On April 6, 2017, the Hamilton Centre met for its regular monthly meeting. Attendance was very good with about 40 people present for a potpourri of topics.
Gary Bennett began the proceedings with a welcome to everyone, especially new members and visitors. He named people who had recently joined the club and recognized them if they were in attendance. Gary also mentioned the bling that was on sale by National to commemorate RASC’s 150th Anniversary, including special pins, a cap and solar eclipse viewing glasses.
He then asked Andy Blanchard and Ed Mizzi to give an update on CAPS and our second annual Canadian Astro-Photography School, taking place on May 6 & 7, at Bishop Reding Secondary School in Milton, ON.
Then Roger Hill was invited to discuss the club’s expedition to witness the Aldebaran Grazing Occultation which occurred on March 4. Roger had done a lot of research and calculated the exact position they had to be in to witness this event. He was joined by Mark Smith and Martin Palenik in Georgetown, Ontario and was almost beaming as he recounted the story of them setting up in a park and observing this unique event. They had also captured both still images and video of the event which was shared with the audience. Everyone in attendance seemed to find this fascinating and no doubt more people will be out at the next event like this. Roger also pointed out that, not only was this an event to witness, but it was an example of how our club can do real science by getting involved in these unique occurrences.
Next up was a “colourful” talk given by Gary Colwell and Gary Bennett, titled “A Pigment of your Imagination: Are those Photos Fake?” They discussed everything from how our brains perceive colour to the Hubble Pallet and false colours and engaged the audience in eye /seeing experiments that were both eye-opening and entertaining. They also talked about astrophotography and how different types of cameras, special filters and modified cameras produce the colours we see when processing images. From here on, I’m sure that all involved will never look at astro-images in quite the same way.
We took a short break but then were treated to another great talk by Martin Palenik called “Astrophotography: Compact Computing”. Martin has been a member of our club for only a short time and has been imaging for less than 2 years. However, he has quickly become a pioneer in doing astrophotography in the field. Out of sheer frustration and the desire for a more portable setup, Martin began experimenting with “tying up loose ends” and making his mount and scope as compact as possible. He added things like an Intel computer stick, a tiny modem and, in the end, was able to get set up and imaging in a matter of minutes. And to add to his ingenuity he was also able to monitor his imaging sessions remotely, from the comfort of his home or warm car. They say the “proof is in the pudding” and Martin has several super images to show that his system works. He even won a few prizes at the 2016 Starfest event for his first-ever astrophotography entries.
Gary invited attendees to the local pub, the Royal Coachmen, for refreshments and to continue our discussion in a more informal atmosphere. It was a night to remember.