PeGASus Newsletter Issue #38 – July 1993

  • Editorial Comments
  • Meetings
  • The Perseid Meteor Shower
  • Canada Day Report
  • First Light at PGAO
  • Image Gallery

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 Director


Editorial Comments:

Hang on to your hats and get ready for this! This year the PGAS is doing something it has never been done before. Something to show our dedication to astronomy in Prince George.

Regular meetings will continue for July and August AND you will receive a newsletter as well.

This issue of PeGASus is written on the club’s new 486. It has been sitting in my basement for the last month awaiting its move the the PGAO. I have been testing it out just to make sure that it works. It seems to work but I had better keep it here for another year or so just to make sure. I will let the PGAS use my 386 for the interim.

Now that that’s settled, lets get on with this month’s newsletter.

Its summer, right? However, its difficult to tell unless you look at the calendar. My garden vegetables think its early spring and much too cold for them to start growing. Those warm summer nights are cold, and those clear, sunny summer skies are cloudy. The building of our observatory is behind schedule because of the rain, and The PeGASus Project is not flying because of the clouds.

I blame myself for the bad weather. Yes, it is all my fault. Two months ago, sometime in May, I acquired a rain stick. This device is a hollow bamboo pipe with lava pebbles inside which fall over thorns driven through the bamboo. When the rain stick is inverted, the lava pebbles rush over the thorns and make a very pleasing sound, like rain falling on the roof of a car. Every day for the last two months I have been making the sound of rain. I have stopped now, and the amount of rainfall has already decreased. By August, the Sun should shine on our observatory and PeGASus.

The Editor


Meetings: by Orla Aaquist

Summer is a busy time for most PGAS members, and most of us do not have the chance to attend meetings because of vacations and other activities which take up our time on the warm (?) summer evenings. However, because of our increased activity this year and the arrival of new members, it has been decided to continue with the monthly meetings throughout the summer in order to give new members a chance to get involved in our club.

The general meetings for the remainder of the year are

 Date  Location  Topic
 July 28  CNC  CCD demonstration & The Sky
 Aug. 25  CNC  PeGASus Project Report
 Sep. 29  CNC  Music of the Spheres
 Oct. 27  CNC  Elections & TBA
 Nov. 24  CNC  TBA

As always, the meetings will start at 7:30 P.M. in room 2-223 at CNC. Please note the election of members to the executive happens at the October meeting.

At the start of the upcoming meeting, we will have the solar filter set up outside the college IF IT IS CLEAR. Periodic rays of sunshine through the clouds will not count. Also, our new 486 computer will be present to help demonstrate CCD imaging and The Sky software package.

During the last meeting on June 30, Orla Aaquist demonstrated our new GPC-8 telescope, SP-6 CCD camera, and DayStar T-scanner solar filter. Also on display were PeGASus T-shirts (hand painted by Shannon), posters and post cards available for sale to club members and the public.


The Perseid Meteor Shower:

Every year at about this time, the Earth passes through a cloud of debris following the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. When the debris collides with the Earth’s atmosphere, streaks of light, called meteors, grace the night sky in a visual display called a meteor shower. The Perseids peak on August 11, but a steady increase in the meteor count should begin as early a July 20, and activity will taper off until August 25.

The Perseid meteors seem to radiate out of the constellation Perseus at the point indicated by the cross in the centre fold sky chart. The Perseus constellation is quite low to the horizon just after sunset, so it is best to view the event in the early morning before sunrise. The chart included in this newsletter (centerfold) is drawn for 3:00 A.M.

This year, the meteor count may be exceptionally high because of the passage of comet Swift-Tuttle last year through the inner part of the solar system. The shower’s activity is unpredictable, but some sources predict the peak to occur on the morning of August 12. So keep a sharp eye on the sky. The peak rate could be hundreds of counts per hour.

