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Sky Observing

Fun for kids and adults

                              HOW IT WORKS
THIS MONTH: OBSERVING SCHEDULE AND WHAT IS VISIBLE ON THE SKY
                                   THIS WEEK: OBSERVING EVENTS
                                        CELESTIAL OBJECTS

THIS WEEK: OBSERVING EVENTS  -  The best way is to call 647-575-2824 and register for the observing event you want to attend (see schedule) several days or several weeks in advance. Like that you will have reserved spot at the observing event, and also you will be informed on time if the observing event is cancelled. If the event is cancelled, you will be informed and rescheduled for the next observing event you want to come. If you decide to come without registering first, please call to make sure that the event is in progress and at which location and it is not cancelled because of cloudy skies, cold weather or strong wind. Price $5 per adult, kids are always free.

SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT 2017 OBSERVING YEAR

OBSERVING EVENTS START 14 APRIL 2017

14 APRIL, Friday
East GTA Location, 485 Bayly Street West, Ajax
DAYTIME OBSERVING (5.30 pm - 7.30 pm) - Sun (Solar) Observing with three telescopes
EVENING OBSERVING (8 pm - 10 pm) - The Moon, planet Mars, planet Jupiter and some double stars

15 APRIL, Saturday 
West GTA Location, 950 Islington Ave, Etobicoke
DAYTIME OBSERVING (5.30 pm - 7.30 pm) - Sun (Solar) Observing with three telescopes
EVENING OBSERVING (8 pm - 10 pm) - The Moon, planet Mars, planet Jupiter and some double stars

16 APRIL, Sunday
East GTA Location, 485 Bayly Street West, Ajax
DAYTIME OBSERVING (5.30 pm - 7.30 pm) - Sun (Solar) Observing with three telescopes
EVENING OBSERVING (8 pm - 10 pm) - The Moon, planet Mars, planet Jupiter and some double stars

CURRENT MOON

     NEWS for observing season 2017 (note all times are for Toronto, Ontario)

OBSERVING EVENTS START 1 APRIL
PLEASE SEE SCHEDULE

     The Sun - To see the Sun in real time click HERE to visit the website of the SOHO spacecraft, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a project of international collaboration between NASA and ESA to study the Sun. If you see any sunspots on the image, we will see them too. We will also see with special telescope the grainy structure of the Sun chromosphere and the prominences and filaments, if some are in progress. If you click on ''HOW IT WORKS'' button you can see how the Sun looks when observed with special telescope - the grainy structure, two sunspots close to each other, two prominences on the right edge of the Sun and four filaments. Filament is in fact prominence which we see over the Sun disc.

     The Moon - For help in determining the days when the Moon will be in good position for evening observing please use the above calendar of the Moon phases. Aproximately when the Moon phase is 0 (so-called new Moon) then the Moon is very close to the Sun apparently on the sky. That means they rise and set aproximately at the same time, so several days before and after the new Moon, Moon will set in the evening and all night will be free of the Moon. These nights you can use for observing from dark location to hunt for so-called deep sky objects which are best visible when the night is moonless. Three or four days after new Moon, the Moon will appear on the western sky shortly after sunset like thin crescent (see the calendar above) and will set shortly after sunset. Observing from dark location is still possible during these three or four days. But every next evening Moon will appear higher on the western sky and with bigger phase and brighter and will set on the west later.
     About seven days after new Moon, the Moon will reach about 0.5 phase or will be 50% illuminated. That is first quarter Moon. First quarter Moon will appear after sunset high over the southern horizon and will be visible for several hours until it sets behind western or southwestern horizon.
     Every day in the next seven days after first quarter the Moon will appear more on the east and bigger in phase and brighter after the sunset and will be visible longer during the night. And finally about seven days after its first quarter it will reach phase 1 and 100% illumination. That is full Moon. Full Moon will rise on the east when Sun will set on the west. That means will be visible all night and will set on the west in the morning, when the Sun will rise on the east. The Moon can be observed all night. Use Moon filter on your telescope because it appears very bright in the eyepiece. The best filter is variable polarizer where you can control and adjust the amount of the light which can reach the eyepiece and ultimately your eye. On the other side, Moon all night on the sky means no observing of deep sky objects from dark location is possible.
     During the next seven days or so after full Moon, the Moon will rise later and later on the east after the sunset and will not set on the west before sunrise. Will decrease in its phase down to 0.5 and 50% illumination. That is last quarter Moon. You can take approximately that last quarter Moon will appear (rise) on the east or southeastern sky around midnight and when the night finish it will be high on the southern sky. So still observing from dark location to hunt for deep sky objects will be impossible. But after another two to three days the Moon will start rising 2-3 hours after midnight, so it will be possible to plan to go to dark sky location and do some observing of deep sky objects. Observing can start after sunset as soon as the sky becomes dark enough and until after midnight. Keep in mind that as soon as the Moon shows on the sky any further deep sky observing will be impossible because at dark location out of the city the Moon appears as very bright object which will make the sky immediately to turn from extremely dark into bright grey sky. Always when you go to dark sky location for observing check when the Moon rises on the sky that particular evening.
     And to finish the story about the Moon, in the next seven days after the last quarter the Moon will rise further later and later on the east long after midnight, its phase will decrease from 0.5 to 0 and its illumination from 50% to 0%, and will reach its new Moon phase again. That means again will rise and set aproximately the same time as the Sun, and will not be visible during the night. Good time to go out of the city to some dark location to hunt for dim deep sky objects.
     It will pass aproximately 29.5 days between two new Moon appearances on the sky and the above story will repeat again and again. 

