Website Updated Jan 8, 2020
Jan/Feb 2020 SGN Newsletter now out
Check the Stuff for Sale page! LOTS of “goodies”
New Sky Sights for January and February added

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Quadrantids up next: Jan 4, 3:00 am Saturday
No Moon after 1 am, expect at least 25 per hour

The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the lesser observed showers because it occurs in the cold month of January, but for once the Moon is not in the way during the peak. Furthermore this shower peak of 50 to 100 meteors per hour (ideally) is of rather short duration and is well placed for N. American observers. The 4-hr peak occurs around 3 am Jan 4 and by that time the radiant is about 30° high and the Moon has set 2 hours previously. Predictions are for 25 per hour as a minimum and be on the lookout for more than a few fireballs. The International Meteor Organization 2020 meteor calendar is here: IMO Meteors 2020

The diagram below shows the radiant of the Quadrantids (an obsolete constellation, Quadrans Muralis, tucked between Bootes and Draco) at about 3 am on the morning of Jan 4.

Jan 4 Quad radiant
Diagram from Starry Night

Pasted GraphicINTERSTELLAR Comet on its way home…Pasted Graphic

Borisov heading out of the Solar System

The interstellar comet, 2I/Borisov also known as Comet Borisov C/2019Q4, 2 is on its way home, somewhere near the star Kruger-60, a star system 13.15 light-years away. But before it got too far away, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged it on several occasions. It was nearest the Sun and most active around Dec 8, 2019 and the image on the right below is what Hubble saw.


Comet 2I/Borisov is only the second interstellar object known to have passed through our Solar System. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has recently revisited this comet for two new observations:
Left: In this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in November 2019, the comet appears in front of a distant background spiral galaxy. The galaxy's bright central core is smeared in the image because Hubble was tracking the comet. Borisov was approximately 326 million kilometres from Earth in this exposure. Its tail of ejected dust streaks off to the upper right.
Right: In December 2019, Hubble revisited the comet shortly after its closest approach to the Sun. The comet is 298 million kilometres from Earth in this photo, near the inner edge of the asteroid belt. The nucleus, an agglomeration of ices and dust, is still too small to be resolved. The bright central portion is a coma made up of dust leaving the surface.

The weather locally was never clear enough to have a look at Borisov and, in any case, the Webster mirror was packed away until spring viewing arrives. The comet continues to be visible but is low above the southern horizon in the morning sky. The finder chart from Starry Night below shows Borisiv at 4:30 am from Dec 30 to Jan 19, 2020. It is at its highest above our southern horizon an hour or so before sunrise and a difficult object . Currently, Borisov is at magnitude 16.5 and dropping.



Naked Eye/Binocular Astronomy Events

Winter 2019/2020

Saturn gone -only Venus in the Evening Sky

The brightest planet in the sky right now is Venus and it is high in the SW sky as we switch over into 2020. Saturn is passing behind the Sun as it transfers over to a morning sky object late in January. It will be joining Jupiter and Mars in February to form a trio of bright planets in the dawn sky.

Venus will be joined by Mercury in late January and mid-February but it stays well away from any encounters with the bright Evening Star -a prominent magn. -4. Venus remains a bright beacon in the SW well past winter 2020 and into late spring. See the Charts/Forms page for finder charts for all these objects.

Look to the dawn sky for planet action (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) in winter and spring skies. Watch how Mars slips past first Jupiter then Saturn as it progresses to its opposition in Oct 2020. It will be a special year for Mars watching with Mars at its brightest and closest in two years. (Fingers crossed for no planet-wide dust storms like 2018!)

Winter 2020 Astronomy Events

COMPLETE list of ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2020 available here: ASTRONOMY 2020

Glossary of terms used below can be found here: GLOSSARY

Note: Time column is UT, subtract 5 hours for local EST, 4 hours during DST (after March 10).
See SKY SIGHTS or COMING EVENTS for more details about specific events.

January/February 2020

January 2020 [Moonrise times are for Owen Sound ON 44.6°N 80.9°W]
Date GMT Event
02 Thu 01:30 Moon at Apogee: 404 580 km
03 Fri 04:45 FQ Moon rises locally at 12:18 pm EST
04 Sat 09:00 Quadrantid Meteor Shower
05 Sun 08:00 Earth at Perihelion: 0.98324 AU
07 Tue 21:09 Aldebaran 3.0°S of Moon
10 Fri 15:00 Mercury at Superior Conjunction (not vis.)
10 19:10 Pen. Lunar Eclipse; mag=0.896 (not vis. N. Amer.)
10 19:21 FM rises locally at 5:00 pm EST
11 Sat 02:26 Pollux 5.3°N of Moon
11 23:54 Beehive 1.0°S of Moon
13 Mon 11:37 Regulus 3.8°S of Moon
13 14:00 Saturn in Conjunction with Sun (not vis.)
13 20:20 Moon at Perigee: 365 964 km
17 Fri 12:58 LQ Moon rises locally at 12:26 am EST
17 23:03 Mars 4.7°N of Antares
20 Mon 19:13 Mars 2.3°S of Moon
23 Thu 02:42 Jupiter 0.4°N of Moon: Occn. (not vis. here)
24 Fri 21:42 NM rises locally at 7:54 am EST
25 Sat 13:20 Mercury 2.2° N of Moon (1-day old cres. )
27 Mon Venus only 10 minutes of arc from Neptune (W)
28 Tue 07:29 Venus 4.1°N of Moon
29 Wed 21:28 Moon at Apogee: 405 390 km

