[Next meeting is Mar 1, 2017 at TTAG]
The Xmas meeting of BAS consisted of a short business meeting, a break for snacks which were contributed by attendees and which were delicious, and then a recap in pictures of BAS events of the past year. Also featured were images from our photographers, many featured on our website HOME page section "From BAS Astrophotographers". John reviewed the main astro events for next year which include a penumbral eclipse in Feb and a total solar eclipse that BAS will be viewing in August from Grand Island Nebraska. See the tab on the top of the HOME page "2017 SOL. ECLIPSE" for more details.
BAS exec wish all members and astronomy friends everywhere
a Happy Holiday and New Year full of clear DARK skies!
Here are the event dates that were presented:
Events for December 2016 (see list in COMING EVENTS for more)
Dec 3 Sat Fox Dark-Moon viewing (BAS members, guests)
7 Wed Regular Meeting TTAG 7 pm Topic: Xmas social
13 Tue Geminid Meteor Shower: ZHR = 120 (Moon is full)
13 Tue FM Supermoon Public Viewing OS Rail Museum
Dec 13 (6:30 pm) and/or Dec 14
25 Sunday Merry Christmas to All BAS members and families!
28 Mon Thin crescent Moon before sunrise in east (16H)
29 Thu 01:53 NM
29 Thu Thin crescent Moon after sunset in west (15H)
January 2017 Events (a complete 2017 astro-events list is coming soon)
Jan 1&2 Sun/Mon Crescent Moon, Venus,
Jan 3 Tue Quadrantid Meteors 120/h Mars, Neptune in West
Jan 31 Tue Crescent Moon, Venus, Mars in West
Selected Events Preview for 2017
Feb 10 Fri Penumbral Lunar Eclipse (0.988) darkening should be vis.
Mar 4 Mon Moon grazes Aldebaran near Teeswater
Apr 7 Fri Jupiter at opposition, mag -2.5, 44 arc-sec across
Jun 15 Thu Saturn opposition mag. 0, rings 26.7°, 42 arc-sec across
July 20 Thu Starfest July 20 to 23 River Place
Aug 12 Sat Perseid Meteors (90/h) Moon LQ
Aug 21 Mon Solar Eclipse (trip to Nebraska)
Oct 21 Sat Orionid Meteors (20/h) Moon 3%
Dec 14 Thu Geminid Meteors (120/h) Moon 14%
Nov 2, 2016 BAS meeting at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
The meeting consisted of our regular business followed by a video called Hawaiian Starlight which featured views of images taken by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. There were a lot of interesting sequences of the landscape around the Mauna Kea complex and clearly showed why it is a great site. The clouds were below the telescopes which were at 13, 600 ft altitude.
The business section included sightings reports and a home video of the re-appearance of Aldebaran from behind the Moon on Oct 19. Image below. (Canon 6D on Celestron 9.25 Edge HD, 1/30 sec ISO 800 at about 2:55 am when Aldebaran was 8 minutes of arc away. John presented an interesting commentary on the shadows created at the terminator by mountains etc, in the vicinity of the craters Proclus and Macrobius which are visible in the image.
The video Hawaiian Starlight was a combination of artistry and "hard core" deep sky images taken by the CFHT over the last several years. Many of these images appear on the yearly calendar published by the CFHT corporation. The 2017 edition is coming soon but there is an archive of Images of the Month available here: CFHT Image Of Month
Some of the images seen in the video are reproduced here from the Image of the Month Archive:
M46 an open cluster with a planetary nebula
M16 Eagle or Star Queen Nebula
A star forming region in M8 Lagoon Nebula -dark clouds are stellar nurseries.
The Horsehead Nebula -some of us see Darth Vader's face in the tail.
Oct 5, 2016 BAS meeting at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
The original program was switched to a members/gadgets meeting as our speaker had a last-minute commitment and couldn't make it. We covered a lot of topics in an informal sharing session after the business section was over. The President reported on the OTF grant application which unfortunately missed the deadline for the current grant funds. There will be another set of capital request deadlines before next Sept. and BAS will be appling for those. Also the condition of the Webster mirror (really, really bad) was reported on and Brett T. indicated that as soon as a suitable shipping crate is put together, it will be sent back to Optic Fullum for re-coating. Normand apologized for the problem (an untrained employee, apparently) and agreed to re-coat the mirror at no charge. We are hoping the new coating job will be as good as the smaller mirrors that were done at the same time, these have held up well. Image below shows that the aluminum coating has pretty much gone as light from behind is visible through it. Brett reported doing a cleaning in water with a cotton ball that was wiping the coating off like it was powder on the surface.
