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Northern Skies

The Sky This Month - July 2011

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Fri, 2011/07/01

Ophiuchus – The Mystery Constellation

The world of astrology and those who follow its daily predictions were delt a crushing blow in the second week of 2011. Over night, the dates of the signs were revamped and a mysterious thirteenth house was added. People woke up to find out they were no long who they thought they were. For instance, if someone went to bed a Capricorn, they woke up as a Sagittarius, etc. Personally, it was about time these dates changed because of the 26,000 year wobble called precession. The Sun now appears in the constellation to the left from where your sign used to be. As for this mysterious pattern thrown into the mix – there is no mystery.

The Sky This Month - August 2011

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
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Tue, 2011/08/02

The Glory Of The Night

August is a busy time for campsites and cottages as city dwellers plan their vacation. It is that special time when the family or a group of friends plan their meals, pack the car and drive to the wilderness. If weather is on your side, the outdoor experience can be a thing of beauty. Between the sweet smell of fresh air, the peace and quiet along with first hand witnessing nature in all its glory, camping can be a memorable experience. Of course physical activities such as hiking, swimming or even fishing are enjoyed during daylight hours. However, when the Sun’s last photons disappear behind the mountains and out of view, the night sky begins to change.

The Sky This Month - September 2011

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
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Thu, 2011/09/01

Looking Up At Royalty

Perched high in northern skies are two figures of pure royalty. King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia were also portrayed as main characters in a famous mythological story. The “Royal Family of Constellations” involves the said King and Queen, as they sacrifice their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster Cetus. But Perseus saves Andromeda in the nick of time and both fly off on the winged horse Pegasus.

The Sky This Month - December 2007

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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Mon, 2007/12/03

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.

The Sky This Month - February 2008

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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Fri, 2008/02/01

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.

The Sky This Month - January 2008

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Fri, 2008/01/04

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.

The Sky This Month - July 2007

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Thu, 2007/07/05

The Archer’s Many Targets
 

As the starry sky slowly changes from night to night, we have a small observing window when scrutinizing the lower most constellations. Opposed to the Big Dipper that is seen all year round, Sagittarius the Archer appears low in the south skies for a few hours per night. With so many interesting open and globular cluster to hunt down, we definitely have our work cut out.

The Sky This Month - June 2007

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
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Sun, 2007/06/03

The Herdsman and the Snake

Sometimes known as the Hunter or the Ploughman, the constellations Bootes is most commonly referred as the Herdsman. Taking on the appearance of a giant celestial kite souring amongst the stars, this constellation holds one very bright star. To locate it, following the stars in the Big Dipper’s handle which arcs down to the star Arcturus. This K0 supergiant shines 113 times brighter than our Sun and emits 215 times more radiation. It measure 26 solar diameters across or one quarter the size of the orbit of Mercury. Located 37 light years from us the light of this magnitude -0.1 star was used to open the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.

The Sky This Month - April 2007

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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Tue, 2007/04/03

The Bear and the Dog

With spring now upon us, nature is joyfully coming out of hibernation. Warmer weather settles in as animals such as the bear awaken from their winter slumber. Just like its shaggy hair cousin, the great celestial bear is up and about in northern skies. Even though it is circumpolar meaning it never sets, the Big Dipper in nicely overhead all night long.

The Sky This Month - March 2007

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
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Gary Boyle, Ottawa
Post Date: 
Fri, 2007/03/02

Finally – A Lunar Eclipse

The typical wall calendar shows that this March 3rd will be a full moon other wise known as the Wolf Moon, and is scheduled to rise 5:50 p.m. locally. However, the magic to this event is the moon will be completely immersed in the earth’s shadow – a total lunar eclipse. Mid totality when the moon is deepest in our planet’s shadow, will occur at 6:21 p.m. (Eastern) after which the Moon will begin to slowly slide from the zone of darkness.

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