You Are Here!

Written by The Night Sky Guy on September 17, 2014 – 4:56 pm -

c2a7e350-353c-11e4-92f5-6d8cb4950a38_0905superclusterIn a new three-dimensional map our Milky Way galaxy, our solar system has been pin pointed in relation to more than 100,000 other islands of stars.

Our galactic neighbourhood contains some hundred million billion suns (100 quadrillion) and stretches some 500 million light years across. Our solar system sits about the third of the way from our galaxy’s centre – about 28,000 light years distant.

For the full story read my Yahoo science column, Geekquinox.


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Swan Reaches for Dumbbell

Written by The Night Sky Guy on September 17, 2014 – 9:00 am -

Swan reaches for Dumbbell
Sky-watchers who have small telescopes or binoculars will have a little help from the flying swan on Thursday, September 18 to glance at the Dumbbell nebula.
Those who are live in mid-northern latitudes can look straight overhead to find Cygnus, the swan, also known as the Northern Cross, this bright pattern is easy to see this time of the year, even in the light-polluted suburbs.
Using binocular, scan just one field of view below Albireo, which marks the head of the swan. About 8 degrees under you might notice a faint, tiny cloudlike spot known as the Dumbbell Nebula or Messier 27.
Shining at magnitude 7.3, it is an easy target for even small backyard telescopes. With its double-lobed shape, it looks a lot like its name implies.
Read all the details and get sky charts for these and other events on my National Geographic Viewerís Guide.

578800main_pia14417-43_946-710Sky-watchers who have small telescopes or binoculars will have a little help from the flying swan on Thursday, September 18 to glance at the Dumbbell nebula.

Those who are live in mid-northern latitudes can look straight overhead to find Cygnus, the swan, also known as the Northern Cross, this bright pattern is easy to see this time of the year, even in the light-polluted suburbs.

Using binocular, scan just one field of view below Albireo, which marks the head of the swan. About 8 degrees under you might notice a faint, tiny cloudlike spot known as the Dumbbell Nebula or Messier 27.

Shining at magnitude 7.3, it is an easy target for even small backyard telescopes. With its double-lobed shape, it looks a lot like its name implies.

Read all the details and get sky charts for these and other events on my National Geographic Viewer’s Guide.


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Uranus Paired with Moon

Written by The Night Sky Guy on September 10, 2014 – 2:18 pm -

uranus-clouds-nasa-esaOn Wednesday night sky-watchers in eastern Canada, Greenland, and parts of Siberia will see Uranus hide behind the moon.

This occultation will begin at 8 p.m. when the moon is still at the horizon and then reappear at 8:40 p.m. Looking so low to the horizon will be challenging as skywatchers will need a clear line of sight toward the eastern horizon. So take out your binoculars or telescopes and try this low lying peek-a-boo.

Read all the details and get sky charts for these and other events on my National Geographic Viewer’s Guide.


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Best Time to See Northern Milky Way

