Ottawa RASC Meetings

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Public Astronomy Meetings ... Fascinating topics, Fascinating people

If you love Astronomy then you have come to the right place! Every month the Ottawa Centre of the RASC hosts a free astronomy meeting that is open to everyone.  Each meeting is packed with interesting speakers addressing a range of astronomy topics well suited to the amateur astronomer and enthusiast.

Do you have an interest in astronomy but don't know where to start?   Come to our meetings. They are a great place to get connected to the amateur astronomy community in Ottawa and start your journey of learning and discovery.

Already deeply in to astronomy? Perfect - you will find many like-minded people with your level of experience who share your passion for the night sky.

Regular features of the Meetings

  • At least two interesting speakers!
  • The Sky this Month - a 10 minute overview of interesting things in the night sky in the coming month.
  • 10 Minute Astronomy - A short review of current astronomy news.
  • Member photos - come enjoy the beautiful gallery of astronomy images taken by our members.
  • Door Prize - each month we hold a draw and give away several astronomy-themed prizes to lucky winners. The draw is open to everyone and is free.
  • Announcements on free public outreach and recreational astronomy events in Ottawa.

Meeting Schedule for 2014

Meetings are scheduled each month typically, but not always, on the first Friday of every month. The meetings run from 8 to 10 pm.

  • Next meeting: May 2
  • June 6
  • July 4
  • Aug 8 (Note: This is the 2nd Friday of August)

Meeting Agendas

Friday May 2:

1. Another major meteor shower? Quite possibly yes! On the night of May 24 we may experience a strong meteor outburst that has the potential to be the strongest meteor shower in years (visible from Ottawa). Pierre Martin will introduce this subject by first talking about the basics of meteor observing and then providing more details on the cause of this meteor shower and what we might expect to see. (15 minutes)

2. Atacama Trip Report. Ottawa Centre member John Thompson just returned from a trip to the Atacama desert in Chile. On account of its high altitude, dryness and no light pollution, the Atacama desert has become a prized location for dark sky enthusiasts from all around the world as well as a popular location for observatories. John will share his experiences which include a trip to ESO's Very Large Telescope at Paranal, several stunning astrophotos and a 6.8 magnitude earthquake! (15 minutes)

Atacama Desert Sky

3. FOREWARN: Another way to anticipate solar storms. Dr John Armitage, Department of Physics, Carleton University. Solar storms can have a major effect on the earth’s magnetosphere. Some of the earlier storms in history disrupted telegraph communications, while more recent storms have destroyed communications satellites (ANIK-1). Advance warning of their arrival is useful to stakeholders in both the communications industry and the power industry. Present methods of detection are reviewed and a possible new way, using the cosmic ray flux, is described. The Global Muon Detector Network is working towards this goal and Canada could help to complete the picture. A first attempt using FOREWARN, and later work using the CRIPT detector is described. (25 minutes)


Forewarn 1.png

Friday June 6:

      1. The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe. William Shakespeare lived in a remarkable time -- a period we now recognize as the first phase of the Scientific Revolution. In this illustrated talk, author Dan Falk will explore Shakespeare’s interest in the scientific discoveries of his time, with a particular focus on the changing conceptions of the cosmos, from Copernicus to Galileo. (30 minutes)

Dan Falk

Dan Falk is a science journalist, author, and broadcaster based in Toronto. His writing credits include the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, The Walrus, Cottage Life, SkyNews, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist; he has also been a regular contributor to the CBC Radio programs Ideas and Quirks & Quarks. His awards include Gold and Silver medals for Radio Programming from the New York Festivals and the Science Writing Award in Physics and Astronomy from the American Institute of Physics (which he has won twice) and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. His first book,Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything won the 2002 Science in Society Journalism Award from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association. His most recent book,In Search of Time: Journeys along a Curious Dimension was published in 2008. Falk recently completed a prestigious Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT, where he undertook much of the research for his latest book The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright's Universe.

The Science of Shakespeare by Dan Falk

2.  Computing the Cosmos: The Astrolabe. Samuel de Champlain's statue at Nepean Point evokes images of the typical use of astrolabes by early explorers. Yet astrolabes, and their application, have an intricate history that extends beyond navigation into many fields: mathematics, astronomy, instrument making and fine art. In this talk, Ottawa Centre member Tim Cole will show how the principles behind the astrolabe live on in everything from surveyor's transits to the control systems for the world's great telescopes. (15 minutes)


Friday July 4:

1. Optical Aberrations in Telescopes. Glenn LeDrew, RASC Ottawa Centre. This presentation will: 1). Review the major types of optical abberations in telescopes; 2). Identify which telescopes fall victim to certain aberrations the most; 3). Describe the optical techniques that telescope manufacturers use to overcome aberrations; and 4). Explain what people with optical aberrations in their telescopes can do to overcome these problems. (20 minutes)

2. Meteor Impact Craters. Chuck O'Dale, our resident meteor impact crater expert, is back with another report from his travels. (15 minutes).

Meeting Location and Admission

Meetings are typically held in the main auditorium of the Canadian Science and Technology Museum. Address is: 1867 St Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, Ontario.

Directions to the museum are available here.

Admission to RASC meetings is free. Meetings are open to everyone. You do not have to be a RASC member to attend. Please note that during meetings the rest of the museum is closed.

Please note that there is a $3 charge for parking at the museum during the meetings. Please buy the parking passes at the automated pay stations and post the pass on your car dashboard in a visible location.

Other Information

  • Did you miss a meeting? Perhaps you can't attend because of another commitment? No problem - our meetings are now broadcast live over the Internet and also recorded. Click here to watch current and previously recorded meetings!
  • Members are invited to deliver presentations on subjects of interest at the meetings. A presenter's guide is available here.
  • The Helen Sawyer Hogg observatory is located on the grounds of the museum, and contains a classic 15-inch refracting telescope. The observatory and telescope are open to the general public after some of the meetings (weather permitting).

Meeting Agenda Archives

Past meeting agendas are posted here.

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