two decades, he worked with the Canadian Space Agency and with NASA contractors on human space exploration. He contributed to the development of several spacecraft in the areas of systems engineering, trajectory analysis, and robotic capture. He also supported a number of space missions from Mission Control Houston. To date, the spacecraft he focused on (HTV, Cargo Dragon) have completed 21 successful re-supply missions for the International Space Station. More recently, Eric also worked on the development of the Crew Dragon. Later this year, this spacecraft will become the first American vehicle since the Space Shuttle to carry humans to space.

An avid life-long learner of science, finance, and history, Eric holds a master’s degree in engineering (McGill), another in finance (Simon Fraser University), as well as the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certification. Eric is now based in the Lower Mainland and leads a team of specialists in charge of quantitative risk management at a local banking institution.

In their free time, Eric and his wife Natalie enjoy hiking among rivers and mountains, travelling, and dancing Argentine tango.

As a specialist in the area of orbital rendezvous and capture, Eric looks forward to sharing the history and future of this essential but little-known spaceflight operation with the RASC.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Speaker for 11 January: Paul Gray

paul grayAt 7:30 PM, 11 January 2019, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Paul Gray, the editor of the RASC Calendar, who will be doing a presentation on Dark Nebulae. A dark nebula or absorption nebula is an interstellar cloud so dense that it obscures the light from objects behind it, such as background stars and emission or reflection nebulae. Interstellar dust grains, coasted with frozen carbon monoxide and nitrogen, in in the coldest, densest parts of larger clouds effectively block the passage of light at visible wavelengths. These clouds are the spawning grounds of stars and planets, and understanding their development is essential to understanding star formation.

The largest dark nebulae, like the Coalsack Nebula and the Great Rift, are visible to the naked eye, appearing as dark patches against the brighter background of the Milky Way.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.