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RASC eNews

RASC eNews

The University of Calgary invites interested RASC members to participate in the upcoming meteorite recovery effort near Lone Rock, Saskatchewan. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to mapping the strewn field of what we expect will be Canada’s largest recorded meteorite fall. While any recovered meteorites will remain the property of the landowner or the University of Calgary, search volunteers may suggest institutions for potential donations.

Toronto Centre member Ivan Semeniuk is now sharing his experiences as an "embedded journalist" in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Check out his weekly podcast "The Universe in Mind" to hear from leading international researchers in astronomy and related fields during this IYA year.

By now, most RASC members know we have leased new space in an office building a few blocks west of our old place. Monday and Tuesday next week, March 9 and 10, are moving days. The phones will be disconnected for part or all of that time, so be patient and hold your calls for a while.

Later in the week, most things will be up and running at our new digs. Give the staff a chance to get their feet under the desks and relax their frazzled nerves before you call.

Please take note of the new address:

The on-line version (in Adobe Acrobat PDF format) of the April 2009 issue of the RASC Journal is now available in full-colour, high-resolution format (6.5 MB), plus a low-resolution version (2.9 MB). Look, too, for the hidden "Easter Eggs" - URLs in some not-so-obvious places.

Thanks Charles

The name Charles Messier is familiar with amateur and professional astronomers alike. Charles was bitten by the astronomy bug in his younger years, similar to the same way we got hooked on the wonders of the night sky. He had an early passion for the stars and such but two spectacular events swayed him to his future. First was the jaw dropping Great Comet of 1744. It was discovered independently in December of 1743 by Dirk Klinkenberg and then four days later by Jean-Philippe de Chéseaux.

As part of the continuing rollout of our new website's features and capabilities, we are pleased to announce that access to the on-line edition of the Journal and the private area of the RASC website is now available from the RASC Web Portal at secure.rasc.ca. In fact, it is only available this way.

Giraffe of the North

Camelopardalis the giraffe, is one of those constellations that goes unnoticed for the most part. Lying close to Ursa Minor in the north, this constellation is circumpolar and is visible any time of year but lacks the WOW objects like those belonging to Orion, Andromeda.etc. Camelopardalis is spread over 757 square degrees of sky and is listed 18th in area. The Giraffe is home to 53 NGC objects, most of which are galaxies. As for bright stars, you would be out of luck. Most of its suns are in the fourth magnitude range.

Members on dial-up Internet will be pleased to know that a new version of Adobe software allows us to substantially reduce the file size of this and subsequent Journals. All back issues in the 2007 and 2008 archives have already been reduced, and others will receive the same size reduction soon.

See below for highlights of the current issue.

More Than A Dozen Beacons

People often ask, “when is a good time to look at the stars”. Of course I jokingly answer with a grin, “when it’s clear”. After the chuckles subside, I continue to state, “anytime of year – even winter”. The fear in their eyes when I mention the ‘W’ word, but yes it can be a great time to observe.

Each month has their special perks, such as spring time is great for galaxies or the summer’s Milky Way in all its glory which extends into the fall. Canadian winters can be brutal at times and that is the main driving force that locks people indoors from November to April. However if you dress for outdoor temperatures, you can enjoy a couple of hours looking up.

In 1935, the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) was presented to the University of Toronto by Jessie Donalda Dunlap as a memorial to her husband. Its goals of astronomical research, training of students at the University, and the fostering of public interest in astronomy have been met effectively since its inception. In the fall of 2007 the University of Toronto decided to sell the property and it was sold in July 2008.

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