Light Pollution Abatement

Light Pollution Abatement

RASC Vancouver

Attention All Members 

I have recently accepted the role of Chair, LPA RASC Vancouver.  I have been a member of RASC for about four years and have been actively involved in the AOMO here in Maple Ridge.  As an amateur astronomer, the night sky is very important to me and I am looking forward to helping preserve and improve the dark skies we have.

As you all are aware,  light glare, light trespass and light pollution here in the lower mainland and in the City of Vancouver, in particular, is a large problem. These problems have a direct impact to us as amateur and professional astronomers. From the basic enjoyment of the night sky to having a debilitating impact on imaging or severely hindering any kind of scientific research being done, light pollution needs to be managed and ultimately reduced for all to enjoy.

Not only does light pollution impact the astronomy community but it has negative impact on other areas within  the community including health and wellness of the public, wildlife, crime, safety and energy consumption to name a few.

In the past, there have been many successes in communities all across the country and around the world that have been able to directly impact the issue of light pollution in a positive way. Through City Ordinances and By-Laws that deal directly with sources of the problem, light pollution can be and has been noticeably reduced. It is my belief that the willingness to do something about light pollution is never far away but we must harness that willingness to effect positive change around us.

Efforts here in Vancouver by Vic Baker, Past Chair, have made a solid impact in awareness to the public. Congratulations to Vic and all of the supporting members that have been working directly and indirectly on this ongoing project.

To keep the momentum moving forward, I would like  to take this opportunity to introduce my plan that would assist in the management and reduction of light pollution in the City of Vancouver and surrounding areas. Clearly, any change will come from efforts of many individuals working together collectively towards one goal.

To achieve this goal, I will  assemble a committee of not only astronomers but of other members of the public who are impacted and who would benefit from light pollution abatement.  Amongst those on this committee, I would like to see representation from the City of Vancouver representing the change processes as well as industry representation for lighting products and services. I also hope to see individuals that have had success in other communities in dealing with light pollution abatement.

From this committee will come a Strategic Plan that establishes goals, objectives and action plans that everyone can be part of and get involved in with.

The plan will be focused around:

·         public awareness and education;

·         the measurement of current status and future results ;

·         a process to work closely with the City of Vancouver to support current and future avenues in dealing with light pollution abatement; and

·         create a model for others to use


I feel safe in saying that we all have a passion to manage and reduce light pollution and I feel very strongly that it can be done.  Using a collective efforts approach will be impactful and   efficient to meet the challenges ahead.

As I start to assemble the committee, I would like to hear your thoughts on what you feel would be helpful in achieving our goals of managing and reducing  light pollution.

If you would like to participate on the committee, please let me know as soon as possible. Also if you know of anyone who you feel would be a great committee member, please pass on this invitation to contact me.

I can be reached on my cell phone at 604 649 8356 and email at [email protected]

Thank you


Mark Eburne

Chair, Light Pollution Abatement

RASC, Vancouver

two crescents

I managed to get outside for a few minutes tonight to get a shot of the moon and Venus forming a close conjunction. Here is a photo!

Click for full size.


RASC TV Lens Members

This set of posts is about the TV Lens we were generously given by CTV to make into scopes.

Myself excluded, most people with these will need to make a tripod, and some kind of mount, probably a fork mount for sake of simplicity.

I recently acquired a planer as well as a second table saw that I can keep in Vancouver, so I have enough tools to build parts for people without such tools for the cost of material.

The tripods can be made of 2 X 6 lumber cut at an angle for legs, two pieces of plywood glued together for the mating plate. Door hinges can be used for the tops of the legs and a chain connected to eye bolts to prevent the tripod from collapsing.

The fork is a special problem. Mine is made out of a piece of aluminum tubing rectangular in cross-section. To make the U shape, I  cut 22.5 degree wedges of material out, bent it to shape and had it welded by Pro-Tec Marine Welding in North Vancouver for $140. I didn’t cut through completely, but left the cut so that one side of material was still there and with enough room between the cuts so that when they were brought together, a proper weld with filler rod could be done. Mine ended up being not quite parallel but close enough I can probably cold-set them.

