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Speaker for 12 May: Dr. Sun Kwok

stardust_b (2)At 7:30 PM, 12 May 2017, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast Centre welcomes Dr. Sun Kwok, whose topic will be “Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life.” How did life originate on Earth?  For over 50 years, scientists believed that life was the result of chemistry involving simple molecules such as methane and ammonia cooking in a primordial soup.  Recent space observations have revealed that old stars are capable of making very complex organic compounds.  The stars then ejected the organics and spread them all over the Milky Way Galaxy.  There is evidence that these organic dust particles actually reached the early Solar System.  Through bombardments by comets and asteroids, the early Earth inherited significant amounts of star dust.  Was the development of life assisted by the arrival of these extraterrestrial materials?  In this talk, we describe discoveries in astronomy and solar system science over the last 10 years that resulted in a new perspective on the origin of life.

Prof. Sun Kwok’s research areas are astrochemistry and stellar evolution.  He is best known for his theory on the origin of planetary nebulae and the death of Sun-like stars.  His recent research has been on the topic of the synthesis of complex organic compounds in the late stages of stellar evolution.  He is the author of many books, including The Origin and Evolution of Planetary Nebulae (Cambridge, 2000), Cosmic Butterflies (Cambridge, 2001), Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium (University Science Books, 2007), Organic Matter in the Universe (Wiley, 2012), and Stardust: the cosmic seeds of life (Springer, 2013).  He has been a guest observer on many space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Infrared Space Observatory.

Prof. Kwok currently serves as President of IAU International Astronomical Union (IAU), Commission on Astrobiology.  Previously, he has served as the President of IAU Commission on Interstellar Matter (2012-2015) and chairman of IAU Planetary Nebulae Working Group (1994-2001).

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Cosmic Rays in the Classroom: Francesca Crema

 

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At 7:30 PM, Friday, 14 April 2017, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast Centre welcomes Francesca Crema, whose topic will be “Cosmic Rays in the Classroom: My experiences with muons, variable stars, and project-based learning.”

Francesca Crema is a 17-year-old grade 12 student participating in Templeton Secondary’s STEM Program in Vancouver who intends to pursue a career in the sciences, specifically physics (specifically, high-energy particle physics). Francesca is the youngest at-large council member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, serving on the council of the RASC’s Vancouver center as their youth rep.

Ever since joining her school’s STEM program, Francesca has received the opportunity to research and analyze data collected from a cosmic ray detector, and is currently studying spectroscopy and photometry at the SFU Trottier observatory. Francesca has been updating old data (e.g.: radial velocity, apparent magnitude) on RT Aurigae. Because her school’s STEM program has provided her with these opportunities and more, she will also talk about it and detail the benefits of project-based learning. Her talk will detail her experiences with these projects, as well as provide an introduction to the scientific principles – from elementary particles to variable stars – that they are based on.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

NOTE: RASC members will hold a very brief 10 minute meeting at the outset to vote on the new bylaws.

Sunshine Coast RASC President Charles Ennis:

 

 

Speaker for 14 October: Dr. Julio Navarro

navarro_0On 14 October, 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, 5714 Medusa St, Sechelt,  at 7:30 PM, our guest speaker will be Dr. Julio Navarro from the University of Victoria, whose topic will be: Dark Matter and Dark Energy: the Puzzling Forces that Shape our Universe.

NOTE: Members will be holding their AGM to elect the new board at 7 PM. Public will not be admitted until 7:30.

Speaker for 9 September: Dr. Jon Willis

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Our speaker for Friday, 9 September at 7:30 PM will be astrophysicist Dr. Jon Willis from the University of Victoria. His topic will be: All These Worlds are Yours.

NOTE: This meeting will take place at Capilano University, NOT the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre where we met in the past.

Speaker for June: Dr. Jim Hesser

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Dr. Jim Hesser

At 7:30 PM, 10 June 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, our speaker will be Dr. James Hesser, FRASC. Dr. Hesser was the RASC’s Honorary President (2009-2013) and former Director of the NRC Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO). Dr. Hesser is past president of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Dr. Hesser is past vice-president of the American Astronomical Society. He is recipient of numerous awards, including, most recently, the RASC’s Qilak Award for his “outstanding contribution to public appreciation and understanding of Astronomy” and is a Fellow of the RASC. He was one of the first to receive the prestigious Michael Smith award, given by NSERC Canada to recognize those who inspire through the promotion of science to the general public. Dr. Hesser was the first recipient of the Newton-Ball Award, Victoria Centre’s own service award (2001). Dr. Hesser has been awarded the National Research Council’s W. G. Schneider Medal for his inspiring decades-long contribution to the pursuit of excellence in Canadian government astronomy, both as a productive researcher, and as the Director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory for nearly three decades (1986-2014). The award also recognizes Jim’s committed advocacy of astronomy as a integral part of our broader cultural life, both here and abroad.

Dr. Hesser’s topic will be: “Centenary-eve Reflections on the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory’s Role in the Development of Canadian Astronomical Excellence”

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The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich: 98 years old!

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Contact Information:

Check out the Sunshine Coast RASC site at: http://www.coastastronomy.ca/ for contact and schedule information.

Sunshine Coast RASC President Charles Ennis:

e mail: cuhulain@ telus.net

phone 778-458-2666

Speaker for 13 May: Steve Mairs

 

steve mairsAt 7:30 PM, 13 May 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, Steve Mairs, a PhD student in astronomy at the University of Victoria and the outreach supervisor for the U Vic Astronomy department, will be our speaker. The topic of Mairs’ talk is Where Baby Stars Come From, and Why it’s Important to Know!

In this talk, Mairs will examine the birth of a sun-like star and introduce some of the research being performed in Victoria to further our knowledge on this subject. Mairs’ main focus will be on the Orion Molecular Cloud, a giant star-forming region in the Milky Way which encompasses the famous Orion Nebula. Mairs will present images of what the Orion Nebula looks like at submillimetre wavelengths and show how these often overlooked observations can provide vital information into the young lives of stars. By studying “where baby stars come from”, we can make links to present day observations of star clusters, supernova explosion rates, the formation of planets, and, in effect our very own origin story.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

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8 April 2016- Dr. Catherine Johnson: The InSight Mission

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At 7:30 PM, 8 April 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast Centre welcomes Dr. Catherine Johnson from UBC, whose topic will be The InSight Mission: Journey to the Center of Mars

Orbital and lander missions to Mars over the past several decades have revealed a wealth of information about the planet’s surface geology and raised many unanswered questions about the planet’s past climate conditions. Key to answering many of these questions is understanding the planet’s deep interior, about which we know very little. Mars’ interior is also a fingerprint for the earliest stages of evolution of any of the terrestrial (rocky) planets in the inner solar system. The InSight mission, planned for launch in 2018, will deploy a seismometer, a heat flow probe and several other instruments on the surface of Mars. I will talk about how InSight will monitor the Red Planet’s “vital signs” – “pulse” (seismicity), “temperature” (heat flow) and “reflexes” (wobbles) – to determine Mars’ interior structure and evolution.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.