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Northern Skies

The Sky This Month - Febuary 2015

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Sun, 2015/02/01

Auriga

I hope many of you had a change to see and image Comet Lovejoy last month. As anticipated it was a naked eye object when seen under dark country skies. Using the finder chart and simple binoculars, it was even quicker. Lovejoy only has a gas tail that only revealed itself in long exposures.

The Sky This Month - January 2015

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Thu, 2015/01/01

Icon Orion

I am sure some of you have received or bought your first pair of binoculars or telescope for Christmas. Although not essential to enjoy the night sky, they do allow you to locate and enjoy those hard to see objects. Teamed with a good set of star charts and a red filtered flashlight, one can learn the constellations and more so the brighter objects what adore the night sky.

The Sky This Month - December 2014

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Sun, 2014/11/30

The River Eridanus

Eridanus the River is a long but narrow constellation found at this time of year above the southern horizon or at least its top half as seen from Canada. Starting close to the celestial equator, the entire asterism stretches down almost sixty degrees. Unlike the brilliant suns of the constellation Orion to the left, Eridanus lacks any bring stars and only range in brightness from magnitude 3.2 to 5.0 except for magnitude 2.9 Cursa. They are however unique in their individual life stories.

The Sky This Month - November 2014

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Sat, 2014/11/01

The Lizard And The King

Breaking news: Not one but two supernovas have been discovered on consecutive days. First we have a magnitude 13.9 explosion occurring in the spiral galaxy NGC 4080 that was discovered on Oct 28. Located 49 million light years in the constellation Coma Berenices, this magnitude 13.7 galaxy is located at R.A. 12h 40m 52s, Dec. +26d 59m 47s.

The Sky This Month - October 2014

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Wed, 2014/10/01

A Month of Eclipses

This month we bid farewell to the constellation Scorpius and quite soon – Sagittarius. Both were the focal point of every star party this past summer. To witness the middle our home galaxy on a moonless night is beyond words. I hope you had the opportunity to see the beauty of the night and all it has to offer. But even though these two are sliding into the southwest skies, all is not lost.

The Sky This Month - September 2014

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Mon, 2014/09/01

The Summer Triangle – part 2

We now continue our tour of the famous summer triangle. Half way between the Double-Double and Deneb is a dense magnitude 9.5 open cluster identified as NGC 6819. Pretty well any telescope will reveal about 30 stars but larger instruments are required to pick up the many fainter suns. NGC 6819 is located some 7,200 light years and thought to be around 2.3 billion years old.

The Sky This Month - August 2014

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Fri, 2014/08/01

The Summer Triangle – part 1

The night sky is a collection of patterns known as asterisms which, when connecting the dot (stars) takes on the shape of objects, people, and animals. The larger boundaries of each asterism make up the individual constellations. The summer triangle is the connection of three bright stars from three completely different asterisms. To the far left we have the star named Deneb or the tail of Cygnus the Swan.

The Sky This Month - July 2014

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Tue, 2014/07/01

The Mighty Hercules

As the sky finally darkens well after 10 p.m. on these summer nights, plan to hunt down some great objects in the constellation Hercules. The mythological son of Zeus is positioned directly overhead and well placed for observing and photography. At first glance, the asterism stars range from magnitude 2.2 to 4.4 and looks like a crooked letter H with its left side kicked in mid way up. These main stars reside from 35 to 408 light years from us. Hercules is the fifth largest constellation in area with 1,225 square degrees of sky.

The Sky This Month - June 2014

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Sun, 2014/06/01

Libra the scales

Breaking News - M106 now sports a faint supernova. The Type II supernova designated 2014bc was first picked up in April by the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT) as part of the Lick Observatory Supernova Search. The exploded star was estimated to only be 15th magnitude at the time it was first imaged but has brightened a bit to magnitude 13.5.

The Sky This Month - May 2014

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Thu, 2014/05/01

Planning An Observing Session Plus A Surprise Shower !!!

Observing the night sky comes in two flavours. The first is the spur of the moment feeling of grabbing binoculars or a small scope as we fly out the door. Here we spend about 20 minutes looking at our favourite Messier or NGC objects as well as the moon or planets thus satisfying our need to observe photons. The other more involved task is planning a lengthily observing session either in the backyard or an out of town expedition. Lunar and planetary observing and photography do not need dark country skies.

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