The Backyard Astronomer

Mars the Red Planet

  Over the past few months, the planet Mars has been steadily brightening and is now at its peak. While it takes Earth 365 days to orbit once around the sun, Mars lies farther away from the sun taking 687 days to complete one lap. Every 26 months and an odd number of days, Earth catches up with slower Mars, ...

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Comet Neowise

  A bright comet is now in the evening sky and you can see it without a telescope. Comet F3 (NEOWISE) has been a fantastic object in the early morning pre-dawn sky but will be well placed below the Big Dipper to see and photograph over the next couple of weeks and hopefully into August. I have been following and ...

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International Astronomy Day – May 2

The study of astronomy has been around for some 5,000 years and is regarded as the oldest of the allied sciences. Over time, the constellations were created by seeing shapes using a handful of stars appearing close together such as Ursa Major or the Big Dipper. By connecting these stellar dots, celestial shapes came in the form of a person, ...

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Stargazing – A Way To Destress

As we try to cope with the Covid-19 crisis, we must find ways to reduce stress levels and anxiety. Aside from listening to online music and reading books, try stepping outside on a clear night and drink in the night sky. The celestial landscape had been the entertainment of civilizations for thousands of years before the invention of the telescope ...

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Evening Beacon

Throughout history, keen skywatchers would follow the weekly and monthly movement of bright objects against the background sky. The early Greeks referred to the planets of our solar system as the “wanderers” and there are five which can be seen and followed with the unaided eye. The planet Venus is now seen high in the western sky shortly after sunset. ...

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Starbirth

  The stars we see on a clear night have been burning for millions or billions of years. But how did they come to be? Stars, like our sun, are created from vast interstellar clouds of gas and dust called a nebula. These stellar objects can measure more than a hundred light-years in length. Over time smaller clouds in the ...

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Mercury to Transit the Sun – November 11 – UPDATED

Nov 13, 2019 @ 08:01 A wonderful video of Mercury transiting the sun on November 11th was shared to Vimeo. The video was shot from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows the transit more than 22,000 miles above Earth.   Nov 6, 2019 @ 08:03   Mercury is the closest planet from the sun and orbits once every 88 days. ...

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Seeing Double

Seeing double is never a good thing and a sign to seek medical attention; however, double stars can be a thing of beauty. Some stars that appear as a single point of light to the unaided eye are in fact, double when magnified with binoculars or a telescope. Optical doubles are two stars that appear close together only by line ...

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Perseid’s are underway

The annual Perseid meteor shower is currently underway and will peak on the night of August 12 into the morning of the 13th. The Perseids is the result of earth ploughing through the debris field of Comet Swift-Tuttle when this 26-kilometre wide mountain of rock and ice last rounded the sun in 1992. At its peak, the shower can produce up ...

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The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower

  You are taking a late-night stroll or sitting on your deck staring at the starry sky and whoosh, a quick streak of light catches your attention. You have just witnessed the fiery re-entry of space debris called a meteor. In a few cases, they can be nuts, bolts and wires from damaged satellites orbiting high above the earth. However, ...

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Big Bright Jupiter

On any clear night, look to the southern portion of the sky after sunset and you will come across a bright object. This is not a star but the planet Jupiter. Of the eight major planets in our solar system, Jupiter is literally the “king”. This fifth planet from the sun is so large; eleven earths can line up across ...

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Telescopes and Binoculars

Telescopes have come a long way since its invention in 1608. The simple refracting telescope consisted of two small lenses located at each end of a long tube. This `spyglass` was a great tool to magnify approaching enemy ships from a distance.   Galileo Galilei heard of this new instrument and in 1609 constructed his own without seeing the original. ...

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Our Moon

  Stargazing is a wonderful and peaceful past time that anyone can enjoy. From planets to star clusters, galaxies to nebulae, the night sky is a treasure chest of celestial delights. Although astronomy and star gazing are traditionally done in the dark countryside, our glorious moon can be enjoyed from the city as well. The moon was created about 50,000 ...

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The Sun – Our Life Giving Star

My passion for the night sky began at the tender age of 8 with an elementary school library book entitled “Stars”. I learned from that fateful day that the Sun is a typical star in the night sky and one of 200 billion stars of our Milky Way Galaxy. But not all stars are the same. They come in an ...

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Plan for Magical Total Lunar Eclipse – January 20th

  A total lunar eclipse is a magical event to witness and our next chance comes on the night of January 20/21 with all of North America having a ring side seat for the entire show. An eclipse is a result of the perfect lineup of the sun, earth and moon. This does not occur every month as our moon ...

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