A man looks at the sky with binoculars.

The Sky for March 2024

The Sky for March 2024

March hosts the “first day of spring”, although someone forgot to tell that to the weather. Astronomically, spring begins when the Earth reaches a specific point in its orbit around the Sun – it’s an easily-measurable instant in time when the Sun rises due east, sets due west, and is in the sky for 12 hours a day. Usually, the weather takes several weeks to catch up to that, but so far Manitoba has had three “winters”, two “autumns” and a “spring” since January 1, so the equinox is becoming less useful as an indicator.

March is also when we “spring ahead”, moving our clocks forward one hour to the poorly-named “Daylight Savings Time”. (Spoiler: no daylight is saved, we just alter our schedule so that people who work 9-5 see a bit more of it after their work day is done.) The official change happens in the morning of March 10th: 1:59 a.m. Central Standard Time is followed by 3:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time. We lose an hour of sleep that night, so expect inattentive drivers, cranky coworkers, and other symptoms of poor sleep to crop up in your life for the following week or so.

 

The Solar System

The planets are described in the order they are most visible in this month’s Manitoba skies. 

Solar System Highlights 

There is a penumbral lunar eclipse on March 24-25 which is visible across Canada. See the Calendar entry below.

Mercury is at its best evening visibility of the year for Canadians, peeking up above the western horizon in evening twilight about the 12th and rising higher each night until greatest elongation from the Sun with occurs on the 19th. It will probably easiest to see on the few days around March 16 when it is as its brightest and near its highest above the horizon. 

Jupiter is visible in the west-southwest after sunset, and sets before midnight local time. Telescopic observers will want to catch it early before it sinks into the turbulent air near the horizon.

Uranus sits above Jupiter in the evening sky, in the direction of the Pleaides star cluster. Only easily spotted in binoculars or a telescope, Uranus looks just like a faint dot of light indistinguishable from any other star.

Mars is higher than Venus in the pre-dawn sky but much fainter, making it difficult to observe until near the end of the month. Mars will return to prominence in the second half of 2024 but until then it remains a less-than-impressive object.

Venus remains very low in the south-southeast just before sunrise,  only visible because of its great brilliance. It passes very close to Saturn on the mornings of March 21 and 22, but the low altitude above the horizon makes this event probably unobservable for Manitobans.

Saturn is invisible for most of the month after its February 28 conjunction with the Sun. It reappears in the morning sky towards the end of the month, very low in the southeast before sunrise.

Neptune reaches solar conjunction on the 17th, and is unobservable for the month.

Celestial Calendar for March 2024

Sun Mar. 3 (evening): A celestial event on Earth – Bill Nye “the Science Guy” will be speaking live at the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall on his “The End is Nye” tour. Planetarium Astronomer Scott Young will introduce Bill and moderate the Q&A session. Showtime is 7:30 pm.

Fri Mar. 8 (morning): The razor-thin waning crescent Moon is very low below Venus and Mars just before sunset, but all three are very low in the sky and likely invisible unless you have a very clear atmosphere and flat horizon to the southeast.

Fri Mar. 8 (evening): The monthly meeting of the RASC Winnipeg Centre, the Manitoba chapter of Canada’s largest astronomy club. Meetings are open to the public, and details can be found here.

Sat Mar. 9 to Sun Mar 10: Daylight Savings Time begins: Remember to set your non-internet clocks forward 1 hour late on Saturday March 9 or after midnight on Sunday, March 10, to ensure your circadian rhythms are as messed up as everyone else’s. 

Wed Mar. 13 (evening): The waxing crescent Moon is to the right of Jupiter in the evening.

Wed Mar. 14 (evening): The waxing crescent Moon is close to the Pleiades star cluster, with those farther west seeing a closer approach. 

Sat Mar.23: Spring Break begins at the Manitoba Museum! 10 days of programming, exhibits, and hands-on science, plus the premiere of a new planetarium show!

Sun Mar. 24 to Mon Mar. 25 (morning): A minor lunar eclipse occurs in the wee hours of the 25th. Not the “blood moon” of a total lunar eclipse, the moon only passes through the outer part of Earth’s shadow. These penumbral lunar eclipses are easy to miss if you aren’t watching for them, since the bright Moon doesn’t look too different minute to minute and there are no major colour changes. Still, they are interesting to watch, and the Planetarium’s Dome@Home astronomy show will host a live-stream of the event beginning at 11:30 pm on the 24th.

Thu Mar. 28 (evening): Dome@Home, the Manitoba Museum’s award-winning online astronomy show, runs at 7 pm. Central time on the last Thursday of every month on the Museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. This episode will feature the April 8 solar eclipse, including how you can safely watch the event as it unfolds from anywhere in Manitoba.

