Northern Skies

The Sky This Month - October 2023

A Partial Solar Eclipse

A few times each year the sun, moon, and Earth perform a cosmic lineup in space producing an eclipse. This year our planet will witness two solar and two lunar events. On Saturday, October 14, 2023, skywatchers along the eclipse path starting in Oregon through Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas will see an annular eclipse of the sun. The rest of North America (depending on your geographic location) will see a partial eclipse with varying percentages of the sun covered by the moon.

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The Sky This Month - August 2023

Moons and Meteors

August is a vacation month, when people head to the great outdoors be it the cottage or their favourite campsite. For city dwellers, this is a great escape to enjoy nature firsthand. From hearing different birds and taking in picturesque landscapes and scenery to laying under the stars, these are relaxing moments we cherish.

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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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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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