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Members on dial-up Internet will be pleased to know that a new version of Adobe software allows us to substantially reduce the file size of this and subsequent Journals. All back issues in the 2007 and 2008 archives have already been reduced, and others will receive the same size reduction soon.

See below for highlights of the current issue.

More Than A Dozen Beacons

People often ask, “when is a good time to look at the stars”. Of course I jokingly answer with a grin, “when it’s clear”. After the chuckles subside, I continue to state, “anytime of year – even winter”. The fear in their eyes when I mention the ‘W’ word, but yes it can be a great time to observe.

Each month has their special perks, such as spring time is great for galaxies or the summer’s Milky Way in all its glory which extends into the fall. Canadian winters can be brutal at times and that is the main driving force that locks people indoors from November to April. However if you dress for outdoor temperatures, you can enjoy a couple of hours looking up.

In 1935, the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) was presented to the University of Toronto by Jessie Donalda Dunlap as a memorial to her husband. Its goals of astronomical research, training of students at the University, and the fostering of public interest in astronomy have been met effectively since its inception. In the fall of 2007 the University of Toronto decided to sell the property and it was sold in July 2008.

Night Of A 100 Clusters

This is the time of year when the Milky Way stretches overhead in all its glory. With Cygnus the Swan setting in the North West all the way east across the Milky Way to Orion the Hunter in the South East, the wealth of open clusters is staggering. Observing in December has its benefits.

The December 2008 issue of the Journal has gone to the printers, and here is the link to the on-line version in the Members'-Only part of the Web site, http://www.rasc.ca/jrasc/backissues

Cetus – A Whale Of A Constellation

This month’s constellation plays a role in the famous mythological story called the “Royal Family of Constellations”. As the fable went, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia sacrificed their daughter Andromeda to the Sea Monster, Cetus. Our hero Perseus happened by with his slain prize - the Medusa’s head, stowed in a potato sack.

Rob Cardinal, an astronomer at the University of Calgary's Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, is the second Canadian observer to discover a comet using a Canadian telescope this decade. The discovery was made on 1 October 2008 with the observatory's 0.5m f/1.0 Baker-Nunn telescope. Cardinal was using this wide-field instrument to search for asteroids at the time of the discovery. Observatory director Phil Langill credits the local community's light-pollution abatement efforts for keeping the skies dark just 35 km outside of Calgary.

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.

Here's how it came to be, in the words of Regina Centre President, Alden Foraie:

When discussing how to kick off the fall observing season combined with a public-observing session, Regina Centre Secretary, Shane Ludtke, mentioned that the Regina Symphony Orchestra (RSO) was having its season-opening concert in a few weeks with a show entitled “Out Of This World” that would end with Holst’s symphony, The Planets.

Get the latest issue now!

Go to: http://www.rasc.ca/jrasc/backissues The regular username and password apply - look for the announce email.

Inside

  • The Plaskett Telescope at 90
  • Astronomical Art and Artifact: The View From the RASC Archives

Plus, all your favourite regular columns:

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