Other Astronomy Resources

To learn when the International Space Station and other satellites are visible from your location, visit Heavens-Above.com and select the closest city or town to you. 

For information on Manitoba’s largest astronomy club, visit the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Winnipeg Centre

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

2024 Solar Eclipse Information

UPDATED 5 April 2024 10:08 a.m.

NOTE: The Museum is SOLD OUT of eclipse glasses, and no more can be obtained from suppliers. They are sold out all over North America. Instead, use one of the indirect methods linked below to observe the eclipse safely.

WARNING – COUNTERFEIT ECLIPSE GLASSES: There are unsafe eclipse glasses being marketed online through various online retail outlets.  These counterfeit glasses are unsafe and can cause permanent eye damage or blindness. The Manitoba Museum recommends you only buy eclipse glasses from an established telescope dealer, and not from an international distributor that doesn’t specialize in astronomical equipment.

Monday, April 8, 2024: Eclipse Day!

On Monday, April 8, 2024, viewers across North America will have an amazing opportunity to experience the motions of the solar system in real time. On that afternoon a solar eclipse will be visible across the province and across the continent. For viewers in a narrow path from Mexico through the central United States and across eastern Canada, the Moon will appear to completely cover the sun, producing one of nature’s most beautiful sights: a total solar eclipse. 

For most of the rest of the continent (including all of Manitoba), the eclipse is not total. The Moon will cover only a part of the Sun, resulting in a partial eclipse. This article will describe how to allow your students to view the eclipse safely and demonstrate how to turn this rare celestial event into an amazing experience for student learning. Experiencing an eclipse first-hand helps students make direct links between science as learned in class and science as it shapes the world around us. 

The solar eclipse of April 8, 2024 as seen from southern Manitoba. [Credit: Stellarium.org/The Manitoba Museum]

Eclipse Viewing Events

Winnipeg
WHERE: Community Gardens, east of The Leaf in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg
WHEN: Monday, April 8, 2024 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Join members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Winnipeg Centre) and staff from The Manitoba Museum’s Planetarium for a free eclipse viewing session at Assiniboine Park. Safe solar telescopes will be set up to view the partial solar eclipse, and personal eclipse glasses will be available for sale. In case of cloudy weather, live streams from other locations will be provided. The award-winning astronomy show Dome@Home will broadcast the event live through the Manitoba Museum’s social media channels.
Know of a public observing session elsewhere in Manitoba? Let us know at space@manitobamuseum.ca and we’ll add it to our page!
Eclipse times and circumstances for every town in Manitoba: https://eclipse2024.org/eclipse_cities/states.php?type=partial&state=Manitoba&country=Canada 
Eclipse glasses sit on a shelf.

Eclipse Safety

Manitoba Association of Optometrists eclipse safety page

Observing the sun safely requires some preparation. 

It is true that looking at the Sun directly with unprotected eyes can cause permanent eye damage – but this is true all the time and not just during an eclipse. The sun is no more dangerous to look at during an eclipse than it is at any other time. However, people don’t usually look at the sun repeatedly over the course of several hours on a normal day, so student safety must be considered when an eclipse occurs during school hours.  

The safest way to observe the eclipse is by using special solar eclipse glasses from a certified dealer. The Manitoba Museum Shop is now SOLD OUT of eclipse glasses. Do not order them from unknown sources on the internet at this point, as unfortunately there are more fake eclipse glasses than real ones available this close to the event. Saving a dollar while risking your eyesight for the rest of your life is not worth it. If you were unable to secure glasses in time for the eclipse, check out the indirect viewing options further down on this page (instruction links are at the bottom of the page).

Binoculars project a safe image of the Sun onto a white screen.

Indirect Viewing

This is the best way for a group to observe the eclipse safely but requires a little preparation. In all cases, sunlight passes through an aperture and projects an image onto the ground or a white projection screen. People do not look at the sun, but at the magnified image cast on the screen. This results in a safe view that many people can see at once. 

One method or projection often suggested is to make a pinhole camera out of a cardboard box. In our experience, this does not provide a very satisfying view unless it is made with an exceptionally long box. A cardboard tube from wrapping paper with a length of about a meter is a good choice for this.

Build a pinhole camera (bilingual instructions):https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/youth-educators/activities/fun-experiments/eclipse-projector.asp

One of the best overall viewing methods for a class is to construct a binocular eclipse projector. This will show a large image of the Sun that can be viewed by several people at the same time and is completely safe for the viewer. (However, it may not be completely safe for the binoculars, depending on their design… do not use expensive binoculars for this!) 

Binocular Eclipse Projector (PDF file): Binocular-Solar-Projector

An individual standing outside of a car holds up a pair of eclipse glasses to their face as they look up at the sky. In the upper left corner is a photo of the sun mid-solar eclipse.

