RASC Vancouver Monthly meeting (hybrid): October edition

Join us for our monthly meeting. All of our monthly meetings are free and open to the public.

Location: Room AQ 3159

Topic: Planetary Defense, or “How to Avoid Impacts and Influence Orbits”

Speaker: Jennie King

Jennie “Starstuff” King is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s astronomy program. While studying astronomy and physics, she discovered her deep love of STEM education and outreach through work with the Dark Skies, Bright Kids organization. As a high school AP Physics and Engineering teacher in Denver, Colorado, she brought her love of space exploration to the classroom. Jennie became a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador in order to encourage others to explore the wonders of the cosmos with their hearts, minds and imaginations. She has hosted livestream watch parties for NASA milestones such as the Perseverance Rover landing, developed school-aged astrophysics curricula, and led interactive astronomy events for all ages. As a new Vancouver area resident, Jennie looks forward to connecting with the astronomy and STEM education communities of BC and beyond.

On September 26, 2022, a quiet binary asteroid system had a very interesting day. Didymos, the larger asteroid of the system, watched as a spacecraft deliberately slammed into its smaller moonlet, Dimorphos. Meanwhile, telescopes on Earth directed their gaze toward this event in order to witness the aftermath of the collision and to collect valuable data. This dramatic encounter, known as the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), was humanity’s first test of the kinetic impactor method for asteroid deflection. Because the Didymos-Dimorphos system poses no danger to Earth, it provided a welcome opportunity to demonstrate technology that could one day save lives in the event of a real threat. This talk will address the following questions:

– What exactly were the goals of this cosmic crash test, and what have we learned from the results?
– Why do organizations like NASA invest time and resources in planetary defense?
– What comes next in humanity’s efforts to protect our home world from impacts?

About our Events:
All RASC lectures and observing events are open to the public, family friendly, and there is no charge for admission. Our organization is run entirely by volunteers who love astronomy and astrophysics. Whether you’re a complete beginner, a seasoned astronomer, or you hope to work for NASA some day, anyone fascinated by space exploration is welcome and will enjoy our events

RASC Vancouver Monthly meeting (hybrid): September edition

Join us in-person at SFU for our Monthly Meeting with an on-line backup option available.

Topic: A Changing Night Sky – When the satellites come flying in.

Speaker: Patrick Seitzer, Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan Astronomy Department

Bio: Patrick Seitzer is a Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan Astronomy Department in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He conducts research in Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and optical studies of orbital debris. Using U-M’s 0.6-meter Curtis-Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, he and his collaborators conduct optical surveys to determine the total amount of debris at geosynchronous orbit (GEO) then follow up with spectroscopy with the 6.5-m Magellan telescopes to characterize particular objects. Magellan is also used to do deep pencil-beam surveys for faint orbital debris in the GEO regime. Recently he has concentrated on the challenge of large numbers of new bright satellites and how they will change the appearance of the night sky, and affect astronomical observations. He served on the NASA delegation to the Inter-Agency Debris Coordinating Committee (IADC), and currently is on the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris.

Abstract: Artificial satellites in Earth orbit have been leaving streaks in astronomical images since 1957 and the launch of Sputnik 1. The problem took on a much larger challenge in May, 2019, when SpaceX launched the first Starlinks into low Earth orbit (LEO). These satellites were bright enough that they could be seen in twilight, and from the center of light polluted cities. Astronomers immediately wondered: with the proposed launch of several hundred thousand satellites into LEO in the next decade, was the night sky lost? I’ll review what determines when and how bright a satellite will appear, and the steps SpaceX has taken to make the Star links fainter. In addition, I’ll outline what amateur astronomers can do to measure the brightness of satellites, and when and where to observe so that your observations are least affected by satellites.

SFU’s COVID in-person protocols apply, that being maintaining distance from others and wearing of masks are encouraged.

If you can’t join us in person, join via the zoom link available to our Meetup members when you RSVP. RASC Vancouver Members will be sent the online link in our usual monthly meeting email invitation.

All of our monthly meetings are free and open to the public.

Location: Hybrid In person at Simon Fraser University and via Zoom. Details available in meet up.

Date and Time: September 08, 2022, 7:30PM

RASC Vancouver Monthly meeting (hybrid): July edition

Join us in-person at SFU for our Monthly Meeting with an on-line backup option available.

