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The Sky This Month - August 2008

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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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

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
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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.

The Sky This Month - August 2009

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Sat, 2009/08/01

Beware the Scorpion

For those who live in the desert, one must always be on guard of the dreaded scorpion. These creepy crawlers are seen on a yearly basis in arid areas of the globe including some parts of southern Alberta during summer. Of the more than 1,500 species know, most scorpions only delivered the equivalent to a bee sting and are not poisonous. However, for Canadian star gazers, the great scorpion makes its brief appearance in southern skies from May to September.

The Sky This Month - April 2009

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
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Wed, 2009/04/01

Looking Up To The Twins

As dusk settles, the famous twins of the constellation Gemini come out to play. Castor on the top right and Pollux, the bottom left, represent the twin’s heads and helps orient you to the rest of the asterism. At a distance of close to 50 light years (ly), Castor measures about half the diameter of the Sun and is a true system in itself – comprising of three spectroscopic double stars, orbiting each other. For a challenge move your scope a lunar width (30 arc minutes) below Castor till you come to a couple of 14th magnitude galaxies designated as IC2196 and IC2197.

The Sky This Month - April 2008

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Thu, 2008/04/03

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.

The Sky This Month - September 2006

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2006/09/06

Seasonal Change

As the days of September moves closer to the change of seasons at 00:03 hrs eastern on the 23rd, darkness creeps in earlier and earlier. After the 23rd, the hours of darkness will trump daylight hours. Here in Canada, the comfortable nights are coming to an end as the winter winds are only a couple of months away. Until then we have a good number of targets to nail down – so let’s get started.

The Sky This Month - October 2006

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2006/10/04

October is well known for its wet weather. Cold, damp days are a sure indication winter is slowly creeping in. With this in mind, we will focus this month’s article on the watery constellation namely Aquarius – the Water Bearer and Pisces – the Fishes.

The Sky This Month - November 2006

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2006/11/01

The night sky is a vast and ancient collection of mythological stories and superstition. In fact, one of the most famous legends is known as the Royal Family of Constellations in which six patches of sky take part in this nightly play. To sum up the story, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia sacrificed their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster Cetus to appease the Gods. Perseus – our northern hero was on his way back from slaying the Medusa with her severed head in a potato bag. Hearing Andromeda’s cry for help, Perseus arrived not a moment too soon. Quickly thinking, Perseus showed the head of snakes to Cetus and monster immediately turned to stone. Our hero and his damsel fly off on Pegasus– the winged horse.  As seen from 45 degrees north latitude, half of Perseus is a circumpolar, meaning that our hero will not dip below the northern horizon. The further north you travel, more constellation will not be lost. Buried within its borders are many fine celestial objects with the most famous being, the Double Cluster. These jewels are catalogued as NGC 884 and 869 which reside around7,000 light years (ly) from us. This duo is spectacular in binoculars and very low power binoculars.

The Sky This Month - May 2007

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Wed, 2007/05/02

Bizzion Galaxies

If you are a lover of distant galaxies, you must be full of joy at this time of year. Stretching from the Bowl of Ursa Major all the down to the highly populated grouping known as the Virgo cluster, literally hundreds of galaxies are available for your choosing. Depending on the light gathering power of your telescope, some might be out of your viewing range. But do not fret; there is a nice combo of semi bright and extremely faint grey smudges to choose from.  

The Sky This Month - July 2006

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Author: 
Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Mon, 2006/07/03

Taming the Serpent

 

One of the largest constellations in the sky is Ophiuchus – the serpent holder. Located directly below Hercules, it lies on the meridian at about 9:30 p.m. at the beginning of the month. This huge area of sky covers close to a thousand square degrees and is home to no less than 13 globular clusters equal to or brighter than tenth magnitude. This means on nights of good seeing, you should be able to sweep up these treasures in simple binoculars.

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