Saturday, December 31, 2011

Irving Nature Park Dedicated to Observing

Irving Nature Park was named Canadas first Urban Sky Park on Aug 12, 2011.  In celebration of this event, the Saint John Astronomy Club hosted a mini star party.  Along with about 20 amature astronomers with their own personal telescopes, about 100 members of the public showed up for observing from about 7pm to midnight.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Picture from For a video of the view of this comet from the International Space Station and commentary from one of the Astronauts, go to this link.

This amazing comet which is in the early morning sky, in the southern hemisphere, is not visible in the northern hemisphere.  It became a naked eye object in the southern hemisphere just a couple of days ago.  "Comet Lovejoy should reach Northern Hemisphere skies by early April. The comet will head north from the constellation Indus, passing between the constellations Capricornus and Sagittarius in early April. By the last half of April, Comet Lovejoy should be slicing through the constellation Aquila."

Keep an eye on the early morning sky, just before sun-up, and you might just be the first one in your area to spot this natural wonder.

Comet Lovejoy is an amazing story.  On November 27, 2011 an Australian amateur astronomer named Terry Lovejoy made the initial discovery.  His story, in his own words, are at this link  What he found is what is known as a Kreutz Sungrazing comet which means when he found it, it was heading at the sun.  After it was discovered and confirmed by the professional astronomers(with larger telescopes,better cameras, space stations and sun orbiting satellites), it was thought that it was going to fly into the sun or so close that it was going to simply burn up.  To every ones surprise and amazement, after the comet disappeared into the fiery sun, it actually emerged from the other side.  Up until this point, the comet was only visible with telescopes with digital cameras.  After the comet brushed up against the sun and headed out the other side, with the tail wrapped around the sun, it slowly became more and more visible to the point where on the morning of December 21, 2011, sky watchers in the southern hemisphere started sharing images of this comet on the Internet.  In the following mornings the comet was standing out as one the biggest and brightest comets of the last several years.  This could be the brightest comet in many generations.  Stay tuned, the story of Comet Lovejoy could be just getting started...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reporting on Discoveries

It would seem that a pattern has formed when it comes to the general media reporting on scientific discovery: A day before an announcement on a possible discovery by a scientific organization, if the possible discovery is deemed interesting enough, the media announces that 'Possibly a new discovery has been made...’ Almost every time the next day the announcement is made and it’s not the discovery that the media was hyping, but just an update on how the experiments are going (which tend to be truly interesting). The strange thing is that the media does not report on the announcement, after the announcement has been made, so one has to do research to see what they were talking about in the first place. This pattern recently played out earlier this week when CERN announced an update in their search for the Higs boson . The day before, on Dec 12/11 an announcement was made on the radio that a substantial discovery might be announced on Dec 13/11 at 8am. When the next day arrived, and no news on this could be found on common sources for scientific news, it was only reported directly on the Cern website, that they have not conclusively observed the elusive Higs boson, but they think that they are very close to getting a confirmed observation. Here at Citizen Scientist, we recommend to wait until the day of the announcement, and then formulate a news story based on the actual announcement. This would dispel any perception of grandstanding in the media and would possibly generate more interest in world wide scientific endeavors.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Daytime Moon

This image of a daytime Half Moon was taken at Prince of Wales, NB on December 2, 2011 at 1400hrs. Venus is also visible in the daytime when its far enough from the Sun, although it was not observed on this day. You have to know exactly where it is to see it, in my experience. This can be done by viewing a star chart, but be very carefull to not point an unfiltered telescope or binoculars at the will blind you.

Can You Spot The Spruce Grouse?

Friday, July 8, 2011


Location: Baseball Field Behind Seawood School, West Saint John, NB

Date Time: July 7, 2011 2130-2350hrs

Weather: 20 degrees Celsius, clear, no wind.

Attendance: Richard P., Edward M., Myself.

Equipment: 180mm Reflector, 12mm and 32mm eyepieces, 2x Barlow, Cannon Rebel DSLR camera, Olympus FE-47 digital camera.

Objectives: To show Richard and Edward the rings of Saturn and some of its Moons in a telescope...a first for them both. To get pictures of Saturn.

Report: First of all, my reflector did not grow. After taking it in to Focus Scientific for a pro cominating job the scope was measured and it was determined that the scope is actually 180mm and not 150mm like was advertised. It appears that the scope has been sold a little short up until now. While at Focus Scientific in Ottawa I picked up an item that would connect the DSLR to the telescope and a new 12mm eyepiece.

There has been months go by(since May) without suitable weather which has made observing next to impossible. It is truly amazing how cloudy and rainy it has been during this time frame. Last night we were in luck.

The original plan for the location of last nights observing was Saints Rest Beach. We showed up there just as the sun was going down and it was starting to get dark. We got out of the car and were inundated by mosquito's. We agreed that another location would be preferable for simple enjoyment factor, so we went to the ball diamond behind Seawood School. Thankfully, the fly situation was much more bearable there.

The Moon was 47% Full and was halfway up in the SW sky. Saturn was just above the Moon in Virgo right next to 29 Gamma Virgo. Arcturus was twice as high in the sky and straight over the Moon which made me think that was Saturn. Arcturus was much brighter than Saturn.

The half Moon was observed first with 32 mm eyepiece and then with the 12mm eyepiece. The 32mm showed the whole moon with many craters. With the 12mm the Moon filled viewing field. Approximately 1/4 of the moon filled the viewing field. Many crater could be seen.

After the Moon, I mistaked Arcturus for Saturn. Arcturus was very bright and showed up like a bright orangish red point of light with the 32mm. Saturn was then found just above the Moon right beside 29 Gama Virgo which is a corner star in the constellation Virgo. Edward M. actually commented that 29 Gama Virgo must be one of Saturn's moons.

With the 32mm eyepiece Saturn's ring could be seen along with 3 moons... one on the right(as viewed through the inverted view of the scope) and two slightly dimmer ones on the left. Unlike Jupiter, these moons do not line up.

With the 12mm eyepiece attached to the 2x Barlow that gave a magnification of 233X. At this magnification separation in the rings could be seen easily and the planet and its moons were much bigger to look at. It was commented on how fast the planet went through the viewer(due to the rotation of the earth.

Tried to take pictures with the DSLR but with no active viewer it was impossible to focus. Note: An active viewer is essential for astrophotography.

Took pictures of Saturn with F-47 rings did not resolve well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spotted Garden Slug Close-up

There are many spotted garden slugs around the Saint John area right now. This one was picked up in Saint John, NB on May 19, 2011 in a shaded area.

Interesting notes: a)Hole on right side of fatty area behind head would open up like a breathing hole and then close off again quickly. b)The eyes on the end of the antenas were noticable. c)This snail would move quickly with no observable means. The body did not slither like a snake and it does not appear to have legs...d)"Slugs and snails are not insects but mollusks; they are related to clams and oysters."

Mars Rover(Lego Mockup) and Planasphere at KSS

Shuttle Replacement Orion at KSS

Close-up of Shuttle Explorer at Kennedy Space Station

Spacesuites at Kennedy Space Station

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Kennedy Space Station Tour Images

Location: Port Canaveral, FL

Date/Time: May 4, 2011 1145-1600hrs local time

Weather: 93 degrees Fahrenheit, humid, 20 knot winds from the north few clouds but hazy.

Attendence: Brandon, Jason, Myself.

Subject: Apollo 14 Capsule and Saturn V(largest rocket in the world, also this is the rocket that sent men to the Moon).


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