The astronomical origins of the calendar

Most of us live by our calendars to keep our schedules straight.

But did you know the calendar has astronomical origins?

While the constellations were, largely, created to help people remember significant star patterns, they have plenty of other uses. One of these is for the formation of the calendar.

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Featured constellation: Orion

For thousands of years, humans have looked up at the stars. The stars helped them try to understand their purpose, and the role they play in our lives.

To help memorize the different stars, patterns of connect-the-dot figures were created by many different cultures. Today, we recognize 88 official patterns or “constellations” of stars.

Today we will explore one of the most well-known constellations: Orion.

Continue reading Featured constellation: Orion

Eyes on the skies – January

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This “space” will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

The cold, crisp days of the New Year often reward us with fantastically beautiful nights, rich with bright stars and interesting sights.

Of the 17 brightest stars seen from Ontario, nine are visible during winter nights, and many interesting objects await the observer who is prepared to brave the cold.

Here are our astronomical highlights for January:

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From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 4

In the first three posts in this series (Part 1 – OriginsPart 2 – The Formation of Stars, and Part 3 – Planets and the Conditions Necessary for Life), we discussed our origins from the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system and the basic ingredients that allowed life to develop and flourish on our planet.

In this final installment, we discuss what may happen next. As in the first three articles, we will use imagery taken from our observatories in Killarney Provincial Park.

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Eyes on the skies — December

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

December brings some of the darkest skies of the year.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to go out into our parks. Breathe in the peace and solitude of December days and the bounty of the starlit skies.

Here are our astronomical highlights for December, 2021:

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From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 3

In our previous post, we discussed the formation of stars from condensing balls of gas within interstellar nebulae, to the formation of open clusters of hundreds of sibling stars using images taken from the observatories in Killarney Provincial Park.

In this post, we will discuss how planets and life arose from the debris of star formation. Continue reading From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 3

From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 2

In our previous post, we discussed the Big Bang and the formation of galaxies, globular clusters, and supernovae remnants using images taken from the observatories in Killarney Provincial Park.

In today’s post, we will explore how stars are born and start their lives.

Continue reading From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 2

Eyes on the skies — November

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

November usually brings our first snows and the opportunity for some great outdoor adventures.

The early sunset and later sunrise provides us with almost 15 hours of darkness in which to observe nighttime splendors.

Here are our astronomical highlights for November 2021:

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November’s digital download

Sneaking out of your tent in the middle of the night to stare up at the stars… is there anything better?

There’s no substitution for witnessing a starry sky firsthand, but this month’s FREE digital download is a good start!

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered “how did it all begin?” Check out our series about the astronomical origins of the universe.

Continue reading November’s digital download