Old HAA News from Octember 2003 to November 2004

December 26, 2005
Mike Spicer

5th mag star to be occulted by space rock, Jan 7th

Just after 5 pm local time on Saturday January 7th, asteroid # 2152 Hannibal, a distant space rock 47km wide, will pass in front of the 5th magnitude star 12 Aquarii. The star will be 27° above the SW horizon. I am optimistic it WILL be clear that weekend.

Read more here. See detailed image here.

Submitted by: Mike Spicer

December 21, 2005

Wanted: Amateur stargazers to help solve supernova mystery

The basic idea is to have the various neutrino detectors around the world check for synchronous (single) neutrino detections. If even a single pair is detected, it is almost certainly due to a nearby supernova. The amateurs can quickly check nearby galaxies for supernovae on their way to maximum light. Read more here.

Link submitted by: Doug Welch

December 21, 2005

Scientists discover 'light echoes' of ancient supernovae

Astronomers (including HAA's Dr. Doug Welch) have found "light echoes" from three ancient supernovae by detecting their faint, centuries-old light reflected in the clouds of interstellar dust. The finding, to be published this week in Nature, means astronomers will, for the first time, be able to study these important but rare events that appeared hundreds to thousands of years ago. Read more here and here.

December 20, 2005

New from the vault

Mike spicer has added some new pictures from his collection of Mpegs converted to AVIs then stacked with Registax.

December 12, 2005

Bob Christmas makes the Universe Today

HAA member and long time analog-mode photographer, Bob Christmas, has been featured on the Universe Today website with one of his latest astro-photography images of Mars and Pleiades.

December 12, 2005

Meeting Summary

  • Cindy Bingham presented the Annual Treasurer's report
  • Bob Christmas shared some of the astrophotos from his recent trip to Spectacle Lake
  • Greg Emery outlined the celestial targets available to backyard scopes during December
  • Dr. Doug Welch: Drew on his unique perspective as Canadian Scientist to the Gemini Project, he shared insights into how professional astronomers are utilizing modern super scopes.
  • Many door prizes were given out including three posters and a calendar

December 5, 2005

Brantford Newspaper writeup

Here's an article from Tim Philp's paper in Brantford, mentioning the HAA.

Reprinted with kind permission of the author

November 25, 2005

Dec 19th Occultation

Check here for more details on the upcoming occultation.

By Mike Spicer

November 24, 2005



Saturn the morning of 13 November 2005 [Updated]

Seeing wasn't very good, and there was cloud.

Saturn, a raw overexposed to get the moons, and a final superimposition of the planet.

Updates: Saturn's moon Hyperion spotted, also Asteroid 712 Boliviana.

By Mike Spicer

November 12, 2005

Meeting Summary

Tim Philp and Cliff Burgess presented to a full house last night.

Read the detailed summary here.

November 11, 2005

What happened to the Martian Polar Cap?

At the Bayfront event last weekend, Brian Chire recalled the Martian polar cap was prominent during the 2003 opposition. It looked like this...

Photo by Mike Spicer

November 10, 2005

Binocular Moon [2]
By Tim Harpur

Andromeda [1]
By Peter McHugh

Photo update

Here are some recent photos from Tim Harpur and Peter McHugh.

November 6, 2005

Inexpensive imaging

On October 30 2005 I took advantage of clear skies and Mars at almost opposition to image the planet. I used a B&W electronic eyepiece to record the attached image through a 125mm Orion Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. The image was taken using a moon filter. No barlow was used. I was quite pleased with the level of detail I was able to achieve with this simple-to-use and inexpensive device. It is also a way to observe Mars (on a TV monitor) without actually looking through the eyepiece.

I thought you could post this image so people can see that imaging need not be an expensive or very complex process - that imaging can be done by anyone with good but not very expensive or complex equipment.

By Heather Neproszel

November 5, 2005

HAA Public night at Bayfront Park

Friday November 4th was another successful public night for the HAA. A crowd of about 100 people (including an entire cub pack) compared views through 14 different setups which ranged from binoculars on tripods to large SCT's with digital imagers hooked up to computers and TV monitors. The downtown skies cooperated while visitors toured Mars and other popular sights, and had their questions about equipment answered. In addition to those mentioned in the Grimsby session, Alex, Ann, Brian, Darrin, Greg, Hal, Mat, Monte, and Ray helped fill out the roster of "tour guides" for this enjoyable night.

