Archive for the 'Bowen Island' Category

Trails on Mount Gardner

During the past year I’ve been working with Bowen Rotary on a project to map the trails on Mt. Gardner, Bowen Island, and ensure that those trails receive Section 56 recognition under the Forest and Range Practices Act of the Province of British Columbia. If you walk these trails, I’d like to talk to you about this project and discuss how you may help or participate. We have identified over 20 kilometres of excellent trails and created an accurate map. Please contact me (go to the About page at this site).

Hiking Trails on Mt Gardner

A view of the hiking Trails on Mt Gardner, Bowen Island, BC


Even indoors, it feels like spring — clivia

The old clivia awakes

The Clivia decides it is time to bloom again

The clivia decides it is time to bloom again

Reflections on the Dobsonian Telescope

Today I am remembering the great gift of astronomy that came to all of us from John Dobson, the inventor of the Dobsonian telescope. John died yesterday at the age of 98.

During my lifetime, one of the most profound developments in the technology of telescopes was made by John Dobson. In 1968 telescopes for non-professionals were either cheap and crummy, or precision optical and mechanical devices that were either very expensive, or required a sophisticated workshop to construct. Telescopes with a main lens that was more than 8 inches in diameter were almost too heavy for one person to carry, and they were beyond the means of most. Dobson changed all that.

John Dobson had a passion for showing people the sky. He founded the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. And to see some of the great celestial celebrites, he realized observers needed a huge telescope. His discovery, and invention, was that if all you wanted to do was have an awesome nighttime view of galaxies, nebulae, and other wonders, you could strip away most of the technology that professional astronomers must have, and make a telescope with only a big glass lens and a few sheets of plywood. The cost was mainly that lens.

While I call this an advancement in technology, most of what he did was simplify the construction of a telescope, and re-think how it would be used. One of his (many) breakthrough discoveries had to do with the telescope bearings. He found that if the ‘scope moved by Teflon sliding on Formica, the coeficient of sliding friction was the same as the coeficient of starting friction. What that means is that if you have a telescope with no clock drive (to follow the stars), and had to push it by hand to keep the highly magnified target in the eyepiece, with Dobson’s bearings, the telescope would move smoothly and stop smoothly.

In 1985 a group of us build a Dob with a 17-1/2 inch mirror to be able to observe the return of Comet Halley. At the time, it was the largest telescope in Manitoba (in terms of the size of the lens). Here is the story of a group of us having our first glimpse of the Comet Halley. In the months that followed, thousands of people observed the comet with that telescope.

That Dobsonian telescope is now here on Bowen Island.

A group of people on Bowen Island observing Mars with the 17-12 inch Dobsonian telescope

A group of people on Bowen Island observing Mars with the 17-1/2 inch Dobsonian telescope

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Garden Snowfall on Bowen Island I know it won’t last. What this tells me is that there is some new snow arriving high on the local mountains (where it will stay for a while). And someday soon I may be able to ski the backcountry.

Amanita Muscaria spotted on Sunday

Amanita Muscaria family at 2310 ft elevation on Mt. Gardner, Bowen Island

Amanita Muscaria family at 2310 ft elevation on Mt. Gardner, Bowen Island

Howe Sound Fog Lifting

Before sunset the fog was lifting on Howe Sound

Before sunset the fog was lifting on Howe Sound

Even when it is not foggy at the house, which is a 300 feet, I know when there is a fog bank on the Sound. I hear the ferry horns bellowing. This afternoon the fog seemed to be clearing so, for exercise, I walked down to the beach.


Here on Bowen Island, on Canada’s wet west coast, we expect some rain in September. Last year during September we had only a trace of precipitation. Today, as I write this entry, we are having a downpour.

Robert's professional sites:
Ballantyne and Associates

Jump to month

Blog Article Categories

RobertB on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 161,653 hits