September 20 Meeting Re-Cap

The theme for September 20th was Heavens Above! and telescopes took centre stage. Also all four corners of the room and the front porch of the hotel!

Guests Bill Strople and David Shuman, both members of the RASC Montreal Centre, brought in telescopes as did MonSFFA members Wayne Glover, Lindsay Brown, and Mark Burakoff.  We got to see a classic refractor from the 50s, Newtonian & SCT reflectors, and a Coronado made specifically for solar viewing. The sky being clear, members were able to view our sun in all its glory, showing prominences and filaments.  After supper, we viewed the moon through Lindsay’s telescope.

But starting from the beginning:

Logans_run_movie_posterEarly birds arriving at 11 AM watched Logan’s Run, a classic from 1976. Most members felt the movie stood up today, even though quite rooted in the style of the 70’s.  Seeing it again with new eyes and more experience of the world, some members saw a deeper, more religious feeling to the movie.

MonSFFA 20150920-23
David verifies settings on the Coronado

David Shuman then set up his Coronado on the hotel’s front porch, so members came and went back and forth as he changed filters and settings to see different aspects of our nearest star.

Meanwhile, Bill Strople set up a huge, long focal length refractor from the 50s, and a brand new, not even on the market yet, Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount.

IMGP8379 refractor
Classic refractor from the 50s
Bill with new Dob
New Dob from Explore Scientific, Engineering sample.

Photos are by Cathy and Sylvain, click the thumbnails for larger photos.



PIC_0332 Mark with sct LR
Mark sets up Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. (SCT)


Wayne, Lindsay, and Mark set up their Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes as well.  How does an SCT work?

Bill then gave a presentation on all the different types on display, explaining each one’s strengths and weaknesses. Mark Mark beginner astro kitfollowed up with an introduction to observing for the beginner, recommending binoculars and finder charts.  Cathy pointed out the importance of magazines such as Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.  Many telescopes languish in closets because their owners got bored with the moon and didn’t know where else to point their scopes. Both magazines have extensive websites covering everything & everything of an astronomical nature,

Bill refractor & SCT
Bill explains why observers have a marked preference for the SCT over the classic refractor. A refractor the equivalent of the SCT on the right might require a pick up truck for transportation.

MonSFFA 20150920-02




Sylvain posted cartoons with an astronomy theme, and there were various books and planispheres on display as well. A planishere  of the southern sky proved intriguing as members realized there was no equivalent in the south to our north star.

Postcards from Pluto, a slide presentation, followed. Cathy showed the latest images from New Horizons. On display, was the poster for the discovery of Pluto, autographed by Clyde Tombaugh himself.

Title pageAfter the raffle, we discussed our Stop Motion project which we had not completed last month. (Stop-Motion Project Storyboards are here.) Plans were made, assignments handed out, members have homework!! (However, design a dinosaur sounds a lot more interesting than any homework I ever assigned. )

cage croppedSupper was at la Cage au Sports, but not the one across the street that we usually frequent as that one it turned out was closed for renovations. Fortunately, it is only a short walk to the Bell Centre.

After supper, we observed the moon over the police station with Lindsay’s telescope and Mark’s binoculars. Had we arrived 20 minutes earlier we would have seen Saturn., but it was hidden behind the bulk of the station.

MonSFFA 20150920-31moon watching cropped and brightenedThere is talk of arranging an observing session from a dark sky. Stay tuned.


More photographs and video segments are available to our members.

Lunar Eclipse Sept 27

What’s so special about this lunar eclipse?

Not much, for astronomers, but  for the rest of us it promises a fine spectacle with a cool WOW factor. Usually, an eclipsed moon  appears blood red, but depending on the pollution in the atmosphere, the moon may appear brownish, or even bluish-grey.

Telescopes are not necessary, but binoculars will bring out a lot of detail as the shadow of the earth passes over the craters.

The moon is at perigee, so it will appear slightly larger than usual, it’s the Harvest Moon, and because of optical illusion, it appears even larger on the horizon as it rises. You will not notice much difference from one night to the next, but from Apogee to Perigee, the difference is dramatic. 

The Sept. 27 event is therefore being called a “supermoon eclipse.” The last such eclipse happened in 1982, and the next won’t occur until 2033.

This eclipse is the last of the current Tetrad, a series of 4 eclipses, each pair separated by 6 months.

In Montreal, we get to see the whole celestial show , just a little over 5 hours.

Begins at 8:11

Max totality at 10:47

Ends at 1:22 AM

Duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes

Looking up!

  1. Observing highlights for the week of September 25 to October 3 PlanetsEarly risers get to see 3 planets and Regulus, the heart of the Lion, all in a line this week, an hour before dawn.

Click here to see more

2)The weather prediction for Sunday’s lunar eclipse of the Harvest Moon is looking better. The sky should be clear, temperature dropping from the daytime high of 24C to 9C.

Here is a different lunar eclipse, seen from a Mars Rover Aug. 20, 2013 :

PhobosEclipse-630x210Phobos,  directly in front of the sun as seen by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. It is, of course, an annular eclipse as Phobos is way too small to totally eclipse the sun.



3) More high resolution images are coming down from Pluto:

1_snakeskin_detailDetails and more images here



4) Curiosity is still roving, still sending home wonderful images of Mars.

MartianPetrifiedSandDunesDozens of individual Mast Camera images taken on August 27, 2015, were combined to create this panorama.

Read more

Two events on the weekend

Saturday, September 26

CAFTA: A telescope making competition being held in Dorval this year.

Sunday, September 27

Viewing of the Lunar Eclipse
Sunday, Sept. 27th,  at 8PM

Conservation Centre
Morgan Arboretum, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue

Andrew Fazekas (The Night Sky Guy) will give a short presentation before viewing the eclipse.

Bring a lawn chair and sit back to enjoy the show. Telescopes and the Bellvue Observatory will be available for viewing.

*Donations will be kindly accepted

Heavens Above!

is the theme for the September 20th meeting. Several types of telescope will be on display, including  SCT, reflector, refractor, and even a Coronado which is made specifically for viewing the sun.  Special guests Bill Strople and David Shuman will be on hand to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each. If you bring in your own telescopes and binoculars, they will assist you in getting the most from your instruments.

A more detailed schedule for the meeting appears here.

The weather prediction for Sunday looks very promising, so it is likely that there will be solar observation during the afternoon, and perhaps some observing of the evening sky after supper.