Check out all the pictures by Glenn Muller and Mike Spicer.

October 30, 2005

Grimsby public event

Thanks for treating us folks at Grimsby to some celestial sights.

Mars, the Andromeda galaxy, Pleaides, all visible and patiently explained by your members. Pity the street lights could not be dimmed!

Submitted by Grimsby resident Sanjoy Acharya

An estimated 200 visitors showed up at Murray Street Park for Grimsby's first astronomy night. Views of Mars, Andromeda Galaxy, M32, Pleiades, Owl/ET Cluster, Perseus Double Cluster, open clusters M36/37/38, and Alberio delighted the crowd, and the variety of equipment illustrated that astronomy can fit into any budget. Many thanks to Anthony, Bob, Bruce, Darrell, Don, Gail, Glenn, Heather, Marg, Mike, Ron, Sandy, Tim, & Tim for sharing their Binos, Dobs, Maks, SCT's and knowledge - it was a great night!

Added comment by Club Chair - Glenn Muller

November 5, 2005

Syrtis Major
By Mike Spicer

Mars TouCan [3]
By Clyde Miller

Plieades and Mars [5]
By Peter McHugh

Photo update

Here are some recent photos from club members Mike Spicer, Clyde Miller, and Peter McHugh.

October 24, 2005

Astro Cubs!

On Saturday October 22nd, Glenn Muller and John Gauvreau gave nine 30-minute presentations at the Wolf Cub Fun Day at Mount Nemo Scout Camp. Over a hundred cubs and leaders attended the talks on the solar neighbourhood which was just one of many activities happening throughout the camp. In this picture John Gauvreau is recruiting a volunteer to be planet in his solar system.

Story and Photo by Glenn Muller

October 20, 2005

Mars Developments

I suppose if you set up at dusk and stay up all night, you are bound to get some good images eventually, as well as a runny nose and the shivers ('twas cold).

The air never really settled down, but Mars was high overhead by 2 a.m. and I was able to get a few good avi files, one of which reduced to the images attached.

It looked like Mars had two little polar caps! And the yellow storm was staying put S of Chryse, but a less intense dust storm is blowing S of the yellow one.

Story and Photo by Mike Spicer

October 19, 2005

Dust Storm on Mars

A dust storm has been growing quickly in the Chryse Region of Mars since its discovery on images taken on 17 October by Ed Grafton and Clay Sherrod in the US. Dust storms are common during summer on Mars; the planet was entirely covered during the 2001 Mars opposition. Mike Spicer has marked the yellow storm on this image taken in poor seeing last night. Watch Mars for rapid storm developmenets.

Story and Photo by Mike Spicer

October 15, 2005

Meeting Summary

You want planets - You got planets! The October meeting featured:
  1. Glenn Muller presented "Planets and Pretenders - the forming of our Solar System", followed by a lively Q&A.
  2. Stewart Attlesey detailed "Mars - an in-depth look at the Red Planet and its upcoming close approach to Earth".
  3. Congratulations to Maggie Gallagher for winning a One year HAA membership.

October 11, 2005

Contrail Count-a-Thon

Earth Science Week 2005 Contrail Count-a-Thon

In recognition of Earth Science Week, the GLOBE Program and NASA invite you to join in a scientific exploration on Thursday, October 13, 2005, to observe the sky over your area and report on the presence or absence of contrails. Teachers, students, and anyone interested in helping to develop a better understanding of Earth are welcome to participate.

Contrails are cirrus clouds formed when water vapor condenses and freezes around small particles (aerosols) in aircraft exhaust. Some of the water vapor comes from the surrounding air, some from the aircraft exhaust. Contrails, especially thin ones, are very hard to see from satellites, and may have an impact on Earth's atmosphere. In order to improve contrail prediction models, scientists need observations both of contrail occurrence and absence. Click here for more information on contrails and clouds. Instructions on how to participate in this event and report your information can be found at this Website. The observations that are reported will be tallied and analyzed by NASA scientists looking for clues to contrail prediction. A report on their findings will be posted to the website.

