Starfest 2022 Speakers
Dr. Nathalie Nguyen-Quoc Ouellette
Unfolding the Universe with the Webb Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the successor of the famous Hubble Space Telescope, has finally launched and is ready for science! The Webb Telescope, a 6.5m infrared telescope, is without a doubt one of the most complex machines ever built by humanity and the largest telescope ever sent to space. Thanks to Webb, we will have the capacity to see farther than ever in our Universe, peer through the cosmic dust sprinkled throughout galaxies and discover and study new alien worlds. This project is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. In addition to contributing the FGS/NIRISS instrument, Canada and its astronomers are poised to be some of the first to use the telescope and produce groundbreaking science thanks to its revolutionary data. As the first few images and bits of data start trickling in, you will get a preview of some of the awesome discoveries we are anticipating, and what Webb means for the future of space astronomy.
Nature vs Nurture: Building Galaxies in a Cluster Environment
Galaxies are social creatures that can often be found in groups or clusters of hundreds or even thousands. These environments are very different from the comparatively empty voids field galaxies populate. The relative importance and interplay between external conditions (such as environment) and intrinsic properties (such as mass, content, morphology, etc.) in galaxy formation and evolution is still being debated. It is possible that both sides of this coin are equally important in driving galaxy evolution. With a diverse membership now numbering above 4000, the Virgo Cluster is an ideal laboratory to verify and discover new galaxy scaling relations and distributions that can help piece together the puzzle of galaxy evolution. In this talk, we will go over some important drivers in galaxy evolution and discuss results from the Spectroscopy and H-band Imaging Virgo (SHIVir) survey that hint towards some new understanding of galaxy formation theory.
Nathalie Ouellette is an astrophysicist, science communicator and lifetime lover of all things space! She obtained her Ph.D. in Physics & Astronomy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 2016. Her research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution, particularly those found in clusters. Nathalie is currently the Coordinator of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) at the University of Montréal and is also the Outreach Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope in Canada collaborating with the Canadian Space Agency. She is a frequent contributor and analyst in Canadian media on everything related to space. She also organises and participates in science outreach events from local to international scales to encourage the interest and participation of youth and the general public in space science and to increase scientific literacy in Canada.
Guest Speakers (alphabetically):
The Complete Uncensored Story of Constructing a 12” f/13 Classical Cassegrain Telescope
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and when you’re a planetary astrophotographer like myself, you often need to make your own instrument to fill that private need. In this case a native high focal length, large aperture truss reflector light enough to transport and mount by oneself on a modest equatorial mount.
This is a tale of serendipity. The most precious component of any telescope are its optics. And the optics of this scope found me - at a price I could not refuse.
This is also a tale of history, an origin story stretching back fifty years and touching countless lives.
And this is finally a tale of brotherhood, an introduction to a group of like minded amateur telescope makers brought together by one remarkable man.
Jim Chung has appeared in Sky & Telescope, Sky News and in 2015 his book “Astro Imaging Projects for the Amateur Astronomer – A Maker’s Guide” was released.
Making art from science: Astrophotography learnings from wildlife and nature photography
In recent years, digital camera technology has dramatically lowered the cost of entry and increased the output quality of nature photography, and in particular astrophotography. While astronomy is a scientific subject, astrophotography is a unique blend of both science and art. Astrophotography holds a unique place in our hobby as it allows us to bring the wonders of astronomy to the general public, who may be otherwise unable or unwilling to go to the lengths needed to enjoy the night sky. The history of wildlife and nature photography holds many important learnings that we can use to create space art, but also motivate the public to care about issues like light pollution, the impact of mega-constellations and climate change. Perhaps most importantly, it can be one of the best tools to bring new and diverse voices to our amateur and professional space community.
Ryan Fraser is an award-winning astrophotographer, whose work has been featured several times by Canada’s national astronomy magazine SkyNews. He also has had his timelapses of Northern Lights featured across Canada on CTV News. Thanks to the Great Lakes region lack of clear skies, he spends even more time during daylight hours photographing birds, bugs and other wildlife. You can find his work on Facebook under the page “Ryan Fraser Nature Photography” or at www.flickr.com/radar_boy.
When not imaging and taking photos out in nature, Ryan is the author of Driven By Purpose: 32 Remarkable Stories about Growing your Wealth and Leaving a Transformational Legacy (www.drivenbypurpose.ca), published by Milner and Associates. He is also the CEO of Quiet Legacy Planning Group Ltd, a London, Ontario based firm that specializes in the intersection of Financial Planning and Philanthropy. Ryan has been involved planning work that has resulted in over $32 million in gifts to charities over the last decade. Unsurprisingly, his office is filled with his images of birds, aurorae, galaxies and nebulae.
