Celestial objects of interest in November

November is the perfect time for stargazing.

Even though the temperatures are cooling down, the early sunset and later sunrise provide us with almost fifteen hours of darkness in which to observe nighttime splendors. Plus, there are some exciting occurrences lighting up the skies all month long.

Why not take some time this month to view these celestial splendours?

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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 2020:

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Eyes on the skies — October

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.

October is a month of transition as the last few warm days depart and we prepare ourselves for winter.

But cold weather does not mean we should abandon the great outdoors. On the contrary, the peace and serenity found at this time of the year make a trip to any park all the more enjoyable.

Here are our astronomical highlights for October, 2020:

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Looking up at Mars

Did you know that we can see surface detail on Mars with even a small telescope?

During most of October, 2020, Mars rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. It is now (after the sun and moon) the brightest object in the sky and noticeably pinkish!

Mars’ orbit is somewhat elliptical (egg-shaped), meaning that about every two years or so, Mars comes closer to the Earth, becoming both brighter and larger in visual appearance if looking through a telescope.

Some of these close approaches are better than others. This year, on October 6, Mars is closer to us than it will be for the next 15 years, so get out and do some planet-gazing in the autumn air!

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Health benefits of dark skies

Today’s blog comes from our Healthy Parks Healthy People Coordinator Sarah McMichael. 

My most memorable camping memory didn’t come from a crackling campfire, a panoramic lookout, or a stunning sandy beach.

It happened at 3:00 am at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

As I stumbled out of my tent for a late-night bathroom break, I noticed something different about the sky above me. There were stars.

A LOT of stars.

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Eyes on the skies — September

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

Many people consider September to be the finest month of the year to enjoy Ontario’s outdoors.

The bugs have all but left and the daytime temperatures are cooler, making the weather ideal for strenuous activities such as hiking or canoeing. To top it off, the leaves begin their beautiful transition through the colours of fall.

With the much shorter days, the nighttime skies are full of celestial splendors that we hope you will enjoy discovering in this edition of “Eyes on the skies.”

Here are our astronomical highlights for September, 2020:

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Featured constellations: a water bearer, flying horse and southern fish

In last month’s featured constellations, we discussed Sagittarius, Capricornus and Delphinus.

In our September edition, we discuss Pegasus the flying horse (moose or baseball diamond), Aquarius the water bearer, and Piscis Austrinus the southern fish.

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