Eyes on the skies — April

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This space (<– see what we did there?) 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.

For those of us in Ontario, April is that transition month between winter and spring weather. The snows start to melt away, the lakes start to open up and, by month’s end, the first buds may appear on the trees.

Here are our astronomical highlights for April, 2018:

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The Northern Lights

Seeing the magnicificent 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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Featured constellation: Leo the Lion

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 Gemini the Twins, as well as two other prominent constellations seen in the winter.

This month’s post will focus on three constellations that mark the transition from winter to spring: Leo the Lion, Cancer the Crab, and Coma Berenices.

Continue reading Featured constellation: Leo the Lion

Eyes on the skies – March

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This space (see what we did there?) 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.

March is one of the most glorious months to be camping, or even just spend time outdoors enjoying our parks.

On March 20, the earth passes through Spring Equinox. This is the day that formally marks the beginning of spring, and affords equal hours of sunlight and darkness.

Here are our astronomical highlights for March:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies – March

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.

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

Eyes on the skies – February

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 month of February brings the promise of both warmer weather and clearer skies. So grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, dress warmly, and spend the day outdoors.

And when the sun goes down and the stars start to shine, don’t forget to head back out to enjoy the season’s beautiful night skies!

Here are our astronomical highlights for February:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies – February

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.

Continue reading The astronomical origins of the calendar

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 of them 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:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies – January

Winter adventure in Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney Provincial Park is 645 km2 of beautiful, unspoiled nature. Add in some killer trails and comfy accommodations and you’ve got a total winter hotspot. It’s no wonder winter explorers flock to the park when the cold hits.

So what are you waiting for? Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own Killarney winter adventure this winter.

Continue reading Winter adventure in Killarney Provincial Park