The December meeting was our annual year end wrap-up and holiday goodies sharing time. This year the meeting was held at the New Life Centre which has a roomier meeting space with kitchen facilities that are lacking at Bailey Hall. The regular 2019 meetings starting in March will be back at Bailey as the lecture theatre is a great space for that kind of activity. After a period of socializing, president John presented a recap of some highlights of 2018 which included several dark sky weekends, a Starfest recap and then successful evenings of Perseid meteor watching in mid-August.
Some of the astronomical “achievements” in 2018 included a successful video capture of the ISS transitting a gibbous Moon, observations of the Lunar X and Y as well as some (daytime) observations of a crescent Venus only a few days from its inferior conjunction with the Sun. One of our members even achieved a first for him involving seeing all eight planets in a single night.
John also presented a short preview of 2019 astronomical events which includes an excellent Jan 20/21 total lunar eclipse, (see SKY SIGHTS for more on that), a total solar eclipse on July 2, visible in the S. Pacific and Chile, and another transit of Mercury on Nov 11 lasting over 4 hours.
As for January 2019, here is the list of events that you need to plan for: (more info on SKY SIGHTS page)
Jan 01 to 04, Crescent Moon near Venus, then Jupiter, then Mercury in dawn sky -very photogenic
Jan 01 Tue 21:50 Venus 1.3°S of Moon
Jan 04 Fri 02:00 Quadrantid Meteor Shower (120/hour! moon only 3%) Viewing at Fox weather permitting
Jan 05 Sat 18:42 Saturn (magn. 0.5) occulted by 7 hour crescent Moon! Daytime event, and the Sun is only 3° away. Very tough observation.
Jan 06 05:00 Venus at Greatest Elong: 47.0°W
Jan 21 Mon 05:12 Total Lunar Eclipse; mag=1.195 (Total from 11:41pm Jan 20 to 12:43 am Jan 21 -best lunar eclipse in years!
Jan 30 to Feb 02 waning crescent near Jupiter, then Venus, then Saturn
Jan 30 23:54 Jupiter 2.8°S of Moon
Jan 31 Thu 17:36 Venus 0.1°S of Moon: Occultation visible in parts of S.America,
S. Pacific. A miss locally by only 0.7° just before local moonset.
Several of these events are described on SKY SIGHTS and elsewhere on this website.
Finally, from the BAS exec:
Nov 7, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The November meeting was a members’ night and we had the following presenters: Frank Williams talked about his workflow doing image processing, Lorraine Rodgers described her efforts with meteorite collection, Gord Calder talked about how optics was used during the famous WWII Dambuster bombing raids, Tony Wallace brought in his mirror heater DIY unit and after the break, Brett Tatton used Sky Safari to takes us through finding Uranus and Neptune in the sky. Here is a bright summary of each speaker’s presentation:
1: Frank Williams: Frank uses Pixinsight to process his images and described the 9-step workflow he uses. All astro images are processed to a more-or-less degree, and Frank gave us an example that went from the raw camera image (where the galaxy he imaged (NGC 4725) was barely visible) to the final process where details could be seen in the spiral arms of his target which is an interesting one-armed barred spiral galaxy. The before and after images only are shown below. Contact Frank W. for more details.
2: Lorraine Rodgers: Lorraine used some ideas about micro-meteorite hunting provided by Troy Johnstone from Airdrie, AB (see Nov SGN for his and Chris Hlynialuk’s efforts) to do a micro-meteorite hunt of her own. She displayed the almost invisible results stuck to paper with tape. Better views were obtained with a microscope which was available courtesy of the Biology Dept. of the former OSCVI. Lorraine’s image below shows probable micro-meteorites. The spherical shape and magnetic attraction are the characteristics that label these as probable meteoroid dust, but since there are also non-magnetic materials in space rocks, a large percentage of micro-meteorites would not be collected using this technique. Only the shape (spheres) and glassy appearance would give the stony ones away and so these are much more difficult to collect.
3: Gord Calder: An appropriate topic at this time of Remembrance which also had some astronomical connections was the WWII event involving the raid called Operation Chastise by 617 Lancaster Squadron, aka the Dambusters. A recently-released book by Ted Barris tells the whole story and includes how narrow floodlight beams were used to gauge the altitude of the plane above the ground (60 ft) and simple sighting devices used to triangulate on the target. There were other astronomy connections, not the least of which was the use of the stars in celestial navigation. Several members recalled seeing the hit movie released in 1955 “The Dambusters” starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd. That film inspired the sequence in one of the Star Wars movies when Luke flies his X-wing fighter through the innards of the Death Star and delivers the bomb that destroys it.
4. Tony Wallace: Tony described his DIY project making a dew heater and controller to provide some heat to his 10-inch primary and secondary telescope mirrors and eyepiece. His neat design for the primary heater involved a piece of acrylic with imbedded magnets that clipped onto the metal collimation bolts on his telescope. Tony has provided his detailed plans in this pdf: 3Channel Dew Heater Controller
5. Brett Tatton: Brett used Sky Safari on his tablet to describe locating and observing the two gas giants that many of us forget are out there, Uranus and Neptune. It turns out they are presently high in the evening sky (along with Mars) and worth having a look. Uranus is magnitude 5.8 and just about visible to the naked eye at a dark site and Neptune is magnitude 7.8. Both are easy enough to pick out in binoculars and Brett described his star-hopping technique to locate them. The first Starry Night chart below shows the 50° spread of sky that the planets Saturn-Uranus occupy.
Binocular charts are also provided here to help you locate Uranus and Neptune. Click on either chart below to download a B&W jpg. Note that the planets move over time and even a week will put them in a slightly different location that indicated here.
