Betelgeuse fainting spell is finally over?

According to a recent update from the Astronomer's Telegram (issue 13512 - http://www.astronomerstelegram.org/?read=13512), it is clear that decrease in brightness of Betelgeuse has stopped, and now it is increasing. This is based on photometry from the last two weeks or so that indicates Betelgeuse's visual magnitude has increased from it's lowest point of ~1.614 back up to ~1.575. [More]

Betelgeuse Is Fainting?!

With a diameter of about 700 times that of our Sun, Betelgeuse would extend out past the orbit of Mars if it was plunked into the middle of our Solar System. It's surface temperature is lower than our Sun's (3500K vs. 5778K) so it glows with a distinctive red colour. It is a semi-regular variable, which means it does dim and brighten over time - so in some respects this fainting (dimming) is normal. [More]

Seeing and Transparency Scales

This is a handy guide as often when I'm observing I want to make a note of the seeing and transparency but I always "gut" feel it as 1-5 for seeing and 1-7 for transparency. This gives me a bit more of an objective way to rate it. [More]

Welcome to 2020!

I did notice when I looked through the content of my websites is that my "web pages" were more like blog entries than actual web pages. Web pages usually contain unique content that expresses an idea in some decent level of detail. Were you to print out a good web page, it would likely take 6 to 60 pieces of paper to print out. Most of my web pages would only take 1 or 2 - that's why I thought the venerable Web Log (blog) format would be suitable. [More]

Astronomy Log: 2019006

My son Aaron, my wife April and I all went up to Balsam Lake Provincial Park to help in a night sky presentation by the park staff. The intention was we would bring our telescopes and help out with the presentation and then let visitors observe through our telescopes afterwards. In the end, that's what happened, however the mosquito population overwhelmed us and Jupiter was the only target that got observed. [More]

Astronomy Log: 2019005

It was a nice clear night with a light breeze and my son Aaron and I had just finished watching a basketball game (our Toronto Raptors are in the NBA finals!), so I decided to bring out my 8” SCT to have a look at Jupiter which was situated in the south east over the neighbouring houses. [More]

Astronomy Log: 2019004

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We finally had a decent chance to do some observing, so my son Aaron and I cooked up a scheme that we’d go to sleep early, then get up at 2AM, jump in the car already packed with gear, drive to our remote observing site in Springwater and get some images of Jupiter and Saturn. [More]

My Telescopes

I got my first telescope during the Christmas of 1979. It was a spindly little 40mm reflector from Sears and it came with just one eyepiece. It’s wobbly little wooden legs and plastic mount could barely keep the optical tube steady long enough to get a decent peek, but I managed to use that scope to explore the wonderfully cratered surface of the Moon, to see the moons of Jupiter and bask in the splendour of the rings of Saturn. That scope opened the world of astronomy to me. [More]

Testing Optics

I actually wrote this article a long time ago - probably around the year 2000 - but I think it outlines some basics of testing optics that, at the very least, will help you discern whether you have an optical problem or not with your telescope (and/or eyepieces). Enjoy! [More]

XEphem Astronomy Program

One of my favourite astronomy programs is called XEphem by Elwood Downey. It is a wonderful Unix/Linux application that not only shows you the night sky down but also a wealth of information regarding the planets and other sky objects. I have the purchased version which comes on 3 CD-ROMs. Since I run a super lean version of Arch Linux, I found there are a few things that I need to have installed before installing XEphem. [More]