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The Sky This Month - March 2023

Celestial Dance and a Marathon

For thousands of years, stargazers looking up would notice some somewhat bright objects that would track slowly across the sky over weeks, months, and even years. The Greek translation of the planets is the “wanderers”. Other than the bright moon, the planets have always captivated those that would see and follow their slow dance.

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The Sky This Month - December 2022

The Mars Show

Ever since the early telescopic observations made by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877 when Mars was in opposition at 56-million-kilometres away, he is said to have seen “canali” or canals on Mars. Seeing these features gave the impression of a possible civilization. Since then the red planet has been the focus of the search for ancient life and is also the base of science fiction writers and movie makers.

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The Sky This Month - November 2022

Last Total Lunar Eclipse Until 2025

With memories of the last total lunar eclipse back in May still fresh in our minds, the Sun, Earth and Moon are once again lining up for a spectacular celestial show. In the early morning hours of November 8, we will once again have the chance to see magic in the sky with another total eclipse.

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The Sky This Month - August 2022

The Perseid Meteor Shower

As we look forward to August nights, the Milky Way is nicely placed, high on the meridian. As dusk transforms the bluish sky to black, the stars Vega and Arcturus are the first to announce themselves. About an hour the familiar “teapot” outlining the constellation Sagittarius is found in the southern portion of the sky.

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The Sky This Month - May 2022

Total Lunar Eclipse

On the night of May 15/16, North America will witness a wonderful cosmic lineup. Occurring twice and sometimes three times each year, the sun, earth and moon geometrically align to produce either a solar or lunar eclipse. This does not happen each month as the moon orbits earth on a slight tilt of five degrees. Some months the full moon will be positioned above or below the cone of darkness projected by the earth’s shadow.

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Rudolph Dorner (1948-2022)

In March of this year, Rudolph Dorner, the founder of the Dorner Telescope Museum (DTM), passed away. It was Rudolph’s generosity of spirit, generosity of conception, and generosity of pocket which is bringing forth the museum. He had a long-standing fascination with the optical devices which reveal something of the universe to us, and that interest was far from an armchair one. He also had great respect for the combination of ingenious minds, discriminating eyes, and skilled hands which crafted those instruments.

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The Sky This Month - March, 2022

The Messier Marathon

Charles Messier (1730 – 1817) was one of the most prolific comet hunters of his time. Over his career, he used a 100 mm telescope and discovered 13 new comets, and co-discovered seven more. During many observing sessions, he would come across objects that were not comets such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies which he plotted on his star charts. With the collaboration of Pierre Mechain, the first version of the Messier catalogue contained only 45 entries. Other revisions saw more entries for a total of 110 objects we see today. From this list, 76 objects are bright enough (some challenging) to be seen in a pair of 10 X 50 binoculars from a dark sight on a moonless night.

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The Sky This Month - February 2022

The Flaming Star Nebula

For most of Canada, winter has been extra brutal this year. However, for those who insist on challenging the cold, February nights will not disappoint. Perched high in the night sky is the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. Its bright beacon – Capella shines a tad brighter than zero magnitude. Auriga is home to eleven exoplanets which can be found with a six-inch reflecting telescope.

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The Sky This Month - December 2021

Comet Leonard And The Geminids

If predictions hold, Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) should be a great target to view and image this month. It was discovered on January 3, 2021, by Gregory Leonard. The comet will be located close to the globular cluster M3 low in the east in the early morning hours of December 3. The fast-moving comet will be closest to the earth on December 13 at a distance of 34 million kilometres. Comet Leonard will be positioned south of the planet Venus low in the southwest on December 18. This will make a great photo op.

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The Sky This Month - November 2021

Here Comes The Lunar Eclipse

Nothing is more magical than viewing a lunar eclipse. A few times each year, the full moon steps into the earth’s shadow for a few hours, leaving us with lasting memories. Such an eclipse will take place on the night of Nov 18/19 with the Full Beaver Moon. This one will be extra special and appear very close to a total eclipse. Because of the geometry, the moon will be in the larger shadow of the earth except for a mere three percent, leaving the edge in sunlight. A lunar eclipse is very safe to enjoy.

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