NOTE: Lorraine will send out more about the meeting in the minutes coming soon but evenings that the Fox can be accessed for viewing by members (weather permitting) are Nov 21, Dec 6, 13, 18, and Dec 20. Contact John H. the day before if you are interested.
NEXT meeting is our Christmas Social on Dec 5, 2018 at New Life Centre 201 4th Av W. at 7 pm. (MAP)
Oct 3, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The meeting featured a Dunlap Institute astrophysicist, Dr. Peter Martin from the University of Toronto whose topic was on intergalactic dust and gases referred to as Interstellar Medium (ISM).
He described his talk in these terms:
Looking in the high Galactic latitude sky, away from the Galactic plane, we have been able to map polarized thermal dust emission using the Planck satellite, as part of a cosmology mission to study the cosmic microwave background. This has highlighted the need for a better understanding of interstellar dust, small sub-micron sized particles mixed in with the gas. A novel approach to provide additional observational constraints on dust has involved deep imaging using the Dragonfly Telescope Array. Interesting new puzzles have arisen!
His research deals with studying these materials to get some insight into not only galactic evolution but also into how this material is involved in stellar and planetary formation. The data has revealed some interesting features and a lot more work has to be done.
Dr. Martin concluded with a comment on the immense amount of data accumulated by the ESA satellites, Planck and Herschel Space Telescope as well as several ground based instruments like the Penticton Radio Telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the 100-m Green Bank Radio Telescope. Most of the data has not been analyzed but archived awaiting astronomers to take up the task. (Incidentally, the image heehawed of the Dragonfly array had 7 people in it, five of them were women.)
More about Dr. Martin can be found here: https://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/dunlap-people/prof-peter-martin-phd-frsc/
One of the images shown was this all sky map made by Planck of the dust and gas in our Milky Way the region Of Dr. Martin’s interest is the faint wisps of dust in the upper and lower parts of the diagram well away for the thicker material in the galactic plane. More on this image here: http://sci.esa.int/planck/48204-planck-sees-new-mysterious-components-in-milky-way-and-magellanic-clouds/
The image taken by the Planck satellite below shows the intricacy of the ISM around our galaxy. It is one area near the North Celestial Pole which has a curious feature dubbed “The Spider” by Dr. Martin which he talked about extensively in his presentation.
More about this feature can be found here at the ESA website: http://sci.esa.int/planck/58002-the-spider-in-the-loop/
A description of the image follows:
The North Celestial Loop lies over 325 light-years away from us towards the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). It is composed of dust and neutral hydrogen blown and sculpted into an expanding shell. This can happen in a number of ways: when a dying star explodes as a supernova, by the strong winds streaming into space from nearby stars, or even when fast-moving clouds near the edges of the Milky Way fall inwards and shunt material towards the centre of our Galaxy.
Rather than being a neat, distinct loop, this disorderly feature comprises numerous filaments that knit together, forming small clouds that are connected via coarse arches of material. One such cloud – dubbed a cirrus cloud because it reminds us of the thin, wispy cirrus clouds familiar on Earth – can be seen sitting at the centre of the frame, with tendrils extending from a central point. This feature has been nicknamed 'the Spider'.
After the break, the regular agenda of items was covered including a treasurer’s report (we are in good shape, lots of fees coming in from talks and star viewings at the Fox and elsewhere), members observations which were sparse except for John H’s images of odd cloud shadows (ghost riders in the sky) and videos of Venus in the daytime which in one sequence appeared to be cobbled up by a mouth-shaped cloud!
Club events were covered next and mentioned were the items on the list below with special attention to the Coffin Ridge viewing on Oct 13 where a large crowd is expected. Contact John if you can help out. Note: the Oct 6 viewing is not looking good weather-wise and some members will be having an impromptu viewing Thursday night at the Fox instead. Contact John if interested in other impromptu viewing later this fall.
Club Events: Oct & Nov
Oct 3 Wed 19:00 BAS meets Bailey Hall OSDSS
Oct 6 Sat Dark of Moon viewing at Fox
Oct 13 Coffin Ridge viewing -help needed -contact John
Nov 7 Wed BAS meeting Bailey Hall -Members’ Night
(note: we go back to Standard Time Nov 4)
Nov 10 Sat Dark of Moon viewing Fox
(Note: weather dictates events -be ready for clear nights)
Sky Events: Oct (check Sky Sights page for more info on these)
Oct 8 Mon 7:10 (am) EDT Thin Moon in East (17.3 h)
Oct 9 Tue 18:49 EDT Young Moon/planets in West
Oct 11 to 18 Thu-Thu Crescent near Jupiter/Saturn/Mars
Oct 23 Tue 20:00 Uranus at opposition (magn. 5.7)
Oct 17/Oct 31: FQ moon at apogee/LQ at perigee
Meeting adjourned 9:10 pm
Sep 2, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The meeting opened with the regular agenda items and included a short summary of the current applications for grants being prepared. Two are in the works and at time of this update the Grey Bruce Community Foundation application has been submitted. We should know by the end of October whether any funds will be provided. The request was for money to put in a sidewalk, eavestroughs, and a composting toilet in the warmroom. The second larger grant request is to Trillium Foundation and is being prepared for submission by Sep 19. The two main items there are a portable planetarium and larger telescope and mount as well as funds to build a smaller observatory for solar observing possibly a refurbishment of the Coleman dome.
The main part of the meeting involved member’s recaps of Starfest 2018. Highlights included talks about the Andromeda Galaxy by Dr. Pauline Barmby, UWO, DSLR Astrophotography by Charlie Warren, and a “fireside chat” with one of Stephen Hawking’s grad students, Dr. Raymond Laflamme. Another interesting talk was given by physicist Major Don Bedard about the current state of the space debris in space and the dangers it poses. Canada is doing its part monitoring with a military satellite called Sapphire launched in 2013. Article here: Space Debris. It takes over from a previous microsatellite (74 kg) called NEOSSat that also monitored for Near-Earth Objects. Members were also given an update on the status of the Webster mirror (not good) and plans for a return to Optec Fullum for yet another attempt at getting the aluminizing right (at no expense to us other than half the shipping costs).