Discussion in the second half included aurora, sightings and images of Mars in the MW and a recap of speakers and viewing at Starfest in August. Lorraine also brought in a pair of solar eclipse viewing binoculars and an astronomy book by Isaac Asimov. Brett brought in a couple of slightly aged electronic items free for the taking (no takers) as well. The meeting ended with some images taken by the Rosetta spacecraft as it came down onto the surface of Comet 67P. Next meeting Nov 2, same time, same place.
Mars under the Lagoon Nebula
Sep 28 Image by John H.
155 s exp. ISO 4000 through TV NP101 refractor, foc.len 584 mm f/5.6
Last image by Rosetta from 20 m altitude
Image taken by Rosetta from 5.8 km altitude
Sep 7, 2016 BAS meeting at ES Fox Observatory
(There was no August meeting)
The Sep 7 meeting covered some important business and some interesting astronomical images compliments of Brett T. The business part involved a discussion of the main items of the BAS application for funds from Ontario 150, a program of the Ontario government that offers 25 million dollars in capital for renovations, buildings, equipment, etc. to be distributed to organizations that apply. BAS has put together a request for two big items: a new telescope (a C-14 with Paramount mount) and a StarLab mobile planetarium. We are also asking for renovations like sidewalks, eavestroughs and a composting toilet in the warm room. An additional item is for money for materials to rebuild the Coleman dome, as described in the June 1 meeting recap below.
Details of this proposal that will be sent in will be available to members in the minutes of the Sep 7 meeting that will be sent out soon by our secretary.
The astrophotos presented by Brett ranged from aurora shots to Iridium flares and young moon images as well as sunsets behind the Chantry Island lighthouse. All shots were pretty straightforward and required nothing more than 30 second or so with camera on a tripod using the standard lenses. Brett pointed out that even point and shoot cameras can be used as many have manual settings that allow for longer exposure up to 15 seconds or so. A tripod is a necessity for shots of that duration, and a shutter release cable is nice but not essential as the self timer function can be used to initiate a vibration-free exposure.
Of course, a DSLR is the definite asset in taking astrophotos like the ones Brett showed since it has a extensive repertoire of manual settings that make night time shots much easier. Brett pointed out that a tracking mount like SkyWatchers Star Adventurer or the Polarie allow for longer exposures and make telephoto shots easier as well. The Rule of 500 was mentioned: divide the focal length in mm of your camera lens into 500 and the result is the number of seconds that you can expose with minimal star trailing. Example an 18 mm lens gives 28 seconds or so, while a telephoto like 200 mm will show trails after only 2.5 seconds. Expose accordingly!
Julian D. also brought a video clip of one of the nights aurora were seen and even though there are a lot of clouds, it is an interesting view of northern lights. Have a look here: https://www.facebook.com/julian.delf/videos/1205028676237445/
Astrophotography Basics: by Brett Tatton
The images I shared were taken with a Canon 60Da and 18-200mm lens on a tripod...for some shots of lighthouse and close ups of the Moon with planets the camera was mounted to an ES ED80 telescope. The Explore Scientific is an 80mm F/6 APO refractor (F/6 = 480mm focal length...essentially a 480mm telephoto lens). Using these two lens allow me to frame a wide variety of skyscapes and objects well in the images.
You will need a camera with manual exposure control...you will need a steady tripod and you will also need a way to trigger the camera without shaking it. DSLR cameras are the most capable for beginning astro imaging. Perhaps not the cheapest cameras new but older models are available used at reasonable cost. Other types of digital cameras may have uses under the night sky but are typically limited under low light by design.
Technology is improving all the time. My iPhone 6s takes great Sunsets and more...the new iPhone 7 is rumoured to have two cameras one with a telephoto lens. Apps are available to enhance the cell phone camera...there is a bottom line though...those tiny pixels in the camera sensor cannot perform magic. There is no substitute for the larger pixels of a DSLR in a low light environment...all other things being equal.
