Friday night, at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Ottawa Centre RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) meeting was underway when I arrived. Now, to be fair, these folks are used to sitting in the dark for hours at a time, but I was still a bit surprised to find them all sitting in a completely darkened auditorium when I arrived.
But there they were, about a hundred of them just sitting there patiently waiting for something to happen. No mosquitoes to swat so that was a good sign!!! :-).
I arrived and, without further adieu, the lights came on and they skipped right into the door prize part of the program.
An army of technical types, about 2 by my count in the dark before they turned on the lights, worked away in a corner trying to figure out why the planned sound and light show of the first speaker lacked both sound and light. I do a series of travelogue presentations, so know that feeling well!
Without missing a beat, the emcee adjusted his eyes to the new found light and kept the show on the road and lots of interesting little door prizes were handed out (none to me).
While this was going on, the technical glitches were resolved sufficiently and it was on with the show, and an interesting show it was, starting with an series of members discussing what they had seen through their telescopes or what they observed recently of astronomical interest.
The youngest presenter described who was in the pictures on the screen (her and a telescope) and told the audience what she had seen when she had looked through the telescope (the moon). Then she got to sit comfortably while some other celestial observations on the screen were being presented.
A later presenter had seen the same moon. He did a wonderful job showing what resolution can now be achieved with the modern telescope and a DSLR. I shoot Nikon but, in this example, I think he said that he was using a Canon 40D.
Another presentation focused on the the shuttle launches and the speaker provided insight into her own experiences at Cape Canaveral both as a young observer and now back again with her own children.
She highly recommended the website, NASASpaceflight.com as the place to visit to get up-to-the-minute coverage of this upcoming July’s final shuttle launch.
One of her images showed an alligator and an armadillo that she had photographed while waiting for things to happen. For me, that brought back memories of my cycling trip to Merritt Island (near where launch site is located) this past January. I didn’t see a lift-off during my cycling visit but I almost did fall-off from my bike when I stopped too quickly to photograph my first armadillo in the wild.
During the intermission, I had an opportunity to browse some of the back issues of Sky News. Lots of interesting thinks to see and read about.
After the intermission, we were launched immediately into the world of laws in the new frontier.
I learned that there was a UN group tasked with such weighty matters as liability in the world of weightlessness. With international groups having difficulty finding agreement on when debris is really DEBRIS and debating such lofty matters as “How high is the sky?” or “How low is the space?”, I am sure that resolution will not come quickly. After all, it’s only been 50+ years since Sputnik 1 beeped its way into the lives of folks my age and the space race began in earnest.
Back on earth, Graeme got his opportunity to share some of the experiences that he has had with the Ottawa Centre (RASC) in the area of public outreach.
You can see the images in his Astronomy Day 2011 blog entry.
The Ottawa Centre of RASC has a number of outdoor events (star parties) planned for the summer. These are FREE events open to the public but, since most of them involve looking up at the sky, the “go, no-go” status of any particular event is highly dependent on the weather. Although the dates are known and rain dates pre-planned, it is strongly advised to keep an eye on the weather and to visit the group’s event schedule on their website to see if an event is scrubbed at the last minute due to cloudy forecasts.
The final speaker showed a number of images of the radio telescopes that he had photographed during a visit to the NRAO Very Large Array near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The images were interesting but I was most intrigued by the nature of the terrain and the ring of mountains that surrounds this dark sky area of North America.