The Northern Lights

Seeing the magnificent Northern Lights is a bucket list item for any nature lover.

But did you know that the Northern Lights are caused by charged particles from the Sun?

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is the name given to an often-ethereal band or curtain of faint light seen towards the northern horizon. Generally, the light is so faint that the light pollution of even a small town can wash it out.

However, in the dark skies of many of our provincial parks, the Northern Lights can be spectacular.

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Zodiacal light and the gegenschein

The importance of having dark sky preserves cannot be understated.

In addition to the many benefits already described previously in our blog, you can see many things that others can’t from the light-polluted skies of our urban and, increasingly, our rural locations.

The zodiacal light and the gegenschein are two phenomena known for centuries, but only visible in dark skies with a good western or eastern horizon.

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Featured constellations: Gemini the Twins, Auriga the Charioteer, and Canis Minor

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.

In last month’s blog, we discussed Orion the Hunter, as well as a number of other prominent constellations seen in the winter.

This month’s post will focus on three others, most notable Gemini the Twins.

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Observing the origins of the universe

The beginning(s) of our universe has long stirred deep philosophical questions.

How did we get here? What causes the sun or the stars to move? If time had a beginning, what was there before that beginning?

These are all great questions, and the answers have historically been provided by spiritual as well as scientific means. Both types of answers provide a great value and continue to play a role for humanity.

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Stars over Killarney 2018

What happens when two great organizations work together to promote astronomy and dark skies? An incredible experience that captivated visitors from all over Ontario and beyond.

On September 22, 2018, we launched Ontario Parks’ first Dark-Sky Preserve in Killarney Provincial Park (the other is in Lake Superior Provincial Park) with a special “Stars over Killarney” program. Joining us as co-hosts for this special event were our friends at Science North, one of Canada’s best hands-on science museums.

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