RASC National Society Videos: Speaker Series

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Join us for one of our talks!

Speakers from across the country will be joining us to share their areas of astronomical expertise. Check back here regularly to see who will be speaking next.

Are you from a RASC Centre and have a favourite centre speaker? Send us an email with your recommendations!

Apollo 13—The Flight That Failed

Randy Attwood, President, Mississauga RASC
Fifty years ago, the third mission was launched to land two people on the Moon. On the third day of the flight, a problem occurred which cancelled the plans for the lunar landing and instead, started a race to get the astronauts home alive. In this talk, the speaker will detail all the things which had to go right to save the Apollo 13 crew.

30 Years of the Hubble Space Telescope

Chris Gainor, RASC President

The Hubble Space Telescope has provided amazing images of the universe from its location in Earth orbit for three decades. With the help of space shuttle astronauts, Hubble overcame a major technical defect built into its main mirror, becoming a key tool in making discoveries that have fundamentally changed our view of the universe and transformed the way astronomy is done. RASC president Chris Gainor, who is writing the official NASA history of Hubble operations, will tell this amazing story 30 years to the day that the telescope was launched into space.

In his talk, Chris will be joined by Ray Villard, the longtime Public Information Manager for the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore Maryland, who has told the story of HST since it was launched in 1990.

Canadian Women in Astronomy

Heather Laird

A brief history of some of the important women actively involved in the advancement of amateur and professional astronomy and astrophysics in Canada over the last century.

Heather volunteers her time as one of the Directors of the Ambassador Program for the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Still relatively new to observing and astronomy, however, her passion for the science, history, theory and physics motivates her to continue learning as much a possible.

Truth at the Eyepiece—exploring disjunctions between past and present astronomical imagery

Randall Rosenfeld, RASC Archivist

Since the advent of telescopic astronomy four centuries ago it's been a constant that visual records of observations should only show what is seen at the eyepiece, and no more. The integrity of astronomy as an observational science depends on this. Looking back over the images produced in the course of those four centuries can be an unsettling experience, for many of them don't at all resemble what we perceive at the eyepiece now, despite the claims of the original observers for the faithfulness of their visions. What is going on here?

This webinar surveys some of the issues involved through confronting the images, and explores some of the possible reasons why they may look odd to us, and the implications for what "truth at the eyepiece" may really mean.

As background to this talk, the sort of images which will be discussed, and questions they raise can be found in this supplement.

Loony Moons

Christa Van Laerhoven, PhD Planetary Sciences, UBC Teacher Candidate

The collections of moons that orbit our giant planets are very like miniature planetary systems, each with their own dramatic history. In my presentation I will talk about the various moons of the solar system and how they have been shaped by orbital shenanigans with their fellow moons and their host planet.

The Art and Science of Observational Astronomy

Robert Conrad, Observing Director, Vancouver RASC

Are you interested in learning how to navigate the night sky? Do you have a telescope or pair of binoculars and not sure how to use them to their full potential? Join astronomer and learning consultant Robert Conrad for a one-hour workshop on Thursday, July 16th. Robert has taught two astronomy courses at SFU and is the observational director and education co-director for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Vancouver Centre. He has coached hundreds of beginners and amateur astronomers to turn a hobby and interest into a passion. He has studied how people learn and has spent hundreds of hours understanding the challenges that many beginners struggle with and filled the gaps that for most enthusiasts, still prevent them from using their telescopes to their full potential. After attending his workshop, you’ll learn that the journey can be more rewarding than the destination and you will be able to:
• Use star hopping to navigate around the night sky.
• Describe how the sky appears to move throughout the night from various points on earth.
• Plan observing sessions taking many factors into account, including how the sky moves, visible constellations and when the object is best seen.
• Access the various resources that are available to learn the night sky (including mobile apps, software, planispheres and sky maps).

The Canadian Comet Sleuth

David Levy, author and comet hunter

Comet NEOWISE has been the sensation of our July skies, the first naked-eye comet for the Northern Hemisphere in ages. David Levy knows all about comets that snag the spotlight. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which broke apart in July 1992 and collided with Jupiter in July 1994, garnered the “Canadian comet sleuth” media attention around the world, including the headline on the very first cover of SkyNews 25 years ago.

Join The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Jenna Hinds and SkyNews' Allendria Brunjes as they sit down with Levy in the next Speaker Series, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 30.

Levy has discovered 22 comets, given innumerable lectures and written countless articles and more than 30 books — including an autobiography, A Nightwatchman's Journey. There’s an asteroid named in his honour, and his awards include the Chant Medal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Hawaiian Nights: A Personal Journey from Vancouver Island to Maunakea

Cam Wipper, telescope operator and scientific observer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

Growing up in Nanaimo, Cam never imagined he would be spend nearly a decade (and counting) living in Hawai’i and working on Maunakea, the best place on Earth for astronomical observations.

In his talk, Cam will tell the story of how he found himself on Maunakea, from his days as a student at Vancouver Island University, to his first night up on the summit of Maunakea, nearly 14.000 feet (4200m) above sea level. This will include a brief history of astronomy in Hawaii, as well as an exploration of how a modern astronomical observatory conducts scientific observations. All will be told from the perspective of a telescope operator and scientific observer; a position Cam has held at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope since 2015.