Archive for the ‘MAG Events’ Category

April Meeting

Minas Astronomy Group –– April Meeting

Spacetime coordinates:

t   =  This Saturday, April 9,  7 p.m.

R  =  Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Speaker: Roy Bishop + ?

Roy and Larry founded MAG over 21 years ago, in November 1994.

Topic:  Images and Some Poetry
April’s presentation will be more informal than the one I gave last month. I shall present a selection of recent unique and beautiful astronomical images, from various sources including cameras on tripods, Earth-based telescopes, and cameras in space. Also, I hope to have one or two of our members present a few poems they have composed, suitably accompanied with images.

May Meeting

Saturday, May 14, 7 p.m.
Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Speaker: Laura McLarnon

Topic: Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents and the Origin of Life

Summary: The discovery of deep sea hydrothermal vents in 1977 changed the perspective of the requirements for life on Earth. No fauna was thought to exist within the dark abyss of the ocean. In the 40 years since this discovery a better understanding of the types of vents and their ecological niches have allowed scientist to propose DSHV as a possible location for the synthesis of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. I will discuss the chemical environment present at White Smokers and how those conditions mimic the primordial conditions on Earth. I will then discuss the evolution of life from primitive bacteria / archea synthesizing chemicals leaching from the Black Smokers to complex multicellular organisms. I will show parallels between the evolution of the Tree of Life and the evolution of complexity at the vents.

March Meeting

Saturday, March 12, 7 p.m.
Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Speaker: Roy Bishop

Roy Bishop and Larry Bogan founded MAG over 21 years ago, in November 1994. Roy has had a keen interest in astronomy since childhood, although he has never taken a course in the subject. His formal background is in physics.

Topic: A Matter of Some Gravity

One hundred years ago Albert Einstein presented his General Theory of Relativity (GTR), a description of gravitation that replaced Newton’s theory of 1687. The GTR is the foundation of modern cosmology, the study of the nature and structure of the Universe. Besides giving a revolutionary insight into the nature of gravity, and being essential for GPS navigation, the GTR predicts the existence of gravitational waves. Almost 40 years ago indirect evidence for gravitational waves was found in the orbital decay of a binary pulsar. About the same time, apparatus to possibly detect gravitational waves directly began to be built. These detectors have become increasingly more sensitive as designs and technology have advanced. Success occurred late last summer. After traveling for more than a billion years, on 2015 September 14 at 06:50:45 ADT a burst of gravitational waves passed through Earth. You did not feel them but two detectors in the USA did, opening a new branch of astronomy. That discovery was announced last month, on February 11. As the Canadian reporter Ivan Semeniuk put it: “After countless generations of living in silence on the shores of a vast and restless cosmic ocean, the human species can finally hear the surf.”

February Meeting

Minas Astronomy Group –– February Meeting

Saturday, February 13, 7 p.m.
475 Bluff Road in Avonport

Speaker: Paul Gray

Paul is the president of the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and is an experienced observer. This will be the 5th time Paul has spoken to MAG.

Topic: The Great American Eclipse!

In 2017 the shadow of the Moon will cross the lower 48 of the United States of America from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The last time that happened was in 1918! This will be the first eclipse of modern times for which millions of people across both the USA and Canada can simply drive to the path of totality during the warm summer vacation period. An event that many of us have not seen, a total eclipse of the Sun is often ranked as the top astronomical event anyone can witness, ranking 10 or 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. In this talk, Paul will look at the weather prospects, logistics and risk of becoming a chaser of the Moon’s shadow on August 21st, 2017. Where will you be?

January Meeting

Saturday, January 9, 7 p.m.

Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Speaker: Melody Hamilton (and as Melody told Roy a few days ago: “Remember that you are going to do part of the presentation”)

Topic: Brown Dwarfs

Brown Dwarfs are not stars, planets, asteroids, meteorites, comets, small dark nebulae, or height-challenged individuals having lots of melanin. Several are quite close to the Solar System. Melody has offered to tell us what they are.

October Meeting

The meeting will be on the 17th a week later because of the Thanksgiving Weekend is the 10-12 of October.

To avoid a conflict with a not-to-be-missed astronomy talk in Halifax, MAG is joining with the RASC Halifax Centre as our MAG meeting.

