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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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Helen Sawyer Hogg (1905–1993)

On July 31, 1935, Helen Sawyer Hogg captured an image of Messier 14, an ancient globular cluster of about 150,000 stars, 30,000 light years from earth. She was one of the first female astronomers to directly operate a major research telescope. Her scientific research, professional leadership, and public outreach helped advance the study of astronomy in the 20th century.

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The Sky This Month - August 2021

Gas Giants and The Perseids

One of the best meteor showers is now underway. The Perseids runs from July 17 to August 24. According to Ottawa Centre’s Pierre Martin, “the peak of the Perseids producing about 90 meteors per hour will occur late afternoon on the 12th. Therefore the nights of Aug 11/12, as well as the 12/13, should reward you with 50 to 60 or more meteors per hour striking the atmosphere at 59 km/sec”. Pierre also says “a higher number of bright fireballs may be seen on nights before the peak rather than nights after”. Moonlight will not be a factor this year with the new moon on August 8. By contrast, next year’s Perseids takes place under a full moon, drastically reducing the hourly rate. This year's full Sturgeon Moon takes place on August 22.

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Imaging the Night Sky with SkyNews

People love beautiful photos — and the September/October 2021 issue of SkyNews is stacked with them.

For the past year, we’ve been collecting our readers’ best astrophotos for our Photo of the Week contest. Our judges have been pouring over hundreds of submissions in a variety of categories. They have now picked the Photos of the Year, plus the Best of the Best — all to be showcased in our September/October 2021 special issue focused on astrophotography.

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