We are fortunate to have two researchers from Canada’s National Research Council, Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics for this month’s meeting. Dr. Wesley Fraser and Dr. Madeline Marshal will speak to us on the first images from Webb only two days after data is received. Canada made significant contributions to the telescope instrumentation. Learn about Canada’s contribution and the fascinating research these two will describe. 

SFU’s COVID in-person protocols apply, that being maintaining distance from others and wearing of masks are encouraged.

If you can’t join us in person, join via the zoom link available to our Meetup members when you RSVP. RASC Vancouver Members will be sent the online link in our usual monthly meeting email invitation.

All of our monthly meetings are free and open to the public.

Location: Hybrid In person at Simon Fraser University AQ3159 and via Zoom

Date and Time: July 14, 2022, 7:30PM

Link to SFU Room finder: https://roomfinder.sfu.ca/apps/sfuroomfinder_web/?q=AQ3159

Link to more information on our Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/astronomy-131/events/286493282/

RASC Vancouver Monthly Meeting (Hybrid event): June edition

Join us for our first In-Person monthly meeting in two years at SFU Burnaby!
SFU’s COVID protocols apply, that being maintaining distance from others and wearing of masks are encouraged.
If you can’t join us in person, join via the zoom link available to meetup members when you RSVP.
All of our monthly meetings are free and open to the public.

Location: Hybrid: In person at Simon Fraser University AQ3159 and via Zoom
Link to SFU Room finder: https://roomfinder.sfu.ca/apps/sfuroomfinder_web/?q=AQ3159

Topic: A View of the Universe – The Trottier Observatory and Galaxy Formation

Speaker: Dr. Joanna Woo – Astrophysicist, Department of Physics, Simon Fraser University

Website: https://www.sfu.ca/physics/people/faculty/jwa304.html

Bio: I am an astrophysicist with a focus on galaxy evolution using a variety of cutting-edge observational and theoretical tools. While studying for a B.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy from UBC, I established and became the president of the UBC Astronomy Club which is still active to this day. I also held a part time job at the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. Being the adventurous type, I decided to pursue graduate studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, receiving my Ph.D. in 2014. I then moved to beautiful Switzerland to take up a postdoctoral position at the Institute for Astronomy of ETH Zurich before returning to Canada for postdoctoral position at UVic. Since mid-2019 I have been a lecturer at the Department of Physics at SFU and the director of the Trottier Observatory.

Abstract: From the Trottier Observatory to the galaxies far far away, this talk will cover the multiple facets of astronomy outreach and galaxy evolution research at Simon Fraser University. Since its humble beginnings at the turn of the new millennium, the Trottier Observatory has educated and inspired thousands, from young children in the community to advanced undergraduates and beyond. Aside from outreach, we are actively involved in study of galaxies and their evolution. I will give a brief overview of our work on understanding the processes by which galaxies mysteriously stop forming stars.

Hoping to see everyone in our first in person event of the year.

International Astronomy Day & Science Rendezvous 2022 (Virtual)

RASC Vancouver will be celebrating International Astronomy Day in conjunction (as we do annually) with Simon Fraser University’s Science Rendezvous.

RASC Vancouver will be hosting five astronomy-themed presentations and SFU’s Science Rendezvous event line-up includes student spaceflight experiments that are going up to ISS, astronomy presentations, a magic chemistry show, a special Meet an SFU Scientist talk with an Astro statistician and live streamed, front-row, remote access to SFU’s on-campus telescope.

Registration in advance is required at Eventbrite to receive the Zoom links. Registration is free. The Zoom links will be emailed out to registrants a week prior.

Events for RASC International Astronomy Day can be found at this link:

Events for SFU’s Science Rendezvous can be found at this link:

Highlights include:

RASC Vancouver:
11:00 am: The One Meter Solar System-all youth welcome!: Suzanna Nagy- RASC Vancouver Secretary and Past-President

12:00 pm: The Life Cycle of a Star: Renuka Pampana- RASC Vancouver Webmaster

1:00 pm: An Introduction to Astrophotography: Rob Lyons, professional filmmaker, photographer and founder of Super Creative

2:00 pm: How Can We Do More LPA: Leigh Cummings–Light Pollution Abatement (LPA) Chair RASC Vancouver

3:00 pm: Stellarium-How to use Stellarium-a free open source planetarium for your computer: Robert Conrad -Vice President and Observing Chair RASC Vancouver

RASC Vancouver Monthly meeting: April edition

Join us for our monthly meeting on Thursday, April 14,2022

Time : 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM PDT

Location: Zoom

Topic: Astrophotography – Getting Started with Deep Sky Imaging

Speaker: Rouzbeh Bidshahri (Rouz)

Bio: Long time amateur astronomer interested in high resolution imaging of deep sky objects and planets. Consulting and setting up telescope systems with training.