Written by The Night Sky Guy on September 2, 2014 – 2:18 pm -

Early September is the best time of the year to catch the northern Milky Way – our home galaxy in the evening skies.  After nightfall around 9 pm – the three brightest stars visible this time of the year shine nearly overhead and point the way to the grand beauty of this grand collection of stars.
The stellar trio forms what is known as the Summer Triangle.. Each corner’s bright star represents a starting point to an individual constellation. So you get a three for one deal! While not a constellation itself, the Summer Triangle offers a great three-for-one-deal to backyard stargazers. Riding overhead and leading the triangle is Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. The other points of the triangle are Deneb, the tail of Cygnus the swan, and Altair, the eye of Aquila the eagle.
And if you look carefully you will notice that the brightest section of the Milky Way band also happens to run right through this region of the night sky.  From Montreal suburbs the Milky Way will be a challenge to see, but with binoculars – it is quite an impressive sight to sit back and scan.
However even from a half hour drive from the city- like from Hudson or Ste. Lazare – the Milky Way looks like a pearly luminescent ribbon stretching across the night sky. At first sight it’s easily mistaken for an overhead bank of faint clouds. Gaze at it with binoculars however and you will notice countless number of stars.
The Milky Way is a collection of stars, clouds of gas and dust we call a galaxy. Our Sun and its family of planets live inside this vast spinning pinwheel shaped island of stars. Home to about 100 billion suns, this Frisbee-shaped disk stretches some 100,000 light years across and is about 1000 light years thick. Yet, the Milky Way is only one of over 100 billion other galaxies that are thought to inhabit the Universe.
The hazy band we see in our sky is one of our galaxy’s spiral arms spread out in front of us – filled with countless of millions of stars. Our Sun sits about two-thirds of the way out from the downtown central core of the spiral at about 30,000 light years distant.
Lifting silently across the sky, the Milky Way glows from the north horizon to south horizon throughout the summer. It crosses many constellations from Cassiopeia low in the north, through Cygnus overhead and straight down to Sagittarius in the south. This is where you’ll find the heart of our galaxy. While most of the central hub of this giant pinwheel is obstructed by gas and dust there is a definite bulging radiance in that direction.  Sweeping this region with binoculars and you’ll discover scatterings of all types of interesting clusters and nebulas.

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Early September is the best time of the year to catch the northern Milky Way – our home galaxy in the evening skies.  After nightfall around 9 pm – the three brightest stars visible this time of the year shine nearly overhead and point the way to the grand beauty of this grand collection of stars.

The stellar trio forms what is known as the Summer Triangle. Each corner’s bright star represents a starting point to an individual constellation. So you get a three for one deal! While not a constellation itself, the Summer Triangle offers a great three-for-one-deal to backyard stargazers. Riding overhead and leading the triangle is Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. The other points of the triangle are Deneb, the tail of Cygnus the swan, and Altair, the eye of Aquila the eagle.

And if you look carefully you will notice that the brightest section of the Milky Way band also happens to run right through this region of the night sky.  From Montreal suburbs the Milky Way will be a challenge to see, but with binoculars – it is quite an impressive sight to sit back and scan.

However even from a half hour drive from the city- like from Hudson or Ste. Lazare – the Milky Way looks like a pearly luminescent ribbon stretching across the night sky. At first sight it’s easily mistaken for an overhead bank of faint clouds. Gaze at it with binoculars however and you will notice countless number of stars.

The Milky Way is a collection of stars, clouds of gas and dust we call a galaxy. Our Sun and its family of planets live inside this vast spinning pinwheel shaped island of stars. Home to about 100 billion suns, this Frisbee-shaped disk stretches some 100,000 light years across and is about 1000 light years thick. Yet, the Milky Way is only one of over 100 billion other galaxies that are thought to inhabit the Universe.

The hazy band we see in our sky is one of our galaxy’s spiral arms spread out in front of us – filled with countless of millions of stars. Our Sun sits about two-thirds of the way out from the downtown central core of the spiral at about 30,000 light years distant.

Lifting silently across the sky, the Milky Way glows from the north horizon to south horizon throughout the summer. It crosses many constellations from Cassiopeia low in the north, through Cygnus overhead and straight down to Sagittarius in the south. This is where you’ll find the heart of our galaxy. While most of the central hub of this giant pinwheel is obstructed by gas and dust there is a definite bulging radiance in that direction.  Sweeping this region with binoculars and you’ll discover scatterings of all types of interesting clusters and nebulas.


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Clouded Cluster Controversy Solved

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 29, 2014 – 4:28 pm -

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A new study has the favourite Pleiades or Seven Sisters cluster farther than previously thought.

Until 1990 this cloudy cluster was estimated to be 430 light years away, however since then, Hipparcos, the European stellar mapping satellite, measured this winter cluster at 390 light years away. However this new study has now placed the Pleiades at 443 light years.

Traditionally this is a winter sky feature can be seen but if you’re a little bit a night owl you can catch a glimpse of this beautiful sight now. After local time midnight, face the eastern sky and charging up the horizon is Taurus, demarked by a bright orange star, Aldebaran. The constellation is in the shape of a V.  Simply scan up the face of the Great Bull and you will see a fuzzy patch and that will be the Seven Sisters.

