Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Thu, 2010/06/03
Draco – Circumpolar Beast
The dragon of the night is out there. Not behind the bushes at your favourite out of town dark observing site, nor is it hibernating in an isolated cave. The dragon of the night hangs high overhead, wrapped part way around Ursa Minor in the north. With our beasty friend located between the two celestial bears, it never appears to set. Constellations and stars that are visible all year round are called circumpolar.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sun, 2010/05/02
Corvus The Crow
Spring is a wonderful time of year for many reasons. There is the annual planting of flowers, reseeding the lawn or even painting the house or apartment. It is also known in the astronomy community as galaxy season. With semi dark skies, these distant islands containing hundred of billions of stars each, stretch all the way from Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) in the north, down through Coma Berenices, ending at Virgo in the south. If hunting galaxies is your passion, you have come to the right place. Hundreds of objects stretch across ninety degrees of sky.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Thu, 2010/04/01
The Change of Seasons
Now that our Canadian snow has melted for the most part, we welcome in Spring with open arms. For obvious reasons, those that did not get to do much winter observing over the past months, it is now time to dust off those scopes and enjoy a handful of seasons in one night. As April begins, we find the constellation Orion the Hunter and his wintry friends low in western skies – ready to take the plunge into twilight.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sun, 2010/02/28
The Illusive Crab
If I were to hand the average person a star chart of the constellation Cancer the Crab and asked them to find it in the sky, I am sure they would be hard pressed in identifying it. Unlike bright celestial patterns such as Orion, the Big Dipper and so on, Cancer is not the easiest to recognize. However to the seasoned astronomer who know the sky like the back of their hand, Cancer is flanked with the Gemini Twins to its west and Leo (Major) the Lion to its east. Both of these bordering constellations possess bright suns.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Mon, 2010/02/01
Chasing the Hare
The night sky as is a theatrical stage of mythological characters, unique stories of how they interaction with others. Amongst the wintry constellations is Lepus the Hare. Although Orion the Hunter is poised in battle with Taurus the Bull, he also liked to hunt our long eared friend.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sat, 2010/01/02
It is sometimes hard to convey the feeling of standing under a moonless winter sky. Distant suns of Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini as well as Canis Minor and Major are bright, crisp and overall – mesmerizing. Other than following the nightly dance of the Moon as it orbits Earth or tracking the planets as they slide across the familiar constellations along the ecliptic, one might think that is all that changes in the galaxy. But our Milky Way Galaxy, with its population of an estimated two hundred billion stars is changing. It is the time scale that is the key factor.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sun, 2009/11/01
The Legend Continues
Throughout time, the winged horse Pegasus has appeared in many different mythological stories and legends. One of the most famous tales is the “Royal Family of Constellations” where Perseus the hero rescues Andromeda the maiden from the sea monster Cetus. Upon slaying the monster, Perseus and Andromeda ride the winged horse into the sunset.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Thu, 2009/10/01
A Real Time Lunar Impact
On the morning of October 9th, the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will crash land into the moon. Is this space craft out of control you might ask? On the contrary. This deliberate impact is a planned end to a mission that had a bit of a hiccup last month.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Thu, 2009/09/03
The Teapot’s Starry Steam
September nights are ideal for cruising the Milky Way. As the nights get progressively longer and cooler (less mosquitoes), we can now spend more quality time with the sky above. On moonless nights – the mighty planet Jupiter is the first to greet us in the south east within moments of sunset. Once you spot Jupiter, train your telescope on it. The contrasting blue sky allows viewing of subtle detail without eyestrain. Once darkness sets in and the planet brightens to magnitude -2.8, filters are required to soften the overpowering bright image.