For your first night shots you will have to pick a lens angle. If you have a zoom lens you should start with shots as wide as your lens will go...mine was 18mm. This gives a huge swath of sky on an APS-F style DSLR camera. With this lens angle the results are more tolerant of focus and star trailing. You can shoot exposures over 20 seconds. With a 20mm at this exposure the stars will be points not streaks! The wide angle is the lens you want for your first Milky Way shots!
To capture night scenes and stars you will need long time exposures...the typical DSLR will shoot up to 30 seconds in manual mode (M on the selector dial). At ISO 1600 30 seconds will give stunning MW shots!
You will be in “M” or Manual mode most all the time. At dusk you can make use of the camera’s auto exposure capability up to a point. As it gets darker you will have to take over from it and switch to “M”. Take note of the settings the camera chose before it became so dark you had to “take over”.
As with the camera’s auto exposure neither can you rely on the camera’s auto focus...most of the time. It is always a good idea to check your shots for focus as you go.
You will need to switch to Manual Focus and rely on one of a couple of ways to focus the camera. My lens has a slider switch for AF to MF. You can’t even move the focus ring by hand until MF is selected!
One way to obtain sharp focus is by trial and error. Get close to infinity then take some test shots with the ISO at maximum. One or two second long shots in the area of some bright object should do...myself I do not use this method.
My preferred method to focus is to make use of the camera’s so called Live View. Live View is when the screen on the camera is displaying the live scene in between shots. You will have to move the live “box” in the screen to a distant object you can see on the screen. A bright star...the Moon. Next you must zoom in to X5 then perhaps X10. You will be able to see the result as you focus manually. Best results will come with experience and patience!
So you have focused the camera but I mentioned triggering the camera shutter without shaking it. There are two zero dollar ways to do this. One is to find the delayed shutter function of the camera...it can usually be set to two seconds...two seconds should be plenty of time for the jiggles to settle out after you push the shutter. Another way is to cover the lens for a second or two with your hat perhaps. This works on long exposures like 10 or more seconds...it is not as effective for fast shot as you might block the whole exposure...
Shutter release cables are another way to make exposures without shaking the camera. These are just overpriced pushbuttons for DSLR cameras...The more sophisticated ones are interval meters which can take control of the camera shutter to shoot sequences of shots once you learn to program them. Nikon cameras are coming with interval controls built in now...come on Canon!
I have two other sophisticated camera controllers I’ve tried. One is to use a tablet or cellphone to take control of all the camera settings via the USB port. For Canon DSLR you can use an Android device with USB OTG cable dongle and the app called DSLR Controller. This gives you a touch screen for all camera functions! The inexpensive Nexus 7 tablet has a 7” screen that is a boon to my eyes...more of my images are coming out well exposed and focused using this method!
For those willing to take a laptop out into the field to control your DSLR you can use the extremely capable Backyard EOS (BYE) for Canon or Nikon DSLR. BYE is a very sophisticated but inexpensive tool that is remarkably easy to use. It not only controls exposures and sequences it also can incorporate autoguiding using the free PHD program right in the application window. If you are using an autofocus lens BYE can control focus with the mouse! The focusing tool Full Width Half Maximum is so easy to use. It is essentially Live View on steroids!
I mentioned ISO...digital cameras are adjustable for light sensitivity and the rating is called the ISO. In the old days you bought film of a certain ASA to get low light performance...in the digital age it is an adjustment. In Manual Mode you can change the sensitivity of the camera from low (ISO 25 or 100) to as high as the camera goes. Higher ISO typically makes for “noisier” images but this is improving with every new model camera. Try the highest ISO you can until you are unhappy with the images...then back off until you don’t see flaws....you are the judge even if others may change your mind with new evidence!
The bottom line is to get out and try your camera. If you are shy or need coaching talk to me or one of the other members who are happy and able to help or advise. Maybe we can arrange a workshop out under the stars if people are interested...I am still looking for tips myself!
Digital makes all this easy and relatively cheap. I hope I might have encouraged some new astro imagers to take up the hobby!