A list of speakers and topics at Starfest 2018 is here: STARFEST 2018 speakers
The October 3 meeting will be back at Bailey Hall in OSDSS and features Dr. Peter Martin who will talk about hunting faint galaxies using a Dragonfly Array.
Note: the Coffin Ridge viewing has been moved to Oct 13. Contact John H. for details.
Aug 2, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The August meeting included a presentation by our resident astrophotography expert Frank Williams. Frank presented his take on how to get started doing planetary images using standard DSLR’s, cellphones or any other camera that can take video. The key is to get enough short exposures of the planet that a steady image will appear on a small number of the several thousand frames in a 3 minute movie. This method called “lucky imaging” takes advantage of the fact that our atmosphere allows instants of clear and steady seeing even though in general the image looks like it is boiling. Typically 10% or so of the images will be much clearer than the rest, so software (several examples given in the list of links below) can not only extract the steady frames, but also stack them into a single image that can be further processed with Photoshop or Pixinsight, for example. Examples of Frank’s Jupiter and Mars images are on the HOME page. The image below is one he showed in his presentation: There is a hint of Saturn’s Crepe Ring (the “C Ring”) along with the more obvious A and B rings separated by the Cassini division. The Mars image was taken in May before the current dust storm started. Very NICE work!
Frank provided a summary of his work flow and it goes as follows:
Once you get familiar with the process, it will take less than 30 minutes per image.
Collimation: -your scope needs to be well-collimated to give the sharpest possible images
Focus on planet: -some cameras feature live view which can be used to sharpen focus, Batinov masks also work, some software (like Backyard EOS)(a windows product) have focussing functions.
Get AVI video file of planet: take a 3 minute movie to get enough frames- you will throw most of them away as unusable.)
Analyze data and select best 10-15% images -see iCap or PIPP links provided above (free!)
Stack images: using Autostakert or Registax (also free)
Sharpen using wavelets: Registax has this function
Noise reduction: using Photoshop or Pixinsight
Color adjustment and saturation: using Photoshop or Pixinsight
Using an Iphone for planetary imaging:
Using ICAP (image Capture) for planetary images
Using PIPP (Planetary Imaging PreProcessor) for processing planetary images
Using Autostakert for selecting and stacking images
Using Registax for processing (sharpening)
Our next meeting is on September 5, 2018 again at the Fox Observatory, and will feature members’ reports of highlights of this year’s Starfest convention. See you at the Fox Observatory at 7 pm Sep 5. The October meeting will be back at Bailey Hall in OSDSS.
July 4, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The July 4 meeting was spent by your esteemed editor watching fireworks from Providence Rhode Is. as part of a short holiday in New England, so I do not have a recap for you. Please check the minutes as provided by Lorraine for details of the meeting.
Our next meeting is August 1, 2018 and will feature some planetary imaging and processing hints by Frank Williams. See you at the Fox Observatory at 7 pm.
June 6, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The June 6 meeting was held at the Fox Observatory (as will the next 3 meetings July 4, Aug 1, Sep 5) and featured a talk via Skype from U of T Astronomer, Professor Michael Reid who spoke on “The Search for Life in the Cosmos”. He covered our solar system describing the conditions on Mars (suitable) and Venus (not suitable) and looked at the “Goldilocks Zone”, the region where water would be present in liquid form. This assumes that life requires water to sustain itself as opposed to ammonia or methane as a medium. This in itself is an interesting question: Can we have life based on Silicon or some other element instead of Carbon? Venturing beyond the solar system, Dr. Reid described the various techniques used to find exoplanets with Kepler and now TESS (the latter has replaced the former). He mentioned that more than one piece of evidence would have to be present to identify life on an exoplanet (the spectral signature of chlorophyll and oxygen, for example plus water) before an unequivocal life detection could be announced. Finally, he talked about the special cases within our own solar system, i.e., several of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn where water may be present beneath the surface ice layers. There were several good questions from the audience to wrap up the session.
The second half of the meeting was devoted to member observations and focused on images of Jupiter, Mars and our Moon made by Frank W. recently. He briefly described the techniques used to get details of the surface to appear sharp (lucky imaging and stacking) which he will elaborate on in his talk coming up later in the year.
Several members also mentioned seeing the thin crescent Moon near Venus in mid-May and John H. provided photos on three consecutive nights of the crescent and Venus. The first May 16, was taken from Owen Sound, then May 17 from the shore of Green Bay in Escanaba, Michigan and a final shot on May 18 from St. Paul Minnesota. It happened to be clear on the three nights on the road trip he took from OS to St. Paul, MN where Chris H. lives. See below.
Note also that BAS has a DVD from Sky & Telescope called the Skywatching Series that was put together especially for those starting out in the hobby. It is available for a one-month loan for new members/beginners from John H.
Important dates to keep in mind:
Jun 09 Sat 21:00 BAS Dark of Moon viewing at Fox
Jun 19 Tue 21:21 Venus 0.4° from Beehive
Jun 21 Thu 11:30 Summer Solstice Celebration @Keppel Henge
Jun 27 Wed 07:00 Saturn at Opposition (mag 0.0)
Jul 04 Wed 19:00 BAS meets ES Fox Obs: Speaker -Brett T. Apollo program
Our Dark Sky Weekends are coming up and include:
July 13,14,15 at Bruce Peninsula National Park (free camping in exchange for sharing our views Fri and Sat nights -weather permitting)
Contact Brett T. to be put on the list.
