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RASC eNews

RASC eNews

It is with regret that we announce that Society President, Scott Young, has resigned his position, effective Saturday, 2008 April 5. This came as a surprise to everyone involved, and we are saddened by his decision. His resignation was related to a difference of opinion with his Executive Committee colleagues that made him feel he had lost the mandate to lead.

A Cosmic Ocean of Islands

Our Universe is made up of a staggering amount of starry islands, we call galaxies. With the average galactic population of about 200 billion stars, astronomers believe there are more than 100 billion galaxies residing in the known Universe. These tiny patches of grey can only be glimpsed with a telescope or very large binoculars steadily mounted on a tripod. Like fish in the ocean swimming alone or in schools, galaxies are found by themselves or in small groups and clusters.

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A Faint Constellation

The Winter Triangle consists of three bold, bright suns named Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon which are the alpha stars belonging to Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor respectively. These guideposts are amongst the eighteen brightest stars that make up the winter sky - Taurus, Auriga, Gemini and the three previous mentioned constellations. However, embedded in this triangle is a dim constellation called Monoceros. In fact its alpha star only registers magnitude 4.1, but somehow the asterism depicts a Unicorn.

The Twins and an Orangey Moon

Ranked as the seventeenth and twenty-third brightest stars, the guide posts to the Twins of Gemini are now located high in the night sky. Their names respectively are Pollux and Castor and shine at magnitudes 1.14 and 1.57. Pollux is a giant orange star that seems to have a hot outer corona like out Sun. It does possess a fainter companion too close to be resolved by amateur telescope. Although it is brighter than Castor Bayer for some reason gave the designation of alpha (the brightest) to Castor. With a good telescope, three of Castor’s stars can be resolved; however these are really three double stars giving us a total of six suns that appear as one to the unaided eye.

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Owning the Winter Sky

The constellation Orion is synonymous with frosty Canadian nights. With its majestic collection of bright suns and overall size, it truly owns the winter sky. Orion the Hunter lists as 26th in area as it holds the deed to 594 square degrees of celestial real estate.

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Today the United Nations (UN) 62nd General Assembly proclaimed 2009 the “International Year of Astronomy”. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is an initiative by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Winter’s River

Eridanus the River is a large slinky constellation that continues far below our south Canadian horizon. In fact the alpha star named Achernar shining as bright as Procyon at magnitude 0.5 is located at declination -57 degrees. This long stretch of celestial landscape is listed as the 6th largest in the sky and is well populated with many galaxies.

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