Latest update: “Thor’s Day”: Dec 13, 2018

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The BOEC was declared Canada’s 15th Dark Sky Preserve in Nov 2012.
More here:

At the ES Fox Observatory (established in 2011), we have a large reflecting telescope (a 28-inch Webster) and a 10-inch SCT on a GOTO mount that we use regularly for public viewing. We welcome new members.
CONTACT US to join.

Click for maps to: ES Fox Observatory or: Bailey Hall OSDSS.

BAS Meetings resume March 6, 2019 at Bailey Hall OSSDS 7 pm
More 2019 BAS meeting details coming soon.

Gemini Meteor watch tonight after 9 pm Fox Observatory!
TWO comets to observe!
Comet C/2018 V1 Macholz-Fujikama-Iwamoto and
Comet 46/P Wirtanen

See Binocular Sights below and WEBLOG or VIS. COMETS page for maps and more.

Next BAS Meeting is March 6, 2019 at Bailey Hall OSDSS, 7 pm (MAP)
More details on
BAS regular meetings are the 1st Wed of the month at 7 pm (except January and February). Meetings in the spring 2019 will be at Bailey Hall (OSDSS rm 315 MAP). Fox Observatory will host summer 2019 meetings on Jun 3, Jul 2, Aug 7 and Sep 5. Check the calendar here: BAS events 2019 (coming soon) for meeting dates and public viewing nights at the Fox Observatory. The 2019 Calendar is coming soon.

Please note: During the school year, the Fox Observatory is NOT available WEEKDAY evenings for viewing. BOEC school activities take precedence. BAS members have the privilege of impromptu observing but please contact Brett T. or John H. to be put on the list (members only). Other dates are available on an irregular basis.

NOTE: ALL observing events require clear skies. If it is overcast or raining, observing will NOT be possible. If you arrive at the venue and it is overcast or raining, there may not be any BAS members there. See COMING EVENTS page for more details and instructions including a contact phone number if you are unsure about weather cancellation. When visiting the Fox Observatory, please park at the main lot by the Learning Centre (the green-roofed building by the big barn). Parking near the observatory is reserved for disability access and equipment drop-off.

NOTE: BAS meetings are open to the public at no charge. BAS viewings at the ES Fox Observatory are also held on Dark of the Moon weekends but please CHECK THE MONTLY LISTING BELOW and our BAS 2019 Club Events listing for specific dates and time. The ES Fox Observatory is NOT available for viewing during school year weekdays except by pre-arrangement with BAS and BOEC.

We welcome out-of-town guests to all of our listed public observing nights. Individuals or groups may request private tours on other dates (subject to availability of guides and on a fee basis) by contacting John H. at:

Details for up-coming astronomy viewing events are listed below and on the COMING EVENTS and SKY SIGHTS pages. A complete list of ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2019 is available here: Coming soon. A separate list of Club Events (meeting dates, public observing sessions, etc.) for 2018 is available here: BAS 20189 Club Events (Lists for 2019 are coming soon)


Naked Eye/Binocular Astronomy Events
December/January 2019

Comet Wirtanen finder chart: Comet 46/P Wirtanen is easy to spot in Taurus right now. The waning Moon brightens the area by Dec 16 or so but binoculars will pick it out as a faint greenish glow. A tail has not been reported visually but shows up in long-exposure images. Watch it thread the gap between the Pleiades and Hyades on Dec 16.

Starry Night Diagram

Look to the Morning Sky for Planet Action
Venus appears now in the morning sky and Mercury has now become a morning sky object as well. Jupiter has also re-appeared as a morning object and all three are visible before sunup this winter. Saturn replaces Mercury later in January when Mercury decides to return to the evening sky later this winter..