Aug 9 to 12 Starfest at River Place (to register contact NYAA here: Starfest Home )
Sep 14,15,16 at Inverhuron Provincial Park (free camping in exchange for sharing our views Fri and Sat nights -weather permitting)
Contact John H. to be put on the list. We have three campsites reserved at Gunn Pt. #67, 68 and 69.
May 2, 2018 Meeting Recap:
The wintery weather has let finally up and BAS had a successful meeting at Bailey Hall (only the second since last November!). Our first order of business was Steve Irvine’s presentation called “Finding My Way in Astrophotography” where he described his pursuit of sky images over his lifetime, including star trails over Keppelhenge, fireflies in a jar (no fireflies were injured) and aurora above Big Bay. Steve also has mastered the tricks of different aspects of photography including multiple exposures (his year-long analemma photo, for ex.) and pinhole photography taking long exposures of daytime sights. His other occupation is making useful and decorative pottery and his pinhole cameras are both ceramic works of art, and actually work! His life and works as a potter are described on his website here: http://www.steveirvine.com/index.html
Steve has been involved with Kepplehenge at the Keppelcroft Gardens in Big Bay owned by Bill and Dawn Loney. Steve’s Keppelhenge website is here: Keppelhenge where the features of the site are described (the stone circle monoliths, the Analemma projects -a sundial and a ground analemma, solar system scale model and many works of spacey art in various flower beds around the site).
The sample photo below is just one of many of Steve’s images that have been published in national magazines including Sky News and National Geographic:
This photograph shows just over one hour of star movement above the henge. Polaris is the bright star near the centre of the circle. There is a Polaris Viewing Stone at Keppel Henge which can be used at night to view the star sitting on top of the Centre Stone.
This photograph was published in Studio Magazine, and featured on the SkyNews Magazine website, and on The World At Night website.
After the break, members described observations over the last month which included Lyrid meteor shower observations as well as planets (Jupiter Mars and Saturn by the same intrepid observers!). A video of the illuminated ISS passing across the full Moon was shown ands several of us saw and imaged Venus and Mercury during their appearance in the western sky in March. See the minutes provided by secretary Lorraine for more details.
Composite image of ISS transit of FM March 26, 2018 as viewed from Tobermory, On. Photo by John H.
Note: telescope help is needed for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival viewing June 2. Contact John H. if you can help out with a telescope that Saturday evening, after dark. Also note viewing nights at the Fox Observatory are May 19 (the Dark-of-the-Moon night) and May 26 -a special gibbous Moon photo night with John H. Bring your cell phones and other cameras to record the Moon through our telescopes.
Next Meeting ES Fox Observatory June 6 at 7 pm: Speaker Mike Reid “Life in the Cosmos”.
April 4, 2018 Meeting CANCELLED due to bad weather.
March 7, 2018 First BAS meeting in new venue: Bailey Hall OSDSS
The first 2018 meeting in our new venue featured our first speaker, Rhett Mackend who recounted some personal experiences with our club members that got him interested in astronomy a few years ago. Now a member of the K-W Centre and also national rep for the RASC, he has jumped into the hobby with both feet. Rhett’s main topic was the “Bayfield Star Party” being held by the K-W centre during the new Moon period, June 7/8/9, 2018 at the Huron Church Camp south of Bayfield ON. BAS members are all invited and details can be found here: Bayfield Star Party 2018
John H. filled in some time before break with images of the sunset March 3 and the recent Venus/Mercury appulse. Some interesting effects involving a bit of blue flash as opposed to green were captured. Venus in particular had a faint blue flash at the horizon when it set. Images were also displayed of the zodiacal light on March 4 as well as wide-angle views of the winter Milky Way over Lake Huron. See the April SGN for images and more details. John later also displayed astronomical images taken with an iPhone 5s using Nightcap Camera, an app that allows more manipulation of the settings of the iPhone. It is a powerful app that extends the capability of cell phone imaging into night photography. Check it out here: Nightcap Camera
The last half of the meeting was a presentation on Messier marathon planned for the Fox Obs. March 17 with backup April 14 by Brett T. Brett explained some of the main points of viewing with hints on what objects to look for at what times of the night assuming you are actually going for the entire list in one night! Our approach is a bit more laid-back since our location mitigates against seeing all 110 objects easily. M30 is the final object viewable in the east at sunrise and pretty much at the horizon with the Sun from our latitude. Locations farther south give a better elevation for M30. The Bishop scope with goto will likely be used for the Mar 17/Apr 14 events and we do not expect participants to stay the entire night, but viewing upwards to 50 or so is not an impossibility if you are willing to hang in to midnight or so. Up to 100 are possible when all the Messier objects in the centre of the Milky Way appear before dawn.
Meeting topics have been slightly adjusted with the April and July meeting topics reversed, Apr 4 is now Trivia Night and July 4 is Brett’s talk on Apollo. We also have confirmed dates now for the Bruce Peninsula National Park Dark Sky Weekend: July 13/14/15. Once again BAS members get free camping in return for sharing telescope views with campers on any clear nights that weekend. This will be the 9th consecutive event, with the first one being in the International Year of Astronomy 2009 about the time the park was declared a dark sky preserve.
For your reference here are the dates/meeting topics for 2018. A more detailed, up-to-date listing of all BAS 2018 events is also available for download elsewhere on our website.
