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Our SCC Observatory opened last year on 27 June. We’re rapidly closing in on our first anniversary of First Light. In honour of this, we’ll be having a First Anniversary Starbeque for members and invited guests only on Saturday, July 2. This will be a pot luck starting at 6 pm and running until whenever we get tired of looking at the sky.
The Wilderness Resort at the entrance to Narrows Inlet (http://www.wildernessresort.ca/) just opened their doors to customers: a group of university students and professors from U Saskatchewan on a sustainability retreat as it happens. The owners only took possession of the 124 acre site last January, and this was their first group of customers. Our Centre was invited to be the “opening act” for this dark sky site: A star party. Neil and Mike joined me with their equipment at the government docks in Sechelt at 17:30 hrs and we were taken up by crew boat to the resort. We had a chance to walk about and check things out a bit and set up down by the dock, which seemed the best location for our event. Once it got dark we took a reading with the sky quality meter to discover that it was a good dark sky site: 21.2 mag/arcsec2. The sky stayed clear and we showed the visitors Venus, which was showing a nice view just over half full, Jupiter and its four Galilean moons, the Orion nebula, M81 and M82, and other interesting sights. The crew boat brought us back at 22:30 hours. The resort made a donation of $150 to our Centre for our efforts. The owners have a large camp site they will be developing soon on top of the 230 meter high hill that is part of the property which would be a good site for astronomy. The hosts were gracious, supportive, and attentive and we enjoyed the event.
Suzanna Nagy, Vice President for the Vancouver Centre of the RASC, has notified us about the upcoming Summer Star Quest 2015 in Merritt, BC from September 11 – 19, which they are putting on in conjunction with the Merritt Astronomical Society. It is a great event and is considered by many to be one of the darkest sky star parties in Canada. Details can be found at: www.merrittastronomical.com.
If you have questions for Suzanna, you can contact her here:
Vice President and Event Coordinator
RASC Vancouver Centre
Saturday’s Airport observing saw near perfect conditions – I could have rated them ‘perfect’ but my fingers were frozen to my Bino’s (binoculars).
When we setup, The Pleiades was rising in the East and when we departed some five hours later it was setting in the West.
I found the 10×50 Bino’s ideal for sweeping up objects like The Andromeda Galaxy and The Comet
I finally understand why The Galactic Clusters in Auriga (M36, M37, M38) are called ‘Galactic Clusters’ – in wide bino’s FOV (field of view) that’s exactly what they look like.
In fact M81 and M82 which are near the edge of visibility in my 10×50’s look just like the Auriga Clusters at 10x power.
Scott took a closer look at these objects with the 15×70’s on a tripod and Neil gave us some close up views of The Whale Galaxy and M13 Globular Cluster in Hercules in the Big Dob.
The highlight for me was looking for and finding Kemble’s Cascade – which has now been renamed (after some doughnut munching communication issues in the dark) to ‘Campbell’s Cascade’ – that familiar Scottish Cluster! In the wide bino FOV this is a striking sight, like water splashing down an invisible heavenly staircase.
Just behind that in spectacle was ‘The Engagement Ring’. I have seen this on Astrophotos but normally telescopic views are too narrow field to show it. It is a string of stars joined together by The North Star Polaris which forms the Diamond in ‘The Diamond Ring’. A striking sight in wide field bino’s.
Another object of note is ‘The Big S’ in Orion. Its a lazy string of stars that join Mintaka (the rightmost star in Orion’s Belt) with Alnilam (the middle star in the belt). You need a wide FOV to see this.
Gary Seronik’s ‘Binocular Highlights’ proved superb for finding objects – he plots them all on an easy finder chart at the front of the book.
Friday’s Astro-Cafe proved a nice warm up for the main feast of Stars on Saturday night.
Next outing – come early to make sure we have room at the observing site.
RASC Sunshine Coast Centre
On the night of Friday January 23 at 9:48 PM PST a rare triple shadow transit will occur involving Jupiter’s moons Europa,Callisto, and Io. Observers will see the shadows of the moons on the surface of Jupiter and see them merge. We’re hoping that the skies will be clear enough on that day for a star party at the airport to view this event. We will be meeting people at the Sechelt airport gate at 7:30 PM on January 23 to convoy in to the observatory site to set up telescopes in an attempt to view this event (weather permitting).
Update 19 January: Looking at the weather forecast for Sechelt, things don’t look that hopeful for us Sunshine Coast Centre members hoping to view this transit. It is calling for rain from the 22nd to the 24th at present. We’ll keep an eye on it in case it changes. Stay tuned for updates to this post with times and details!