Remote DSLR Imaging System
In this presentation Andreas will describe the system he has developed for remote DSLR imaging.
The system consists of a Canon 60Da camera with a 200mm lens, attached to a camera rotator and focuser, on a GOTO mount. The mount and camera are housed in a small (32″ W x 35″ L x 52″ H) building with a sloped roof that is hinged on the north side. Attached to the north wall of the roof is a flat field panel that doubles as a lens cap when the roof is closed. The system is controlled using N.I.N.A (Nighttime Imaging ‘N’ Astronomy) software.
Andreas is an avid amateur astronomer who has been involved in astronomy since his teens. He is one of the founders, and a Past President of the North York Astronomical Association. In 1982 he started Starfest. He enjoys eclipse chasing, astrophotography and puttering in the “dungeon” (his basement machine shop) machining telescope parts.
Andreas Gada, Malcolm Park, John Merchant, Ken Knox
Four Eras of Starfest
On August 20 – 22 1982, twenty-five people gathered at the RiverPlace for the first Starfest. Since then, Starfest has become Canada’s largest annual Star Party and observing convention. In this presentation, we explore the history of Starfest through the eyes of the people leading Team Starfest. Each of the 4 Presidents/Co-ordinators of Starfest will explore their history of Starfest: Andreas Gada will explore the early years from 1982 - 2008, then Malcolm Park will present 2009 - 2013, John Merchant 2014 - 2015 and Ken Knox 2016 - 2022.
Probing the Epoch of Reionization with the Simons Observatory
Astronomers are currently trying to understand some gaps in our knowledge of the history of the universe, and I am interested in filling in the blanks in the Epoch of reionization, the period when the universe transitioned from predominantly neutral to ionized as a result off the first stars forming. Using computer simulations, we forecast constraints on reionization parameters with the Simons Observatory (SO) — a new generation microwave telescope in Chile. SO will consist of one 6-m Large Aperture Telescope and three 0.5-m Small Aperture Telescopes. The large telescope provides high angular resolution; the small telescopes have a larger field of view and are better able to control atmospheric contamination in order to measure larger angular scales. I’ll discuss how we work towards understanding some fundamental questions about the epoch of reionization, like how big the first stars were and how long it took the universe to reionize.
Margaret Ikape is a PhD candidate in the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, at the University of Toronto. Her interest in astronomy started at a very young age and that interest has been sustained by the numerous unknowns in the universe. Her current work tries to understand the nature of the first stars using simulated data.
My Journey to THE DARK SIDE: Faint Fuzzies to Fabulous Fotos
Join me walking down memory lane as I share my journey from hard core visual observer to passionate amateur astro-imager. I'll share the adventures of visual observing and how I made the transition to astro-imaging. Having experience as a visual observer has made the transition into astrophotography a great and wonderful experience. The STRUGGLES ARE REAL in both types of astronomy. The successes… equally rewarding. I have many tips and tricks to share with others. The progression as I grew in this hobby is quite notable when I look back at then and now images of my favourite targets.
Many of us are goal-oriented, so it helps to have something to strive for such as; completion of observing programs, friendly competition out in the field playing games of “find that target” or “name that target”, receiving imaging certificates or having a photo published in print. I have had images published in The Journal of the RASC, Skynews magazine and the 2022 Night Sky Almanac written by Nicole Mortillaro. Visual observing and astro-imaging go well together but I must confess, I do have the top five reasons to become an astro-imager.
My interest in astronomy started as a young girl while laid back on the grass, under stars and looking up. This spark for learning continued into adulthood; grabbing binoculars and driving out of city limits to see comet Hale-Bopp, sitting with my kids on the front lawn to witness a total lunar eclipse and using binoculars to cast an image of a transit of Venus onto a piece of white paper.
About 12 years ago, my wonderful husband bought me my first telescope, a Skywatcher classic 10" Dobsonian. I wanted to see everything and read every bit I could about these wonderful deep space objects. I observed nebulae, stars, clusters, planets, lunar and solar eclipses. I sketched most of what I saw at least once. Two years ago, my husband, suggested I attach a DSLR to the scope and take a few pictures. Well, now I have two imaging rigs and a quest to image everything I have seen visually and MORE!
