PeGASus Newsletter Issue #34 – Mar. 1993

  • Note from the Editor
  • The President Speaks
  • Observatory News
  • Meetings
  • The Pegasus Project
  • In the Sky

Prince George Astronomical Society Executive:

1993 Bob Nelson 562-2131 President: 563-6928
Alan Pretty Vice President: 562-3562
Brian Potts 565-3625 Secretary: 562-8113
David Sundberg Treasurer : 562-5774/6655
Jim Livingstone Mem. at Large 964-0155
Rod Marynovich Mem. at Large 562-0952

PeGASus Project Directors

Ted Biech 562-2131 Director: 564-2838
Orla Aaquist 562-2131 Programs 964-9626
Coordinator Bob Nelson 562-2131 Observatory 563-6928


Note from the Editor:

In this issue we are trying out yet another format for the newsletter. The thrust towards change is motivated not only by new software at the editor’s office, but also by the recent flurry of activity within the PGAS: the construction of our new observatory and the launching of the Pegasus Project. The acquisition of government funds in support of these efforts means better facilities, more equipment and hopefully a larger membership in the near future. The Editor


The President Speaks:

Hello, everyone! Well, I suppose you read our good news in the paper Wednesday: the money for the PeGASus project has been officially approved (this is the $25,000 for buying equipment and hiring students for the tours this summer). We haven’t heard anything from the Science Council regarding the $16,000 we need for the building. I shall have to phone them. On the project, things have been percolating along and progress is being made. A number of people are contributing to the general effort and this is gratifying – we have a lot to do.


Observatory News: by Bob Nelson

Well, there hasn’t been a lot of physical progress out there; as I write this, there have been no changes since the last newsletter. However, by the time this reaches you, Peter Bowen, myself and others hope to have raised the telescope at least part of the way it has to go. After that, it should not be too long before the telescope is operational. (The dome needs work.)

The College electrical class is still scheduled to complete the wiring (in an- other few weeks). After that, we can install the insulation and mount the drywall. Our main concern, at this stage, is to solve several problems regarding the new classroom addition. It seems that for up to 50 people, we need minimum of 4 toilets – 1 for men and 3 for women (two of which have to be for handicapped). Since you can’t fight the regulations, this is what we have to do. Peter Bowen is looking into what we have to do to make this work – there are some encouraging things here, but it remains to be seen if we can overcome this problem within the budget (some funds are available from the PeGASus money and I may go back to the Science Council).

We have more or less decided on a 30′ x 30′ concrete block addition, separated by a 10′ wide (or whatever is needed) entrance way and washroom area. We will be going with wood floors and a flat roof supported by whatever beams we need. We have a budget and it looks as if it MAY work but success depends on several things happening:

  1. Getting most of the $2000 back when we demolish the old building
  2. Getting the rest of the $$ from our B.C. Lotteries grant (~$1900)
  3. Running a successful casino this summer (I’ve applied)
  4. Getting enough donations (we’re working on them)

I’m optimistic – it should work. Until then, it’s full steam ahead with plan-ning and materials raising. In general (except for minor loans to complete the ob- servatory), we won’t spend money until we have it.


Meetings:

The Prince George Astronomical Society (PGAS) meets on the last Wednesday of every month (except December) at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) in the Physics Laboratory (Room 2-223). Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings, and you can join the society for an annual fee of $20.00. Members of the PGAS have access to the observatory and equipment therein and receive this news letter on a monthly basis. For more information, contact Bob Nelson at 562-2131 or 563-6928 or write to The Prince George Astronomical Society, c/o Dr. Bob Nelson, 1393 Garvin St.,Prince George, B.C., V2M 3Z1.