     Planet Mercury - Planet Mercury never moves far away from the Sun on the sky, therefore is available for observing either shortly before sunrise at dawn or shortly after sunset at dusk. Here are some important dates that will help in finding and observing Mercury on the sky in 2017 year.
     On 19 January Mercury is at its maximum western elongation, 24 angle degrees west of the Sun. Because is west of the Sun, it means it will rise above the horizon shortly before the Sun (remember all celestial objects move from east towards west apparently on the sky because of the Earth rotation). Mercury will rise at 6.22 am and the Sun will rise at 7.58 am, both over the southeastern horizon. And that means Mercury could be visible on the sky for a short time before sunrise. As soon as the Sun come close enough bellow the horizon (dawn) Mercury will be lost on the sky because of the Sun's glare. The best days to find Mercury on the southeastern sky shortly before sunrise will be 19 January as best day and several days before and after this date. To be even more memorable your look at Mercury, west of Mercury on the sky will be planet Saturn.
     On 1 April Mercury is at its maximum eastern elongation, 19 angle degrees east of the Sun. Because is east of the Sun, it means it will set bellow the horizon shortly after the Sun sets. The Sun will set at 19.38 pm and Mercury will set at 21.22 pm, both bellow the western horizon.  And that means Mercury could be visible on the sky for a short time after sunset. As soon as the Sun come enough bellow the horizon (dusk) Mercury will appear on the western sky. The best days to find Mercury on the western sky will be 1 April as best day and several days before and after this date. To be even more memorable your look at Mercury, above Mercury on the sky will be red planet Mars. Mars will set bellow western horizon at 10.36 pm.
     And now the story repeats again:
     On 17 May Mercury is at its maximum western elongation, this time not 24, but 26 angle degrees west of the Sun. Again to repeat, because is west of the Sun, it means it will rise above the horizon shortly before the Sun. Mercury will rise at 5.10 am and the Sun will rise at 6.03 am, both over the eastern horizon. And that means Mercury should be visible on the sky for a short time before sunrise. As soon as the Sun come close enough bellow the horizon (dawn) Mercury will be lost on the sky because of the Sun's glare. The best days to find Mercury on the eastern sky shortly before sunrise will be 17 May as best day and several days before and after this date. This time will be pretty tough to notice Mercury, given the time of less than one hour from Mercury showing over the eastern horizon until the Sun rises. If you miss to see Mercury, which could be case, do not be disappointed, because a bit more above on the eastern horizon where Mercury should be, will be planets Uranus and Venus. Furthermore, planet Neptune will be on the west sky. To see Uranus and Neptune you will need at least binoculars.
     On 29 July Mercury is at its maximum eastern elongation, this time 27 angle degrees east of the Sun. To repeat again, because is east of the Sun, it means it will set bellow the horizon shortly after the Sun sets. The Sun will set at 20.35 pm and Mercury will set at 21.41 pm, both bellow the western horizon.  And that means Mercury should be visible on the western sky for a short time after the sunset. As soon as the Sun comes enough bellow the horizon (dusk) Mercury will appear on the western sky. The best days to find Mercury on the western sky will be 29 July as best day and several days before and after this date. Again will be tough to notice Mercury given the time distance of only about one hour between sunset and set of Mercury. To be even more memorable your look at Mercury, east of where should be Mercury on the sky will be planet Jupiter and over the southern horizon will be planet Saturn. Just to note that Mercury will be very close to the star called Regulus (Alpha Leonis) around 29 July. Tip: Find on the sky Regulus one month before 29 July and try to find it every next day on the sky. Every next day will be harder and harder to notice Regulus because every next day it will be apparently closer to the western horizon, which will not be completely dark because of the Sun freshly set bellow the horizon. Try to follow Regulus as close as possible to 29 July. If you can not, then remember where it should be on the sky aproximately and aproximate further its position every next dusk closer and closer to the western horizon. If you are good with your aproximation, then on 29 July you should see Mercury at the place where Regulus should be. Of course, Regulus should be here too. If you use binoculars in following Regulus, then your chance of success are enormous. 
     And now the story repeats again, so I will give you only the data without any explanation.
     On 12 September Mercury is at its maximum western elongation, 18 degrees west of the Sun, that means will be visible at dawn shortly before sunrise. And accidentaly, because of both movements of our Earth and Mercury around the Sun, Mercury will be apparently on the sky again close to Regulus! And close will be planets Venus and Mars too. This is what will be hapenning on the east horizon at this date: Venus rises 4.32 am, Regulus rises 5.24 am, Mercury rises at 5.30 am and the Sun will rise at 7.05 am. The best day to find Mercury will be 12 September, and your chanses will rapidly decrease every day before and after this date.
     On 23 November Mercury is at its maximum eastern elongation, 22 angle degrees east of the Sun. That means will be visible at dusk shortly after sunset over the southwestern horizon. Sunset is at 16.37 pm, Mercury sets at 17.45 pm, and 5 angle degrees north of Mercury will be Saturn! Saturn sets at 18.15 pm. Also in various parts of the sky will be Pluto, Neptune, Uranus and thin crescent Moon! Wow. 