This event provides you with a good excuse to come out to the observatory. On the evening of August 11 until the early morning of August 12, members of the PGAS will be at our observatory scanning the sky for these natural fire works. Everyone is welcome to come out and keep us company. We promise to keep the observatory open until at least 2 A.M. if the sky is clear. If in doubt, call the observatory at 964-3600.

To observe this event, you will need to look up for extended periods of time, so bring a reclining lawn chair or something comfortable to lie on. Remember, too, that the nights are cool, so bring warm clothes or a sleeping bag.

At the observatory, we will provide warm drinks and cookies. Also, you will have a chance to examine the night sky with the 24″ Cassegrain and other telescopes and witness the operation of our CCD camera.


Canada Day Report:

On July 1, members of the PGAS staffed a booth at Fort George Park to help in the celebration of Canada’s 126th birthday. In the booth we displayed our astronomy posters and postcards, PeGASus T-shirts, and our new Great Polaris C-8 telescope and H-alpha solar filter. A few postcards and T-shirts were sold, but in general people seemed more interested to spend their money on food. However, there were no shortage of visitors to our display with about 1000 people stopping by to have a look through our telescope.

Our solar filter underwent its first test. Between the scattered clouds, people lined up behind the eyepiece to have a look at the Sun. The view was spectacular! A huge prominence could be seen rising above the South-Eastern limb of the Sun. Many times, visitors would exclaim amazement at the sight. Viewing through the filter makes the Sun a marvel to behold. It becomes more than just a reddish disk with a few sunspots; it becomes a dynamic ball of fire with a great variety of features that can be observed to change over a short period of time.

On behalf of our society, I wish to extend many thanks to the people who came out to help with the booth. Shannon Austman and Ted Biech faithfully showed our collection of posters, postcards and T-shirts. Steve Bowen, Jon Bowen, Matthew Burke and I took turns operating the telescopes. Also, a special thanks goes to Terance Farnham who dropped by, joined the PGAS, and then stayed to chat with the public and show the terrestrial view thorough Bob Nelson’s home made 10″ Newtonian. All around, it was a successful event for us, and if there is enough enthusiasm we may want to repeat if for the International Food Festival on August first and second.


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.


First Light at PGAO:

At 10:30 P.M. on July 17, 1993 the PGAS 24 inch, f/12 Cassegrain telescope saw first light at its new home on Tedford Road . Orla, Ted and Bob washed the primary mirror and installed it in the morning, Bob installed the secondary and roughly aligned the optics in the afternoon, and the trio returned late Saturday night, with fingers crossed, to witness the first star light bounce off the mirrors. The first star observed with the telescope was Vega. After adjusting the secondary, the Ring Nebula in Lyra and the globular cluster in Hercules were observed. The visual images produced by the system of these two objects are superb. We are going to have an excellent telescope.

The telescope drives were tested and adjusted and found to be in working order. Therefore, the telescope is now fully functional, and we will begin operation of the observatory as soon as the flat portion of our roof is tarred and the classroom is provided with electricity. The opening date is now set to be 1:00 P.M. on Saturday, July 31 (1993).

The PGAO has a telephone, so you can check if the observatory is operating before you drive out. The number is 964-3600. Warning: if the line rings busy, it does not mean that someone is at the observatory because we are on a party line. If you want more information about the observatory schedule during the month of August, call Orla (964-9626) or Ted (564-2838).

If you are not sure where the observatory is located, the map to the left should be helpful.


Image Gallery

jupiterNegative image of Jupiter taken with a ST6 CCD camera by Jack Newton.

Relief radar image of the Ishtar region on Venus photographed by the Magellan Satellite. (image unavailable)


Prince George Astronomical Society inquiries and PeGASus correspondence may be mailed to:

PGAS College of New Caledonia 3330 – 22nd Avenue Prince George, B.C. V2N 1P8

The Prince George Astronomical Observatory (PGAO) is located on 7365 Tedford Road The observatory phone number is 964-3600 (party line)