From now until March 1st you have the opportunity to vote on the next target for Hubble to image. Go to the following site where you can choose from 6 "possibles".
If you vote, you can also be entered into a draw to win a print of the chosen target.
Attired for the frigid environment of Space, Gail and I arrived at the Binbrook gate just after 7pm. The ever-cheerful Steve Germann waved us in and we became the caboose to a train of cars halted by a pile of snow across the road.
Always prepared, the HAA road crew attacked it with shovels and before you could say “backhoe” we were looking for a spot to park. Our usual spot on the hill was not accessible but one of the parking lots had been cleared and that became base camp.
We had a good turnout. I estimated about 20 people with nearly half of that number being new to the club, or relatively so. It didn’t take long for John Gauvreau to gather a group and begin giving his tour of the sky; and a very entertaining and informative tour it was.
The cold managed to kill 3 laser pointers but didn’t cool John’s passion for his subject or the interest of those who joined his journey through the constellations.
A few scopes were set up and Gail and I had brought our binocular box which also garnered some interest as binoculars were the preferred instrument of the night.
We spent a few minutes helping Jeff and Andreas, who were at Binbrook for the first time, set up the (Bushnell?) reflector they’d been given. After about five minutes of playing around we managed to get the Orion Nebula in the eyepiece.
By 9pm the temperature had dropped to –15C. It became a challenge to keep toes and fingers frostbite free so we reluctantly packed up. This was probably the second coldest publicized HAA event we’ve been to but, in wintertime, you’ve got to take advantage of clear nights when you get them. It was great to get out under the night sky with our favourite kindred spirits, and to make some new acquaintances, and we hope to do so again, very soon.
Glenn and Gail
A long exposure showing the group... only a few stood still enough for the camera - KerryLH
I found a small, Olympus binocular pouch after this Saturday's Sky This Month presentation at Binbrook Conservation Area. The owner can contact me by email: tekatch(at)sympatico (dot) ca.
The Sky This Month - Live will be held Saturday 24 January 2009 from 7pm to approx 9pm.
Weather conditions are looking like they will be cold but acceptable to hold this event. We invite all members to come out and join John Gauvreau as he takes us on a journey through the mid-winter skies.
Some telescopes will also be set up to provide a closer look at some of the highlighted objects. Please feel free to bring along your own binoculars or scopes as there is expected to be lots of assistance. Binos are often the best way to work your way around the winter sky.
Be sure to dress warmly for both cold temperatures and moderate winds. Temp is expected to be around -18C during our main observing time and with the winds and exposed location, it will feel much colder.
The main gate will be opened at around 6:30pm and we ask members to meet there for directions to the observing location. If you arrive late, the combination lock may be on the gate. Maps to the park are located on the main page of this website.
We are uncertain about the road conditions in the park, so if you feel uncomfortable, please leave your car outside (but don't block the gate) and walk in, or meet someone at the gate for a lift in.
Be sure to check this blog on Sat afternoon for any last minute changes.
Most low-power binoculars (7x50 or 10x50) generally have a field of view of about 5 degrees. This week, particularly Wed.(21st), Thur.(22nd), or Fri.(23rd) you should be able to easily find Uranus as it will be within a few degrees of Venus.
Venus is an easily located target and Uranus will be the nearby "star", that looks more like a little blue ball, in the same binocular field of view.
After the HAA's well attended preview visit to McMater University's newly refurbished planetarium on Tuesday night, the William J. McCallion Planetarium was officially opened last night in a grand ceremony.
The HAA was well represented by Jim and Celia, Jackie, Tim P., Greg and myself, as we joined Doug Welch and the rest of the university's astronomy department. Also in attendance were many students, community members, members of the Hamilton Centre, RASC and, best of all, the McCallion family. Mrs. McCallion was charming and very happy to tell stories about the early days when the planetarium didn't have a dome and she and her husband used an old parachute to project the stars on!
Remarks by Doug, organizer Mike Reid (whom we know well, as he spoke to the HAA just a couple of months ago) McMaster president Peter George and a local school teacher were pleasant and accompanied by a fine buffet. There were shows in the planetarium for everyone, and people then lingered for some time just to enjoy each others company.