The October meeting of the RASC Halifax Centre will be attendance at a special presentation St Mary’s University on

Saturday October 17th at 7:00 PM, in the McNally Theatre Auditorium – St Mary’s University, Halifax

The presentation by the noted astronomer Dr. Alex Filippenko

The Halifax Centre has been invited to participate by SMU and we will have a table and display set up in the ante room of the McNally to provide information to the public about the Centre and RASC and share our interest in astronomy. We will set up some telescopes for display and will also offer viewing outside the McNally after the presentation. Volunteers to man the table and bring some scopes are requested – please contact Paul Gray <>. It will be a fun evening!

Dr. Alex Filippenko will be the guest speaker for the inaugural Dan MacLennan Memorial Lecture on Saturday, October 17 at 7:00 pm in Saint Mary’s McNally Theatre Auditorium. One of the world’s most highly cited astronomers, Dr. Filippenko was a member of both teams that revealed the accelerating expansion of the Universe, a discovery that earned team leaders the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and team members the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Winner of UC Berkeley’s most prestigious teaching awards, and voted “Best Professor” on campus a record nine times, Dr. Filippenko has produced five astronomy video courses, co-authored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appeared in more than 100 television documentaries.

Dr. Filippenko’s lecture Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe is the first in a series of annual astronomy lectures established by the MacLennan family to celebrate lifelong learning and the joy of discovery. After his retirement, Dan MacLennan attended astronomy classes at Saint Mary’s and discovered a new world view through the lens of Saint Mary’s University’s telescope. Using a camera purchased to photograph goldfinches and an old telescope from his target-shooting days, MacLennan captured high-quality images of sun spots and presented his work at the annual gathering of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

“While Dan was a reserved man who shunned the limelight, he quietly showed leadership in many of his life endeavours,” says Oriel MacLennan, Dan MacLennan’s daughter-in-law. “He enormously valued his time at Saint Mary’s and the opportunities presented him. This inaugural lecture, stellar indeed, would have been a source of quiet gratification for him. We are happy to help in advancing this cause.”

To follow the lead of the MacLennan family in fanning the flames of scientific discovery, after the lecture concludes, guests are invited to enjoy refreshments and view the night sky from telescopes set up on the front lawn of the McNally Theatre Auditorium (weather permitting). Students and professors from Saint Mary’s Department of Astronomy and Physics and members of the Royal Astronomical Society (Halifax Chapter) will be available to answer questions.

“We are very excited to host this event and to have Alex Filippenko as a guest on campus,” says Dr. Marcin Sawicki, Department Chair and professor in Saint Mary’s Department of Astronomy and Physics. “We appreciate the generosity of the MacLennan family in making this possible. I can’t think of a better tribute to Dan MacLennan’s passion for learning about the universe than a lecture series that, each year, will see world-leading astronomers giving public talks at Saint Mary’s University.

Nova East 2015

Date: August 14-16  Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Place: Smiley’s Park

Information and Registration:

Guest Speaker: Alan Dyer – Friday night and Saturday

Public Observing Saturday night, Astronomy Auction Saturday afternoon

June 2015 Meeting

Saturday, 13 June at 7 pm

475 Bluff Road, Avonport, N.S.

Topic: TBA

Last meeting until September – an exensive “What’s Up this Summer” will be presented by Roy Bishop.

May Meeting on 9th

Saturday, May 9, 7 p.m.
Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Speaker: Sherman Williams

Topic: Celestial Demos & Misconceptions

Sherman has a lifetime of teaching experience, including introducing young people to features of the sky that most people never notice. In recent years he has given numerous presentations to students in the education program at Mount St. Vincent University. Sherman will demonstrate a few of those presentations and describe some common misconceptions he has encountered concerning the Sun and the night sky.

If that parking lot is full when you arrive, park next door (#465) and take the path that begins next to the garage. Bring a flashlight, as it will be dark when you return to your car.

February Meeting

Speaker: Paul Gray
This Saturday, February 14, 7 p.m.
Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Topic: 20 Years of Supernova Hunting

In 1994 two amateur astronomers from Nova Scotia decided to compete with the professional observatories and hunt for supernovae. At a time when only a few dozen had ever been found by amateurs and none had been found from Canada, it was no small task and would be the beginning of a long and eventful journey, both technological and involving a growing family. What started as a simple idea to find a supernova turned into a grand journey. Paul will highlight much of this during the talk and bring us to current day through what is considered to be the golden age of amateur astronomy.

Next Meeting

There are no upcoming events.