Abstract/Summary: Brief look at different types of astrophotography with focus on deep sky imaging from short to long focal lengths.

More details on the speaker :

Rouz                                                             .

Telescope Systems Design & Installation

Email:     [email protected]

Gallery: https://www.astrobin.com/users/Rouzbeh/

Articles: https://astrogeartoday.com/author/rouzastro/

Social:    https://www.instagram.com/rouz_astro/


Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture: Sophia Gad-Nasr : Creating Black Holes with Dark Matter at Cosmic Dawn

We are thrilled to announce that the speaker for our annual Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture is: Sophia Gad-Nasr
Science Advisor and Dark Matter Hunter
PhD student in Cosmology at University of California, Irvine

Join us on Saturday, March 12 at 7:30 pm for our annual Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture (held virtually).  Our YouTube channel will live stream the lecture. 


Abstract in her own words: At the heart of every large galaxy lies a black hole millions to billions of times the mass of the sun. These supermassive black holes are found too early in the Universe’s history to be explained by conventional mechanisms: their formation remains a mystery.

The answer may lie in yet another of the Universe’s mysteries: dark matter. A substance six times as abundant as normal matter, dark matter is everywhere and holds galaxies together. If dark matter particles scatter off of one another, then the interplay between gravity and these scatterings may lead to a catastrophic collapse, leaving behind a black hole in its wake.

Join me on a tour of the dark Universe during the earliest stages of its evolution. I will discuss the puzzle of the existence of supermassive black holes at cosmic dawn, and how dark matter may resolve this mystery. With space telescopes like the James Webb, we can peer back far enough to see if dark matter in galaxies does collapse and form black holes at cosmic dawn, and potentially unravel this longstanding mystery in cosmology.

Paul sky memorial lecture background : These annual memorial lectures honor Paul Sykes. Paul actively pursued his interest in astronomy, attending conferences and joining RASC, where he became a Life Member. Paul Sykes passed away in October 2005 at the age of 87 and left the Vancouver Centre a generous gift.

Paul Sykes was born in Hummelston, Pennsylvania USA in 1918. He acquired his interest in astronomy at an early age. During his teens he published his own monthly astronomical column and gave at least one lecture.

He was an officer in the United States Air Force, served in the Pacific during WWII attaining the rank of Captain. He was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, the U.S. Air Medal, the Oak Leaf and Cluster and the Bronze Star. Following the war he attended UBC earning a degree in Physics in 1948. He rejoined the United States Air Force and attended the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology, studying nuclear physics. He worked on the NERVA Project, a nuclear rocket development effort and rose to the rank of Major.

Paul was appointed a lecturer and administrator in Physics at UBC and remained there until retirement in 1983.

Star Visibility – Sirius vs Antares

by Milan B

We are approaching the 2021 Vernal Equinox and are witnessing how fast the daylight hours are increasing for observers at 49 N. This phenomenon will affect the visibility of certain stars more than others. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky will be greatly affected by this day lengthening and will go quickly into its summer sleep around mid-May and stay out of sight for about three months for observers at 49N. On the other hand, the mighty red giant Antares is just “warming up” for its’ “opposition” with the Sun in late May – early June, when it will dominate the low southern skies.

The very bright star towards the upper left corner of the frame is Antares. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi (twanight.org), CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, which of these two famous stars has better visibility for observers at mid-northern latitudes like 45 N or 49 N?

Many would say that Sirius, being almost 10 degrees higher in the sky for northern hemisphere observers is the absolute favourite. But hold on a sec, Antares is not throwing the towel in yet.

The chart below shows the hours of visibility for Sirius and Antares for each Friday in 2021. On the first sight the blue bars dominate the red ones, especially in the months when Sirius is visible for almost 10 hours each night.

Visibility hours for Sirius compared to Antares throughout 2021, courtesy od Sky Safari and Milan B.

