Skip to main content

Northern Skies

The Sky This Month - July 2008

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Thu, 2008/06/26

Globulars A-Plenty

Over the course of the past few months, I have pointed out one or two globular clusters associated with a particular constellation. However as the months tick by, we come to that time of year where these starry blobs containing tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of stars are seen in greater number. One reason why summer time is best for viewing globular clusters is they tend to populate in most part, around the heart of our galaxy, near the nucleus.

The Sky This Month - June 2009

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Mon, 2009/06/01

The Big Bear

If you were to ask anyone to name a constellation in the sky, ninety-nine percent of the time that person would say the Big Dipper or the Big Bear. And why not? Referred by astronomers as Ursa Major or Ursae Majoris, the Big Dipper is the first star pattern we studied in school and is by far the most recognized celestial group. It also helps that Ursa Major is a circumpolar constellation and can be seen somewhere about the northern horizon throughout the year. As you move down in latitude, your chances of seeing it all year round diminish. Distances to these main seven stars of the asterism range from 78 to 123 light years (ly).

The Sky This Month - June 2008

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2008/06/04

Star Light…Star Bright

My favourite part of the day is sunset. As time marches on and if the sky is clear, I enjoy watching pastels of blue get progressively darker. As the sky is dimming, I try to catch stars as they start to show themselves one at a time. In June however, this game is short lived as brilliant Arcturus is the first to pop out, barring the obvious Moon or bright planets. Referred as alpha star in the constellation Bootes (the herdsman), it is the third brightest star seen overall after of course the Sun. But if it already dark and you have trouble recognizing it for the first time, take the curved handle of the Big Dipper and follow as it arks to Arcturus. In fact, keep moving south with this curve and you stumble onto the bright star – Spica in the constellation Virgo. Spica is 15th on the list.

The Sky This Month - July 2009

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2009/07/01

The Mighty Hercules

In mythology, Hercules was known for his amazing courage and great strength. It is said this Greek warrior killed a lion with his bare hands. In the night sky, Hercules is the slayer of Hydra and was given an alternative name of Engonasin, meaning "on his knees" or "the Kneeler". To star gazers and astronomers, the asterism of Hercules consists of a dozen stars. However, our celestial strong man lacks significant star brightness and would hard press to identify this asterism from major light polluted areas. The Kneeler is actually up side down with his head pointing to the south and looks like a lop sided letter ‘H’. No less than 7 extra solar planets have been found in this constellation. One of which is HD149026b

The Sky This Month - January 2009

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Thu, 2009/01/01

More Than A Dozen Beacons

People often ask, “when is a good time to look at the stars”. Of course I jokingly answer with a grin, “when it’s clear”. After the chuckles subside, I continue to state, “anytime of year – even winter”. The fear in their eyes when I mention the ‘W’ word, but yes it can be a great time to observe.

Each month has their special perks, such as spring time is great for galaxies or the summer’s Milky Way in all its glory which extends into the fall. Canadian winters can be brutal at times and that is the main driving force that locks people indoors from November to April. However if you dress for outdoor temperatures, you can enjoy a couple of hours looking up.

The Sky This Month - February 2009

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2009/02/11

Giraffe of the North

Camelopardalis the giraffe, is one of those constellations that goes unnoticed for the most part. Lying close to Ursa Minor in the north, this constellation is circumpolar and is visible any time of year but lacks the WOW objects like those belonging to Orion, Andromeda.etc. Camelopardalis is spread over 757 square degrees of sky and is listed 18th in area. The Giraffe is home to 53 NGC objects, most of which are galaxies. As for bright stars, you would be out of luck. Most of its suns are in the fourth magnitude range.

The Sky This Month - December 2008

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Mon, 2008/12/01

Night Of A 100 Clusters

This is the time of year when the Milky Way stretches overhead in all its glory. With Cygnus the Swan setting in the North West all the way east across the Milky Way to Orion the Hunter in the South East, the wealth of open clusters is staggering. Observing in December has its benefits.

The Sky This Month - December 2009

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Tue, 2009/12/01

Perseus The Hero

With sunset nice and early this time of year, one can begin observing after supper hour; just don’t forget to help with the dishes. Rising high in the north east is our Hero of the night. In last month’s article we saw how Perseus saved Andromeda moments before she was to meet her fate with the Sea Monster Cetus.

The Sky This Month - August 2008

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Sat, 2008/08/02

Our Galactic Veil

One highlight on clear moonless nights is not a faint nebula or even a single constellation but our majestic Milky Way Galaxy. From a dark site, the familiar veil of light stretches from Perseus in the North East, up through Cygnus overhead and down to the heart of our galaxy – just to the right of Sagittarius.

August nights are now getting a bit longer and cooler to a certain extent. This is a plus when it comes to observing the night sky. No matter if you are hunting down your favourite objects with a telescope or pair of binoculars, to see the arms of the galaxy in all its glory, cannot be put into words.

The Sky This Month - August 2007

Posted in
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2007/08/01

Two Main Events

 

If you are in the process of planning some vacation this month, make sure you set aside a few days for summer night observing. With the Milky Way in all its glory overhead as seen from the countryside, far from city light domes, you will want to stay up till the first sign of astronomical twilight begins. The observing window for this month in which the Moon will not interfere will last from August 8th to 16th with new Moon occurs on the 12th.

Syndicate content