     Planet Venus - Planet Venus, same as planet Mercury, never moves far away from the Sun apparently on the sky. That is because both Venus and Mercury are so-called inner planets - planets which orbits are inside the orbit of our planet Earth (this fact we already know - Mercury is closest planet to the Sun, after coming Venus and after our Earth). So, when we observe Mercury and Venus on the sky, they will be always close to the Sun. Therefore, everything mentioned above for planet Mercury will apply for planet Venus too: Venus will appear on the sky always relatively close to the Sun, and will reach its western and eastern maximum elongations at given time. Also same as Mercury, Venus will be available for observing on the sky for some period of time before sunrise and after sunset. Still, there are some facts we need to take into account:
     First, Venus orbits the Sun almost twice further than Mercury. That means we can see it on the sky about twice further from the Sun then Mercury. And indeed, when Venus reaches its maximum eastern or western elongation, it is about 46 angle degrees or so away from the Sun (Mercury can be seen around  20-27 or so angle degrees away from the Sun on the sky when it reaches its maximum elongations). This fact is good for us observers because we will have several hours time to find and observe Venus before sunrise or after sunset compared with only about an hour for Mercury. And also while Mercury is availible on the sky for observing only several days before and after it reaches maximum elongations, for Venus that period of time is usually several months before and after reaches maximum elongation!
     And second fact we need to take into account is that Venus needs around 225 days to rotate once around the Sun compared with 88 days Mercury needs to do the same. That means during a given period of time, lets say during one observing year we will see several (six or so) elongations of Mercury east and west from the Sun, and only two or so elongations of Venus east and west from the Sun.
     Now I can give you some important dates that will help you in finding and observing planet Venus on the sky in 2017 year.
     On 12 January Venus is at its maximum eastern elongation, 47 angle degrees east of the Sun. Because is east of the Sun, it means we can start observe it over the western horizon at dusk shortly after the Sun sets bellow the western horizon (as soon as the Sun come enough bellow the horizon (dusk) Venus will appear on the western sky). And of course Venus will set bellow the horizon after the Sun sets. On 12 January the Sun will set at 16.55 pm and Venus will set at 21.00 pm, both bellow the western horizon.  That means we have several hours to find and observe planet Venus on the day when it is at its maximum elongation (and less and less the other days). Compare this to about one hour we have for Mercury when it reaches its own maximum elongation. And furthermore while we can observe Mercury several days before and after it reaches its maximum elongation on the sky from the Sun, for Venus that period is several months before and after reaches its maximum elongation. Therefore, Venus will be in good position for observing on the sky during January, February and until about 15 March when it will be lost in the Sun's glare.
     On 3 June Venus is at its maximum western elongation, 46 angle degrees west of the Sun. Because is west of the Sun, it means it will rise above the horizon before the Sun rises (remember all celestial objects move from east towards west apparently on the sky because of the Earth rotation). On 3 June Venus will rise at 3.50 am and the Sun will rise at 5.49 am, both over the eastern horizon. And that means Venus will be visible on the sky for a period of about less that two hours before sunrise during this maximum elongation. As soon as the Sun come close enough bellow the horizon (dawn) Venus will be lost on the sky because of the Sun's glare. As mentioned before, Venus will be visible on the sky for several months before and after it reaches its maximum elongation. So, Venus will be in good position for observing on the eastern morning sky from around 10 April until around 20 October! 
     And now the story repeats again: On 17 August 2018 Venus will be at its maximum eastern elongation, and lets leave it this for next 2018 observing year.
     Planet Jupiter - (will be updated for 2017 very soon) We will observe Jupiter during the evenings starting 1 April until 31 July. In April it is high on the southern sky, in May it is also high on the southern sky, in June it is on the western sky and in July low over the western horizon and will set shortly after the Sun sets and finally by the end of July will be lost in the Sun glare. See schedule. Do not miss the chance to see the planet, its cloud bands, its Great Red Spot and its satellites. We will try to follow Jupiter even in August because on 27 August is rare event when Venus and Jupiter will be extremely close apparently on the sky.
Next chance to see Jupiter on the evening sky will be starting from March 2017.
We will observe Jupiter at daytime starting 15 May until 31 July as soon as it climbs high enough over the east horizon. In May we can observe it after 4.00 pm, in June after 2.00 pm and in July after 12.30 pm. See schedule.