But, on a closer look, the gap of invisibility for Sirius seems much wider than the one for Antares, revealing the fact that Sirius is invisible for much longer than Antares.

So, to answer the above question we need to refine the definition of “better” visibility. If we add up all visibility hours throughout the year, we can see that Sirius’ total hours dominate. This is confirmed by the average (for the year) line for Sirius, which is close to 5 hours per day compared to the average line for Antares, which is at around 4 hours per day. However, if we add up all days when each star is visible, then Antares becomes an unexpected winner. It is out of sight for observers at 49N only for about three weeks in late November – early December when the late autumn sun slides just above it, on its steady stroll along the ecliptic.

It is important to mention that for the reason of simplicity, the visibility hours in the above chart have been calculated when the star is above the horizon while the Sun is below the horizon. To compensate for the fact that stars are not visible immediately after rising or before setting, especially if the Sun is not far below the horizon, a one hour correction line was added to the chart. This line will “bite” a lot more into the visibility of Antares, as the mighty red giant spends more time in very low altitudes of just a few degrees above the horizon compared to Sirius.

Even if we subtract three weeks on each end of Antares’ “conjunction” with the Sun, which falls around Nov 30th, Antares will be the winner in this category.

It is also worth mentioning that the visibility in “wee” hours (after 1 AM) is being treated equally to the visibility at more friendly hours such as early evening. If we took just the observability at “normal” hours, when each star is not hugging the horizon, the outcome might be totally different.

Milan B, avid sky observer with both SkyWatcher and SkySafari.

NOVA Newsletter for Mar/Apr 2021

The latest edition of our NOVA newsletter is available as a pdf file. An archive of older issues can be found on our Newsletter page. The contents include:

Strange New Worlds: Is Earth Special?
(Paul Sykes Lecture, Thurs, Apr 8 @ 7:30pm, Dr. Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer)

Life on Mars? by J. Karl Miller

President’s Message by Gordon Farrell

Astronomical Events in the Remainder of March by Robert Conrad

Live Streaming of the Great Conjunction

if the weather on Dec 21st disrupts your viewing of the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn then you can try out these live streaming events.

SFU Trottier Observatory, SFU Faculty of Science. – 15:30 PST Dec 22nd from 15:30 PST

The Trottier Observatory will try for a daylight view if the skies clear enough.
keep an eye on their YouTube channel:


Update: Hoping for better weather tomorrow. SFU Trottier Observatory is going to go ahead with a stream tomorrow Tues Dec 22nd from 3:30pm to 5:30pm. https://youtu.be/vmoXUBUzjDk

RASC Global Star Party with Explore Scientific – 16:30 PST

RASC is partnering with Explore Scientific to bring you a star party of epic proportions! Explore Scientific will be livestreaming throughout the day on their channels (list and links available here). RASC members will be joining for the evening livestream, starting at 7:30pm EST. There will be presenters from across the country.


Tim Yaworksi, @LivingSkyGuy – 15:00 PST

Celebrate the #GreatConjunction of #Jupiter and #Saturn. I will share my eyepiece with you as these two planets are 0.1° apart. Watch on @twitter @youtube or @Facebook as LivingSkyGuy. #astronomy #astronoMYtime #astrophotography


York University Allan I. Carswell Observatory: Jupiter and Saturn – The Great Conjunction of 2020 (ONLINE) – 13:00 PST

Announcing a Special Event at the Allan I. Carswell Observatory: Jupiter and Saturn – The Great Conjunction of 2020, Dec 21 from 4:00pm Toronto local time! A conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn only happens about once every 20 years (which is why it is called a great conjunction).




Lowell Observatory, AZ, USA – 16:00 PST


The Virtual Telescope Project – 07:30 PST

From Rome, will share live views on its website.


Telescope.live from Spain & Chile – 09:00 and 16:00 PST

The Great Conjunction From Spain
Time: Dec 21, 2020 at 9 am PST, 11 am CST, 5 pm GMT, 6 pm CET
Zoom Webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83524324756
Youtube Live: https://youtu.be/QcikTa2iO_E

The Great Conjunction From Chile
Time: Dec 21, 2020 4 pm PST, 6 pm CST, 12 am GMT (next day), 1 am CET (next day)
Zoom Webinar: https://zoom.us/webinar/89719525741
Youtube Live: https://youtu.be/o3gFw-TDJ9s