Northern Prairie Star Party 2015
September 8-13, 2015
Black Nugget Lake

NPSP 2015 – Event Recap

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Alister Ling (Edmonton Centre RASC executive member) gave a very interesting talk on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of high dynamic range (HDR) photography in astronomy, followed by long-time RASC member and photographer Warren Finlay speaking on photographing nightscapes around the world. David Miles, PhD candidate and research engineer (EIT), Department of Physics, University of Alberta, gave an entertaining and informative presentation on studying space weather from a sub- orbital sounding rocket. Our afternoon concluded with Dr. Jeff Kuhn, from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, talking about the use of large telescopes to search for alien life in our galactic neighbourhood (see photo of our speakers).

4b - 2015 NPSP Shirt Design - Pluto New Horizons - small

NPSP 2015 T-Shirt Design
Order yours by August 21


This is the twelfth year that the Northern Prairie Star Party will be held at the Black Nugget Lake campground south east of Tofield. The event officially starts Tuesday, September 8 and ends Sunday, September 13 – with most of our group activities occurring on Saturday, September 12.

For more information, please review the schedule and rules & regulations (PDF) and the Northern Prairie Star Party main page.

Keynote at 4:30pm on Saturday, September 12

Jeff Kuhn from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii

Taking a census of alien life in our galactic neighborhood

 

Public Talks on September 12, 2015

Alister Ling

RASC Edmonton Centre

Trials, tribulations and triumphs of high dynamic range (HDR) photography

Warren Finlay

RASC Edmonton Centre

Photographing nightscapes around the world

npsp_2015_alister_ling npsp_2015_warren_finlay
3:30 PM

David Miles

PhD candidate and research engineer (EIT), Department of Physics, University of Alberta


Studying space weather from a sub-orbital sounding rocket

Space weather, caused by the interaction of our Sun with the Earth’s magnetic field, can affect our satellites in space and our technology on the ground. Space weather can be studied from the ground and from satellites but certain measurements can only be made from rockets.

This talk is a photo and video diary of David’s experience on the ICI-4 sounding rocket campaign. In February 2015 he was part of a team that launched ICI-4 to an altitude of 350 km from northern Norway and flew through a region of active space weather which was interfering with GPS navigation signals on the ground below.

About the Speaker

David Miles is a PhD candidate and a research engineer (EIT) in the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta. His thesis research focuses on improving our ability to make high-fidelity measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field. He is involved in several research projects including: Canada’s Cassiope/e-POP satellite mission, the Norwegian ICI-4 and 5 suborbital sounding rockets to study space weather, the CARISMA ground magnetometer observatory array, and the University of Alberta’s cube-satellite project. Before coming to the University of Alberta, he developed equipment now deployed on the sea-floor as part of Ocean Networks Canada.

4:30 PM

Jeff Kuhn

Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii

Taking a census of alien life in our galactic neighborhood

Knowing there are more planets than stars around us, why don’t we have evidence of extraterrestrial life? This question is more irritating now than it was 60 years ago when Italian physicist Enrico Fermi posed it. A privately funded group of scientists and engineers (called the ‘Colossus Group’) is demonstrating that the technology exists now to approach the Fermi Paradox as an experimental astrophysical problem. Its resolution depends on finding exocivilization “biomarkers” and perfecting some optical technologies. This talk will be a description of how we will do this in order to complete such a cosmic census.

About the Speaker

Dr. Jeff Kuhn is a research astronomer with the University of Hawaii, and past director at the university’s Institute for Astronomy on Maui. With a PhD in physics from Princeton University, Jeff has conducted research at Michigan State University and the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. He designs and builds telescopes and has built several optical and infrared instruments for studying the Sun. The 4.2-metre Daniel K. Inouye solar telescope, now under construction on Maui’s Haleakala peak, is modeled after a smaller one Jeff built that operates at the same location. Two years ago, he and a Vancouver entrepreneur convened a group of scientists and engineers to explore the feasibility of building large optical telescopes. This group, called the Colossus Corporation, continues to develop new ideas for large telescopes.

Observing Certificates

First introduced by Warren Finlay for the 2014 NPSP, the observing certificates are meant to give attendees a specific goal to accomplish with their observing during NPSP. There are three lists (levels 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 three 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 can be used to find the positions of the Messier objects and stars on this list.

Level 3

10 objects that can be seen with a medium telescope (8” diameter or larger). Suitable for those who have considerable experience in observing the night sky with a telescope. The list includes several open clusters, a planetary nebula, an emission nebula, an extragalactic emission nebula, a double galaxy, several spiral galaxies, and a dark nebula. 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.

T-Shirts

The 2015 NPSP T-shirt, designed by Rick Bramm, commemorates the discovery and exploration of Pluto. It features the image of the Pluto Discovery Telescope used by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. It also includes the image of the New Horizons space craft that flew past Pluto on July 14 of this year and the beautiful image of Pluto as captured by New Horizons on its approach.

The shirt will be black and comes in a range of sizes from small through to double extra large – and in short and long sleeves. They will cost $20 each (cash payment please, at the Star Party. If you are not attending the Star Party but would like one, let us know and we arrange to get it to you.)

If you are interested in purchasing the 2015 NPSP T-shirt, please let NPSP Coordinator Rick Bramm know no later than Friday, August 21.

When ordering, please indicate the number of T-shirts you are ordering, and the size (S to XXL) and style (short or long sleeves) for each.

Spectacular Prizes!!

When you attend each of the three presentations at the 2015 Northern Prairie Star Party, you will receive two tickets. One will be for a variety of prizes given out at the end of the presentation, donated by All-Star Telescope, the Telus World of Science and the Royal Astronomical Society – Edmonton Centre and individual members. This includes lenses, mini-tripods, science kits, books and more. The other ticket will be for the grand prizes to be awarded at the BBQ: two fantastic telescopes donated by All-Star Telescope. The more sessions you attend, the greater the chance of winning! Here is more information about those telescopes.

Sky-Watcher Heritage 130 mmThe Sky-Watcher Heritage 5.12-inch diameter (130 mm) collapsible telescope is a great beginner telescope, designed to be easy to use and portable, with consistent performance. It weighs less than 15 pounds (6.8 kg), and its tube collapses to 14.5 inches (36.8 cm). Retail value is estimated at $270. For more details, check the All-Star Telescope website.(Image from Skywatcher at http://ca.skywatcher.com/)

Celestron NexStar 4SEThe Celestron NexStar4SE combines the classic heritage of the original Celestron orange tube telescopes with state-of-the-art features, including a fully computerized operating system, quick alignment software and a 40,000-object database. It has a diameter of 4 inches (102 mm), high-quality optics, finder scope and sturdy steel tripod. Ideal for observing and photographing the wonders of space, it weighs 21 pounds (9.5 kg), including the tripod. Easy assembly and quick set up means you can start stargazing sooner and the go-to technology means it will find your targets for you. Retail value is estimated at $600. For more details, check the All-Star Telescope website. (Image from Celestron at www.celestron.com)

A big thank you to All-Star for their steadfast support of the Northern Prairie Star Party!