July 6, 2016 BAS meeting at ES Fox Observatory
The July 6 meeting was mainly a movie night and featured two videos from the NFB (National Film Board). The first was called Universe and was created by NFB photographers and graphic artists in 1960. The cast included Burgess Meredith (his voice in another version), Douglas Rain (the narrator in the version played at the meeting) and Donald McCrae (the astronomer at work at the DDO). It received the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award in 1961 for best animated film, a Canadian Film Award and was nominated for an Oscar in the animated film category. More importantly, it caught the eye of Stanley Kubrick who was inspired to do Space Odyssey 2001. He even co-opted Douglas Rain to do the voice of HAL, the over-zealous computer in his movie. Here is the NFB site where you can get more info about this film, especially look at the Point of View comments. NFB: Universe
The other "movie" was a cartoon (literally), another NFB classic that was shown in many science classrooms along with Universe. This one was called "What on Earth?", and was purported to be made by the MFB (Martian Film Board). It described recent new revelations made by Martian scientists about the inhabitants of Earth. These inhabitants were the cars, trucks and other vehicles on our highways which were inhabited by parasites (us) that popped out of them periodically.
June 1, 2016 BAS meeting at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
The June 1 meeting was held at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery and featured a talk on the first observatory built by our club when it was still the Bruce County Astronomical Society. There is a detailed history of this here: B(C)AS history and it will not be repeated in this summary. However, a potential work project was posed to the group: a rebuild of the Coleman Observatory. The dome is still intact (in pieces but intact) in storage in the drive shed next to the Fox and it would not be a major project to build a structure that might look like the diagram below. All of the detailed assembly instructions for the Observa-dome 2.5 m dome are available and none of the components (except the motor drive and control) have been lost.
Images of Observa-Dome 2.5/3.0 metre dome
Announcements and reminders included:
1. Register for June 30 - July 3 Dark Sky Wknd BPNP with Brett T. asap
2. HFBF helpers needed June 4 pm-contact John
3. Summer Solstice at Keppel Henge June 20 @11 am
4. Whispering Pines Dark Sky Weekend July 22-24
5. Starfest Aug 3 to 7 contact www.nyaa.ca
BAS events for June/July
4 Sat Huron Fringe Bird Fest MacGregor Park (talk&viewing) Helpers needed! Contact John H.
20 Mon FM Summer Solstice Keppel Henge Celebration. starts 11 am Sun crosses meridian at 1:26 pm DST
30 Thu Start of Dark Sky Weekend at Bruce Pen Nat Park
June 30 to July 3 (Thu to Sun) Bruce Pen National Park Dark Sky Weekend (camping starts Thu night Jun 30) register with Brett T.
July 22-24 Whispering Pines Dark Sky Weekend contact Greg R.
Astronomical Events of note:
Jun 3 Fri Saturn at Opposition (mag 0.0)
Mercury 0.7° N of Moon;
Jun 11 Sat FQ Moon 4.5° from Jupiter
July 6: Next BAS meeting at ES Fox Observatory; Topic: Movie Night
May 4, first BAS meeting at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
The May 4 meeting was held at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery for the first time and the venue was perfectly adequate for our purposes, tables, chairs and a nice kitchen for our coffee machine. This was our Beginner’s Forum and in the first half we did our regular business. The big event is the Mercury Transit May 9 and this was previewed (see SKY SIGHTS for this and more) and important upcoming BAS events were listed (see COMING EVENTS). Several announcements included Marian R. report on the acceptance of the West Grey Council of her committee’s Dark Sky recommendations. (Hooray!!!) Mike T. also reported that the sample he received during one of our previous meetings has gone to ROM for serious testing. There is avery good chance that is is a space rock! Brett T. also gave us an update on the Dark Sky Weekend planned for the national park near Tobermory from June 30 to July 3. There is another dark sky weekend at Whispering Pines July 23/24.
The Q&A part after the break ranged from the sad state of or dark skies -they seem to be getting brighter not darker if the memories of several members is accurate. Also the origin of some constellations were discussed and noted that Orion goes back many thousands of years.
All in all a very casual and informative evening. Image above is a Thomson "Northern Lights" painting done around 1917.