Submitted by Nancy Leon of NASA

October 10, 2005
Mars webcast

The 2004 Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Live Webcast on Oct. 13 at 7 PM CDT

A member of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission Team, Dr. John Grotzinger from the California Institute of Technology, is giving a lecture on " The 2004 Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Evidence for Water and Prospects for Life" on Thursday, October 13, 2005.

We would like to invite members of your organization and/or visitors of your website to view our Live Webcast of the lecture, October 13, 2005 at 7 pm CDT. The webcasts are very high quality, and viewers can submit questions to the speaker through our website. The webcasting software we use requires viewers to download a small plugin, but it is very simple and quick to install.

Submitted by Brian Zavala, Environmental Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin.

October 9, 2005
Mars ToUcam

Observing Binbrook style

Nine of us were observing at Binbrook on Wednesday 5 October from 9 pm till midnight. Three of Tim Philp's relatives from England joined us to view some deep space objects through a few telescopes! Photo and comment by Mike Spicer

October 9, 2005
Mars ToUcam

Open Cluster NGC 457, the "ET" Cluster

This cluster is known as the "ET" Cluster and the Owl Cluster, because of its shape. It appears to be standing with arms outstretched. There are two glowing eyes, the brighter of which is Phi Cassiopeiae.

This cluster is also Number 13 on the Caldwell List of deep sky objects.

South is up.

Extract from 400mm f/5.6 image.
Date: Sunday, October 2, 2005
Location in Sky: Cassiopeia
Location on Earth: Spectacle Lake, near Barry's Bay, Ontario
Exposure: 8 minutes
Film: Fuji Superia 1600
Photo by Bob Christmas

September 30, 2005
Mars ToUcam Mars ToUcam

ToUcam Mars

1. A quickly-processed image of Mars showing Syrtis Major, taken this morning with a ToUcam pro on the Nexstar 11" in unstable air and heavy dew, from my Hamilton patio.

2. I decided to gamble on taking images with both using a 3x barlow and not a 2x.

Photos by Mike Spicer

September 23, 2005

Mars shines

Get ready for Mars to really shine - check out this article from NASA:

September 15, 2005

Venus and Jupiter

On the evening of Thursday, September 1, 2005, Venus and Jupiter passed within about 1.2 degrees of each other in the sky. Venus is the lower one, Jupiter above. This was taken from Thorpe Park in Burlington with Fuji Superia 200 film @ f/2.8; exposure: 10 seconds.

Photo by Bob Christmas

September 15, 2005
Sunsot Sunsot

Mars through an Electronic Eyepiece

Left is an image taken the other morning from my patio in the city with an inexpensive ($60) CMOS camera, the Meade electronic eyepiece!

Right is a Mars image obtained from my patio this morning, 18 Sept 2005 using the ToUcam Pro on a 9.25" Celestron SCT on an Advanced Series GT mount, processed simply in Registax.

Photos by Mike Spicer

September 12,2005

Picnic shots

Here are a few pictures of the Binbrook picnic and observing session Saturday night September 10, 2005.

Photos by Sandy Maude

September 10, 2005

Sunspot photos

Here's a couple of point and shoot pics of Region 10808, the sunspot responsible for strong solar flares this past week, and which may produce aurora in the next few days. The pictures were taken with a Toshiba PDR-4300 at f8.0 ISO 100 1/250sec exposure time

Photo by Glenn Muller

September 9, 2005

Meeting Summary

  • Greg Emery discussed the finer details of Collimating Newtonian Telescopes. More collimation info can be seen here.
  • Mike Spicer spoke about Collimating Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes.
  • Tim Philp presented the science and myths of Dark Adaptation.
  • Congratulations to newcomer Gary O'Brien who was the winner of our September door prize, a brand new Meade 26mm plossl eyepiece!

  • August 25, 2005
    Binbrook photos

    Binbrook observing night

    Here are 8 photos from last night's Binbrook observing session.

    Submitted by Mike Spicer, photos by Mark Gemmell.

