Orion Nebula

Keep warm, stay watching: Winter star gazing is fun, but you have to know how

Living in the North has many advantages. We have crystal clear skies, no air pollution and many hours of darkness in the winter season. This adds up to excellent opportunities for viewing and taking pictures of the Northern Lights. Another great advantage of living in the North is the extremely dry air. In humid parts …

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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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Charles Messier and the Four Planets in the Evening Sky

With May here it is a good reminder that we only have, at best, five weeks of celestial observation left. Recently, I have dedicated much of my time to Comet PanSTARRS and its travels through the Yukon’s skies. It has been an amazing journey, viewing this little cosmic snowball. Looking forward, the next great cosmic …

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A Marathon and a Quick Tour

As March begins, there is excitement in the Yukon Night Sky. It is time for the Messier Marathon. This is an event that most amateur astronomers anxiously await, and the time is just about upon us. So what is a Messier Marathon and what is all this curious excitement about? you ask. Here is a …

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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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Of Gremlins and Star Clusters

Finally, the weekend has arrived; hopefully, the weather will be clear. All the weather-information sources, including Whitehorse Clear Sky Clock and others, seem to agree that Saturday night should be great. Quickly, we send an astro-alert e-mail to let everyone know we are heading up to Grey Mountain Lookout point after 9 p.m. It is …

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Comet of the Century

While we were waiting for Comet PanSTARRS to arrive in our skies, we had a chance to get up to the Grey Mountain lookout point. We have not been out to this observation site yet this year, so I was a little apprehensive about the road. But the road is reasonably well ploughed, and was …

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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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Grey Mountain Adventures

As December begins, we reflect on the “High Lights” of November. Unsettled weather, with cloudy nights, high winds and snow flurries, offered few good opportunities for observing. From the observer’s log … After being “closed down” for five Saturdays in a row, due to nasty weather, I headed out. The temperature was a balmy minus-eight …

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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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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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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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November’s Celestial Musings

The Yukon Night Skies are coming alive with winter constellations like Orion, Taurus, and Gemini. Using a pair of humble binoculars, star clusters, galaxies, and nebula can all be easily seen. The Yukon Night Skies also holds an easily-seen comet, and several planets. So what did I see on my last observing session up on …

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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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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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December Total Lunar Eclipse

We are in for a rare astronomical treat this month. On December 10, early in the morning hours, we are going to experience a total lunar eclipse. This eclipse favours western and northern Canada for a change, and we will be able to see all 51 minutes of totality. To view this eclipse you will …

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November Night Skies

Winter has arrived and the weather is starting to stabilize. With clear skies and reasonably warm temperatures, it is time to grab your parka and head outside to explore those amazing Yukon night skies. So what is there to see, you ask? Let’s start with the planets. Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, will …

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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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Stars

200 Billion Stars and Counting

April is upon us, and even though the weather is warm, and the sky is cloudy. People always ask, “What is an northern astronomer to do on a cloudy night?” The first thing to do is apply the 5-Minute Astronomer Rule”. The 5-Minute Astronomer Rule is having your binoculars or small telescope on the front …

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