1. Mar 7: (OSDSS) Rhett & Brett
2. Apr 4: (OSDSS) Astronomy Trivia Night
3. May 2: (OSDSS) Star Photography -Steve Irvine
4. Jun 6: (ES Fox) Topic: Astronomy TBA: Mike Reid, U of T Dunlap Inst.
5. Jul 4: (ES Fox) Brett T: Topic: Apollo or Space-X
6. Aug 1: (ES Fox) Topic: Image Processing: Frank Williams
7. Sep 5: (ES Fox) Topic: Starfest Recap
8. Oct 3: (OSDSS) Topic: Dragonfly Array: Peter Martin U of T astronomer
9. Nov 7: (OSDSS) Topic: Member’s Night
10. Dec 5: (OSDSS) Topic: Xmas social and year in review
Next Meeting is Apr 4, 2018 at 7 pm for our annual Astronomy Trivia Night. We are looking at a different room with tables for that evening. Stay tuned.
Dec 6, 2017 Regular BAS meeting was CANCELLED because of snow squalls and treacherous driving conditions.
[Next meeting is Mar 7, 2018 at a location to be announced. We do not meet in January or February for weather-related reasons.]
There was an agenda for the Dec 6 meeting and for the sake of continuity, the items that would have been covered are described below. Members will receive a copy of this same information individually by email. A pdf copy of this meeting recap is available here: Dec 6 meeting recap.
Please read at least the last item 4. Final Announcements since that covers the last two viewing events this year at the Fox, the Gemnid meteors Dec 13 and the last dark moon viewing night Dec 16. Note that there is a significant amount of snow on the ground and the lane to the observatory is not passable except by foot. The main parking lot should be plowed out but be prepared for snow to the gunwales. You did get your snow tires on, right? Also please check your email at night Dec 12 or morning Dec 13 and Dec 16 as that will be the time I will be sending out any cancellations due to inclement weather. I also usually post these on our website, and Facebook page.
1. Welcome -John
2. Phil Visser: Lost at Sea followed by Q&A
3. Preview of 2018 Astro Events
4.. Final Announcements/Adjournment
-next meeting March 7, 2018 at (Bailey Hall Rm 315 OSDSS)
This is, as you are aware, the last meeting of 2017, and normally we would have had a recap of 2017 and a preview of 2018. This time we had a speaker for the first half of the meeting -Phil Visser, a navigation professor at the Georgian College Marine Training Centre.
Before Phil’s presentation on astro-navigation, I was going to mention that I have copied all the image and video files of the Aug 21 solar eclipse onto USB sticks and have a dozen available. You can borrow them (or purchase outright for $7.50) so you can transfer the files onto your own system. There are over 9 GB of images and videos and include the Eclipse Special pdfs, and a QT copy of our Sep 2 Eclipse Recap meeting among other stuff. Any BAS members can borrow these, they are not just for those who went on the trip.
I was also going to mention that we will no longer be meeting at the Art Gallery in 2018. Exec has talked about a few possible venues, and we continue to explore those. We will let you know as soon as we can. Hopefully the new location will be free, (or low-cost) and located centrally in the Bruce-Grey area.
2. Phil Visser was going to present a video on astro-navigation called ”Lost at Sea” to be followed by Q&A. Phil came with me on the eclipse trip and we had a great chance to get acquainted. Turns out we have a lot in common. We will try to book Phil for a talk at a meeting sometime in 2018. There is a YouTube copy of the program (originally from NOVA) available but it is not the hi resolution version of the CD. To watch it click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CswL-f19D-Y
3. Astronomy Preview for 2018
Detailed previews of astronomy events for 2018 are available on sites like
Our website will have an edited list of the astropixels listing soon. It is the one I use augmented by info from the RASC Observer’s Handbook for 2018.
Anyway, here is a short list of Interesting Astronomical Events for 2018: (Spoiler alert: NO good eclipses of either sort in 2018 but just wait until 2019!).
Jan 31 (Wed): Total Lunar Eclipse -Moon sets (7:44 am) just before start of totality locally. Best in central and western N.America. We will try to observe from the Friends of Sauble Beach Lookout at 6th St and Lakeshore Blvd at 6 am. The first visible contact of umbra is around 6:48 am but the Moon sets an hour later with only 3/4 of Moon covered. The site given below has an animation specifically for Owen Sound (but you can set it for your own location): https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/canada/owen-sound
Mar 3 (Sat): Venus 1° from Mercury -evening sky in W. just after sunset, separation just over 1° from Mar 2 to 4
Mar 18 (Sun): Crescent Moon, Venus, Mercury 8° of separation -Moon and two planets along 8° line in western sky after sunset -Crescent Moon and Venus always pretty!
Apr 2 (Mon): Mars 1.3° from Saturn -in Sagittarius at 3 am, Mars less than half a degree from M22
Apr 24 (Tue): Venus 3.5° from Pleiades -in western evening sky 9 pm
May 13 (Sun): Mercury 2.4° from Moon -Uranus even closer (2°) Mercury is bright at magnitude -0.1 -an early morning event in the east.
Jun 27 (Wed): Saturn at opposition (mag. 0.0) -in Sagittarius 3° from M22, FM 1.3° away Jun 28.
Jul 27 (Fri): Mars opposition -in Capricornus, mag -2.8, bright and large (24” across) but not high -does not get more than 20° above horizon. Summer 2018 is a good time for Mars watching -it is closer than usual and Saturn is nearby too.
Aug 12 (Sun): Perseid Meteors -90/h Moon only 4%, peak at 9 pm EDT. An all-night Sunday night meteor watch (Sat night too)! This will be a very good shower to observe. Note that it lasts for a week or so either side of Aug 12.
Sep 1 to 14: Comet 21/P Giacobini-Zinner may be bright in Auriga during this moon-free part of Sep. More info in Jan SGN.
Sep 7 (Fri): Neptune at Opposition (mag. 7.8), Mars and Uranus on either side 45° away. Diameter 2.4 arc-seconds
Oct 23 (Tue): Uranus at Opposition (mag. 5.7) Diameter 3.7 arc-seconds
Nov 15 (Thu): Mars 1.0°N of Moon: Occultation elsewhere but a miss by >1° locally. Moon FQ, Mars at -0.3 magnitude.
