Latest Update: Dec 31, 2018
Happy Holidays from BAS!
HO HO HO!
The BOEC was declared Canada’s 15th Dark Sky Preserve in Nov 2012.
More here: DSP BOEC
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.
See CONTACT US to join.
Jan 2019 SGN now available!
Comet Wirtanen still visible!
Several BAS members observe 46/P during breaks in clouds! Updated finder chart below.
Frank Williams image below shows the green colour of Comet Wirtanen well in the image, but colour is not evident visually. Another observer reported seeing a faint tail (Lorraine R. Dec 29) and another (John H.) spotted it on two occasions (Dec 29 and Dec 30) in both 4 inch refractor and 9.25” Celestron Edge and did not see any tail or colour. The comet is fading fast, and no longer easily visible in binos but still right on track. It is now circumpolar (up in dark sky all night) and the Moon is less bright, so this is your last chance to spot 46/P. See updated finder chart below in Naked Eye/Binocular Events.
Frank Williams’ Dec 29 image of C. Wirtanen shows how much it has faded even in binoculars and telescope. No tail was detected visually, nor in this 35 minute total exposure. Image above was a stack of several 1, 2, and 3 minute exposures taken with a Canon 6D through TEC 140 mm apochromatic refractor, ISO 3200, total exposure 35 minutes. Frank writes that the comet moved between exposures, so the stacking was not simple and required isolating the comet from the star field, stacking comet separately and then combining them again. He apologizes for the “artifacts” [I can’t see any…-ed].
Binocular Sights below and WEBLOG or VIS. COMETS has maps and more.
Next BAS Meeting is March 6, 2019 at Bailey Hall OSDSS, 7 pm (MAP)
More details on COMING EVENTS page.
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: Astronomy Events 2019. A separate list of Club Events (meeting dates, public observing sessions, etc.) for 2019 is available here: BAS 2019 Club Events (coming soon)
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Naked Eye/Binocular Astronomy Events
Comet Wirtanen finder chart (updated): Comet 46/P Wirtanen has now become circumpolar and is in the sky all night long. The Moon will decrease in brightness to NM Jan 6 so have a look and see if you can still pick it out as a faint greenish glow. A tail has been reported visually and shows up faintly in long-exposure images. It slows down in motion considerably in late Dec, early Jan, and the comet is well up in the sky by midnight and away from horizon turbulence. Chart below shows comet at 10 pm on Jan 6 with other markers indicating Dec 31, Jan 1, Jan 9 and Jan 19. Bowl of Big Dipper is at bottom and Ursa Minor is at left of diagram. For a more detailed (daily) position chart, click HERE or on chart below:
Dec 16 image of C. Wirtanen near the Pleiades was not much more than greenish fuzz (arrowed) even in binoculars or telescope. No tail was detected visually, but other long exposure images show a faint extension. Camera also caught a very nice sporadic fireball (not a Geminid). Image above by John H. Canon 6D, 24 mm, f/4, ISO 4000, 15 s. Dec 16, 7:57:03 pm.
Look to the Morning Sky for Planet Action
Venus is now spectacular as Morning Star 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 in February. Most of the planetary action has switched over to morning skies so look for nice groupings of the thin last crescent Moon with the naked-eye planets all 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/Feb 2019 Astronomy Events
COMPLETE list of ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2019 available here: ASTRONOMY 2019
Glossary of terms used below can be found here: GLOSSARY
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
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
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%) Observing from Fox weather permitting.
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.
Note: Time is given in UT, subtract 5 hours for EST, 4 hours for DST
02 Sat 07:18 Saturn 0.6°S of Moon: Occultation visible in E. Hemisphere. Occurs below our horizon. Closest separation is 2.7° at 6 am moonrise Feb 2.
04 Mon 21:04 NM rises locally at 7:42 am EST
05 Tue 09:26 Moon at Apogee: 406 556 km
12 Tue 22:26 FQ rises locally at 11:18 am EST
13 Wed 04:00 Mars, Neptune less than 1° apart (evening Feb 12)
14 Thu 03:29 Aldebaran 1.7°S of Moon
18 Mon 03:05 Beehive 0.6°N of Moon
18 14:00 Venus, Saturn less than 1° apart (morning Feb 18)
19 Tue 09:06 Moon at Perigee: 356 762 km
19 13:08 Regulus 2.5°S of Moon
19 15:53 FM rises locally at 6:09 pm EST (the biggest “supermoon” of 2019)
26 Tue 11:28 LQ rises locally at 1:26 am EST
27 Wed 01:00 Mercury at Greatest Elongation East: 18.1°E
27 14:17 Jupiter 2.3°S of Moon
Feb 27 to Mar 3 Waning crescent Moon near Jupiter, then Saturn, then Venus in dawn sky, very photogenic.
Note: Next year (2020) is a leap year
March 6 Wed 7:00 pm EST -First BAS meeting at Bailey Hall OSDSS
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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 Canon 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 a decoration.
John H. image Canon 6D, 8 s, ISO 4000, 100 mm at f/8
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….
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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.
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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.
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.
NGC 6124 Open Cluster
Portion of North America Nebula (Gulf of Mexico/Yucatan)
Spiral galaxy IC 342
Dust Cloud in Milky Way (B143)