50 Years In Space

On the night/morning of September 28/29 fifty years ago a Thor-Agena rocket took off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Nestled in its nosecone was a satellite built completely outside the United Sates of America. When the rocket reached the right height a deployed its payload: Alouette 1. This all-Canadian satellite gave Canada the great distinction of being the third nation build its own satellite and have it reach Earth orbit.

Alouette was used to study the Earth’s ionosphere and helped pave the way for the communications satellites that were to come and whose descendants are still used today.

Ten years after it started its research, Alouette was turned off. This amazing Canadian satellite far outlasting its one-year expected life span and; in 1966, was expected to remain in orbit for 1000 years. Today, Alouette still orbits the Earth and is a testament to the great minds and the cooperative nature of our space program that led to the Canadian Space Agency.

Hopefully as we celebrate 50 years of being in space, it will encourage more young Canadians to want to explore space in all forms and work towards being a part of the amazing quest to understand not only our universe, but us and our unique little planet as well.

For more information on Alouette read this great article from Space Ref Canada.


Have You Seen the Man in the Moon Lately?

The Waning Crescent Moon

The waning crescent Moon. On September 22 it will a waxing first quarter Moon.

Next to the Sun, the Moon is likely the most familiar object in our skies. Despite its familiarity, the Moon is a source of wonderment and mystery. Why does it change shape every night? How come I can see it during the day sometimes? What does the far side of the Moon look like? Is the dark side of the Moon really dark?

It is this sense of wonderment and curiosity about the Moon that the International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) hopes will get people out on the evening of September 22, 2012 to gaze up towards our closest celestial neighbour.

The minds behind InOMN range from educators, to scientists, to NGOs and good old Moon enthusiasts. It is there hope that InOMN will encourage people to look up towards the Moon and start down a path of continued learning about not just the Moon, but all things around us in the various sciences. And with projects like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, there are always news things to learn – even about our own Moon.

This September 22, I too will be out with numerous others to gaze toward our Moon and take it in its beauty and mystery and I would like to invite you to join me. I will be set up with my modest little telescope (but still has great views of the lunar surface) at Churchill Drive Park (Churchill Dr. And Casey St.) in South Osborne at 20h00 (8 pm). I will be more than happy to share what I know about the Moon with you and do my best to answer your Moon questions, or any other questions that come to mind.

You can also check out my Facebook event for maps to the event and details.

If you want to throw your own Moon Night event, got to the International Observe the Moon Night website for ideas and tips, then get a bunch of your friends and enjoy the Moon that night.

Birds On The Sun

Over the past few weeks I have been trying my hand at solar photography. I’ve been taking my filtered telescope out when I get home from work for half an hour or so and learning to take pictures of the sun, mostly by trial and error with my little point and shoot.

It has been a very rewarding process and it has been a great way to decompress after a day at work. I even try sketching the sunspots from time to time as well. My hope is to eventually combine my sun pictures into a short movie so I can show how the sunspots move on the photosphere from day to day.

In recent days I managed to chance a picture of a bird flying in front of the sun, so I thought I would share it with you along with a few other pictures I’ve taken over the last few weeks.

I’ll probably start work on sorting through the images and getting the video starts once winter rolls around, the sun will be setting to early for me to get descent pictures and I may not feel so inclined to be outside in the minus temperatures.

I hope you enjoy these.

A bird flying in front of the Sun at just the right moment.

A nice grouping of sunspots on September 2, 2012. One of the many pictures I hope to turn into a short movie showing the movement of the sunspots over time.

Went out one night hoping the catch the aurora borealis, but all I got was the Big Dipper. Still made for a lovely evening.