A Step Back, and a Look Up

Amateur astronomy is a hobby of great diversity. From observing faint galaxies millions of light years away, to CCD astrophotography, to reading the latest magazine at the coffee shop, to comet chasing, tinkering with the latest equatorial mount, radio astronomy, enjoying a planetarium show and everything else in between. But for those who take a keen liking to the hobby – the time and money spent perfecting our craft can be astronomical, and we often lose sight of what it is that makes stargazing so appealing and so important. Join Kevin as we take a step back and a look up at the grander picture of the heavens above, and journey back to that very first moment when you realized the universe was calling for you to take a peek.

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HAA 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Glasses

2017 Total Solar Eclipse Glasses

The Hamilton Amateur Astronomers will have solar eclipse glasses available at upcoming events between now and the August 21st event. Please be sure to visit the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers at one of our stargazing events and grab yourself a pair. If you have questions about the upcoming solar eclipse, be sure to ask! Our club members are happy to share their experience and offer tips for great viewing.

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A Comet in the Predawn Sky

There’s a fast-moving returning comet in the sky, and we can see it with binoculars!

Comet 45P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova

Here’s a link to the finder charts. The time is in universal time, so you will need to add 5 hours to the EST to get the time to use. Right now the Comet is not far from Hercules and is in the morning sky.
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Links for Observation Planning

In my talk and articles, I have often referred to certain free web resources which are useful observing planning tools.

These web pages allow you to locate items of interest in the sky, which vary (such as the location and brightness of asteroids) or are best observed from certain places on earth (such as eclipse paths).

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Super Duper Moon Moonrise today at 4:48 PM

The azimuth for today’s Moonrise is 75 degrees: that is, 15 degrees North of Due East. You will be able to see it from Hamilton and Burlington out over lake Ontario. Bring your compass and you will catch it as it first peeks up. At 98.9 percent full, it’s already pretty super.

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Binbrook Conservation Area

Telescopes and Astronomy with the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers

A group of the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers got together for an evening of stargazing at the Binbrook Conservation Area, our “dark sky” site away from the lights of Hamilton. Observing at the park is available to all members of the club and offers a friendly atmosphere to observe the cosmos, chat with other club members and learn about astronomy.

I arrived at the park shortly after 9:30pm to see other members already setup and waiting for high-level clouds to pass. This evening we met at the boat launch area which provides a large level gravel parking lot with which to setup. We’re also right next to the reservoir which offers added photographic opportunities if taking a break from the telescope.

With Ontario going through hot daytime temperatures and low rainfall the evening hovered around a pleasant 26°C with no sign of mosquitoes or other pests. As I unpacked my gear heat-lightning put on a show over the southern horizon with fast sequences of flashes attracting excitement from the crowd of observers.

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Anniversary Moon

Here is an image of the full Moon from last night. Actually taken just past midnight, so lets say it was taken on July 20th, 47 years to the day after Apollo 11 first landed on the Moon.

This image is actually several images that I hand stitched together. My regular old DSLR camera was shooting through my 5″ class refractor. The camera was set to ISO400 and the exposure time was 1/400th of a second.  The version seen here has had contrast adjustments made and been reduced in file size.

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Perseid Meteor Shower Observing

With the Binbrook observing site open for the past few nights — thanks to Councillor at Large Bernie Vanasse — various HAA members made an appearance to catch the Perseid Meteor Shower. Despite a mid-week peek making late nights difficult I grabbed my wife, essential gear,  the dog, and headed down to Binbrook to take in the show.

With only an hour to spend under the night skies I quickly setup my camera to record the action while we laid on camping air mattresses. Looking straight up, the skies were busy with celestial highlights. The main attraction did not disappoint with both faint and bright meteors streaking across the sky. The best left visible smoke trails, briefly illuminated by the glow of the meteoroid  itself. Satellites silently moved overhead in high numbers as well as an unexpected fly-over by the International Space Station (ISS).

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Venus and Jupiter, July 2, 2015

That’s Venus (left) and Jupiter (right) on Thursday, July 2, 2015, 10:03 pm.

Jupiter’s moons, from left to right, I believe, are Callisto, Europa (barely visible as a bump on Jupiter’s upper left limb), Io and Ganymede.

Taken with my Canon 40D through my Tamron 300mm telephoto lens, set at ISO 800 and f/5.6 for 1/2 second. A fixed tripod was used.

Brightened a bit, cropped a LOT, but otherwise unprocessed.

Planetary Conjunction

Between the weather and my lack of a western sky here at home, I’ve only had one night that afforded me a view of the conjunction between Venus and Jupiter. This image is from Monday, June 29, 2015, at 10:30pm. It’s always amazing how bright the sky is that late at night, only a week after the solstice.

I was travelling in the Killarney area and this image is taken looking across a small inlet on Baie Fine, a true fjord at the very northern tip of Georgian Bay. The image is from a tripod mounted camera, with a lens set to 24mm at f/4, and an exposure 0.8 seconds long.

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