Direct Viewing

For direct viewing, the special solar filter is placed between the eye and the Sun, and the observer looks at the Sun through the filter.  

There are only two types of safe filters for direct solar viewing. First are certified eclipse glasses, as mentioned above. The other safe filter is a piece of #14 welder’s glass (and ONLY #14). Both of these materials filter not only the visible light, but also the harmful and invisible infrared and ultraviolet rays that can cause permanent eye damage.

NOT SAFE FOR DIRECT SOLAR VIEWING: most eclipse glasses bought off the internet (there are MANY scammers selling fake eclipse glasses); sunglasses; CDs or DVDs; Mylar (silver) balloons or wrapping paper; any kind of photographic film; smoked glass; any other filter material you read about online that isn’t #14 welder’s glass or a pair of certified eclipse glasses. 

ARE CLOUDS A SAFE FILTER? If the sky is cloudy, sometimes it is possible to see the Sun through the clouds without it feeling overly bright. While this dims the visible light from the Sun, it may not block the harmful infrared and ultraviolet light and is not a safe method to observe. Of course, if the clouds are too thick, we will not be able to see the Sun at all except via live stream.

WHAT ABOUT TELESCOPES AND BINOCULARS? If you have access to a telescope or binoculars, you cannot use eclipse glasses or welder’s glass with them. You need a special solar filter that fits over the front of the telescope lense, filtering the light before it enters the telescope. It is probably too late to try and get one of these now, as they have been selling out for months. If you already have one of these, you can use it to view the eclipse safely, but it is essential to make sure the filter cannot be removed from the front of the telescope by wind or curious hands. (Duct tape is your friend.) If you are unsure about the safety of the gear you have, email us at space@manitobamuseum.ca and we can advise you. If in doubt, do not risk it and find another way to observe the eclipse. 

Links

MANITOBA ECLIPSE LIVESTREAM LINKS: https://Youtube.com/ManitobaMuseum   https://facebook.com/ManitobaMuseum 

Eclipse times and circumstances for every town in Manitoba: https://eclipse2024.org/eclipse_cities/states.php?type=partial&state=Manitoba&country=Canada 

NASA’s 2024 eclipse page: https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024/ 

Build a pinhole camera (bilingual instructions):https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/youth-educators/activities/fun-experiments/eclipse-projector.asp

Binocular Eclipse Projector (PDF file): Binocular-Solar-Projector

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The Sky for February 2024

The Sky for February 2024

February skies usually mark a transition point between winter and spring, with Imbolc (the Celtic “first day of spring”) occurring at the beginning of the month. Many ancient cultures marked the start of the seasons not using the solstice and equinox, but with the dates halfway between them, since it suited their local weather patterns better. (As a Winnipegger, I’ve never bought into the idea that winter doesn’t start until December 21st!) The modern Groundhog Day draws its inspiration from this custom, falling on Imbolc. 

Of course, weather is a local phenomenon, and climate is changing rapidly, so many of these dates seem increasingly out of touch with actual events. In southern Manitoba this year we’ve already had autumn, winter, and spring since the beginning of January, and expect second winter in a couple of weeks – or is it third winter? 

Either way, February skies will offer some great sights – if we manage to get any cloud-free nights!

The Solar System

The planets are described in the order they are most visible in this month’s Manitoba skies. 

Saturn is visible very low in the southwest after sunset but sets before 7:30pm in Early February. It disappears into the glare of the Sun later in the month as it passes behind our star. It is on the far side of its orbit on February 28th.  

Neptune is low in the southwest as darkness falls and sets soon after. You’ll need a telescope and good star-hopping skills to be able to spot it this month as a faint dot. 

Jupiter is still high in the southwest after sunset, the brightest object in the evening sky (other than the Moon). Telescope users should enjoy watching as they pass in front of or behind the planet from night to night. Jupiter’s four largest moons can be glimpsed in binoculars, but a telescope allows viewers to see the passing in front of or behind the planet, casting their shadow on the cloud tops, and even reappearing from eclipse as they exit the giant planet’s giant shadow.  

Uranus is still about halfway between Jupiter (on the right) and the famous Pleiades (or Seven Sisters) star cluster on the left. You’ll need binoculars to be able to spot it as just one more star in a sea of stars. Point your binoculars halfway along and just below a line from Jupiter to the Pleiades, and Uranus will be in your field of view. If you make a sketch of all the stars you can see and then go back to the same area a few days or a week later, one of the “stars” will have moved. That’s Uranus. 

Venus rises early in the morning in the southeast, a brilliant “morning star” that many will notice as during their morning walk or commute. It gets lower each morning as it moves around the far side of the Sun. Also see “Mars”, below. 