Congratulations to Mike for putting together a very successful event, and best wishes to Doug and all the crew at the planetarium for many more years of service!
Doug Welch addresses the audience.
The HAA gets a sneak preview!
The HAA was at the IYA kickoff event at the Ontario Science Centre on Sat 10 Jan 2009 which was a great success. We were 1 of 4 astronomy clubs represented amongst about 2 dozen booths set up in several halls at the OSC. (NYAA, and Mississauga and Toronto RASC clubs were the others.)
Some of the booths at the IYA kickoff.
Steve, Jackie and Jim arrived early Sat morning to get set up at the HAA booth. They had been down on Friday for the official kickoff and press releases. Then rushed back for our club meeting that night. So while tired, they valiantly returned to ensure that the HAA was well represented and show the others what a great astronomy club is all about.
John Gauvreau was resplendent in his Galileo outfit both days, enthusiastically speaking to hundreds of people about Galileo's early experiments and his impact on astronomy. He had done some interviews on the Friday and I was fortunate to catch one of them on CP24 in the morning. As usual, he did a great job.
Steve setting up the crater demo.
We had a great location for our booth where we had 2 crater demonstration trays set up along with colouring sheets featuring the planets and also had some word games to amuse and educate the kids. Jim also had brought along his 8" SCT, and binos on his home-built parallelogram. We also had our projector setup to show many of our club's activities from the past few years. Hundreds of people stopped by to ask questions and play making craters. HAA members Marg Walton, Bruce Peart and Doug Black made the trip to Toronto and stopped by the booth for a visit during the day.
A more detailed report will follow in the Feb EH.
I was going to save this for the EH report, but since there will be much demand to see this, I offer you Galileo in person:
Galileo Galilei (John Gauvreau)
Paul Delaney decribes the recent findings on Mars at the HAA December General meeting
The HAA General meeting held on December 12 was well attended with only a handful of empty seats in the room on what turned out to be one of the few clear evenings of the last couple of months.
Jim Walmsley and Don Pullen welcomed attendees at the door and people who arrived prior to the meeting start at 7:30pm received free tickets for door prizes. Available since the November meeting (along with the natty HAA toques and clothing) is the HAA Calendar for 2009. This impressive astronomical calendar is both beautiful and informative. Kudos to the astrophotographers for their images and to the members who worked hard to put the calendar together.
HAA President Steve Germann got things under way by welcoming attendees, going over a bit of club business and touching briefly upon the HAA’s plans for the upcoming year, especially as 2009 is the the International Year of Astronomy.
Then Steve introduced our first presenter for the night, HAA Observing Director John Gauvreau. John opened with a spirited and informative discussion, partly held in an energetic “question and answer” format about the moon and other celestial bodies. Most people are familiar with the “harvest moon” of late summer and fall, but are you aware that the full moon at this time of year goes by several different monikers such as the “frost moon” or “hunter’s moon”? Or how about the “bomber’s moon” as intoned rather ominously by Tim Philp? Then John continued with his presentation of the “the Sky this Month” for December. There are beautiful conjunctions of the moon and planets, especially a crescent moon and Venus on New Year’s Eve. John indicated the many interesting objects (including several pretty open star clusters) that can be seen as an observer scans the Milky Way, which at this time of year “flows” through constellations of Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus, the horns of Taurus and then Auriga and into the feet of Gemini, the Twins. You don’t need a high-powered telescope to enjoy theses sights, and John emphasized that this rich part of the night sky can be enjoyed with an ordinary pair of binoculars.
At the completion of John Gauvreau’s talk, the draws were held (thanks to our gracious Alex Tekatch) and during a short break members got up to have some coffee (free) and touch base with other members and chat about their various astro-pursuits.
When the break was over Steve introduced our second presenter of the evening, Paul Delaney, Astronomer and Lecturer from York University and his talk on Mars.
In a very informative and entertaining presentation, Mr. Delaney talked about the history of observation of a planet that looms large in human consciousness over the ages. Paul compared the Mars of myth and legend with the factual data that has been garnered by astronomers over the course of the twentieth century. He showed images from the recent Mars Phoenix Lander, the Viking Landers in the 1970’s, the Mars Rovers and the orbiting Mars spacecraft such as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Express. The fabulous images and wealth of scientific data garnered by these spacecraft are helping scientists understand the past geology and the current environment.
