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Viewing Sessions to Launch Science Odyssey

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Charles setting up the observatory for viewing

Thursday night Scott, Bruce W, and I went up to the SCC Observatory and spent several hours viewing Jupiter and other wonders of the night sky. The viewing conditions were very good.

Friday morning, 6 May, David and Mike went up to the observatory and mounted the new Antares guide scope on the side of the main optical tube assembly of the SCC Observatory.

Friday night, the official opening of Science Odyssey (6 – 15 May), 8 club members set up their telescopes outside the observatory and I opened the SCC Observatory to view the double shadow transit of Jupiter. members all noted that seeing was challenging and, as James put it: “Members dug in among buffeting winds (albeit warm winds) to peer into The Jovian atmosphere.” David modeled the transit using astronomy software and was able to show us the shadow position to look for. We spotted Callisto’s shadow on Jupiter and Io transiting first with the observatory telescope, the shadow skirting the north polar region about 9 PM, with the Great Red Spot crossing the central meridian. The Antares scope proved to be lined up well with the OTA.

James reports:

“Neil carried out scientific research on the light pass of several different 2″ diagonals and we had opportunity to compare the views in James 11″ SCT Service Scope and Neil’s Shiny new 8” SCT with fresh Starbright XLT Coatings from the Celestron factory.

“We observed Jupiter and Moon’s, two shadow transits – there was a moon transit too not visible to us under the conditions –

Globular Clusters M3 and M13 – both beatifully resolved, Galaxies M82 (Neil),

M65, M66 (James ) and The Ring Nebula

Which appeared best in Neil 8” SCT.

“Just before departure Saturn and Mars arrived on the scene and we had tantalizing views of these distant world’s promising more detail to follow. We exited the Stargate at 12.50 am. A great night.”

Meanwhile Mike Bradley was photographing the event from his SunMoonStars Observatory:

“I could view the transit with my 5” Megrez and capture a movie for processing. Attached is the result from stacking 500 frames, taken at f20. As James said the seeing was not great and focus was hard to achieve. Thanks to the magic of stacking software the image isn’t too bad! The reddish cast to the image is because the camera has been modified for Hydrogen alpha, I’ll do some further processing to try to correct for this.”


Mike’s preliminary photo of the double transit


Members will be back up at the observatory Saturday night for viewing. The SCC Observatory will be open to the public from sunrise on Monday, 9 May, for the transit of Mercury, which will last until 1140 AM.

Charles Ennis, President


Trottier Observatory


View of the OTA with the camera on the side.

I jumped in the Coast Cable van with Steve and Brittany on Tuesday, April 26 and went to the Trottier Observatory at SFU, which is one year old this month. This is the home of the Vancouver Centre of the RASC now and the location of their star parties. We were met by Dr. Howard Trottier, whose family contributed $2.5 million towards the construction of this facility, and by several members of the Vancouver Centre of the RASC, including their president, Suzanna Nagy and vice president Leigh Cummings. We got some excellent video for our Night Lights program. The plaza around the observatory is very well thought out with electrical plugs for visiting astronomer’s telescopes, sky maps for each season with the stars lit up, a walkway with plaques listing the distances to various things in the cosmos, and six benches with coloured LED light lines representing the emission spectra of 6 major elements. The main telescope has a .7 meter diameter mirror and an alt-az mount and uses a flip mirror to switch the light path through one axis to either the camera on one side or the eyepiece on the other. Well worth a visit if you get a chance.


two Televue telescopes nose to nose to make it possible to extend the eyepiece for viewing into reach

Double Shadow Transit of Jupiter: 6 May

double shadow transit

At 8:18 PM PST on Friday, 6 May, one of Jupiter’s moons, Callisto, will pass in front of Jupiter. At 8:32 another Galilean moon, Io, will follow Callisto. Their two shadows will transit the planet’s surface starting at 9:39 PM. The double shadow transit will end at 10:42 PM PST. We’ll have the SCC Observatory open for this double shadow transit at 8 PM, weather permitting.


Transit of Mercury:Monday, 9 May 2016

mercury transitThe planet Mercury passes between the face of the Sun and Earth only 14 times per century, and one of those events is about to occur as the Sun rises on May 9. When the Sun rises at 5:30 AM on Monday, 9 May, the transit will already be in progress (having started about 4:12 AM). The transit will end at 11:42 AM. We’ll have the SCC Observatory open for public viewing that morning (weather permitting) with our solar scopes for safe viewing.




Coyote Science Update

In the end, due to the production team’s scheduling issues, the episode “Big Bang” of the Coyote Science show being filmed for APTN was filmed at the Rolling Earth Farm in Roberts Creek during the day using “Hollywood magic” to simulate night time, rather than doing a night shoot at the SCC Observatory.


