BowFest! Public Info Display & Solar Observing this Saturday

BowFest Information Booth and Public Solar Viewing

We are going to have an information table at BowFest this coming Saturday. Sol, our sun, will be on display today for telescopic viewing  with an 8  inch Sky Watcher Dobsonian telescope. It will be equipped with a special viewing safety device called a “mylar sun filter” graciously loaned to us for the occasion by Robert Ballantyne, of Governance Corporation. .

Even if there are clouds, the sun can still be seen through the telescope. As long as they are not too thick, so we can “almost” say with certainty, that this will be a rain or shine observing event! There is a tale of one astronomer, Fritz Zwicky, from the Mount Wilson Observatory in California, who was known to have his assistants fire a 22 rifle into the sky in an attempt to improve the less than ideal seeing conditions during his observing runs! We however, will only resort to well wishes, perhaps a polite curse or 2, and a few hail Mary’s…

What can one expect to see through a mylar sun filter? Well, we should see a greyish-silver disc with several black spots across the surface. How many spots seen will depend upon where we are in the 11 year solar cycle. The last minimum was back in 2008 so very few are visible at the present moment. Here is a picture of what the sun looked like today, and is an approximate representation of what we might expect to see on Saturday. You can check the daily sunspot cycle at Space Weather.com, my favorite website for listing all current astronomical phenomena. You can even subscribe to text msg alerts on your cellphone for special celestial events! A look at the NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory website gives RRS feeds with daily solar weather and information as well.  There is excellent software for viewing the SOHO images and information called JHelioviewer. These are the very best tools for the solar and armchair observer bar none! But for a real-time, live 3D view of what’s happening on the sun you can come down and see us at BowFest this Saturday.

Don’t miss it!

Special News & Membership Call Out!

We need volunteers and new members! We are extremely blessed to have been offered the privileged opportunity of having access to the use of an 17.5 inch reflecting Observatory Class Telescope on Bowen Island by a former director of the Manitoba Planetarium, Robert Ballantyne! This mirror in this telescope was built some 26 years ago by Robert and his 2 colleagues for use by the Manitoba Astronomy Club.

Does this sound too good to be true?!? Well, there are a couple of prerequisites before we get to enjoy observing time on this wonderful instrument. Volunteers & members showing dedication to learning astronomy, who have taken the astronomy course and can show proficiency in telescope use and observing skills will be rewarded with observing time on this fine instrument. It doesn’t get any better than this! We are going to need a small army of volunteers to make this project a reality, so hop on board and help us make this beautiful & rare opportunity a reality!

Here is a picture of the Light Bucket

Basic Astronomy Course

We will soon be offering a basic astronomy course for individuals looking to start learning about the night sky. We will also have a signup sheet for anyone interested in taking the basic astronomy course in the not-too-distant future. Some of the topics covered will be identifying the stars and constellations, folk lore, science history, observing techniques, binocular astronomy; basic telescope use, design & maintenance, with a section on how to purchase the right binoculars & telescopes.

Dates, times, costs and location to be announced after we find out how many people & the level of knowledge of those interested in participating.

Call David @ 9064 for more information

Clear Skies & Happy Star Trails to You!

David Wilde

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