has been an interesting year for astronomy. Mars' closest approach to Earth in
60,000 years rated headlines in the news in late August. I am a member of the
Royal Astronomical Society
of Canada, and was front and centre to show this event to the public. The
RASC setup two events for the public here in Victoria at Cattle Point, a local
seaside park which offered us good views and dark skies. About 2,000 people
showed up to see Mars - which set a record for RASC Victoria Centre public
events. Later in the year, we also staged a very successful public event for the
Lunar Eclipse in November. About 500 people showed up for that event, and were
treated to a couple of hours of excellent views of the Moon being occulted by
the Earth's shadow.
2003 was interesting for another reason as well. Kirk and I were in our local
pet superstore's adoption centre looking over all the cats and dogs which were
being offered for adoption, when we spotted
Sheba, a black three year old female
longhair. She appealed to us, and appeared to be a nice quiet
Apparently she had been waiting to be adopted for many months. Kirk and I
decided taking care of another cat would not be much more work, it would give
Sylvester companion, and we could rescue an otherwise unwanted cat.
Sheba is fitting into our little family quite well. Sylvester still hisses at
her once in awhile, but otherwise Sheba is doing very well. She loves to crouch
by the window facing my bird feeder, and talk to her birds - using a sort of
cackling sound. Kirk and I try to resist the urge to referee between the three
pets, and let them work things out for themselves.
Mum has lived at Hecate
Lodge for a year and a half now. I am very happy to see that her health is
so stable, and I am sure she is glad to be past the disruption of moving. Mum is
happy with her new home, likes the meals and appreciates having everything done
for her. The hairdresser has a shop right in Hecate Lodge, so Mum finds that
very handy. I try to time my visits with her to coincide with alternate Sundays,
so I can take Mum to church. Mum has developed some mild dementia over the last
few years, so if you visit her, please keep in mind she has virtually no short
I have had some success this year taking photographs of Mars, the Moon, and many
other objects in the night sky. As a friend of mine says, astrophotography is
extreme photography, which means we push our equipment to their limits in order
to achieve success.
I bumped into these limits this year using my Nikon Coolpix 4500, and decided it
was time to purchase a more capable digital camera for my astrophotography.
After much research, I selected the
300D Digital Rebel SLR. The Rebel is a
superb camera to use for astrophotography, it has a very low noise, high
sensitivity sensor - allowing me to move to the next level.
Despite purchasing the Rebel just as our west coast weather closed in this
Autumn, I have already had a measure of success. The Rebel is also a joy to use
for daytime photography. The camera is very flexible, and produces superb images
under all conditions. Tucker (our Jack Russell terrier), Kirk and I often go on
little expeditions on the weekends. Tucker gets to run around in the bush, Kirk
and I get some fresh air and exercise, and I also treat these as photo-taking
opportunities. Using an SLR again is a welcome change, after so many years of
using point-and-shoot cameras.
had promised myself that I would travel back to Hawaii this year, but instead I
decided to spend those funds on astronomical equipment. I purchased a
for my LX-90 telescope. This allows me to observe using both eyes, providing a
wonderful new view through my telescope. The Moon is simply breathtaking when
observed with two eyes. It give the impression of cruising around the Moon in a
lunar orbiter. Observing planets such as Mars, Jupiter and Saturn using a
binoviewer provides a tremendous amount of additional comfort, which also means
I can see more detail by observing each object longer.
Since 2003 was not my year for traveling, I did a bit of virtual traveling. A
couple from Oregon are sailing around the Pacific in the
SV Sequoia, their 44'
sailboat, and are emailing accounts of their voyage to anyone who subscribes to
their email list. Since the South Pacific is one of my favorite areas to travel,
I subscribed, and have found it very entertaining while I sit at home listening
to the rain fall and the winds blow. I read regular accounts of
Craig's adventures in French Polynesia and other interesting places in the South
Pacific. Many of the places they have visited are familiar to me...in fact they
moored directly in front of the resort I stayed at in Tahiti some 25 years ago
(see my 1978 photo to the right). Currently, they are moored in Opua (Bay of Islands),
New Zealand, sitting out the stormy season before proceeding further on their
clockwise adventure around the Pacific. They fly home for Christmas, returning
later in January.
Unfortunately I can't say my work at the BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource
Management has been pleasurable this past year. The Liberal government has not
slowed down their agenda of staff layoffs.
We have lost many good people from
the Branch I work for. Each and every departure leaves behind a little more
resentment and hurt to deal with. I am still involved in managing websites for a
couple of ministries, so I'm thankful my job continues to challenge me.
Kirk has already setup a Christmas tree in the living room, and I see some early
decorations in the house - just to get us in the mood. He always leads the way
into the festive season, dragging me along as best he can! I will bring Mum down
to Victoria for a few days over Christmas, so our little family with be together
over the holidays.
Here's hoping you and your family have a wonderful Holiday Season.
Kirk, Joe, Tucker, Sylvester and Sheba.
Christmas 2003 Photos