Planet Mars - (will be updated for 2017 very soon) We will observe Mars during the evenings starting 1 June until 31 August. On 1 June rises about 20.00 pm, so about 21.30 pm will be enough high over the southeastern horizon to be observed. That day it is about 75 millions km away from the Earth, its disc size is about 19 arc seconds and its disc is 99% illuminated. When we observe it through a telescope with about 200 magnification on that day, it will appear in a telescope as it is only about 375,000 km away from us, the same distance as our Moon. We will see how planet Mars will look if it is on the sky at the same distance as our Moon. Because in reality Mars diameter is about twice the Moon diameter, Mars should appear in a telescope twice larger than we see the Moon with naked eyes. Lets check!
During the evenings in July Mars will be low on the southern sky. During the evenings in August will be low over the southwestern sky. During the month of August Mars and Saturn will be very close apparently on the sky. On 31 August Mars is about 135 million km away from the Earth, its disc diameter is 10 arc seconds and it is 85% illuminated.

Planet Saturn - (will be updated for 2017 year very soon) We will observe Saturn during the evenings starting 1 July until 31 August. In July it will be low on the southeastern sky, and in August low on the southwestern sky. On 1 July is 1,370,000,000 km away from the Earth, with disc size around 18 arc seconds and 100% illuminated. On 31 August is 1,490,000,000 km away from the Earth, with disc size around 17 arc seconds and 100% illuminated. Do not miss the chance to see planet Saturn, its satellite Titan (the biggest satellite in the solar system) and Saturn's ring system which is currently highly inclined towards our sight of view and is beautiful sight in a telescope.
We will observe Saturn at daytime in August starting from 6.00 pm, in September starting from 4.00 pm and October starting from 2.30 pm as soon as it rises high enough over the southeastern horizon.

Planet Uranus - (will be updated for 2017 very soon) We will observe Uranus in the evenings staring 1 October after 21.00 pm when it climbs high enough over the eastern horizon. That day its visual magnitude is 6.0, it is 100% illuminated and 2,840,000,000 km away from the Earth and its angular diameter on the sky is 3.6 arc seconds.
We will try to find it on the sky at daytime in June before 2.00 pm when it is low on the west sky over the horizon.