Mercury drops back into the twilight early in February after a mediocre showing in January’s pre-dawn skies. It passes around the far side of the Sun on February 28th, after which it will reappear in the evening sky this spring. 

Mars is still too close to the Sun to be easily seen in the first half of this month, rising just before the Sun in the morning. It passes close to Venus on the 22nd but being much fainter it is unlikely to be seen by most observers. 

The dwarf planets are all too faint to be seen without large telescopes, except Ceres, which can sometimes be spotted in binoculars. Unfortunately, Ceres is just coming out of the morning twilight this month and won’t be easily visible until later in the spring. 

Celestial Calendar

Fri Feb. 2, 2024: Last Quarter Moon

Tue Feb. 6, 2024 (morning sky): Venus and a thin crescent Moon are both low in the southeast during morning twilight. 

Wed Feb. 7, 2024 (morning sky): Theoretically, Venus, Mars, Mercury and the thin crescent Moon are all above the horizon by 8am, but the sky is likely to be too bright to see anything except Venus. 

Fri Feb. 9, 2024: New Moon. It’s also the monthly meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Winnipeg Centre. The meetings are open to the public; find details here.

Wed Feb. 14, 2024 (evening sky): The Moon is to the right of Jupiter in the evening sky. Both fit comfortably into the field of view of typical binoculars (e.g. 7x50s). 

Fri Feb. 16, 2024 (evening sky): The First Quarter Moon is close to the Pleiades star cluster. 

Tue Feb. 20, 2024 (morning sky): Mars and Venus are in the same telescopic field of view for the next few mornings. You’ll need a clear horizon to the southeast and crystal clear skies to be able to spot Mars against the bright colours of twilight. 

Sat Feb. 24, 2024: Full Moon

Thu Feb. 29, 2024: Leap Day plus Dome@Home! We add an extra day in the calendar every four years to keep the calendar in synch with the4 Earth’s orbit around the sun. It actually takes us 365 and a quarter days to orbit the Sun, so every four years we have an extra day to account for. (It’s more complicated than that, since it’s not exactly a quarter day extra, but 0.2422 days… so we don’t have leap years in century years like 2000 and 2100, unless they are divisible by 400. So, 2000 was a leap year; 2100 will not be. Got it?)

Dome@Home, the Manitoba Museum’s award-winning online astronomy show, runs the last Thursday of every month on the Museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. This month’s episode will be on February 29th.

Other Events

Zodiacal Light: Towards the end of February, the zodiacal light becomes visible from dark locations. This ghostly cone of light rises into the sky from the horizon along the ecliptic, with its broad end roughly centered on the sunset point on the horizon. The light is the combined glow of myriad dust particles in the plane of our solar system, being backlit at just the right angle to be seen from Earth. See Roy Bishop’s excellent article on this dust on p.268 of the 2024 Observer’s Handbook, published by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 

To learn when the International Space Station and other satellites are visible from your location, visit Heavens-Above.com and select the closest city or town to you. 

For information on Manitoba’s largest astronomy club, visit the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Winnipeg Centre

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Manitoba Skies for December 2023

December provides long winter nights for observing and features the best meteor shower of the year as well as the return of the winter constellations to early evening prominence. Colder temperatures can make observing more difficult, since astronomy is not an aerobic activity! Dress in layers, and plan for a temperature at least 10 degrees colder than the forecast. Good boots and a warm hat are the most important accessories. 

Visible Solar System 

Saturn is nearly gone, low in the southwest after darkness falls. This hasn’t been a great year for observing the ringed planet since it has been so low in the sky from Manitoba.  

Jupiter is already fairly high in the east-southeast as darkness falls, and rises into the south by mid-evening, providing clear views for Canadian observers. Binoculars show several of its four largest moons, and a telescope will reveal cloud bands and structure in the gas giant planet’s atmosphere. 

Venus rises about 4 a.m. local time at the beginning of December. It stands about 20 degrees up in the southeast before dawn but rises later and loses altitude throughout the month.   

Mercury begins to creep above the eastern horizon at dawn towards the end of the month but is more easily visible in the first week of January. Even so, Manitobans will have a tough time spotting it in the bright twilight just before sunrise. We’ll have a better chance in March when Mercury is visible in the evening sky. 

Mars is on the far side of the Sun this month, too close to the Sun to be visible in the morning sky. 

Calendar of Celestial Events

(All event dates and times are local times for Manitoba – Central Standard Time. Almost all events are visible across Canada, though – just use your local time instead. The exception is an event like the Solstice or a specific phase of the Moon, which happens at a specific time and date. In those cases, you have to adjust to your local time by adding or subtracting time zones.)

Mon 4 Dec 2023: Last Quarter Moon occurs just before midnight Manitoba time tonight, so many calendars that use Eastern Time or Universal/Greenwich Time will show it on Dec 5th instead. 