    August 17, 2005

    MORE StarFest 2005 photos

    We all had a great time at StarFest 2005. The weather was perfect night and day. See some of our photos.

    Do you have any pictures of StarFest 2005? Please email them to the editor as we will put them into the online gallery.

    July 21, 2005

    The American Astronomical Society has put together this booklet on how astronomers know that the universe has been around a very long time (instead of 6000 years!).

    Link submitted by Doug Welch

    July 20, 2005
    Mike's Binbrook photo

    Photos from Binbrook observing site

    Here's some photos from the Binbrook observing site last night.

    Images submitted by Mike Spicer.

    July 11, 2005
    Fast Moving Object

    Join the Fast Moving Object Spacewatch

    If you have an interest in asteroid hunting, then you can join the hunt for FMOs (Fast Moving Object Spacewatch) Click here to find out more.

    July 11, 2005

    M57 by Clyde Miller

    See HAA member Clyde Miller's new astro-photo of M57 here.

    June 11, 2005

    Astronomy night in Brantford

    Though the forecast called for clouds, thanks to some excellent publicity by new member Tim Philp, over 50 visitors joined several HAA members in the Tourism Centre for Brantford's first astronomy night. The evening became an informal astro-jam with the telescopes and slide show prompting many pertinent questions from the audience, which led to discussions on everything from star parties to black holes.

    When the event continued outside, bright Jupiter and a four day Moon penetrated the cloud cover enabling the guests to compare views through various set-ups. We even had an Iroquois storyteller relate the legend of The Big Dipper. Interest was high and many expressed their appreciation for the insights into amateur astronomy. One of our best public nights yet!

    Comments by Glenn Muller

    Read more comments by Mike Spicer here.

    June 10, 2005

    Meeting Summary

  • Bob Christmas showed spectacular astrophotos from his latest trip to Spectacle Lake.
  • Mike Spicer compared the features of different star chart books using his entertaining Powerpoint presentation.
  • Glenn Muller gave a detailed presentation entitled "Where Are They Now?" - a look at how satellite technology pays tribute to the pioneers of discovery.

  • June 3, 2005

    Observing Guides

    Read the Observing Guides that were presented at the May 2005 meeting by Mike Spicer.

    June 3, 2005

    Brantford summary

    Astronomy night in Brantford writeup by Tim Philp.

    May 15, 2005

    Deep Space animation

    Check out this inspirational space animation.

    Link submitted by Brenda Cormick.

    May 13, 2005

    Meeting summary:

    Greg Emery discussed the observing targets for May; like the planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune. He showed several Constellations of the month and pictures of clusters. Read more in the latest newsletter.

    Mike Spicer talked about various filters and their applications. He also provided attendees with two of his observing project booklets. Mike showed a detailed slide show on filters for globular clusters, the Sun, deep sky, and removing light pollution. He also mentioned that a white telescope is better for sun viewing or cover the telescope with a white sheet to prevent heating. Always be careful when viewing the Sun with a telescope (consult an experienced astronomer).

    Bob Christmas showed some of his latest astro-photos, which you can see here.

    April 21, 2005

    More New Photos by Clyde Miller

    See HAA member Clyde Miller's new astro-photos of Vega and M51 here.

    April 17, 2005

    What A Great Day (and Night) !

    April 16th, 2005 (International Astronomy Day):

    During the afternoon, members of the HAA participated in McMaster University's "Science in the City for Kids" fair, which was held at the University. There were hands-on activities including a meteor-drop, comet-building session, solar observing with a solar car sideshow and a planetarium show.

    In the evening, members of the HAA set up their telescopes in the parking lot of Bayfront Park for Public Viewing of the Moon and the several moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

    See photos from the day here.

    Read all the details here.

    April 15, 2005

    The Moon and Mercury

    Here is a photo of the moon and Mercury from March 11, 2005.