Mike with his solar scope and some of the film crew in the background

Mike Bradley set up solar scopes and was filmed with some teen aged First Nations actors looking at solar flares.


Director Nathaniel giving the crew and actors instructions

Meanwhile Charles Ennis and another two teen aged actors simulated a night viewing session. The whole process took several hours and the producers thanked us for helping them make this science show become a reality.


Filming some closeups of the First Nations actors by the telescope

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

2014 Christmas Party

12 December 2014 is our annual Christmas Party and this year the public is invited. Our members will be displaying their telescope equipment and accessories and will be available to answer questions about this astronomical equipment. If you’ve been thinking of buying a telescope as a gift for someone or even for yourself, this is a great opportunity to get information you need to make an informed decision. Meet us at 7:30 PM at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, 5714 Medusa St, Sechelt.

NOTE: SCC RASC members are requested to attend at 7 PM for a special meeting. Public will not be admitted until 7:30 PM.


Speaker for October 2014: Dr. Ingrid Stairs

Dr. Ingrid Stairs

Dr. Ingrid Stairs

At 7:30 PM, 10 October, 2014, at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery, 431 Marine Drive, Gibsons, our speaker for the Sunshine Coast Chapter of the RASC will be Dr. Ingrid Stairs, a professor at UBC since 2002. Stairs graduated from McGill University in 1993 with Honours in Physics, got her Master’s Degree at Princeton University in 1995, and her Doctoral Degree at Princeton in 1998. Dr. Stairs was a postdoctoral fellow at the Jodrell Bank Observatory from 1998 – 2000 and a research associate at NRAO Green Bank in West Virginia from 2000 – 2002. Her awards include:
2010-2013 NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement
2002-2007 NSERC University Faculty Award
2000-2002 Jansky Research Associateship, NRAO
1998-2000 NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship
1993-1997 NSERC 1967 Scholarship
1993 Joseph Henry Award, Princeton University
Dr. Stair’s work involves the observation of radio pulsars and their companions, with a general theme of studying binary pulsar evolution, and with sidelines in such areas as pulsar instrumentation and polarimetry, and some observations at other wavelengths.
Pulsar Searches: Large-scale pulsar surveys are underway using the 305-m Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico and the 100-m Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Local computer clusters are doing part of the data reduction, looking for the next great “find.”
Pulsar Timing: Finding pulsars in surveys is only the first step in their study – the science comes out of long-term timing follow-up of these rapidly rotating neutron stars. Some of the particular objects Dr. Stairs follows include a young pulsar with a companion of 11 solar masses, for which she is trying to understand the orbital dynamics and the interaction between the two stars; a young pulsar that switches emission states; a “missing-link” pulsar/X-ray-binary system and several double-neutron-star binaries that allow stringent tests of general relativity. Dr. Stairs is also interested in trying to derive stellar masses and understand different evolutionary theories through long-term observations of pulsar–white dwarf binaries. A long-term goal, sought as part of the NANOGrav collaboration, is the direct detection of gravitational waves using multiple pulsars.

Dr. Stairs Topic for the October presentation will be:

A Pulsar with Two White-Dwarf Companions
Millisecond pulsars (MSPs) spin hundreds of times a second, emitting lighthouse-like beams of radio waves that we can monitor with large radio telescopes.  An MSP spins so fast because it has been “spun up” by an evolving companion star, and in fact the majority of MSPs have been found in binary systems with white dwarfs (which the companion stars eventually become).  Recently, we have found an MSP that is orbited by two white dwarfs instead of just one.  This system must have had a rather unusual evolution.  It allows for some precision work in a 3-body system, with the prospect of stringent tests of an aspect of Einstein’s theory of relativity.


Public Astronomy Presentation, Gibson’s Public Library: 3 September 2014

4IMG_0934From 6 PM to 7:30 PM, Wednesday, 3 September, our Centre will be doing a presentation on Amateur Astronomy at the Gibson’s Public Library at 470 South Fletcher Road in Gibsons. Following the presentation we’ll have the solar scopes out to view solar flares and sun spots.

Sechelt Botanical Garden Harvest Festival: 31 August 2014

solar scopes at the 2013 Botanical Garden Harvest Festival

solar scopes at the 2013 Botanical Garden Harvest Festival













From 11 AM to 4 PM on Sunday, 31 August our Centre will have our solar scopes and an information booth at the Sechelt Botanical Garden Harvest Festival ( We were at this event last year. Come check out the solar flares and sun spots with us!