Sat 9 Dec 2023 (morning): The waning crescent Moon is 4° to Venus’ lower right. 

Tue 12 Dec 2023: New Moon 

Wed 13 Dec 2023 (evening) through Thu 14 Dec 2023 (Thu): The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks overnight, with the nearly new Moon providing dark skies. With a theoretical rate of over a hundred meteors per hour for most of Canada, this is the meteor shower to see. You’ll want to get to dark rural skies and be well-prepared for a long night of winter observing. Pay particular attention to your vehicle if the temperatures are low, as being stuck in the middle of nowhere on a cold December night can be dangerous. 

The Geminids are also one of the few meteor showers that are active before midnight, making them a bit more accessible than other showers such as the Perseids in August, which are at their best in the few hours before dawn. For details on how to turn your meteor watching into scientifically useful data, visit the International Meteor Organization’s Geminid page.

Sun 17 Dec 2023 (evening): The waxing crescent Moon is about 3° below Saturn. 

Tue 19 Dec 2023: First Quarter Moon 

Thu 21 Dec 2023 (evening): The waxing gibbous Moon is far to Jupiter’s right.  

Thu 21 Dec 2023: Also tonight, the winter solstice occurs at 9:27 p.m. CST, marking the sun’s farthest movement south in our skies. This translates into the late sunsets and long winter nights of winter. After this date, the sun will rise earlier each day, and the number of daylight hours will begin to increase. 

Fri 22 Dec 2023 (evening): The waxing gibbous Moon is far to Jupiter’s left. 

Tue 26 Dec 2023: Full Moon 

Thu 28 Dec 2023 (evening): The Manitoba Museum’s award-winning online astronomy show Dome@Home airs at 7 p.m. CST, live on the Museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Dome@Home covers the celestial sights and events visible in the coming month, and highlights some of the cool space stuff that’s happened in recent weeks.  

Sun 31 Dec 2023: The last day of the Gregorian calendar which is used in most parts of the world including Canada. 

To find when the International Space Station and other satellites are visible from your location, visit Heavens-Above.com and set your location.

For information on Manitoba’s largest astronomy club, visit the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Winnipeg Centre.

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Current Night Sky: November 2023

November brings colder weather which quickly becomes the dominating factor for most observers. When the sky is clear it will be cold, so the most important equipment is not a telescope or pair of binoculars, but a pair of good boots and a warm parka. Don’t forget mitts, a toque, and several layers of underclothes.

Visible Solar System

Jupiter is at opposition early in the month, providing its largest and brightest views face this year. It rises at sunset and is visible all night, finally setting in the west as the sun rises.

Saturn is at its highest shortly after sunset, but still low in the sky for Manitoban skywatchers. Although visible until after midnight, telescope viewers will want to catch Saturn and its rings as early in the evening as possible to minimize the poor seeing nearer the horizon.

Uranus reaches opposition as well this month, its best and brightest for the year but still requiring at least binoculars for most observers to
spot it as a faint “star”. CHART COMING

In the morning sky, Venus rises about 3 hours before the sun and stands high in the east in the pre-dawn sky.

Mercury has moved into the evening sky but the angle of the ecliptic at this time of year keeps it too low to be easily spotted from Manitoban latitudes.

Mars passes around the far side of the Sun on November 17th and so is invisible from Earth.

The Moon passes several planets this month:

  • November 9 (morning sky): the waning crescent Moon is about 1 degree away from Venus in the morning sky, a spectacular alignment
    worth getting up for.
  • November 14 (evening sky): the thin crescent Moon is near Mercury, but the pair will be too low to observe from Canada.
  • November 24-25: The waxing gibbous Moon is near Jupiter tonight.

 Observer’s Calendar

All times are given in local time for anywhere around the world at mid-northern latitudes, unless it’s an event which occurs at a specific moment – then the time is given in Central Daylight Time – the local time for Manitoba.

November 2: Jupiter at opposition

November 4: Daylight Saving Time ends tomorrow – set your clocks one hour earlier before you go to bed tonight.

November 5: Last Quarter Moon; the South Taurid meteors peak in early evening, but only produce two to five meteors per hour. On the plus side, those meteors are often bright fireballs.

November 9 (morning sky): Venus 1 degree below crescent Moon

November 10: The monthly meeting of the Winnipeg Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the largest astronomy club in the province. The meetings are open to anyone and are also streamed online.

November 11: The North Taurid meteor shower peaks, also producing a few meteors per hour. Between the two overlapping Taurid streams and the upcoming Orionid stream, November often has an increase in bright fireballs.

