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.

Meeting Features

  • Several 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 Prizes - each month we hold a draw and give away several astronomy-themed prizes to lucky winners. The draw is open to everyone who attends the meeting and is free.
  • Announcements on free public outreach and recreational astronomy events in Ottawa.

Meeting Schedule

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


  • Mar 6
  • Apr 10 (2nd Friday of the month)
  • May 1
  • June 5
  • July 3.

Meeting Agendas

Friday March 6:

The RASC Ottawa Centre is pleased to host Dr Haley Sapers for a very special talk. Dr Sapers is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, Western University. She is a member of the Canadian Astrobiology Training Program, a joint program of McGill University and Western University.

The Meaning of Life: The Difficulty in Definition

On November 26, 2011 at 7:02 am PST, Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, was successfully launched and began the most ambitious search for life humankind has ever attempted. How, though, can we search for something that we cannot define or characterize? Life is clearly more than the sum of its parts, yet the most comprehensive definitions of life do little more than list the characteristics of living things. If Curiosity is successful in finding putative evidence of life on Mars, does the scientific community have the context in which to interpret the results and answer the question what is life?

Dr Sapers will discuss the epistemological considerations and emerging scientific pedagogy surrounding the definition of life and the systematic methodology used when interpreting ambiguous features as evidence of life. She will then present some of her research and the possible role(s) of meteorite impact events in the origin and early evolution of life on Earth.

NASA Astrobiology Institute banner.png

Friday April 10:

1. Celestial Navigation

Once people sailed beyond the sight of land, the problem of getting back to a safe harbor became a matter of life and death. The sky was something a navigator could rely on, but how could the sky reveal location? In this presentation, Tim Cole will look at some of the great developments in that long quest, and review the techniques that still work when the GPS receiver's batteries go dead.

Tim Cole was awarded the Ottawa RASC's Best Presentation of the Year award in 2014 for his talk on Astrolabes.


Source: ("Sekstant". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

2. The Photographic Lunar Atlas - The Beginnings of Modern Lunar Study

by Jim Thompson

From the first time Galileo looked at the Moon through a telescope in 1609 right up to the mid 20th century, serious study of our nearest celestial neighbour was limited to Selenography: the mapping and naming of features. It was not until the US committed themselves to putting a man on the Moon that research into the structure and formation of the Moon began in earnest. The work of Gerard Kuiper and his Lunar & Planetary Laboratory were key to the success of the Apollo Program. One of the legacies left behind by Kuiper and his team is the Photographic Lunar Atlas series, which will be presented in detail during this talk including an opportunity for attendees to see print copies of these rare and historically important atlases.

Lunar Atlas.png

Friday May 1:

1. A Botanist on Mars Paul Sokoloff, Research Assistant in Botany with the Canadian Museum of Nature

This past November Paul Sokoloff spent two weeks as a crew member on Expedition 143 to the Mars Desert Research Station in southern Utah. This Mars Society-run outpost serves as an analog to the conditions that would be encountered by an actual manned mission to Mars (dry, cold, and remote), and is a counterpart to another research station on Devon Island, in the Canadian High Arctic. Simulated missions at these stations serve as a dress rehearsal for future trips to the red planet, allowing us to test equipment, experiments, and crew dynamics without leaving Earth. During this talk Paul will discuss the research project and outreach efforts he led at MDRS, and answer the question “What’s a botanist doing on Mars anyway?”

Mars Desert Research Station.PNG

Mars Desert Research Station

2. A Review of the Latest Advances in Modern Cosmology

By Al Scott

There is little doubt that we are in a golden age of Cosmology. Recent discoveries in the late 20th century have heralded a new understanding of the evolution and structure of our universe. Topics such as dark matter & dark energy, the flat universe, the multiverse and black holes have increasingly become part of public discourse. However, they are often used with only a superficial understanding of the theory and concept. In this talk, Ottawa RASC Centre member Al Scott will review the major discoveries in modern cosmology and provide an overview for the uninitiated.

Friday June 5:

1. Observing Locations in the Ottawa Region

We all have our favourite places to observe the night sky. Some convenient locations are close to us in Ottawa while other observing sites with darker skies are a few hours drive from us. In this talk, Ottawa Centre member Shane Finnigan will review all the best observing locations in Ottawa and surrounding region that are frequented by many of us.

Note: A detailed summary of Shane's presentation including maps, directions and photos will be placed on the Ottawa Centre web site after his talk.

2. Next Generation Satellite Technologies Ryan Anderson, Senior Engineer, Advanced Systems, Telesat.

For over 40 years, Telesat has been on the leading edge of innovation in space and satellite communications. From launching Anik A1, the world’s first domestic communications satellite, to the dramatic recovery of Anik E1 and E2, to the first commercial use of Ka band for broadband internet access on Anik F2, Telesat is a proven industry leader.

Presently, Telesat is making use of the latest technologies to provide the most reliable and cost effective services around the globe: all-electric propulsion, flexible payloads, high throughput spot beams, and innovative orbits are some of the technologies that are driving innovation in Satcom. Telesat's future programs will take advantage of these advancements and continue to push the limits of the technology.

Anik F2

Meeting Location and Admission

The March 6, 2015 meeting will be held in the theatre at Ashbury College, 362 Mariposa Avenue, Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa.

Good news - parking is free! The map below highlights the parking locations in yellow. There is a small parking lot at the front entrance on Mariposa Avenue, a larger parking lot off Springfield Avenue and free street parking on three perimeter streets (Mariposa Avenue, Glenwood Avenue and Maple Lane) after 7:00pm.

Please enter the school’s front door off Mariposa Avenue, then continue straight down the main hallway until you arrive at the theatre foyer.

There is no charge to attend this meeting. It is open to everyone.

Ashbury College map.png

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.

Meeting Agenda Archives:

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