Read all the details and get sky charts for these and other events on my National Geographic Viewer’s Guide.


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Neptune Closest to Earth

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 27, 2014 – 9:46 pm -

neptune_732X520

Friday August 29 is when Neptune, 8th planet from the sun, will be in opposition.

Being the farthest from the sun also means that it will be the closest approach to our little blue dot and visible all night long. During this time, Neptune will be 2.7 billion miles (4.3 billion kilometers) away from Earth. So distant, that it will take the light reflecting off of the planet’s icy clouds  four hours to reach us.

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Neptune cannot be seen with the naked eye however with a small telescope or binoculars it can be seen in the Aquarius constellation less than one degree northeast of the 5th magnitude star, Sigma Aquarii. Look for a tiny blue-gray disk among the background of faint stars in the region.


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“Siding Spring” Swings by in Southern Hemisphere

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 27, 2014 – 7:18 pm -

Comet Siding Spring. Sky-watchers using binoculars and telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere can preview comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1). The icy visitor will brush by Mars later this fall.
Starting Thursday, August 28, the comet will pass by a series of deep-sky wonders and make for a fine astrophotographic opportunity for the more experienced sky hounds.
First, on Thursday evening, the comet will pose with the globular cluster NGC 362, then on Friday, August 29, it will slide next to the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of our Milky Way’s companion dwarf galaxies.
Finally, Siding Spring will pay a visit to the bright globular cluster called 47 Tucanae.

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Starting Thursday, August 28th, the comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will be passing by a series of deep-sky sights making for a great opportunity for a cosmic paparazzi.

Viewers with binoculars or telescopes can see this icy visitor will swing by globular cluster NGC 362 on Thursday, then on Friday, August 29, it will slide next to the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of our Milky Way’s companion dwarf galaxies. Finally, Siding Spring will pay a visit to the bright globular cluster called 47 Tucanae and later this fall, the grand finale, brush by Mars.

So grab your scopes and snap some pics!  Good Luck!


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Hubble Reveals Age of Globular Cluster

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 26, 2014 – 5:45 pm -

IC 4499 can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere very close to Crux, the Southern Cross.

IC 4499 can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere very close to Crux, the Southern Cross.

Just outside our Milky Way glows a globular cluster, IC 4499, suspended in a halo around our galaxy that Hubble’s eye happened to spy.

Floating among hundreds of other clusters, these conglomerations seem to have some of the oldest stars in our universe. After our orbiting observatory dug into the cosmic ball, astronomers have now determined that this globe contains stars as old as 12 billion years old.

Mid-sized IC 4499 can be seen through a small telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, very close to Crux, the Southern Cross, about half way up August’s late evening sky.

Read all the details and get sky charts for these and other events on my National Geographic Viewer’s Guide.

Read all the details and get sky charts for these and other events on my National Geographic Viewer’s Guide.


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Send Message to Mars, Donate Future Space Projects

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 23, 2014 – 8:51 am -

mars-earth-comparison

A new fundraising campaign is giving everyman a chance to send a message to Mars in celebration of the 50th anniversary of launch of NASA’s first successful mission to the Red Planet.

UWINGU, a Colorado based non-profit promises to “Beam Me to Mars” for a small donation ranging from $5 to $100. Messages can be as little as a name to a note  or even a photo! Half of the fee will go to transmission costs but the rest will fund scientists, teachers and students through UWINGU’s research grant program. Already Seth Green, comedian and actor, and astronaut Chris Hadfield have added their messages to the campaign.

For the full story read my Yahoo science column, Geekquinox.


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Morning Sky Show

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 22, 2014 – 11:02 am -

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 9.57.59 AM

Early bird sky-watchers get a chance to check out a morning sky this weekend.

The crescent Moon is joining Jupiter and Venus to form a bright triangle above eastern horizon. The best time to look is Saturday, August 23rd about 30 to 45 minutes before local sunrise. By Sunday the moon will have sunk below the planets.


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