November 13: New Moon

November 14: Antares occulted by Moon (daytime event)

November 18: The annual Leonid meteor shower peaks on the night of November 17-18, with a predicted rate of about 10-15 meteors per hour (under a dark sky) in the pre-dawn hours of the 18th. Th e Moon is a thin crescent in the evening and so won’t interfere with  observation, making this a decent year for this famous shower. No major outbursts are predicted for this year, which can cause rates of several thousand per hour. A potential minor outburst may occur near 12h Universal Time on November 21st, consisting of 10-15 bright meteors per hour. The is timing is well-placed for North American observers and is worth monitoring. For details on how to turn your meteor watching into scientifically useful data, visit the International Meteor Organization.

November 20: First Quarter Moon

November 25: Jupiter below waxing gibbous Moon

November 26: Uranus below waxing gibbous Moon IMAGE COMING

November 27: Full Moon (near Pleaides star cluster)

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

See October’s Eclipse (safely!)

UPDATED: Oct. 6, 2023

On Saturday, October 14, 2023, worlds will align. The Moon will pass between the Sun and the Earth, casting a shadow on our planet that will sweep across North America. For viewers in a narrow path from Oregon through Texas and into Central America and Brazil, the Moon will appear to almost cover the sun, leaving a thin ring of sunlight around its edge: an annular (or ring) eclipse. 

For most of the rest of the continent, the alignment isn’t perfectly central. The Moon will cover only a part of the Sun, resulting in a partial eclipse. NO matter where you are, a solar eclipse is still a fascinating chance to see the solar system’s motion in action in real time

IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING:

The Sun is very bright, and if you look at it too long you will damage your eyes permanently. It’s no more dangerous during an eclipse than it is any other time, but people don’t usually stare at the sun for three hours except during an eclipse. A partial or annular eclipse is still too bright to safely observe without special eye protection.

So how can you observe the eclipse safely? 

Other safe solar filters include a #14 welder’s glass (ONLY #14, the lower numbers are not safe for solar viewing), and special solar filters sold by telescope stores. Again, avoid online dealers you’ve never dealt with before. No other material is safe, despite what you might read online. You can’t use dark glass, mylar balloon material, exposed photographic film, or CDs to watch the eclipse.

 

Two pairs of eclipse glasses on a glass shelf below two racks full of unfolded eclipse glasses. One pair features a design with a close-up of the sun, and the other features a solar eclipse. The Manitoba Museum logo is on the arm of the glasses.

The safest way to observe the eclipse is by using special solar eclipse glasses from a certified dealer. You can get them at the Manitoba Museum’s giftshop for $3 a pair (discounts for class sets of 25 are available). You can email the shop to reserve your pair, or arrange for class sets for your school. Do not order them online at this point, as unfortunately there are more fake eclipse glasses than real ones available this close to the event. Saving a dollar while risking your eyesight for the rest of your life is not worth it. (Besides, all money spent at the Museum’s Shop goes to support our programs and activities!)

Buy your eclipse glasses today!

If you’d like a closer view of the eclipse, you can follow these instructions to make a solar projector out of a pair of binoculars and some cardboard.

Another safe way to view the eclipse is to join an eclipse party. Many astronomy clubs, planetariums, and science centres will host events to share the eclipse with their audiences. In Winnipeg, the various astronomical groups are joining forces to host a free eclipse viewing party at Assiniboine Park in the Kitchen Garden, just outside The Leaf. Solar glasses will be available, and safely-filtered telescopes will provide close-up views as the Moon moves across the sun’s face.

Circumstances for Manitoba

Eclipse PhasesTime
Eclipse Start10:28 am CDT
Eclipse Maximum11:42 am CDT
Eclipse End1:00 pm CDT

Depending on where you are, you will have a different view of the eclipse. In general, locations in the southwestern part of the province are closer to the center line, and will have a longer eclipse with more of the Sun covered. In Winnipeg, the solar disk will be about 40% covered, with a duration of just over two-and-a-half hours. In contrast, Churchill, Manitoba will only see the sun about 25% covered.

To get a detailed set of times for your location, you can visit this site and enter your location in the search bar at right. It will calculate exactly when the eclipse begins for your location and what you can expect to see.

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Total Lunar Eclipse – November 7-8, 2022

This Month’s Total Lunar Eclipse

This November, all of Manitoba is treated to a total lunar eclipse. Totally safe to view, this event allows you to feel the motion of the solar system happen in real time. Here’s what happens, and how and when to see it yourself.

A simulation of the November 7-8, 2022 lunar eclipse. UTC, or Universal Time, is 6 hours ahead of Manitoba’s Central Standard Time. [Video courtesy NASA Goddard Spaceflight Centre’s Scientific Visualization Studio]

What Is Going On?

