Hello, everyone!! Well, it’s been a while since the last meeting and newsletter; however, I have talked a lot with many of you privately and there have been a number of work parties at the new observatory over the summer. (More on that later. )
I’d like to welcome a new member to the club: Dr. Ted Biech teaches mathematics at the College and joins Orla and me in what appears to be a growing astrophysics group there.
Well anyway, this is the start of a new season – one that we have high hopes for. Firstly, we hope to have a good programme of events at our monthly meetings (Ted and Orla will give talks), and secondly, over the fall and winter, we should be able to finish the new observatory – really getting into what we all want to do (astronomy-wise).
Orla’s wife, Shannon, who is a design artist by training, has volunteered to edit the Newsletter, so there may very well be a new look next month. Here’s hoping that it will be a great leap forward!
RECENT PROGRESS AT THE OBSERVATORY:
So much to say! Here is a brief chronology:
- June 24: Contractor dug hole (and a great hole it was!).
- June 27-30: We installed the forms for the footings. A start!
- July 4: We poured the footings. (I was in Calgary at the time.)
- July 7-9: We installed the forms for the foundation wall.
- July 10: We poured the foundations (using a pumper this time).
- July 11: We peeled the forms from the foundation.
- July 14: We tarred the foundation wall and laid the drain tile.
- July 15: We completed the back-filling (by hand – much shoveling).
- July 18: Masoners laid block (day 1); we assisted by supplying them with blocks.
- July 20: Masoners laid block (day 2). The nine foot walls are up.
- July 25: THE BIG DAY – a total of 9 volunteers (we had 2 mixers going) filled all the cores, pouring nine cubic yards in 11 hours.
- Sept 5-7: Labour Day Weekend – we installed the roof joists.
- Sept 12: We installed the eaves.
- Sept 13: I installed sewer pipe down the trench – this should allow us to have a modest water system (for coffee, washing hands, etc.).
- Sept 15: The contractor filled the trench and spread gravel around. This should alleviate the mud!
- Sept 19: On a rainy day, we stripped electrical fixtures from the old observatory up on Tabor Mountain.
- Sept 27: We laid the plywood on the roof.
John Peters (carpentry instructor at the College) has generously volunteered that his class will make the 144 segments for the base ring (out of our 2x6s) for the dome. With these, we will be able to fabricate the base ring in situ in another week or so. The professional roofers are next. Then it gets really exciting: we will be ready to move the telescope and dome. The latter will close up the building from the elements; next, we will install a power pole and connect Hydro, allowing us to get heat inside. We will then be able to finish the interior whatever the weather. Completion of the observatory should occur this or early next year.
The finances are not so good: at present we are broke and face a bill (for concrete) of some $1900 or so. Some of use are carrying bills that will have to be repaid. Other expenses will be for the plywood, the door, tarring the roof, moving the telescope and dome, installing the hydro pole, etc. We are due an interim cheque from B.C Lotteries (for $1750) that should ease matters; however, we will probably have to take out a loan to tide us over to our (hoped for) casino event probably sometime in November. I think it should be ok (all estimates say so) but we do have a bit of a cash flow problem in the meantime.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY:
Fall equinox has been and gone (Sept 22); now the nights are getting longer (that’s good for us). Regrettably, daylight savings time will not be gone until the end of October. (What a silly idea it is!)
Mars, moving from Taurus into Gemini, rises about 4 hours after sunset, and is high in the southeast at sunrise, amid the “winter six” constellations.
Saturn, in Capricornus, is low in the southeast at sunset, and is visible for most of the night.
Uranus and Neptune are stationary on Sept 23 and 27 resp. [They should be visible low in the southeast at sunset.]
The other planets are difficult or impossible to see this month.
– [from the Observer’s Handbook, 1992]
Mid evening sees the summer triangle still high in the sky. [For the uninitiated, these are the stars Vega (à Lyrae), Deneb (à Cygni) and Altair (à Aquilae)]. The northern Milky Way passes right through Cygnus and Aquila giving many spectacular objects such as the Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra (just at the edge of the MW), the Dumbell Nebula (M27) an equal distance on the other side of Alberio (á Cyg at the other end of the “Swan” figure), the North America Nebula (near Deneb), M29 (another nebula) also near Deneb, M56 (a globular cluster near Alberio strangely in the plane of the Galaxy), M71 (another globular in the Milky Way), and more. Hey, why don’t we get out and look at some of this stuff? It’s been a while!
Wednesday, Sept 30 at 7:30 PM at the College, room 2-223. I’d like to show a videotape of the summer’s activities at the new site, plus some slides of almost every day out there which should be interesting. In addition, several of us have drawn up a tentative schedule of events for our monthly meetings – we would like your input.
Hope to see you there!
Bob Nelson, President