Northern Prairie Star Party 2014

NPSP 2014 T-Shirt Design

NPSP 2014 T-Shirt Design

This was the eleventh year that the Northern Prairie Star Party was held at the Black Nugget Lake camp ground south east of Tofield. The event officially started on Tuesday, September 23 and ended Sunday, September 28 – with most of our group activities occurring on Saturday, September 27. This year’s event attracted 50 participants including returnees and newcomers. Unfortunately we were beset by cold and rainy weather that prevented observing on our two big nights – Friday and Saturday. This bad luck was more than offset by lots of discussion amongst participants and camaraderie around the first-ever campfire held on Saturday night when the skies were completely clouded over.

 

Public Talks on Sep 27, 2014

Massimo Torri

Event Schedule

Event Schedule

Member, RASC Edmonton Centre
Hands-on lunar and planetary astrophotography tutorial

Paul Hickson
Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UBC
Extremely Large Telescopes

Doug Hube
Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, University of Alberta
How to Build a Black Hole – An Impractical Guide for Beginners

Carlos Lange
Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta
Recent Mars missions and the cycle of water on Mars

2014_npsp_speakers

NPSP 2014 Speakers (L-R): Carlos Lange, Paul Hickson, Massimo Tori, Doug Hube.

 

New for 2014: Observing Certificates

Warren Finlay has set up 3 observing certificates that can be achieved at the 2014 NPSP. The observing certificates are meant to give attendees a specific goal to accomplish with their observing during NPSP. There are 3 lists (level 1, 2 and 3 which correspond to novice, beginner, intermediate), each with 10 deep sky objects that the observer needs to find during this year’s NPSP to get their certificate. The 3 levels are as follows:

Level 1
10 objects that can be seen without optical aid if you have keen eyes. Suitable for entry level astronomers who have little experience in observing the night sky. A planisphere, smartphone app, or sky atlas that can be used to find the bright naked eye stars is needed to find the objects on this list.

Level 2
10 objects that can be seen with a smaller telescope. Suitable for those who have beginning experience in observing the night sky with a telescope. The list includes a globular cluster, an open cluster, a planetary nebula, an emission nebula, a star cloud, an elliptical galaxy, a spiral galaxy, a lenticular galaxy, a garnet-colored star, and a beautiful double star. A smartphone app, digital setting circles, go-to equipped telescope, or star atlas that can be used to find the positions of the brightest deep sky objects (e.g. the Messier objects) is needed to find the objects on this list.

Level 3
10 objects that can be seen with a medium telescope (6″ diameter or larger). Suitable for those who have intermediate experience in observing the night sky with a telescope. The list includes a globular cluster, an open cluster, a planetary nebula, an emission nebula, a reflection nebula, an elliptical galaxy, a spiral galaxy, a lenticular galaxy, the closest star that can be seen from Edmonton, and a triple star. A smartphone app, digital setting circles, go-to equipped telescope, or star atlas that can be used to find the positions of most deep sky objects and their nearby stars is needed to find the objects on this list.

The lists and instructions for the lists will be given out when people register on site at NPSP.


Public Talks on Sep 27, 2014

2013_Massimo_Torri3 – 3:45 PM

Massimo Torri

Member, RASC Edmonton Centre

Taking your telescope to the outer space: how to get rid of the Earth’s atmosphere and shoot better images with your telescope than a 200″ instrument

This hands-on tutorial will give you practical tips on how to impress your friends and colleagues by showing off amazing, mind-blowing, high resolution images of the Inner Solar System bodies taken with your very own telescope.Bio:Massimo Torri is an amateur astronomer, astrophotographer and a science educator. His enthusiasm for the night sky started four decades ago when the sky was darker and the stars seemed brighter. Very soon Massimo realized he could attach his Dad’s film camera to his little 60mm f/15 refractor to take images of the Moon and the Sun. Massimo has taken images of the night sky ever since using progressively better telescopes and cameras. Massimo has been a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton chapter) for eight years during which he has actively promoted astrophotography both as a great hobby and a wonderful educational tool. Massimo is very active in the community by making astronomy accessible to the general public, particularly K-12 children. He routinely delivers presentations to schools and makes his telescope available on such occasions. In his spare time Massimo has been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities including soccer refereeing, rock climbing in the Alps, getting a PhD in Physics and parenting a variable number of children at home.
2014_Paul_Hickson3:45 – 4:45 PM

Paul Hickson

Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UBC

Extremely Large Telescopes

In the coming decade three next-generation optical-infrared telescopes are expected to see first light. The Giant Magellan Telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope and the European Extremely-Large Telescope will be the world’s largest, with apertures ranging from 22 to 39 metres. Employing advanced adaptive-optics systems and a suite of sophisticated instruments, these telescopes will have as much as 4 times the resolution,16 times the light gathering power, and more than 200 times the sensitivity of today’s largest telescopes. Dr. Hickson will provide an overview of the key scientific programs that are driving these projects, and the technologies that make them possible.Bio:Paul Hickson is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta, obtaining a BSc in Physics in 1971 and a PhD in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology in 1976. Dr. Hickson has research interests in several areas of extragalactic astronomy, including galaxies, clusters of galaxies, active galactic nuclei and cosmology. He also spends time developing new astronomical instruments and technology, including liquid-mirror telescopes, robotic observatories, laser adaptive optics, and instruments to remotely measure atmospheric turbulence. One of these recently provided the first-ever seeing measurements from the Canadian High Arctic. He has served as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Thirty Meter Telescope and Project Scientist for its facility adaptive optics system.
2014_Doug_Hube4:45 – 5:30 PM

Doug Hube

Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, University of Alberta

How to Build a Black Hole – An Impractical Guide for Beginners

There are many misconceptions about Black Holes. At risk of creating more, I will describe how one might – in principle – create a black hole out of ordinary matter on a conceivable scale; and will describe the largest black hole possible.Bio:Born in St.Catharines, Ontario. Educated at the University of Toronto (Ph.D. 1968). Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Physics, University of Alberta, 1969-2000. Founding Member (1977) of the Edmonton Space Sciences Foundation and President (1988-9). National President of the RASC (1996-8). Guest observer at David Dunlap (Toronto), Radcliffe (South Africa), Kitt Peak (Arizona), Cerro Tololo (Chile) and DAO (Victoria). Research interest was primarily in spectroscopic and photometric studies of short-period binary stars, with occasional dabbling in general relativity and meteoritics.
2014_Carlos_Lange6:45 – 7:30 PM

Carlos Lange

Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta

Recent Mars missions and the cycle of water on Mars

Missions to Mars have been in the news over the past years, with two active rovers, Opportunity and Curiosity, on the planet’s surface and talk in the press about the proposed one-way Mars One Mission. Come out and hear Dr. Lange discuss recent missions to Mars and his own work on the cycle of water on Mars.Bio:Dr. Carlos Lange graduated in Mechanical Engineering in Brazil, and obtained his PhD from the University Erlangen-Nurnberg, Germany. Dr. Lange specializes in applying Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to biomedical and atmospheric flows. In the biomedical field, he simulates the deposition of inhaled aerosols in the lung, as well as studying generation of bioaerosol from cough. Dr. Lange also applies CFD to the study of winds and their effects on Mars. Lange and his team used CFD for the first time in a Mars mission to characterize the effect of winds and of the lander itself on the measurements of the Canadian meteorological station of the Phoenix Mars Lander. They are currently applying their computational models to study the effect of local winds on the transport of water vapour through the Martian regolith. Lange conceived and helped develop the Telltale wind sensor on the Phoenix Lander and he is currently involved in the development of an advanced sonic anemometer for Mars, using Canadian technology.