    Photo by John Gauvreau

    April 9, 2005

    Binbrook Star Party

    It was a slow start, but the night improved steadily. In just over 3 hours of fairly casual hunting, Gail, myself, and our little dob managed to bag 13 galaxies, 4 nebs, 4 oc's and 1 glob, in addition to Saturn and 4 moons, Jupiter with its 4 moons and the GRS (barely), a bright meteor, 2 satellites, and the thinnest sliver of a one day Moon. One of the best nights we've had. Of course it was nice to have so much company - over a dozen people and 7 or 8 scopes.

    Story by Glenn Muller

    Click here for more details.

    Photos of HAA member Dean Randell and the Muller scope by Doug Welch

    April 8, 2005

    Meeting summary


    Mike Jefferson talked about his activities in the Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF). He kindly took on the role of judge, for the HAA, and selected Joseph Almonte as our winner for his exhibit titled Mission Mars: Discovery Mars. Jim Winger provided a book (The Backyard Astronomer's Guide) to add to our list of prizes.

    SCOPE Contest

    The Hamilton Amateur Astronomers awarded telescopes to the winners of its Student Scope Contest, which was open to Hamilton area students in grades 6 - 12. The winners were 12 year old Lacey Chapman from Dalewood Public School, and 16 year old Mike Colarusso from Cardinal Newman Secondary School. The photos (here and here) show the winners and HAA member Mike Spicer.

    Main Speaker

    James "Brad" Bandow, gave a very interesting presentation on Archaeoastronomy Ancient Science & Modern Myths About Cosmology

    Brad reviewed the astronomical knowledge of the North-American Indian populations, including their knowledge of the Solar System, its use in measuring time, and its place in the Cosmos. He then juxtaposed this with our own notion of science and modern understanding of the Cosmos.

    James "Brad" Bandow has received degrees in Anthropology, and Classical and Near-Eastern Study from Brock and McMaster Universities. For over 20 years, he has served in all branches of archaeology including a post as Historical and Archaeological Researcher for the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority, and had papers published in many national and international publications. Currently, he is a Research Fellow at the University of Guelph; Reasearch Affiliate at the McMaster University Museum of Art; and a Regional Director for the Ontario Archaeological Society. He also holds a seat on LACAC (the Local Advisory Committee on Archaeological Conservation) and is an Associate with a Hamilton based Archaeological Resource Management firm.

    brad,mayan cycles,aztec,

    April 8, 2005

    Spectroscopy by Mike Jefferson

    These are NOT good spectra. I forgot to use the IR focus, so they could be sharper, It was a cold night and I do not work well in those conditions. The film was 1½ months old at room temperature and I wanted to get it used up before it spoiled. The spectral angles are poor (too sharp) and I did not form rectangles. The exposure times are often too short to get through 36 frames while the clear weather held. The light pollutionproblems could have been much diminished by waiting until a later hour, but there was time constraints. Spectroscopes have the annoying characteristic of finding light out of the field of view and placing it in the middle of your hard-won spectrogram!!!!

    HOWEVER, despite the shortcomings, the bandwidth in these photos, allowing for glass lenses and varying magnitudes is about 3900 to 8700 Angstroms. They show the strength of radiation of each object in all parts of the visual and near-visual spectrum and make it possible to place an approximate classification on each one. Some of themost rewarding work is the annotation which comes afterward. This can be an educating experience on its own. The Orion Nebula was a surprise. I never would have guessed that I would capture it under suburban conditions. Such is the power of HIE film.

    Click here and here to see larger photos.

    April 1, 2005

    Bob Christmas' new photo album

    Long time member of the HAA, Bob Christmas has amazed members with his astrophotography sans telescope. You can see his new gallery here.

    March 18, 2005

    New Photos by Clyde Miller

    HAA member Clyde Miller has submitted his latest astro-photos that you can view here.

    March 11, 2005

    Meeting summary: Double Vision - A Binocular Bonanza

    Glenn Muller gave a very descriptive presentation on buying binoculars. He also demonstrated the easy setup of his Skybox (binocular box) with 1st surface mirror. You can find out about the International Space Station (ISS) pass overs here.

    Doug Welch brought in his Fujinon binoculars and explained the advantages of binoculars over telescopes. He also elaborated on coating descriptions and talked about image-stabilized binoculars.

    Alexandra Tekatch presented her 8x25 binoculars that are suitable for young viewers, and explained that she had used them for viewing birds and the moon.