One problem with this lens is where the focus comes to. I think it may be too close to the last lens element to make for a convenient position, so I think some kind of negative lens element is needed to add some back focus distance.Lens Front

More moon photos

I was able to get a couple of photos of the moon through my Skywatcher 80mmED refractor a few nights ago. These are worlds better than the pics I took with my camera lenses, but they still lack a lot of the detail I was able to see visually. There were some rilles (long, winding canyons) in particular that were striking through the eyepiece, but which didn’t show up in the photos.

Feb. 2009 moon
Feb. 2009 moon

And, for fun, here’s the same photo with the colour saturation artificially enhanced. I don’t know how representative of reality the hues are, but this is what came out of my camera:

Feb. 2009 moon, with 'enhancements'


Frost Pillar

This is a photo of a frost pillar taken above Grouse Mt. It is caused by ice crystal of a flat hexagonal form acting like an array of tiny mirrors above the light. There was one shown on the Weather Channel, but their explanation left something to be desired.

The Chris Graham Robotic Telescope (CGRT)

  • Chris Graham is a long standing amateur astronomer with a keen interest in astrophotography. In 2005 he approached Council with an opportunity to collaborate in the use of a robotic telescope located in the United States using internet links. The U.S. location was subsequently replaced by one in Australia. In both instances Chris provided the telescope and imaging equipment and software while the RASCVC provided some setup expertise, operations labour and processing experience. It was a match that enabled both sides to learn a great deal about managing a remote telescope facility.
  • Remote access to dark skies via the Chris Graham Robotic Telescope (CGRT) has allowed the RASC to complement the “hands-on” local observing at the AOMO facility and interest a greater circle of members and public who are unable to travel to dark skies. Having had such a facility in the portfolio of RASC -VC resources has enhanced our services to local members and contribution to the community. The CGRT has served as an important training and development facility in collaboration with our partners, which include the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre, UBC, SFU and the Canadian Astronomical Data Centre (CADC) of the NRC. Lay persons and students have been invited to learn to use sophisticated telescope equipment and advanced robotic operations software. Captured data becomes available to all Canadians for study and processing via the CADC. Additionally, RASC Centres across Canada have also been invited to request project data capture from the CGRT.
  • Chris’ generous donations enabled Vancouver Centre to pay the site rental fees. Although our current arrangement will be suspended at the end of 2008, we are optimistic that there will be new opportunities in the future.

Ongoing Event: SFU Astronomy Workshops for Grade-School Students

Simon Fraser University (SFU) will host astronomy workshops for grade-school students, to be held at SFU
and at schools throughout the BC Lower Mainland. Schools which attend these workshops will receive (at no-charge) a set of basic but high-quality refractor telescopes, and SFU staff will provide students and teachers with the training that is crucial to ensuring a positive first experience with a personal telescope. (First-come, first-served,
while supplies last! See below for details on the telescope to be donated.) At our daytime workshops, to be held during school hours, students will learn how to point and focus these telescopes using terrestrial objects, and will be engaged in an interactive multi-media presentation on the stars, planets, and other celestial objects currently in the
night sky. Students will receive and learn how to use a star wheel and “Sidewalk Astronomy” booklet provided by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). In addition, we will host evening “star parties” at SFU and at various community locations, in collaboration with volunteers from the Vancouver Centre of the RASC. Students
who attend our daytime workshops will be invited to these star parties with their teachers and families, where they can use their school’s new telescopes under the guidance of our experienced staff. Our star parties will also be open to the general public, and our guests will get to look through high-end amateur telescopes that will be operated by
staff from SFU and the Vancouver RASC. SFU and its funding partners will donate 10-15 telescopes to each school that attends a workshop (first-come, first-served, while supplies last!). These are basic but high-quality telescopes with a 50mm objective lens, and which come with a finderscope, tripod, and two eyepieces. Teachers will be asked
to be responsible for loaning the telescopes that are donated to their schools to their students, after they complete our workshop, for use either on their own, or at one of our evening star parties.

For more information, please visit

Paul Sykes – An Early Member of RASC Vancouver Centre

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.

Paul actively pursued his interest in astronomy, attending conferences and joining the R.A.S.C., 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.