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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Great Conjunctions are pretty cool – Jupiter and Saturn line up and appear close together from our viewpoint. They occur somewhat rarely but regularly (about 20 years apart) due to the orbital periods of Jupiter (11.9 years) and Saturn (29.5 years). The next Great Conjunction, coming up in a few weeks on Dec 21st, 2020, is an extra-special one.
It is extra-special because Jupiter and Saturn will be extremely close together, just over 6 arc-minutes apart. You would have to go back almost 400 years to July 16th, 1623 to find them as close! To help visualize it, hold out your pinkie finder at arm’s length, that covers about 1°, so at conjunction, the two planets will be separated by a distance equal to about 1/10 the width of your pinkie – that is close enough that the two will appear as a single bright star to the naked eye. They will appear low to the horizon in the South-West around sunset on Dec 21st (sunset is at 4:15 pm PST).
There’s no need to wait until Dec 21st as Jupiter and Saturn are already quite close together, starting off December about 2° apart. Both will easily fit within a 1° field of view (typical of common telescopes) from Dec 17th through to Dec 25th.
The low altitude and weather will be challenges for observing the conjunction from Vancouver. You may want to watch a live-streamed event from a remote location rather than betting on clear skies in December in Vancouver – Virtual Telescope, for example, is hosting a live-streamed event.
We are canvassing for one Executive position and one Council position. The position of National Representative is vacant and our Webmaster is seeking an assistant. If you wish to step onto council, please send an email to [email protected] to connect for follow-up.
The Agenda is as follows:
Meeting called to order
Acceptance of the Agenda
Reading of the 2019 AGM Minutes
National Representative’s Report
Election of councilors in addition to the position of National Representative which is currently vacant for the remaining year of that position’s two-year term). If a member wishes to join council, they may step forward. Nominations for the aforementioned executive position can be taken from the floor as long as our bylaw requirements are met.