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RASC eNews

The Observer's Handbook is one of our two chief publications. For many international observers, our Society is that publication. For some, the Observer's Handbook is the leading English-language "pocket" ephemeris, reigning among mid-level ephemera designed for field use, in the class below the grand national ephemera supported by cutting-edge celestial dynamics and the latest astrometry produced by HM Nautical Almanac Office and the USNO, and the Bureau des Longitudes and the IMCCE. It is a proud, useful, and vigorous heritage.

In 2009-10, the Constitution Committee will be working on a process to renew the Society's Constitution. The last major revision to the Society's bylaws was completed in the early 1990s. In 2009-10 the Constitution Committee will be conducting a through review of the Society's Constitution with a view to making it more flexible and modern. Two or three volunteers are needed to work on this project on a part-time basis from September 2009 until about August 2010.
 

Hello fellow RASC Members,

The Extended Annual Report has been placed on the RASC Web site at http://www.rasc.ca/private/governance/annualreports.shtml. Use the username and password sent by email to access this information. This is the coloured version, with reports from all the Centres, plus Centre Treasurer' Reports.

James Edgar, National Secretary and
Dave Lane, President

Beware the Scorpion

For those who live in the desert, one must always be on guard of the dreaded scorpion. These creepy crawlers are seen on a yearly basis in arid areas of the globe including some parts of southern Alberta during summer. Of the more than 1,500 species know, most scorpions only delivered the equivalent to a bee sting and are not poisonous. However, for Canadian star gazers, the great scorpion makes its brief appearance in southern skies from May to September.

Looking Up now available

by R.A. Rosenfeld, Toronto

Looking Up, the thoroughly researched and entertainingly written "official" history of the RASC, is now available again. Long out-of-print, and difficult to obtain used, the book has been digitized in its entirety as an initiative of the History Committee working with Walter MacDonald of the Kingston Centre, and this year's recipient of a RASC Service Award.

The notice of the Society's annual meeting (to take place on August 16) including the Proxy 2009 form and the Essential Annual Report has been mailed out this week to members without an email address in the membership database. The Essential Annual Report contains all those things required by the Society's By-laws.

The on-line version (in Adobe Acrobat PDF format) of the August 2009 issue of the RASC Journal is now available in full-colour, high-resolution format (5.4 MB), plus a low-resolution version (2.5 MB) for those members on dial-up service.

The Mighty Hercules

In mythology, Hercules was known for his amazing courage and great strength. It is said this Greek warrior killed a lion with his bare hands. In the night sky, Hercules is the slayer of Hydra and was given an alternative name of Engonasin, meaning "on his knees" or "the Kneeler". To star gazers and astronomers, the asterism of Hercules consists of a dozen stars. However, our celestial strong man lacks significant star brightness and would hard press to identify this asterism from major light polluted areas. The Kneeler is actually up side down with his head pointing to the south and looks like a lop sided letter ‘H’. No less than 7 extra solar planets have been found in this constellation. One of which is HD149026b

Kouchibouguac National Park has been declared New Brunswick's first Dark Sky Preserve.

 

The Big Bear

If you were to ask anyone to name a constellation in the sky, ninety-nine percent of the time that person would say the Big Dipper or the Big Bear. And why not? Referred by astronomers as Ursa Major or Ursae Majoris, the Big Dipper is the first star pattern we studied in school and is by far the most recognized celestial group. It also helps that Ursa Major is a circumpolar constellation and can be seen somewhere about the northern horizon throughout the year. As you move down in latitude, your chances of seeing it all year round diminish. Distances to these main seven stars of the asterism range from 78 to 123 light years (ly).

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