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Northern Skies

The Sky This Month - August 2013

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Gary Boyle
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Thu, 2013/08/01

Mysterious Ophiuchus

Whenever I host public viewing sessions with my telescope under a dark sky, the subject of horoscopes and astrology always comes up. For some reason most of the general public get astronomy and astrology mixed up. But I play along and ask “what was your sign”? As the person is about to give their answer, facial expressions are priceless as they blurted out, “what do you mean what WAS my sign”.

The Sky This Month - July 2013

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Mon, 2013/07/01

Our Home Galaxy

Summer is the time of year to enjoy the great outdoors whether it’s camping, fishing or gazing at the starry sky on a clear night. Sitting outside in the dark and looking up has been the past time of humans for thousands of years. No matter if you are eight or eighty; something magical occurs when we simply stare at those tiny points of lights high above our heads. At times our eyes follow a slow moving satellite as it traverses the night sky until we lose it in the earth’s shadow.

The Sky This Month - June 2013

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Mon, 2013/06/03

Bootes - The Herdsman

At this time of year, the first star to appear in the darkening dusk skies is Arcturus. With a magnitude value of -0.11 Arcturus is listed as the fourth brightest star in the entire sky behind Sirius, Canopus and Rigel Kentaurus. It is also designated as the Alpha star in the constellation Bootes the Herdsman. A technique to locate this K2 sun is to find the handle of the Big Dipper and simply follow the arc to Arcturus. At the beginning of the month, it crosses the meridian at 10:30 local time.

The Sky This Month - March 2013

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Tue, 2013/03/05

Getting Ready For Comet PanSTARRS

In a few days, we in the Northern Hemisphere will be graced by what could be the brightest comet since the 1990’s. Discovered on June 6, 2011 by the 1.8 metre Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System or PanSTARRS, this (then) 19th magnitude smudge is on a close encounter with the Sun. Officially catalogued as C/2011 L4, our interstellar visitor will be at its predicted brightest at third magnitude or brighter around March 6 or 7.

The Sky This Month - January 2013

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Gary Boyle
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Tue, 2013/01/01

Crispy Cold Nights

Happy New Year everyone. As I wrote a few months ago, 2013 will be the year of brilliant comets including C/2012 S1. If the predictions hold, the comet will be a binocular object in August and moving up to naked eye status by November when it peaks at month’s end. Astronomers estimate C/2012 S1 will outshine the full moon thus becoming the brightest comet in history and be seen during the day. Only time will tell and is still many months away.

The Sky This Month - December 2012

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Mon, 2012/12/03

Long Cold Nights

 

Here we are – the last month of 2012. If you do not have a blanket of snow on the ground where you live, it is only a matter of time till it arrives. But before that happens, let’s do some late autumn observing. Cetus the Whale is the fourth largest constellation in night sky. Within its 1,231 square degrees lie more than 50 NGC objects down to magnitude 12.0 with that number tripling when you go down to 13th magnitude.

 

Sirius B Observing Challenge site launched!

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RASC Sirius B Project
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Mon, 2012/11/12

As you prepare to brave the cold, clear nights of fall and winter observing, why not consider measuring yourself against an artful and subtle observing quarry, Sirius B?

The RASC Sirius B Project Team is pleased to announce the launch of the Sirius B Observing Challenge website, which contains everything you need to pit yourself against this tough celestial entity. Venture where all too few observers have gone before!

The Sky This Month - November 2012

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Tue, 2012/11/06

The Big “W”

In astronomical and mythological terms, the Queen of the night belongs to Cassiopeia. Locating the Queen is as simple as looking up on these cool November nights and finding the five suns that form the distinctive letter ‘W’. These stars range in brightness from magnitude 2.5 to 3.4 and are circumpolar, meaning the constellation can be found all year round from our location as it circles some thirty degrees from the North Star – Polaris. Cassiopeia is ranked twenty-fifth in area.

The Sky This Month - October 2012

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Tue, 2012/10/02

Brightest Comet in Human History?

 

The Sky This Month - September 2012

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Mon, 2012/09/03

The Water Bearer

 

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