As Professor Delaney described with the aid of a series of excellent images, Mars is in some respects comparable to Earth, but much colder and much drier. Billions of years ago Mars may have been much more similar to Earth, with flowing water and a thicker atmosphere, but something happened to cause the planet to kind of “freeze-dry”. What caused this? Does it have something to do with the wobble in the planet’s rotation? The earth has its relatively large moon to steady its rotation. Mars only has two very small moons that have do not provide the same steadying effect. Did a large asteroid or comet slam into the northern hemisphere, with calamitous effects? Is the planet just too small to create much of it’s own internal heat, thus the planet lacks a strong magnetosphere that in the case of the earth helps protect our planet’s atmosphere from solar storms? Maybe the Mars Science Rover due to be launched in 2010 will give us more clues about Mars, then and now.
Mr. Delaney also mentioned that York University is equipped with a couple of telescopes including a 40 inch Meade, which is made available to the public once a week. I am sure some HAA members will be interested in checking this scope out.
At the conclusion of Paul Delaney’s presentation, which was very well received, Steve invited everyone to an after-meeting get-together at Kelsey’s where people could continue to discuss their favourite astro topic over some tasty food and drinks. Mr. Delaney was graciously open to further questions about Mars at Kelsey’s, (I had another question about some of the findings of Mars Polar Lander regarding the arctic soil conditions). That was great!
To sum up, a really solid meeting, very enjoyable, and very informative. A great way to close out our final general meeting for 2008 and augurs well for 2009 (IYA).
Below is my outtake of the Moon-Venus conjunction from Thorpe Park in Burlington on New Years Eve at approximately 6 pm. Canon Digital Rebel 300D with Canon EFS 18-55 mm lens, ISO 200, f/6.3; exposure: 14 seconds.
I managed to get some images before heading to my brother's for some New-Years revelry.
Update January 4, 2009: Click here to see larger version in my HAA Gallery.
Moon and Venus Dec 31, 2008, Thorpe Park, Burlington
Looks like a few people braved the extremely cold wind chill to get out and view / image this conjuction.
Happy New Year to all!
Like Ann, and I hope many others, Jackie, Jim and I were able to get out to see the conjunction. We went to Binbrook where the wind on the hill was strong and cold but well worth enduring for the lovely view. In this shot you can see the Moon and Venus high in the sky and then just above the treetops to the lower right you can see Jupiter and Mercury. Through my 15x70 binoculars Jupiter showed a nice disc, but no moons in the twilight.
The Moon, Venus, Jupier and Mercury all came out to celebrate the new year
Later, clouds blew in and we retreated to the warmth of a coffee shop, but returned to the hill once the clouds blew away and left a very clear and calm night. Steve joined us to watch Orion, Perseus, Taurus and all the other familiars ride across the sky and my 5" dob showed us many clusters, doubles and lingered on the Orion Nebula for quite some time, revealing a three dimensional quality that the dark nebula takes on when the sky is good. Saturn rose below Leo and although murky at first, by late in the evening (early in the morning!) it had climbed high enough to give a steady view of its razor thin rings and lots of moons.
The only time we heard the coyotes all night was just past midnight, when a chorus arose to mark the new year (the coyotes must have gotten watches for Christmas). Here is the simple 30 second, camera on tripod shot I was taking at the time, from the dock at Binbrook.
The New Year sky at midnight
Like Ann, I hope to see many more reports here over the upcoming year and look forward to many more nights like last night. Happy New Year to all.
Addition 6 Jan 2009 by Don Pullen
I'm a little late in getting in on the New Years conjunction, but here's my attempt to capture this infrequent event. (Hope John doesn't mind me tagging on to the end of his report.)
I had to work a half day on the 31st and when leaving at about 6, Jupiter and Mercury were just about to drop below the horizon from my vantage at the office. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera, so I rushed home. I tried to set up in the backyard (too late to catch Jupiter and Mercury), but despite a large tree in the way, I gave it a try. I managed to capture the crescent moon with some Earthshine.
Crescent moon with Earth-shine and Venus on 31 Dec 2008.
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