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Safety Recall for some Eclipse glasses

With a solar eclipse visible on Monday Aug. 21st NASA and the American Astronomical Society have been urging solar gazers to use glasses engineered by reputable vendors that carry the international safety standard number “ISO 12312-2.”

One major vendor of “Eclipse Glasses” has issued a recall for theirs. Click here for details of the warning and the recall.

At the observing event scheduled for Davis Bay nect Monday, only approved telescopes and filters will be available.


Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21st, 2017, North America will be treated to a solar eclipse.  For more details click here.

On the day of the eclipse, August 21st, the Sunshine Coast RASC Centre is planning a safe public observing session on the sea wall at Davis Bay starting at 08:30am. We will have club members on-hand with solar telescopes, binoculars and filters available for everyone to safely observe this special event. It has been 38 years since the last one and it will be 7 years until the next one. Don’t miss this one!

Please note: in case of cloudy weather, the eclipse may not be visible. Be sure to check the centre’s web site on the day of the eclipse to see if the observing event is a GO or a NO GO.

Sunspot AR2670 August 4th, 2017

Last Friday (Aug 4th, I decided to see whether the current large sunspot (AR2670) could be seen through the forest fire haze. (This current sunspot is the remains of the massive AR2665 from 3 weeks ago.)  In white light the view was blurred and the camera image was worse, but in the Hydrogen alpha scope lots of details were still visible and I took this image. The area of extreme activity surrounding the sunspot is fairly easy to see, as is the spot itself. The groupings of prominences were a pleasant surprise too. The image was taken at the observatory at noon with a Lunt DS60 and Chameleon camera, it is a stack of 100 images.


Rodent control

Many thanks to Ron Dickinson of Sunshine Coast Pest Control for his work at the observatory. For the second year in a row he has donated his services to the cause of keeping the building free of mice. They like eating cable insulation, taking over file cabinets etc., making themselves a general nuisance!

Thank you Ron.

Explore the Universe Guide is Here!


Julia and Renata at RASC HQ with the new Explore the Universe Guide

The RASC’s new Explore the Universe Guide just arrived at head office and will soon be shipped out to customers. You can order this book and other RASC publications here. This would make an excellent holiday gift for friends and family.

Enceladus Issues


Nasa photo of Enceladus

At last Friday’s lecture (by Dr. Jon Willis) I asked about the plans to get the probe back from Enceladus. I thought the speaker’s response that “what comes up must come down” was flippant and contrary to Newtonian physics. For instance, geosynchronous satellites do not “come back down” and have never been brought back down to low orbit for repair or refueling.

This is a non-trivial problem. Enceladus is the second most proximal moon to Saturn and is therefore deep in Saturn’s gravity well. Return to earth involves raising the probe to a heliocentric orbit (effectively Saturn escape velocity) then converting to a Hohmann transfer orbit with Earth perihelion at 1 AU. My understanding is that transfer between two circular orbits (E.G.: Earth and Saturn) using a Hohmann transfer orbit requires the same delta-v independent of the direction of the transfer. Since the probe relied on multiple gravity assist manoeuvres to get to Saturn, I doubt it has the luxury of carting a lot of fuel for the return trip.

At Earth orbit perihelion it will need to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at close to Earth’s escape velocity.  I don’t know of a successful re-entry from a heliocentric orbit, or if it is feasible.

I’m not saying return can’t be done, just that getting the probe home is as difficult as getting it up there in the first place. The project invites some interesting jiggery-pokery. Like more gravity assist or aerobraking.

My second question was about return of the plutonium battery and potential radioactive contamination upon re-entry. There have been several inadvertent re-entries of plutonium batteries (Apollo 13 Lunar Module being one). The issue has been addressed by containing the batteries within their own re-entry heat shielding so they would land  in one piece (hopefully not in my backyard). Also, the Plutonium-238 isotope used in batteries has a half life of only 64 years, not the 24,000 years of weapons grade plutonium. I feel much safer now.

Bruce Woodburn


National Board Strategic Planning Session: 10 – 11 September, 2016


R to L: Chris Gainor, James Edgar, Craig Levine, Randy Boddam, and Dr. Wilma Slenders

On the weekend of 10 – 11 September, 2016, the National Board of the RASC met at the Royal Executive Hotel in Calgary to conduct a strategic planning session with Dr. Wilma Slenders, PhD, of Transcend Management Advisors, Inc. 2nd Vice President Robyn Foret set up this session which all national board members attended. National President Craig Levine described this as “Our opportunity to look at what we do with a critical eye and to look at how we can engage more deeply with membership and centres. This could be a generational change. Who do we want to be?… Everything we do from this is going to be time lined, budgeted, with accountability, and measurements. We need to keep each other and committee chairs accountable.” Colin Haig observed: “We need to bake follow up into everything we do”. Robyn Foret explained: “We need to use resources properly. What do we need from 2017 budget to accomplish this objective? There is a lot to be done to do this right.” Treasurer Susan Yeo said: “We need to focus on succession, make sure members have the tools that they need to carry on. We are not a corporation with people here for long term.” Levine agreed, adding that we need an on boarding process and mentoring process.


Colin Haig reminded us that this is the 3rd time we’ve gone through strategic planning process. This was a different approach from previous strategic planning exercises in that the national board sought outside help to facilitate the session. We did this because, as Robyn Foret reminded us, “We don’t know what we don’t know”.


The object of the session was to decide what we wanted the RASC to look like in 5 years in order to remain viable, relevant and sustainable.


Our organization has a charity mentality, tending to place emphasis on costs rather than investment. We are not comfortable with thriving. Only recently have we started to embrace mindset changes such as the creation of a fundraising committee and sponsorships. We are coming to realize that the national board is a hybrid board, not a governance board, with multiple audiences with different needs.


A lot of work was done identifying the RASC’s target audience and the means to serve these audiences. We looked at our members, competitors, collaborators and supporters.


The national board realizes that it is time to, as Randy Boddam put it, “socialize new norms” to make our organization more welcoming to different cultures, ethnic groups, and all genders.


The board did a serious inventory of our organization at present, focusing on the following:

  • How do we do what we do?
  • How do we hold ourselves accountable?
  • How do we work with one another?
  • What are the characteristics of our organization?
  • What do people say about us?
  • What do we do?
  • What do we offer?
  • What don’t we offer?
  • Who are we?
  • Who do we serve?
  • Who don’t we serve?


We also did a PEST (Political, Economic, Social, Technological) analysis to help us prioritize the key areas that we need to focus on. We then focused on the same questions we looked at earlier, but from a viewpoint of what we wanted the organization to look like in the future.


Robyn Foret described this process as “evolution not revolution” but it certainly will mark a change in how the RASC does things in the future. The national board will meet again soon to take what we discovered in this meeting and turn it into an action plan with deadlines and people to manage and measure progress.


Charles Ennis, National Secretary