Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on 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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Fri, 2007/02/02
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.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Mon, 2007/01/01
A Winter Wonderland
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 Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Mon, 2006/12/04
Some Pretty Cool Galaxies
Public star parties are a great place to show the wonders of the night sky to children and adults alike. One of the most frequently asked questions asked is, you guessed it, “how far can you see with this telescope”? In response the term light year is defined as a rounded off figure of ten trillion kilometres. Turning our instruments skywards to a faint smudge, we rattle off the estimated distance (in light years) we have previously read in books or found on web sites. With distances of nebulae and star clusters are listed in the thousands of light years category while residing in our Milky Way Galaxy, however, remote galaxies would be the correct answer.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Wed, 2006/11/01
The night sky is a vast and ancient collection of mythological stories and superstition. In fact, one of the most famous legends is known as the Royal Family of Constellations in which six patches of sky take part in this nightly play. To sum up the story, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia sacrificed their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster Cetus to appease the Gods. Perseus – our northern hero was on his way back from slaying the Medusa with her severed head in a potato bag. Hearing Andromeda’s cry for help, Perseus arrived not a moment too soon. Quickly thinking, Perseus showed the head of snakes to Cetus and monster immediately turned to stone. Our hero and his damsel fly off on Pegasus– the winged horse. As seen from 45 degrees north latitude, half of Perseus is a circumpolar, meaning that our hero will not dip below the northern horizon. The further north you travel, more constellation will not be lost. Buried within its borders are many fine celestial objects with the most famous being, the Double Cluster. These jewels are catalogued as NGC 884 and 869 which reside around7,000 light years (ly) from us. This duo is spectacular in binoculars and very low power binoculars.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Wed, 2006/10/04
October is well known for its wet weather. Cold, damp days are a sure indication winter is slowly creeping in. With this in mind, we will focus this month’s article on the watery constellation namely Aquarius – the Water Bearer and Pisces – the Fishes.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Wed, 2006/09/06
As the days of September moves closer to the change of seasons at 00:03 hrs eastern on the 23rd, darkness creeps in earlier and earlier. After the 23rd, the hours of darkness will trump daylight hours. Here in Canada, the comfortable nights are coming to an end as the winter winds are only a couple of months away. Until then we have a good number of targets to nail down – so let’s get started.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Wed, 2006/08/02
The Glorious Milky Way
If you have never experienced the true portrait of the Milky Way Galaxy unfold before your eyes far off in the countryside on a Moonless night, you are missing one of the grandest moments of your life. I recently had the chance to rent a cottage by the lake with my family for ten days, around new Moon. By 10 p.m. locally, the stars began to show themselves, one by one.
Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on Mon, 2006/07/03
Taming the Serpent
One of the largest constellations in the sky is Ophiuchus – the serpent holder. Located directly below Hercules, it lies on the meridian at about 9:30 p.m. at the beginning of the month. This huge area of sky covers close to a thousand square degrees and is home to no less than 13 globular clusters equal to or brighter than tenth magnitude. This means on nights of good seeing, you should be able to sweep up these treasures in simple binoculars.
Written by Peter Jedicke, London on Tue, 2006/06/27