    Ann Tekatch explained the advantages and disadvantages of her giant binoculars. She also gave an overview of binocular observing books like; the 'Bright Star Atlas', 'Norton's 20000', 'Atlas of the Moon', and the 'Messier atlas'.

    Everett Cairns showed the huge 30lb 20x120 binoculars with heavy duty mount and counterweight lift mechanism. He also explained the advantage of reduced 'light' noise with binoculars.

    Mike Spicer demonstrated many binocular viewers that can be attached to telescopes. Apogee Inc was mentioned. For better two-star alignment, a 'Go-To' telescope equipped with a binoviewer can have different eyepieces in each hole, one for coarse finding and another for fine finding.

    February 11, 2005

    Meeting summary

  • Greg Emery gave a presentation on the March Messier Madness Marathon. Greg provided the lowdown on the; who, what, where, why, when of the Messier Marathon. Greg's presentation was enhanced with expanding pictures of some of the more notable Messier objects. Read more about Greg's presentation in the latest Special edition of the Event Horizon
  • Doug Welch gave a presentation on the various methods of detecting a clear sky at night. Many useful ideas were presented including measuring with thermopiles, peltier diodes and other devices. The advantages and disadvantages of each method was also discussed.
  • Pat Greene, the Technical Team Lead for the Space Station program at Brampton's MD Robotics gave a presentation on Robotic applications for Space.

    She provided a thorough description of the robotics used for the International Space Station, who was involved, the pieces and stages of the space station, as well as the safety issues. Pat showed images and movies of the Canadarm and it's controller.

    Pat's expertise covers software, systems, operations and safety. MD Robotics was recently granted a NASA contract to develop a robotic repair system for the Hubble Space Telescope.

  • February 4, 2005

    Telescope Contest

    The Hamilton Amateur Astronomers are pleased to announce the HAA Student Scope Contest. The purpose of this Contest is to facilitate student interest in astronomy by providing a telescope to the chosen winner in each of two categories.

    The telescopes are motorized Meade DS 80 refractors with motorized tracking mounts and electronic hand paddle controls.

    Winners will also receive a one year family membership to the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers.

    One year family memberships will also be awarded to the runner up of each category.

    The contest is open to students attending grades 6-12 at schools in the Greater Hamilton Ontario Area. Submissions must be made online here.

    The deadline for entries is March 31, 2005. Entries are limited to one per student.

    Winners will be announced on, or before, April 30, 2005.

    For more information phone 905-945-5050

    January 21, 2005
    Prof. Lawrence Krauss

    An Atom from Hamilton - a Cosmic Odyssey

    Origins Institute present a public lecture:
    Who: Prof. Lawrence Krauss
    Title: An Atom from Hamilton - a Cosmic Odyssey
    When: February 10 2005, 8:00pm
    Where: McMaster Centre for Learning and Discovery Room 1305
    Fee: Free
    Click here for detailed poster.

    Note from the Editor: I attended an Origins lecture in the past and it was excellent. Come early for a good seat.

    January 15, 2005

    Meeting summary

  • Ray Badgerow showed pictures of his Egyptian Venus Transit trip.
  • Mike Jefferson spoke about historical astronomers like Ptolemy.
  • Doug Welch presented the Sky Quality Meter that he and Anthony Tekatch have developed. Read more about it here.
  • Paul Mortfield - The Backyard Astronomer TM gave an excellent presentation of "The Sun and SpaceWeather" using many of the amazing images and movies captured by various NASA solar spacecraft missions. He also introduced us to the field of SpaceWeather and its impact on space exploration and every day life.

    Paul Mortfield is an astronomer involved in education and public outreach with NASA's Sun-Earth Connection. While in California he was with the Stanford University's Solar Observatories Group that operates the MDI instrument aboard the SOHO spacecraft.

    As a commentator on astronomy, Paul has appeared regularly on CNN, the Discovery Channel, CBS and, notably, as the host of NASA's educational broadcasts on Sun-Earth Day and solar astronomy. Most recently, his appearances have been on the SPACE channel as part of their SpaceNews segment.