Dec 1 to 14: Comet 46/P Wirtanen may be bright in Taurus during this moon-free part of Dec. Look also in first two weeks of Jan and Feb. More info in Jan SGN.
Dec 8 (Sat): Saturn 4°N of crescent Moon Moon is 1.5 days old, setting in west after sunset.
Dec 14 (Fri): Geminid Meteors (120/h) 7 am peak Fri am. Moon not quite FQ and sets before Gemini rises. Friday night viewing at Fox Observatory
4. Final Announcements: All viewing events are, of course, WEATHER-PERMITTING:
- Geminids viewing at Fox Dec 13 @dark: We have arranged with the OEC staff to access the Fox Observatory during this weekday night. Please park in the regular lot near the Learning Centre and proceed to the observatory for viewing.
-More viewing at Fox Dec 16 (new Moon) Our scheduled viewing night during dark of the Moon.
-Jan 31 Lunar Eclipse viewing Sauble Beach at the 6th St. Washroom (6 am)
And FINALLY, from BAS exec, we wish you and yours a Happy Holiday! See you for occasional viewing when skies clear (or March 7, 2018, whichever comes first)
Nov 1, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is Dec 6, 2017 at Tom Thomson Art Gallery]
In the business part of the meeting, we covered recent observations of the thin crescent Moon near Venus and Mars. John showed some video that shows the earth-lit top edge of the crescent peeking above the eastern horizon which requires a clear sky right to the horizon. Oct 18 am was just such a morning. Image below:
An important list of rules for Fox Observatory use was discussed and the list is provided below.
- Must be current BAS member
- Use during weekdays only with permission of OEC
- If students present, Police Check & Off. Decl is mandatory
- No Smoking/Alcohol/Drug Use on site
- Minimum 2 members if using Fox Observatory
Further discussion on the part of the exec will take place to consider other situations where visitors ask to use the facility for viewing. Note that public viewing on our scheduled nights (weekends) is not affected by these rules.
COMING EVENTS include another occultation of Aldebaran Nov 5, a close approach of Venus and Jupiter on Nov 13, two ISS passes across the crescent Moon Nov 14 and Nov 15 among others. See the Website HOME page for a short list or COMING EVENTS or SKY SIGHTS pages for more. The ISS TRANSITS are explained in more detail on the BAS WEBLOG.
After the break, Brett described a unique and simple “split-pupil” finder which uses a cheap plastic lens and luminous marker. The details are provided at this link: http://www.jerryoltion.com/Split_pupil_finder.htm
Lorraine also brought in some items to show and tell and contributed a star atlas to the door-prize draws. Other items included a 3-D Moon puzzle, a set of lenses to attach to a smartphone and books by Chris Hadfield among others. John demonstrated a selection of pop-up books on astronomy and space topics with some very unique pop-ups. One even went from flat pages to a full spherical globe of the Moon! Another on Galileo’s Inventions included a 5X focusable working telescope folded up in a small pocket in the book. How do they do it!!!???
Julian brought copies of his 2018 wall calendar and mentioned that the Aperture Photo show by 10 local photographers (which includes Julian) is now on and will continue until the end of November at the Legacy Gallery in Co-op Artists store in the MacKay Building. Official opening is Nov 5 at 2 pm.
Oct 4, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is Nov 1, 2017 at Tom Thomson Art Gallery]
The first part of the meeting was the usual discussion of observations by members, listing of events both astronomical and club events. Perhaps the most interesting was descriptions of the upcoming transits of the Moon and Sun by the International Space Station. In fact, there was a lunar pass happening later that night (11:24 pm) visible from Cape Crocker and Collingwood. [Three BAS members set up for that one and videos were obtained of the event -a first-ever ISS transit for those concerned. -ed] Other transits are due to occur Oct 9, Oct 13 and Oct 23. The last one of those will be widely visible all over Bruce and Grey counties. See map below for the region of visibility for the Oct 23 solar transit by ISS:
The Oct 23 ISS solar transit takes place between 8:26:30 am EDT and 8:26:36 am EDT (where the centreline above crosses land in southern Bruce county). To give the specific time and other necessary information visit www.transit-finder.com and plug in your home location and a date range to see all the events happening in your area. Most passes are short (2 seconds or less) but very neat to see.
The second half of the meeting was a series of short videos on various topics and included a Neil Armstrong narration of the first lunar landing with additional more recent Google imagery played beside the familiar landing video. Here is a list and links of the videos that were presented:
- ISS transit during solar Aug 21 eclipse -video of ISS pass across Sun during the partial phase of solar eclipse of Aug 21
- Neil Armstrong narrates Apollo 11 landing
3. Antiques Roadshow Apollo artifacts
no link, John showed a Quicktime movie
4. Cassini Mission finale (this was was not shown but here it is anyway if you haven’t seen it
5. Faint aurora Sep 7/17 ℅ JH and JD
no link, John showed his original time-lapse movie and Julian’s aurora Sep 7
6. BBC animation Big Bang
The next meeting Nov 1 at TTAG. Topic: Members’ Night and Swap Night?
Members were asked to contact John for a presentation slot at meeting and asked to bring in interesting items, books, items to swap? items for sale? etc…
Final item was a description of “Four Coronas” -see image below:
Sep 6, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is Oct 4, 2017 at Tom Thomson Art Gallery]
The main topic for this meeting was solar eclipse trip to Grand Island Nebraska by the group of 26 BAS members/family and friends. The meeting was held in more comfortable surroundings at the Learning Centre and was well attended not only by BAS members but by a dozen or so visitors, some who mad the trip to the OEC twice as an unfortunate error in announcing the date in the local papers. The author of that error once again apologized for the mistake. In any case, it is hoped that the Eclipse Cake (which was spectacular) made up for the date error.
