Milky Way

The Double Cluster – Stellar beauties from a distant spiral arm

One of my favourite star clusters resides high overhead in our winter sky. In fact, it is always in our sky, for our viewing pleasure, as it is circumpolar. It is close enough to the North Star (Polaris) that it never sets. I am actually referring to a pair of clusters, the famous Double Cluster …

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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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Tips and hints and other good things: Get ready to enjoy the Yukon night skies

If this is your first night outside, looking at the stars, there are a few things you can do make the experience much more enjoyable. First, make sure you put your telescope outside for a while to acclimatize. Telescopes have metal bodies, glass and mirrors. These items hold onto heat very well. At about –10°C …

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Sidetracked by Saturn

The sky is clear and I do not have to work tomorrow. At about 6 p.m., I put my gear out and start to get things prepared for an evening of galaxy hunting; it is, after all, the best time to go hunting for these elusive fuzzy little patches of light. My plan is simple, …

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Cygnus And The Swans Of Fall

Cygnus, the flying swan, is a very important constellation to amateur astronomers that live in this magical northern land of ours. Also referred to as the Northern Cross, this constellation is easily recognizable directly overhead by its distinct cross-like shape. This is the best time of year for viewing Cygnus, and all of its hidden …

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Those Frosty Night Skies

It is Friday evening, the sky is crystal clear and the temperature is a balmy –23 degrees. Add to that a 30-kilometre wind from the south, and you have a wind chill of –39 degrees. For most people this is a good time to stay indoors and sip a nice warm cup of hot chocolate. …

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The largest planet, the closest galaxy, and Comet Hartley 2

October is an amazing month for amateur astronomers. Summer constellations like Cygnus, Lyra, Hercules are slowly sinking into the horizon, and winter constellations like Andromeda, Taurus, and Orion are making their way onto the stage of the Yukon night skies. So what are the three best objects to observe in those amazing Yukon night skies? …

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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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Canyon Dreams

Warmer temperatures motivate and promote amateur astronomy in this marvellous northern land in which we live. For example, my favourite in-town observing site is the Miles Canyon Lookout Point. This remarkable observing site is opened by the City of Whitehorse on the first weekend of May, just a few weeks before the sun is up …

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Showers Forecast for November

It’s going to be a busy season in those amazing Yukon night skies, with the possibility of three more meteor showers taking place in November. My attempt at observing the Orionid meteor shower in October was a wash due to the fact that is was snowing heavily, but there will be more chances to see …

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So Many Stars, So Little Time

The month of May brings warm weather observing – parka not required – a pleasant change of pace. It still gets frosty, though. Last weekend at the observing site (Grey Mountain Lookout Point) the temperature dropped to minus 6 Celsius. It was supposed to clear off later in the morning hours, so I decided to …

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