One Bright Evening Planet and two binocular gas giants.
-Mars, Neptune and Uranus

Only Mars remains in the evening sky as a naked eye planet. Mars will hang high above the SW horizon (50°!) until June of next year as it is moving to the east about as fast as the sky is “moving west” on a daily basis. Seeing surface features on the planet is difficult now and it is shrinking in size as we separate from it. In June 2019, when Mars disappears into the solar glow, it is less than 10 arc-seconds across, less than half what it was at opposition. However, over the next several months, Mars can be spotted near first Neptune, (Dec 7) and then Uranus (Feb 12) so the Red Planet acts as a marker for those two less-observed planets. Might as well go for the two-for-one on those dates.

Dec/Jan 2019 Astronomy Events

COMPLETE list of ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2018 available here: ASTRONOMY 2018
Astronomy Events 2019 coming soon.


Glossary of terms used below can be found here: GLOSSARY

December 2018
03..Mon…13:42..Venus 3.6°S of Moon
05..Wed…19:00..BAS meeting Xmas Social & Recap New Life Centre 201 4th Av W.
05..Wed…16:06..Mercury 1.9°S of Moon
07..Fri……10:00 Mars and Neptune less than 1/4 degree apart all evening. See SKY SIGHTS and WEBLOG for more.
07..Fri……02:20..NM rises locally at 7:51 am EST (not visible)
08..Sat…..19:00..Dark of the Moon viewing @ Fox
09..Sun….00:30..Saturn 1.1°S of Moon (thin cres.): Occultation. (closest approach locally is 3.8° Dec 8 low in W.)
12..Wed….07:25..Moon at Apogee: 405 177 km
14..Fri..….07:00..Geminid Meteor Shower (120/h, Moon 41%) viewing at Fox after dark Dec 13/14/15 weather permitting
14………..18:21..Mars 3.6°N of Moon
15..Sat…..06:00..Mercury at Greatest Elongation 21.3°W
15………..06:49..FQ rises locally at 1:03 pm EST
16..Sun………….Comet 46/P Wirtanen near Pleiades (may be mag. 3). Visible through Jan and Feb 2019
21..Fri…..02:31..Aldebaran 1.7°S of Moon
21……….15:00..Mercury 0.8° N of Jupiter
21……….17:22..Winter Solstice
22..Sat….03:05..Mercury 5.8°N of Antares
22……….10:03..Jupiter 5.1°N of Antares
22 ………12:49..FM rises locally at 5:03 pm EST
22……….16:00..Ursid Meteor Shower
24..Mon...04:52..Moon at Perigee: 361 060 km
24……….23:52..Beehive 0.6°N of Moon
26..Wed..11:06..Regulus 2.5°S of Moon
29..Sat…04:34..LQ rises locally at 12:10 am EST

January 2019
Note: Time column is UT, subtract 5 hours for local EST, 4 hours during DST.
See SKY SIGHTS for more details about specific events.
Jan 1 to 4, Crescent Moon near Venus, then Jupiter, then Mercury in dawn sky -very photogenic
01 Tue 21:50 Venus 1.3°S of Moon
02 Wed 05:00 Saturn in Conjunction with Sun (not easily visible)
03 Thu 05:00 Earth at Perihelion: 0.98330 AU (147 million km)
03 07:37 Jupiter 3.1°S of Moon
04 Fri 02:00 Quadrantid Meteor Shower (120/hour! moon only 3%)
06 Sun 01:28 NM rises locally at 8:23 am EST (not visible)
06 01:41 Partial Solar Eclipse; mag=0.715 (not visible locally)
06 05:00 Venus at Greatest Elong: 47.0°W
09 Wed 04:29 Moon at Apogee: 406 116 km
12 19:47 Mars 5.3°N of Moon
14 Mon 06:45 FQ rises locally at 12:20 pm EST
17 Thu 18:20 Aldebaran 1.6°S of Moon
21 Mon 05:12 Total Lunar Eclipse; mag=1.195 (Total from 11:41pm Jan 20 to 12:43 am Jan 21 -best lunar eclipse in years!
21 05:16 FM rises locally at 6:03 pm EST
21 15:32 Beehive 0.6°N of Moon
21 19:58 Moon at Perigee: 357 345 km (another “supermoon eclipse”)
23 Wed 01:41 Regulus 2.5°S of Moon
27 Sun 21:10 LQ rises locally at 12:18 am EST
30 Wed 03:00 Mercury at Superior Conjunction (not easily visible)
Jan 30 to Feb 2 waning crescent near Jupiter, then Venus, then Saturn
30 23:54 Jupiter 2.8°S of Moon
31 Thu 17:36 Venus 0.1°S of Moon: Occultation visible in parts of S.America,
S. Pacific.
A miss locally by only 0.7° just before local moonset.