In the first half, videos taken during the eclipse by various photographers were shown. Those by BAS members will be posted on the BAS VIDEOS page soon, and links are provided here for the others from the internet:
Alan Dyer: Totality over the Tetons https://vimeo.com/232123313
Malcolm Park: Eclipse Time Lapse: http://www.photopark.ca/Page-2/Eclipse-2-17/i-Kjs7PCq/A
And if you watch nothing else have a look at this one, it is a spectacular real time 4K video: https://vimeo.com/231484786
Here are some of Alan Dyer’s composites: You can see more at his website: www.amazingsky.com
There were several member videos (Julian Delf, John H.) which showed the events at the KOA campground. Much of the same is covered in the Eclipse Special available on the HOME and 2017 SOL.ECL. pages of this website.
The second half of the meeting involved images taken by our BAS photographers and discussions were lead by those individuals on how they were taken and/or processed. Once again, the Eclipse Special available on the HOME and 2017 SOL.ECL. pages of this website covers many of the same images.
The participants in the Great BAS Eclipse Chase are pictured below. Next North American eclipse is Apr 8, 2024, but there are two earlier that both occur across Chile and Argentina, one on July 2, 2019 and one on Dec 14, 2020. Both are interesting possibilities especially because they involve travel to the southern hemisphere which has a sky most of us have not seen before with the centre of the Milky Way STRAIGHT OVERHEAD !!!
Aug 2, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is Sep 6, 2017 at Fox Observatory]
The main topic for this meeting was a recap of Starfest by members who attended.
All agreed that the speakers were excellent and typical of the high calibre of talks arranged by the NYAA organizing committee. One member noted that the first Starfest had about 25 attendees and excellent talks. Fred Espenak, Mr. Eclipse, (www.mreclipse.com) spoke twice, once describing how to best photograph the eclipse and secondly on what to expect during the event, giving lots of valuable hints. One question that came up was when to remove the filters to watch the diamond ring effect. He replied that for his images he uses about 50 seconds prior to second contact, the start of totality. Visually a bit less. Members chimed in with comments about their favourite speakers. Lorraine has put some of these into the minutes of the meeting and sent out copies via email specifically to members. Minutes are not available freely on our website.
As for weather, this was one of the poorest Starfest conventions for viewing and only one night plus a few hours on a second night was clear. Still, the Webster got a good workout for those 3 hours (by BAS members mostly) -the lineups at the eyepiece were not long. A lot of popular objects were viewed along with the two planets, Jupiter and Saturn.
A new tradition has been introduced for future Starfest gatherings of BAS members, a wine and or beer-tasting evening. Two members managed to snag some good Belgian beer from Dr. Jan Came, a Belgian astrophysicist, and John H. brought some well-aged Nebula Red from the 2012 Harvest Dinner at the OEC. It was rated excellent by all tasters. The beer was pretty good too. Please look out for examples of good wines for next year, especially if they have an astronomical theme. So far we have partaken of “Starburst” (a white) and “Nebula Red”, two wines especially bottled by Pelee Wines for the OEC.
The Sep 6 meeting of course will deal with the solar eclipse. Keep doing the “anti-rain dance”, folks.
July 5, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is Aug 2, 2017 at Fox Observatory]
The main topic for this meeting was lunar imaging -a workshop-style event led by Frank Williams.
Brett welcomed folks, there was a brief and very positive treasurers report with healthy finances from a busy schedule of talks. Brett described the process of getting the Webster mirror coated, as well as the report on its improved performance at the last dark skies observing night. Lorraine also commented on how excellent the views were especially M51.
Brett then did the coming astronomical events, along with descriptions of key areas to observe (Lagoon), Sagittarius star cloud, M51 sketching article using a 28" newtonian and comparing with Lord Ross sketches. He also demonstrated the Iridium flare app Sputnik and described an observing night at the Allenford Observatory with Frank and Lorraine seeing 4 of 5 Iridium flares.
The members added their own observations which included the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and a quiet Sun. Frank showed images of Sun through Lunt with a Skyris camera. Frank showed videos of the Fox Observatory from a drone.
Following the break Frank gave a talk on lunar imaging.
Frank then demonstrated backyard EOS camera control taking Moon pictures to the laptop, as well as taking Moon pictures using a remote, as well as using members equipment (Cheryl Dawson's Canon lenses)
Lorraine demonstrated using an afocal smartphone adapter to take images with her smartphone of the Moon using a 5" refractor and time delay on camera. This surprised a lot of people with the images they could achieve with minimal investment!
Other members took lunar images using point and shoot cameras.
Lorraine provided the following info and image she took of the Moon that night:
"Here is one of my cell pics. Imaging a gibbous moon before it got dark out saved having it being overexposed. Brett fixed my focuser and re-collimated the scope. The afocal adapter worked well last night."
Note from Editor: I have enlarged a portion of the original image (45.6 MB!) showing the crater Tycho to illustrate how much detail can be seen in a cell phone image like this. No processing has been done on this image. Image taken with a Samsung phone, at 1/155 s, ISO 40, f/1.9, focal length 3.7 mm.
The session was well-received and appreciated by all. Thanks Frank! (And Lorraine -for the image!)
Other lunar imaging resources can be found here:
Lunar imaging: Sky News magazine editor Gary Seronik gives a good grounding here.
