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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Many of our nightly constellations are bright enough to be located from semi urban areas without problem. On the other hand, practice does make perfect when trying to spot dimmer groups such as Cancer the Crab, the Little Dipper along with other fainter shapes. However, when it comes to Canis Major – one of Orion’s hunting dogs, there is no denying as to its locating in the sky.
Happy New Year everyone. Hope there were astro presents under the Christmas tree with your name on them. If so and for those of you that already have a telescope or even binoculars, January night skies await. Stepping outdoors on the next clear moonless night, your eyes immediately pick up the brilliant suns of Auriga, Gemini, Orion and Taurus. Eighteen of the brightest stars occupy these constellations and give the wintry sky a magical appearance.
Written by Jeff Renaud, University of Western Ontario on
Jeff Renaud, University of Western Ontario
Astronomers from The University of Western Ontario have released footage of a meteor, which was captured by its highly advanced video surveillance system, traveling through the evening sky east of Toronto on Monday evening (December 12, 2011).
As published in the December issue of the Bulletin, the "Deep-Sky Gems" list compiled by David Levy was very recently revised in order to complete its evolution into an RASC observing program with certificate. Now your brand-new Observer's Handbook 2012 is out-of-date, even before the year begins! To correct this and with the author's approval, we revised the DSG Handbook article as we expect it to look in the 2013 edition, and we have made the entire 4 pages available online as a PDF download.