From Our Astrophotographers:

Christmas Star Appears!
I have had calls asking about the bright light in the sky in the morning. It is of course Venus and it was clear the morning of Dec 4 (6 am!) when I spotted it myself. The images were shot with a Canin 6D and 24-105mm Zoom with the camera on a tripod. Relatively easy. More difficult was to get Venus positioned atop a convenient evergreen tree branch to simulate a Christmas ornament. Just happened that the Crescent Moon added to the decoration.


John H. image Canon 6D, 8 s, ISO 4000, 100 mm at f/8

Whirlpool Galaxy!
Local astrophotographer defeats cloudy weather (again)!

Frank Williams just keeps churning out the images! I know that each one is a lot of work having dabbled in it myself, but Frank has his workflow organized and keeps amazing us with the results. This image of M51 is possible since its location near the tip of the handle of Ursa Major is pretty much at the zenith right now at midnight and there is little atmospheric turbulence in that direction. In winter, M51 skims the horizon and there is no point in imaging or looking at it then. Do get out now and have a look with whatever telescope you have available.

Frank W. provides the following description:
This image is 11 hours with Canon 6d (modified) and cooled to -9C and a 12” F/8 RC *mallincam branded GSO truss scope (no field flattener) cropped to remove the ragged edges of stacked images. It is ~ 11 hours: 60 images 3 minutes each at ISO 800 and 159 images at 3 minutes ISO 3200 (found that cooled 6d is clean enough to increase the ISO). Calibrated, aligned, stacked and processed in Pixinsight. You can boost the saturation to your liking, but I have tried not to go overboard in processing. Many images of M51 (to my taste) are a bit gaudy.

BTW the [tiny] edge-on galaxy upper right [above the companion] is 230 Million ly away! M51 is only 30 million ly years away….


ES Fox Observatory Clear Sky Chart

Note: the chart below may not show the current cloud patterns.Click anywhere on the chart for the current display. If chart is still out of date try clearing your browser cache.


Auroral Displays

Auroral displays in our area are declining as we have passed solar maximum. There have been periods of "blank Sun" where sunspots have been totally absent for a time. However, at far northern and southern latitudes near the auroral ovals, sometimes magnetic disturbances from the sun produce auroras even without visible sunspots. So if the auroral oval in the graphic below is showing an intense RED, aurora borealis may be visible from your location. The graphic is updated regularly with time indicated at the top in UT so subtract 5 h to get local EST, or 4 h for DST. (Use the appropriate factor for other time zones). For more information click here: NOAA home website.

Current Auroral Oval not available right now

Click on image below for the
Current Planetary Index Chart or Latest Solar Heliospheric Observatory Images:

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From the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Image Archives:
A recent meeting of BAS showed images from the CFHT on Mauna Kea. By popular demand, this space will be devoted to showcasing some of these. Have a look at this site for more: CFHT Image Of Month

Star trails and "see-through" dome. Polaris altitude = 20° at Mauna Kea.

Horsehead Nebula

Helix Nebula

NGC 6124 Open Cluster

Portion of North America Nebula (Gulf of Mexico/Yucatan)

Spiral galaxy IC 342

Dust Cloud in Milky Way (B143)