A Mercury Special Issue of reports and images of the transit mostly by our members is available here: Mercury Transit 2016
April 6, 4th Annual Astronomy Trivia Night
Trivia night featured the usual Q&A but this time with contestants vying for a prestigious new trophy donated by long-time telescope maker John H. The Telescopic Refractor and Imaging Visual Instrument Accessory also know informally as the T.R.I.V.I.A scope is a new original design that is slated to take the astronomical community by storm considering its many advanced features. These include multiple finder scopes (most telescopes have only one) and a rotary eyepiece holder that is outfitted with several commonly used eyepieces which are at the ready for viewing: -rather than searching in the dark for an ocular they are all there and in a variety of magnification ranges. Featured are magnifications of 465x, 988x and with stacked barlows as much as 2045x for those close up views of the rings around Uranus.
Especially useful, is the zoom eyepiece at prime focus that takes the user from 2x (a convenient finder scope magnification) to the full range of 2045x for the high powered views so desired by DSO hunters. Furthermore the rotary eyepiece holder can conveniently hold a CCD for simultaneous imaging of the objects being viewed. The patent for this revolutionary telescope design is pending, but you can be sure an astronomical viewing revolution is in the offing.
The winners of the trivia contest reacted joyfully when their team was awarded this scope but in a remarkable and generous display of astronomical sharing, they have decided to make the telescope available to anyone who comes to the Fox Observatory on viewing nights so it will be stored there for the duration. Please contact John or Brett if you wish to be put on the list for viewing with this instrument. You will be utterly amazed at the views through this remarkable telescope!
Attendees at the April 6 meeting also heard that the venue for our regular meetings has been changed to the Tom Thomson Art Gallery starting with the May 4 meeting. See COMING EVENTS for details.
March 2, first BAS meeting of 2016
The first BAS meeting of 2016 had a large audience and an interesting variety of topics which included a visit from Tom Thomson Gallery reps (looking for some joint activities). The main speaker was Greg Hollinger who provided a picture tour of Cerro Tololo telescopes. Mike Tettenborn brought his collection of Vesta meteorites which included samples of the recent Howardite meteorites from Turkey (fall Sep 2, 2015). Remarkably, we now know enough about the composition of Vesta that astrogeologists have identified these as from specific geologic regions on the asteroid -surface vs interior. Amazing!
There was a preview of March BAS events (link here: BAS 2016 Events Summary) as well as highlights of the astronomical events for 2016. All the important 2016 astronomical events are here: Astro Events 2016. but those selected for the “short list” (c/o John H.) in 2016 are the oppositions of the planets Jupiter (Mar 8), Mars (May 22 ) and Saturn (Jun 3) and a transit of Mercury on May 9 which will be visible from start to finish locally. If you saw the Venus transit in 2012 or 2004, note that Venus was about 5 to 6 times larger in silhouette as Mercury will be on May 9. Binoculars will not show it well, a telescope will be required. The May 9 date for this will be a public viewing day at the Fox Observatory. Note that there are also 4 eclipses (two solar, two lunar, but none visible from Bruce Grey (dang.) and there is only one total solar (Mar 8) with the others an annular solar eclipse and two penumbral lunar eclipses which will not be easily visible from Bruce-Grey.
The images that follow give a flavour of the slide show presentation by Greg Hollinger.
Smaller scopes at Cerro Tololo range from 0.9 m to 1.4 m apertures.
Largest telescope on site is a 4.0 m Victor Blanco telescope inside this dome.
Composite shot of the 4.0 m Victor Blanco telescope which uses a classic split horseshoe design like the Palomar 5 m and the Canada-France-Hawaii 3.6 m telescope on Mauna Kea. All images provided by Greg Hollinger. This composite by John H.
Dec 2, 2015 Meeting Recap (next meeting is Mar 2, 2016)
The Dec 2 meeting at Grey Roots Museum was a recap of our 2015 events and included a Treasurer's report (a healthy account balance), a photo recap of BAS events of 2015 including many examples of our BAS astrophotographers excellent work (see IMAGE GALLERY) and a table full of treats (some even healthy ones!) brought in by many members for the occasion. John H. previewed December and January events (see our COMING EVENTS and SKY SIGHTS) for details. He also gave a preview of the big events in 2016 which includes a Transit of Mercury on May 9 where the entire event is visible across North America (assuming weather cooperates). The other neat event is a vertical planetary alignment in mid August of Saturn, Mars and Antares (the "rival of Mars") in that order in the Milky Way above Scorpius. Venus and Jupiter also again make a close approach of each other, this time with only 7 minutes of arc separating them. This is smaller than the spacing between Jupiter and its farthest moon Callisto! Not mentioned were the two penumbral lunar eclipses (which are not as interesting or visible as even partial or total lunar eclipses) and an annular solar eclipse across mid-Africa and total solar eclipse over Indonesia and the S. Pacific Ocean. We are eagerly awaiting the Aug 2017 total solar eclipse over North America!