Planet Neptune - (will be updated for 2017 year very soon)We will observe Neptune in the evenings starting 1 September after 10.00 pm when it climbs high enough on the eastern sky and in October after 8.00 pm when it climbs high enough on the southeastern sky. On 1 September its visual magnitude is 7.7, its disc size is around 2.5 arc seconds, it is 100% illuminated and 4,300,000,000 km away from the Earth.

To see which celestial objects we will observe during the season and to learn more about them, scroll down or up on this page and click on Celestial Objects button on the bottom menu or on top image. Once on Celestial Objects page, go with the mouse over the button with the name of the constellation (for example ORION) and click on that button. In new page will appear all objects we will observe in that constellation and some interesting things about them.

Location in the east GTA for 2017 observing season will be the big parking lot and the grassy area behind Macedonian Church "St. Nedela" in Ajax, located at 485 Bayly Street West. This location will serve the public from the east GTA and will be used for daytime Sun and planets observing from city location and for evening Moon, planets and interesting single and double stars observing from city location.

Location in the west GTA for 2017 observing season will be the parking lot at the Queensway Baptist Church in Etobicoke, located at 950 Islington Avenue. This location will serve the public from the west GTA and will be used for daytime Sun and planets observing from city location and for evening Moon, planets and interesting single and double stars observing from city location.

Dark location far from the city for 2017 observing season will be from a place located on a large private property on 7th Line (Hwy 88 west of Hwy 400), a bit north of Tottenham, Ontario. It will serve the public from all GTA and will be used for evening sky observing from dark location far from the city. Will be observed the so-called deep-sky celestial objects - nebulae, star clusters and galaxies which can not be seen from inside the cities because of the light pollution.

FEBRUARY 2017 - New sky observing season for 2017 in Toronto, Ontario has arrived! Sky Observing offers daytime observing of the Sun and planets from city locations (every day), evening observing of the Moon, planets and interesting single stars, double and multiple star systems from city locations (every evening) and evening observing of star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and other interesting deep-sky objects from dark locations outside of the city (on every moonless evening). Please see the complete schedule and if you decide to attend some of the sky observing events I am looking forward to see you and your family. Sky Observing events are place where you can both observe and learn a lot of things about all objects on the sky - in our Solar System: the Sun, the Moon, the planets and asteroids, the objects in our own galaxy Milky Way - single stars, double stars and multiple star systems, all types of nebulae - diffuse, planetary, reflection, dark, all types of clusters of stars - open and globular star clusters, and the other objects which make our known universe - all different types of galaxies, galaxy clusters and quasars. And also some other objects which can appear on the sky like comet or supernova event. From 1st April until 31st October we will observe and learn about not just all the most interesting celestial objects which can be seen on the sky during the year but much more - about giant stars, supergiant stars, young stars, evolved stars, red giants, carbon stars, dwarf stars, red dwarfs, sunlike stars, star clouds, starbirth regions. Also on the observing events you will learn about everything important you should know to gain complete knowledge about the universe - our Sun, planets, their formation, their apparent movement on the sky and their real movement around the Sun, the stars - their formation, evolution, type, size, age, movement and processes inside the stars, about the starforming regions in our galaxy, how the neutron stars and black holes are formed, about the clusters of stars, about the galaxies, and galaxy clusters.

HOW IT WORKS - Here you will find all important information about the sky observing events, for example the types of observing events offered, the prices, the locations for observing, how you can register to attend the observing events, some tips to help you prepare for the events and some useful tips during the events, what you can expect to see, the astroequipment used during the events and so on. To visit the page, just scroll a bit up on this page and click on the ''HOW IT WORKS" button.

THIS MONTH: OBSERVING SCHEDULE AND WHAT IS VISIBLE ON THE SKY - This is very important part to read. Here you will find all information about what is going on on the sky. Here you can read more about which planets and celestial objects on the sky are in good position for observing during this month, the period of time some planet or other celestial object will be in good position for observing, which constellations are currently visible and so on. This will help you to plan in advance when you want to come. You can see from the schedule whether the favorite objects you want to see are in good position for observing and when and for how long period of time, and you have all the information to plan ahead your visit. Or if your interest is broader and not focused on one planet or object, simply browse through the schedule and see which events you like and register. If you do not find in the schedule the information you want about some planet or object you are interested, or want to ask and find out about something else, simply call or send email, and I will give you directions. To go to the schedule page scroll a bit up on this page and click on the button "THIS MONTH: OBSERVING SCHEDULE AND WHAT IS VISIBLE ON THE SKY".