The Pegasus Project: PeGASus, PGAS and the PGAO by Orla Aaquist

The Pegasus project (PeGASus) is the brainchild of Ted Biech who teaches mathematics at CNC. His proposal is to conduct an extensive public awareness program in astronomy over the next year. The Prince George Astronomical So- ciety (PGAS) plans to purchase various equipment for our new observatory, the Prince George Astronomical Observatory (PGAO). Among the various items on the wish list is a CCD camera, a solar projection system, a few small telescopes, an H-alpha filter, eyepieces and other accessories, two 486 computer systems software to handle image acquisition, display and telescope control, CD-ROM databases such as the Hubble Space Telescope, VCR with a large display monitor and astronomical video tapes, a variety of show-and-tell stuff to be used in school presentations and public demonstrations out at the observatory.

The project includes funding to hire two students to conduct public presentations at the observatory and possibly at campsites and community star parties during July and August of this year. The Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology is supporting this ambitious project by granting the PGAS, through the Pegasus project, $25,000. The money is virtually here; now we just have to spend it. In addition to the government money, there is the possibility to raise money through other sources such as the sale of T-Shirts, astronomical slides, and other items at the observatory. We could offer an general public astronomy course to raise some money to raise some money from tuition fees.

The observatory is another ambitious project started by Bob Nelson last summer. Bob recently obtained $16,000 from the Northern Interior Science Technology and Innovations Council (NISTIC) to help us add a classroom wing to the PGAO. Bob has already built one observatory on Tabor Mountain about 10 years ago. However, that site was vandalized (there are bullet holes in the dome to prove it), and the PGAS was forced to abandon this site. Last summer, he and a handful of volunteers, build a small observatory at a safer and more accessible location. This building is near completion, and if all goes according to plan, it and the adjoining classroom should be finished by the end of June in time for a grand opening for Canada’s 126 birthday.

And where do I, the author of this article, fit into all this? I am trying to bringing it all to the public. My job is to develop presentations and ideas which can be used in schools presentations, observatory demonstrations, and at star parties around town. For the Canada day celebrations, the PGAS will staff a booth in Fort George Park so the public can look through a telescope, and we will also have an information booth at the Central Interior Science Fair hosted by CNC on the second of April. With the help of our summer students, we can also host a few block parties throughout the community during the summer in order to bring telescopes to the people of Prince George and to advertise our presence. For the next two months, Ted Biech and I will be going into the classroom to giving astronomy presentations to school kids. Next fall, an astronomy course for the general public could also be offered by the PGAS. Through these and other efforts, membership in the PGAS, along with the core of people needed to sup- port our increased activity, should increase.

Clearly, we have embarked on a very ambitious course of action. However, given the government funding, the enthusiasm and drive of Bob Nelson, Ted Biech, and other members of the PGAS, it is certain that we will end up much better off than we were.


PeGASus needs your input! Please feel free to write letters, articles, book reviews or whatever and submit them to the editor for publishing in our newsletter. Send them to the address on the inside front cover.


In the Sky:

On April 1st, Venus, which has dominated the early evening sky over the past few months, is in inferior conjunction. This means that it is passing between the sun and the earth. If you are a daytime astronomer, you’ll be able to spot Venus on the morning of April 19 as the moon passes just below Venus. Binoculars can be used to observe this event, but WATCH OUT FOR THE NEARBY SUN! Never point a telescope or binoculars at the sun.

By next month Venus will be visible as the morning star. With the passing of Venus into the starry sky, Jupiter is left behind to dominate the evening sky. This planet appears in the east just after sunset and marches westward across the night with the stars, setting shortly before sunrise.

Mars is still in Gemini, very near to Pollux and Castor, with Mars being just slightly brighter than the twins. If you want to see Saturn, you must wait till almost dawn. The Lyrids meteor shower peaks on April 22nd. The night sky will be nice and dark this year for this event because the moon will be new.


Published monthly by the Prince George Astronomical Society.

Prince George Astronomical Society inquiries and PeGASus correspondence may be mailed to: PGAS c/o 1393 Garvin Street Prince George, B.C. V2M 3Z1