February 2020
Date GMT Event
02 Sun 01:42 FQ Moon rises locally at 11:27 am EST
04 Tue 06:53 Aldebaran 3.1°S of Moon
07 Fri 12:58 Pollux 5.3°N of Moon
08 Sat 10:16 Beehive 1.0°S of Moon
09 Sun 07:33 FM rises locally at 6:17 pm EST
09 21:15 Regulus 3.8°S of Moon
10 Mon 14:00 Mercury at Greatest Elong: 18.2°E
10 20:31 Moon at Perigee: 360 464 km
12 Wed 05:00 Mercury at Perihelion
15 Sat 22:17 LQ Moon rises locally at 12:42 am EST
18 Tue 13:18 Mars 0.8°S of Moon: Occn. (daytime)
19 Wed 19:36 Jupiter 0.9°N of Moon: Occn. (Antarctica)
20 Thu 13:47 Saturn 1.7°N of Moon
23 Sun 15:32 NM rises locally at 7:37 am EST
26 Wed 02:00 Mercury at Inferior Conjunction
26 11:35 Moon at Apogee: 406 277 km
28 Fri Crescent Moon near Uranus and Venus in west
Note: Feb 2020 is a Leap Year. Leap Day is Sat Feb 29!

Dec 28 Dark of the Moon viewing Night at Fox Observatory, public welcome.

From Our Astrophotographers:


Solar Haloes and Sundogs
Our daytime star is also a subject of BAS imagers and one of them captured this interesting complex of haloes, arcs and sundogs on a sunny October day. Visible is a circular halo with two bright spots (sundogs at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions) as well as curved arc on the top of the halo. There is also a faint second halo with colours just visible at the top if the image. All of these features are caused by high altitude ice crystals refracting (bending) the light from the Sun like a prism does and creating the same colours we see in a rainbow (which involves rain drops not ice crystals). Image by John H. Oct 26, 3 pm, Canon 6D, 1/50th second exp. ISO 100. (A thank you goes out to one of the neighbourhood children for blocking out the Sun with her hand.)


Andromeda Galaxy A relative newbie at astro-imaging, Rob Walker has dived into the hobby deeply. His fine image of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, below is one of his latest efforts and an indication of many fine views to come. Nice work Rob! The shot was made with a 400 mm Sony telephoto lens borrowed from Frank W. Enjoy! (The small “plus” sign in the upper corner is an artifact.)


Blue Snowball (NGC 7662)
Another nice image by Frank W. is his photo of the Blue Snowball below. It became a visual target at several viewing sessions and was finally reliably sighted at the Fox Observatory with the Coleman 8-inch SCT after a careful search (John H). It was also recognized in the Bishop 10-inch using Goto looking much like a small bluish star. An initial image with the Bishop 10-inch was obtained after the viewers had left, but nothing like the nice long exposure made by Frank below which consists of a stack of 51 images of 60 s duration at ISO 800. This object is surprisingly bright and takes high power well, much like the Ring Nebula in Lyra.

Frank Williams image of NGC 7662, the Blue Snowball. Chart provided below.


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 are now passing through solar minimum. There have been periods of "blank Sun" where sunspots have been totally absent for a time. However, magnetic disturbances from the sun continue to produce auroras in the auroral zones and sometimes farther south (or north for aurora australis). So if the auroral oval in the graphic below is showing any 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.

To receive auroral alerts directly to your email inbox as they are announced, visit NOAA Subscription Service (SWPC) and sign up for their alert service (still free).

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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BAS receives wonderful gift:

A generous donation was recently made to our club to further the ends of astronomy education in this area. Doug Scott, a local amateur astronomer, passed away July 2, 2019 and donated virtually all of his astronomical equipment to BAS to ensure that it would continue to be used to promote astronomy locally. The photo below shows a portion of the items BAS has received from his estate. It includes a Celestron C-11 (upper left below), a Takahashi 8-inch Cassegrain-Newtonian (upper right), a TAL 150K reflector (lower left), a Vixen 4-inch reflector (bottom right) and a Skywatcher 100 mm refractor (centre right).


There are also two equatorial mounts with tripods, eyepieces, a Telrad finder, Star Shoot camera, and various other accessories.

BAS is eminently grateful for the bequest, and has made a donation to the Cancer Society as a small thank you. Rest assured that we will remember Doug as we pursue our astronomy activities.

Doug Scott picture————Plaques_3894_392K
Doug Scott passed away July 2, 2019
in Southampton, ON

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)