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The Sky This Month - November 2009

The Legend Continues

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The Sky This Month - May 2009

The Leo/Virgo/Coma Galaxy Fest

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The Sky This Month - May 2008

The High Riding Bear

About an hour after sunset local – lookup, way up. What greets you is the most recognized constellation in the sky, Ursa Major – aka the Big Dipper or Big Bear. Taking up 1,280 square degrees of sky, it ranks third behind first-place Hydra and second place Libra. With the great beast prancing overhead, you will have a great opportunity to examine its many galaxies through the least amount of atmospheric turbulence and distortion.

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The Sky This Month - March 2009

Thanks Charles

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The Sky This Month - March 2008

A Faint Constellation

The Winter Triangle consists of three bold, bright suns named Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon which are the alpha stars belonging to Orion, Canis Major, and Canis Minor respectively. These guideposts are amongst the eighteen brightest stars that make up the winter sky - Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, and the three previously mentioned constellations. However, embedded in this triangle is a dim constellation called Monoceros. In fact, its alpha star only registers magnitude 4.1, but somehow the asterism depicts a Unicorn.

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The Sky This Month - July 2008

Globulars A-Plenty

Over the course of the past few months, I have pointed out one or two globular clusters associated with a particular constellation. However, as the months' tick by, we come to that time of year where these starry blobs containing tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of stars are seen in greater numbers. One reason why summertime is best for viewing globular clusters is they tend to populate in most part, around the heart of our galaxy, near the nucleus.

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The Sky This Month - June 2009

The Big Bear

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The Sky This Month - June 2008

Star Light…Star Bright

My favourite part of the day is sunset. As time marches on and if the sky is clear, I enjoy watching pastels of blue get progressively darker. As the sky is dimming, I try to catch stars as they start to show themselves one at a time. In June however, this game is short-lived as brilliant Arcturus is the first to pop out, barring the obvious Moon or bright planets. Referred to as the alpha star in the constellation Bootes (the herdsman), it is the third brightest star seen overall after of course the Sun. But if it already dark and you have trouble recognizing it for the first time, take the curved handle of the Big Dipper and follow as it arks to Arcturus. In fact, keep moving south with this curve and you stumble onto the bright star – Spica in the constellation Virgo. Spica is 15th on the list.

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The Sky This Month - July 2009

The Mighty Hercules

In mythology, Hercules was known for his amazing courage and great strength. It is said this Greek warrior killed a lion with his bare hands. In the night sky, Hercules is the slayer of Hydra and was given an alternative name of Engonasin, meaning "on his knees" or "the Kneeler". To stargazers and astronomers, the asterism of Hercules consists of a dozen stars. However, our celestial strong man lacks significant star brightness and would hard press to identify this asterism from major light-polluted areas. The Kneeler is actually up sided down with his head pointing to the south and looks like a lopsided letter ‘H’. No less than 7 extrasolar planets have been found in this constellation. One of which is HD149026b

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The Sky This Month - January 2009

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, “any time 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.

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