A lunar eclipse occurs because the Moon is just a big rock in space, and space is dark. The only reason we can see the Moon is that there is a nearby star – the Sun – that is shining on it, lighting up one half of the rock. It’s the same with our planet,- the Earth – half of the planet is lit but the sun’s light (the daytime side), and half of the earth is dark (the nighttime side) because the sun can’t get to it.  Since the Moon orbits around our planet, sometimes we see the daytime side side of the Moon, and sometimes we see the nighttime side of the Moon, but most of the time we see some combination of the two. This is what causes the regular phases of the Moon, from New Moon to First Quarter to Full to Last Quarter.

A lunar eclipse occurs when something blocks the sunlight from being able to light up the Moon. There’s only one thing that can do that – our planet, the Earth. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon moves into the shadow that the Earth casts. As the Moon moves in its orbit, we can see the Earth’s curved shadow creep across the face of the Moon over the course of an hour or so, and finally covering it completely.

Why Does It Turn Red?

If the Earth was just a rock in space, the Moon would totally disappear during a lunar eclipse. Luckily for us, the Earth isn’t just rock, but also has an atmosphere – a layer of gasses like oxygen that surrounds the planet. Besides providing us air to breath, the atmosphere can often do interesting things with light. The atmosphere can make haloes around the Sun or the Moon, it can make rainbows when it’s full of water or mirages when it’s hot, and it can make sunrises and sunsets turn red.

An illustration of the effect of an eclipse on the wavelengths of light reaching the Moon from the Sun around the Earth.

During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight. The blue light from the Sun scatters away, and longer-wavelength red, orange, and yellow light pass through, turning our Moon red. *This image is not to scale. 

[Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio]

During a lunar eclipse, most of the light from the sun is blocked by the Earth, but a little bit goes through the layer of atmosphere and is bent slightly into a rainbow. This means that the edge of Earth’s shadow is quite “fuzzy” and sort of “fades in” from nothing to dark. The outer, fuzzier shadow is called the penumbra, and the inner, darker shadow is called the umbra. It also means that even when the Moon is in the umbra, the bending effect of the atmosphere allows the red and orange part of the sunlight to sneak into the earth’s shadow and still reach the moon. It’s like all of the world’s sunsets and sunrises are shining on the moon at the same time and letting that deep red-orange glow light it up. So, the moon often turns reddish-orange during the total phase of the eclipse.

BUT… the atmosphere isn’t just perfectly clear gas. There can be clouds of water vapour, there can be smoke from forest fires, there can even be ash from volcanic eruptions, and all of those can change who the light bends and how much of it gets to the Moon during the eclipse. Sometimes the Moon gets very dark, almost brown, while other eclipses the moon is a bright copper-orange colour. Each eclipse is different.

Check out this description from NASA Goddard Spaceflight Centre’s Scientific Visualization Studio for details.

How Do I See It?

If you live in most of North America, you can see the eclipse just by going outside at the right time and looking at the Moon. This link will let you choose your location and do all of the time zone conversions for you so you know what time the eclipse phases start and end for where you live. For this eclipse, the western half of North America sees the whole thing, with people farther east only seeing part of the eclipse before the Moon sets for them. Manitobans see essentially the entire interesting part before moonset occurs.

The only catch is that you need a clear sky without clouds to be able to see it. If it happens to be cloudy at your location, you can look for one of several live streams that will be going on from around the country. The Dome@Home team will be live-streaming the eclipse on the Manitoba Museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel beginning about 2:30 am Central Time on November 8 (weather permitting). If our stream is clouded out, we’ll add links here to other events as we hear about them.

When does it happen?

The lunar eclipse occurs after midnight on Monday night, November 7, 2022, in the morning hours of Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The event technically begins at 2:02 am Central time, but it lasts nearly six hours and not all parts are equally interesting. If you just want to catch the highlights and see the colour, watching for an hour between 3:45 am and 4:45 am Central should give you a good view. Of course, this may be affected by clouds, so make sure you check the weather forecast to make sure it will be clear when you plan to observe.

Technically the eclipse begins at 2:02 am Central Time on November 8, 2022, as the Moon enters the faint and fuzzy outer shadow of the Earth (called the penumbra). The penumbra doesn’t darken the moon much at first, but the shadow gets darker towards the middle and so you might not notice it until 2:30 am or so.

Beginning at 3:09 am Central time, the Moon starts to move into the dark central shadow of the Earth – the umbra. The umbra is dark enough that you can see it as a curved dark “bite” out of the left edge of the moon. Over the next hour, it will look like the shadow is moving over the Moon and covering more of it, but it’s actually the Moon moving into the shadow.

During the early partial phase, the umbra looks dark grey, but that’s because the lit-up part of the Moon right next to it dazzles the eyes. As the shadow covers more of the Moon, it will be easier to see that the umbra is actually a dark reddish colour.