Smartphone Astrophotography by Andrew Symes Using iPhone or other smartphones -some very good results
Expert Tips for Basic Lunar Imaging from Sky and Telescope magazine
June 7, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is July 5, 2017 at Fox Observatory]
The month's meeting focused on the surprise northern lights display of May 27 and the Aug 21 solar eclipse. Images of the aurora was shown (many are in the current newsletter here: June SGN). The aurora was widely observed even in parts of California and farther south. The display was rated by several experienced observers as the best is two or three years and as good as any during the peak of the last sunspot cycle in 2013/14. Although the red and violet colours were not seen by eye, they showed up vividly in images which for the most part needed no additional enhancement in Photoshop. Both Joh and Julian showed videos of the display which ran for pretty much the whole night. Lorraine reported seeing the display even at 2:30 am. Sample image (Alan Dyer www.amazingsky.com) below:
John H. presentation followed the break. He detailed some of the important points about eclipses in general and about the Aug 21 eclipse in particular. The material is too extensive to present here, but look for a downloadable file of the presentation in the very near future.
May 3, 2017 Regular BAS meeting
[Next meeting is June 7, 2017 at Fox Observatory]
The meeting occurred at the TTAG and the agenda (with elaboration of each item as required) is provided below:
2. Treasurer’s Report -deferred to next meeting
3. BAS Club Events (Requiring members’ assistance)
Please contact John H. if you can help out at any of these events. Assistance is especially required for the June 3 and June 10/11 events which will involve larger groups of the public.
-1. May 27 BOEC/Ducks Unlimited Open House (1 to 4 pm) at BOEC and Fox Observatory -come to help and tour BOEC
(followed by our regular Dark-of-the-Moon viewing night).
-2. June 2 (Fri) TTAG Patrons tour Fox after dark -Guide John H.
-3. June 3 Huron Fringe Birders -talk and star tour (weather permitting) 8:00 pm talk, 9:30 pm star gaze (helpers needed) MacGregor Point Prov. Pk. Contact John if avail.
-4. June 10 &11 Bruce County/Canada 150 Celebrations (10 am to 4 pm) Fox Obs. solar viewing daytime, night viewing after dark. Helpers needed both days. Contact John if avail.
-5. June 21 Summer Solstice at Keppel Henge 11 am -solar viewing
4. Recap of Messier Marathon Apr 22: Report by various members on Apr 22 viewing where 47 Messier objects were observed (Thanks to our expert guide Frank W). See chart below:
5. Observations & Sky Events: Cheryl reported seeing another Green Flash, her 3rd, on her recent Caribbean cruise. Comet 41P was also observed by four members and imaged on Apr 22 by John H. after the main group left the Fox. There was general lack of reports locally since the weather has been so cloudy/rainy lately but members are encouraged to observe the crescent Moon near Venus and Mercury on May 22 and 23. Also Saturn reaches opposition in mid-June so Saturn-watching will begin in earnest.
- In lieu of Zoe's presentation (she was reporting on a hearing which ran late and could not make it to our meeting) we had miscellaneous items including a “Women in Astronomy” video (3 min), a TED talk on the ladies behind “Hidden Figures” and a video on basic sky directions/nomenclature from www.eyesonthesky.com. Click on the links provided to see the clips.
Adjournment -next meeting June 7 at Fox Obs. Topic: Eclipse Preview -John H.
- Note the June meeting will occur at the Fox Observatory and will be followed by observing weather-permitting. See you then!
April 5, 2017 Astronomy Trivia Night
[Next meeting is May 3, 2017 at TTAG]
The second BAS meeting of 2017 was our annual Trivia Night but started with a recap of astronomical events mainly a report on the successful observations of the graze of Aldebaran Mar 4. There is a detailed writeup in the April issue of SGN available on the NEWSLETTER page. Both John H. and Ken P. (at a location near Georgetown) made video recordings through telescopes. John's video showed two clean disappearances and reappearances as Aldebaran apparently clipped the tops of two lunar mountains. Ken's showed the same events but during the part of the time that Aldebaran was visible at full brightness at the local observing site, Ken's showed a dimming of the star. Our suspicion is that Aldebaran, being a large star was only partly covered by lunar terrain and Ken's video recorded the star with only a portion cut off by the surface. Just by chance, I found a reference to this possibility mentioned in a S&T article a week or so afterwards, which indicate that partial coverage of large star disks like that of Aldebaran is possible. More events than we observed were seen at other locations. Example here: Glen Williams video
Image below is a screen shot kindly supplied by Ken. It has been oriented for the correct North up view. The Moon was moving upwards to the left making it appear that Aldebaran was moving downwards to the right.
Image by Ken Pituley Nikon 3100 direct imaging from an LS 8, at f/10
March 1, 2017 First BAS meeting of 2017
[Next meeting is Apr 5, 2017 at TTAG]
The first BAS meeting of 2017 was a combined annual General Meeting and information session. Th AGM included a financial statement from our treasurer (via pres.) indicating our expenses and income from 2016. BAS has a healthy bank balance which members can examine when secretary Lorraine sends out the meeting minutes. A key item stressed by the president was that insurance constitutes a major expense but we is absolutely essential given the activities that BAS is involved with in public education both at the Fox Observatory and at other public locations. Members must be paid up to take advantage of and be protected by this insurance.
Elections of executive officers are "underway" and nominations for any of the four positions were called for. The deadline passed at the end of break and no nominations having been received at the meeting (or previously by email during February) there are no candidates contesting the currently held executive officers (who had agreed to continue in their positions at an exec meeting in January). An election at the Apr 5 meeting (as previously announced) appears to be moot.
The meeting also involved two observing challenges: the graze of Aldebaran on Saturday night Mar 4 around 11:15 pm and the Messier Marathon slated for Mar 25. John H. described the features of the graze of Aldebaran along the dark limb of the Moon which is explained in the March issue of SGN available on our NEWSLETTER page and in SKY SIGHTS on this website. Please refer to those for more information. Messier Marathon information is also available here: Brett T. Messier Marathon and a chart of Messier objects is available here: Messier Charts both provided by Brett.
Dec 7, 2016 Last BAS meeting of 2016
[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!