Mars

A Vast and awesome Universe – Understanding cosmic distance through analogy

When a budding interest in astronomy is pursued with even a cursory investigation into the nature of our cosmos, one quickly comes to the realization that the human mind cannot fully embrace the awesome extent of it all—the unfathomable distances and mind-bending time scales—the incomprehensible vastness of the gulf of space. And although even our …

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April Skies and Eager Eyes

April is the month of great change in the Yukon night sky. It is a time when the constellation of Orion is no longer high in the sky all evening and Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, sets on the horizon early after dusk. As for what else is happening in the sky this …

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Distinguished Guests & Distinguished Night Skies

Is the Yukon the best place for amateur astronomers? And how can I experience and discover the vast night sky? Let’s take these questions and sort them out for our distinguished visitors to the Conference of Science Writers. First of all, astronomy in the Yukon is unique. Most people that I chat with across the …

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The Martians Are Coming

As the month of October closes and frosty November begins, the window of opportunity for observing Mars begins. This little red planet has captured everyone’s attention and curiosity. Is there life on Mars? and where are the Martians? The Earth and Mars share many similar traits such as the tilt to the planets’ axis, which …

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Yukon Planetary Cavalcade

The dominant planet in the evening sky is fascinating Jupiter. Located in the early-evening southern sky, it is easily recognizable because it is simply the brightest object in the sky. This giant of the solar system always has something for everyone to see. Even with binoculars you can see four of her orbiting moons. In …

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December’s Dazzling Delights

December is, as always, an action-packed viewing experience full of discovery and adventure for all Yukon amateur astronomers. There are dazzling delights for anyone with binoculars or a telescope and the inclination to look up. All we need now is some clear transparent night skies. November’s weather had proved to be so cloudy that we …

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Cosmic Silhouettes

The weather is returning to a more normal routine, and although I do love the warmer weather, it does make for cloudy nights, offering few opportunities for deep-sky observing. It is Saturday night, the temperature is minus 18 and the wind is light. All my astronomical viewing forecasters (The Weather Network, Clear Sky Clock and …

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View From the Hill

With all this wonderful warm weather, there is a price to pay for amateur astronomers in the Yukon. As a springtime rule, warm weather brings cloudy and unstable skies. Every once in a while though, we get a break, and the next thing you know you are observing in clear skies with nice warm weather. …

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Perfect Skies = Perfect Viewing

Where are the Northern Lights? The answer as far as I can tell is two-fold. First, we have been pummelled with atrocious weather and, second, most of the Northern Light activity seems to be taking place in the High Arctic. One of my favourite websites (www.spaceweather.com) has an aurora map and alert system for aurora …

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Comet Hartley and Starfest

We are back from an astronomical holiday and raring to go. It is great to be back in such dark Yukon skies with no light pollution. Upon arriving home and taking in the Yukon Night Skies, it is reassuring to see all of the familiar constellations like Cygnus, Lyra, Cassiopeia and Pegasus. Jupiter and her …

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Is There Anything Up There?

As the end of May approaches, and June begins, we notice darkness at midnight. Living in the 60-degree latitude and above means that in the months of June, July and the first week of August, the sky doesn’t even get truly dark. Does this mean that northern astronomers will be putting all of their gear …

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Funky Hand Controllers

The biggest problems experienced by amateur astronomers, who live in the Yukon and the northern limits of civilization, is the cold. The cold is brutal on the human element, and is capable of wreaking all kinds of havoc on astronomy gear — from poorly made eyepieces and telescope mounts, to laptop computers. One would think …

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Temperatures, Too

With the oncoming of spring, the nights are shorter and temperatures are struggling to rise. The Yukon night skies are also in a state of celestial change. The constellations Leo the Lion and Virgo the Virgin are now clearing the eastern horizon well before midnight. This is a marvellous time for any deep sky observer, …

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Social Media and Sweet Aurora

Valentine’s Day has arrived and according to my online weather forecast, it might actually be clear this evening. A quick check on the aurora forecasts, and they all seem to basically agree: there will be little or no northern lights this evening. Around 9 p.m. my youngest son promptly arrives in the living room to …

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January’s Cosmic Jewels

Here comes another year with plenty of amazing sights for the cosmic tourist in this great northern land of ice and snow. Now if the weather would cooperate, we would be rocking! January appears to be an action-packed month of viewing, including some old familiar sights. For example, Venus is making a comeback and can …

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Dance of the Planets

The Yukon night skies have been alive with planets playing tag with the moon. The last couple of weeks have presented a planetary show, including Mars, Venus and Jupiter in the evening hours, and Saturn in the early morning hours before sunrise. So let’s start with the brightest planet, Venus, which is at its greatest …

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