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?