Dr. Albert sends everyone his Season's Greetings and wishes for a safe and Happy New Year!
Nov 4, 2015 Meeting Recap
The Nov 4 meeting at Grey Roots Museum was a members' night with contributions from BAS members including Frank W. who brought a 5-inch TEC refractor and a selection of his amazing astrophotographs, Brett T. and John H. who demonstrated a Sky Watcher Star Adventurer tracker, Gord Calder who has a 12-inch Sky-Watcher GOTO dobsonian telescope for sale (see STUFF FOR SALE), Julian D. who donated a classic Becvar star atlas (Atlas Borealis and Atlas Eclipticalis), Lorraine R who described the "Hands-on" system of measuring separations in the sky (see Hands-On Sky for ex.), and John H. who showed some videos of the morning planets rising above the horizon that he took recently. Some of these will be posted soon in the MEMBERS' VIDEOS section of this website.
Oct 7, 2015 Meeting Recap
The Oct 7 BAS meeting was held in the Theatre of the Grey Roots Museum and featured speaker Dr. Steve Briggs, local optometrist. He spoke on the issues of how our most important sense, sight, changes as we get older. Some problems like macular degeneration are still a mystery while others like cataracts have been successfully treated with intra-ocular implants.
Dr. Briggs also answered questions about the different kinds of laser surgery and how they affect our night-time vision. These treatments are much better than in the past and he states that amateur astronomers have nothing to fear from modern laser surgical techniques. More information on these aging issues and other information about vision is provided on the Briggs-Petrie website here: http://www.bpeyes.com/aging.html
Sep 2, 2015 Meeting Recap
The Sep 2 BAS meeting was a recap of the main Starfest events and was presented by Zoe K. She recounted some of the highlights which are found in more detail here on the BAS WEBLOG.
Here are a few images:
Aug 5, 2015 Meeting Recap
The Aug 5 BAS meeting was mainly a webinar with KW Telescopes where Brian Dernesch talked about the importance of good eyepieces. No point in buying an expensive telescope and then negating its fine optics with a cheap eyepiece. He recommended starting out with two or three good eyepieces (Plossls are good all-purpose eyepieces) and a good quality Barlow lens to double each eyepiece's magnification.
While Televue eyepieces are excellent, there are some others out there that are equally good and do not cost as much. Shop around.
Brett T. recommended an eyepiece tool that he demonstrated to the group. It did some very useful calculations of eyepiece parameters -highly recommended. See it at this link: Naperville Eyepiece Tool
The current issue of SGN (Sep 2015 pages 3&4) has a good article on eyepieces as well: SGN Sep 2015
July 8, 2015 Meeting Recap
The July 8 BAS meeting was supposed to be a webinar with KW Telescopes, but unforsaeen circumstances forced us to postpone to Aug 5. We moved the Movie Night into this slot and John H. showed movie clips, many original, of topics in astronomy. One of the clips showed astronauts on the Moon being attacked by a moon creature and running into problems because they had beans for a meal. In spite of the many scientific errors (I spotted 3 at least), it was a funny bit.
Note: the webinar and a members gadget night will be on the agenda for the Nov 4 meeting.
June 3, 2015 Meeting Recap
The June 3 BAS meeting featured astro-imager Stuart Heggie who amazed the audience with images he has taken over the years. The image below is just one of the many found on his website http://www.astrofoto.ca/stuartheggie/ The image is M51 or the Whirlpool Galaxy, a beautiful spiral galaxy near the tail of Ursa Major which is visible in binoculars even though it is 37 million LY away. Telescope used was a 12-inch CDK and exposure time was a total of 290 minutes or almost 5 hours! Processing in Photoshop mostly. Enjoy!