Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Mon, 2007/12/03
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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sun, 2007/11/04
What a Comet !!!
The biggest story of the month is the unexpected outburst of 17P/Comet Holmes. This outburst occurred over a short 24 hour period starting October 23rd. By the 24th, the comet had increase its brightness from magnitude 17.5 to magnitude 2.5, that is an order of one million times. At the time of writing this article the comet halo is still growing but the inner portion is fading a bit. It is still a very impressive object.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Wed, 2007/10/03
Milky Way (North)
We have all enjoyed the long months of summer, especially the awe inspiring views of the Milky Way Galaxy. This mystical glow of millions of distant suns now stands directly overhead as the sky darkens and sets before the break of dawn. This is also your last chance to catch Scorpius, the planet Jupiter and Sagittarius in that order, located in south-west skies.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Sun, 2007/09/02
The Winged Horse
Looking like a giant celestial baseball diamond, the Great Square of Pegasus stands proudly in eastern skies. Mythology has it that Perseus the hunter, along with Andromeda who he recently saved from the sea monster Cetus, rode off on this winged beast. As early falls nights slowly announce themselves with earlier sunsets and cooler temperature keeping mosquitoes at bay, telescopes should be working overtime, as Pegasus is peppered with faint galaxies.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Wed, 2007/05/02
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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.