Equipment is always evolving and new technologies cause advancements which help to get the desired result in both visual astronomy and astrophotography. An open discussion about the latest equipment and how to get the most out of what you have. Find out where the trade offs are, and what you can expect when you put certain combinations of equipment together. Sometimes the best investment isn’t even a new camera or eyepiece!
Stephen Mallia is the owner of Ontario Telescope and Accessories (OTA), and Starfield Optics. OTA is a Canadian based telescope dealer that delivers a high level of customer service and knowledge to its customers. Starfield Optics is a manufacture of telescopes and accessories for astrophotography.
As a constant traveler for business, and active amateur astronomer, he enjoys venturing to dark sky locations and imaging seasonal deep space objects. Working with several different types of telescopes of varying sizes to build his knowledge of the night sky and honing his techniques in imaging to share with others. Believing firmly in outreach and working to engage youth in STEM and the field of astronomy. When not traveling, Stephen will spend clear nights in his backyard observatory to push the limits of his telescope, and fight of as much light pollution that his filters will allow and offers workshops in image processing.
Making Your Astrophotos FIT
In this talk, Malcolm will discuss image (or target) selection based on the combination of your optics and camera. Image acquisition and some processing will also be covered. Finding a target that fits the field of view of your system is sometimes a tedious chore. Malcolm will demonstrate some of the tools (programs or apps) available to assist with this process. Sometimes making the image fit can be done in a mosaic. Mosaic planning and processing will be discussed. Getting a feel for the elements of target selection, such as determining your field of view and image scale and why they matter in the planning process will be covered. Malcolm will talk about the creative process, imagining an image then making it happen. Important to note: this is NOT to be considered a Pixinsight tutorial, but Pix will be lightly used.
Malcolm Park began his journey in astronomy almost 20 years ago. He is a past-president of the North York Astronomical Association (NYAA) and was also the team leader of Starfest for a number of years. Malcolm pursues his passion for astronomy with a backyard observatory at his home north of Kingston ON, and with a remote telescope hosted in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Malcolm’s images have been published on various websites and in a number of magazines.
Dr. Ian Shelton
The Tom Bolton Story – Proving Black Holes Exist
This year is the 50th anniversary of the first definitive proof that Black Holes truly do exist. Cygnus X-1 is acknowledged today to be the first known black hole. But before 1972 when Professor Tom Bolton published his landmark paper, most scientists were skeptical. The extreme properties of Black Holes -- their ability to effectively erase the existence of anything that ventured too close, trapping it forever beyond any further contact with the rest of the universe except through its contribution to the Black Hole’s total gravity – seemed too extreme for reality. But Black Holes do exist and may reside in their supersized version at the heart of effectively every galaxy in the universe.
Dr. Ian Shelton will take you on a journey of discovery beginning with the earliest thoughts about Black Holes dating just after Newton published his Universal Law of Gravitation in 1687. He will then look at the exciting discoveries made by the some of the first Space Telescopes launched in the 1960s and early 1970s that inspired Tom Bolton to turn his attention and the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) 74-inch telescope in Richmond Hill, Ontario to study Cygnus X-1. Tom was a newly minted PhD astronomer back then, having just started his professional career in Canada. You’ll learn about Tom’s formative years in High School and as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, as well as his work at the DDO. You’ll get to see some of his actual pre-digital era photographs taken with the DDO telescope to prove Cygnus X-1 contains the first known Black Hole.
Dr. Shelton is a professional astronomer working in the field of stellar astrophysics. He has conducted research with and been involved in the commissioning and running of telescopes at the David Dunlap Observatory near Toronto, the University of Toronto Southern Observatory (0.6-meter) and Carnegie Institute of Washington (100-inch Dupont and 10-inch Astrograph) at Las Campanas in Chile, the MMT Observatory (6.5-meter) in Arizona, Subaru Telescope (8.3-meter) in Hawaii, the Athabasca University Robotic Telescope (0.4-meter) in Northern Alberta and the Mount Allison University Gemini Observatory (twin robotic 0.3-meter telescopes) in New Brunswick. His research interests are primarily towards a better understanding of stellar evolution and the ways stars can undergo cyclic variations in brightness and apparent surface chemistry that can help us more accurately deduce a star’s age. He is also interested in the process of star formation, with his initially research on the stellar companions to high-mass stars. He has now begun looking into the parallel process of planet formation. Dr. Shelton is probably best known for his discovery of Supernova 1987A.