Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Fri, 2008/10/03
Moving up the ecliptic.
Alas, short, warm, humid, buggy summer nights are now behind us, only to be replaced with longer, cooler, drier, autumn observing sessions without the hum of mosquitoes. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Milky Way high overhead when the sky darkens as well as many summer objects. As the last few months of 2008 tick on by, we will eventually lose sight of the galactic arms. This will also be the final curtain all to view Scorpius and Sagittarius in the south. The heart of our Milky Way Galaxy lies between these two southern icons.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Fri, 2008/09/05
Pegasus – The Winged Horse
In mythology times, the winged horse Pegasus carried its master Perseus and rescued Andromeda to safety after Perseus saved her from the sea monster Cetus. This is a classic tale of heroism in the night sky. But for backyard astronomers and stargazers, The Great Square of Pegasus spells fall observing. This giant baseball diamond in the sky is quite easy to locate. With the splendid Milky Way perched straight up after sunset, the winged beast ascents in the east.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Fri, 2008/09/05
Weather permitting, astronomers from different parts around the world will be broadcasting the moon, Jupiter and other celestial objects from their observatories over the internet. The WorldWide Star party 2008 will take place on Saturday September 6, 2008. I am scheduled to start broadcasting at 8 p.m. eastern time. Other time zones include a few stations across the USA as well as Australia to name a few. Looks like Sweden will be clouded out. In fact a few of the stations might suffer the same cloudy fate. Come join us in this unique event at:
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Thu, 2008/06/26
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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Thu, 2008/05/01
The High Riding Bear
About an hour after sunset local – look up, way up. What greets you is the most recognized constellation in the sky, Ursa Major – aka the Big Dipper or Big Bear. Taking up 1,280 square degrees of sky, it ranks third behind first place Hydra and second place Libra. With the great beast prancing overhead, you will have a great opportunity to examine its many galaxies through the least amount of atmosphere turbulence and distortion.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sun, 2008/03/02
A Faint Constellation
The Winter Triangle consists of three bold, bright suns named Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon which are the alpha stars belonging to Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor respectively. These guideposts are amongst the eighteen brightest stars that make up the winter sky - Taurus, Auriga, Gemini and the three previous mentioned constellations. However, embedded in this triangle is a dim constellation called Monoceros. In fact its alpha star only registers magnitude 4.1, but somehow the asterism depicts a Unicorn.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.