At 4:17 am Central time, the Moon moves completely inside the umbra, and the eclipse is total. Now, with none of the Moon lit directly, the colour becomes much easier to see. The colour changes slowly as the Moon moves through the Earth’s shadow, and the right side will eventually brighten. The Moon begins to leave the umbra at 5:42 am Central time, with the left edge of the Moon emerging first. For southern Manitoba, the Moon sets at 7:44 am Central, just before fully emerging from the umbral shadow. Folks farther west will get to see the final penumbral stages of the eclipse, which last until 8:50 am Central (5:50 am Pacific).

To get the exact times of each stage of the eclipse in your local time zone, visit timeandate.com’s awesome eclipse page, here.

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The 2022 Perseid Meteor Shower

Shooting stars streaking across a clear night sky.

August brings with it hot summer days, earlier sunsets, and the annual Perseid meteor shower. Here’s how you can get the best view of the shooting stars this season.

TL;DR: Best views for Manitobans will occur between 3 am and 5 am on the morning of Saturday, August 13, 2022, or the mornings immediately before or after that date. Go somewhere where you can see the stars, face east, and watch the sky. Don’t look at your phone or you will ruin the night vision you need to see them. If it’s cloudy, the morning before or after will still be pretty good. Expect to see a meteor every few minutes. If you’re lucky you might see more.

The Perseid meteor shower is the best-known, if not the best, meteor shower of the year, and August is a reasonable month to spend some time under the stars. On good years you can expect a meteor every minute or so. 2022 isn’t a “good year,” though, because the nearly-Full Moon will light up the sky and make it hard to see the fainter meteors. But it’s still worth getting out for, and the sky has a lot of other sights to see while you’re under the stars.

What’s Happening?

So, some basics first: a meteor is a glowing trail of light that shoots across the sky and disappears in the blink of an eye. Some are faint, while others can be so bright they light up the ground like the flash from a camera. They are caused by tiny pieces of dust floating out in space. When the dust hits the Earth, Earth’s upper atmosphere slows it down very quickly. At heights of 50km or more,  all of that speed energy gets turned into heat energy, and the piece of dust vaporizes. The excess heat causes the air around the dust to glow, and we see that glow from the ground as a meteor. (Some people call them “falling stars” or “shooting stars”, but they’re not related to stars at all.)

On any given night of the year, if you watched the sky for an hour continuously you’d see about half a dozen meteors on average. (They’re much more common than people think!) But on certain nights of the year, the Earth crashes through a cloud of dust – like an interplanetary dust bunny – and we see more meteors than usual. That’s a meteor shower.

These dust bunnies are left behind by comets that orbit the sun. A comet is a small body of ice and dust only a few kilometers across. There are millions of them, but most stay out at the fringes of the solar system and are invisible. When one gets nudged in towards the sun, it can warm up and melt, and the comet forms its characteristic tail. After the comet loops around the Sun it re-freezes, becoming invisible once again until its next return. The orbital path of the comet becomes very dusty from repeated passages of the comet. If the Earth’s orbit happens to intersect the comet’s orbit, we will hit that dusty patch at the same time every year.

Meteor activity from the Perseids actually begins around the end of July, but because the edges of the comet’s path aren’t as dusty as the middle, we don’t see very many Perseids until a few days before the peak. This year the peak occurs on the 12 of August, but there will be decent activity from the 10 through the 14 or so.

There’s a big, “BUT” on when the peak activity is for your location, though. Just because the earth is in the dustiest part of the comet’s path doesn’t mean you can see meteors then – it might be daytime for you, or you might be on the far side of the earth from the direction the earth is moving. So, the best time to watch is between about 3 am and 5 am on the mornings closest to the peak. Due to a variety of factors we won’t get into here, you’ll almost always see the most meteors from a single location in the pre-dawn hours.

How to See the Perseids

Like most astronomical events, a meteor shower is best seen away from the lights of the city where you can get an unobstructed view of the stars. Unlike most astronomical events, no special equipment is required – the most complicated item you’ll need is a reclining lawn chair or a blanket.

First, watch the weather. Meteors happen above the clouds, so if it’s cloudy we can’t see them. You want a clear forecast in the critical 3 am to 5 am period.

Second, get out of the city. Street lights make it hard to see stars, and this is even more true for meteors which flash by in a second or two. You don’t have to go far, but even 15 minutes outside of the city in an area without any big streetlights will quadruple your meteor count at least.

Third, get comfy and be patient. Meteors can occur anywhere in the sky, so you want to watch as much sky as possible. A reclining lawn chair or blanket lets you fill your view with sky instead of ground. And watch the sky continuously. By the time someone says, “there’s one!” you have already missed it. Keep your eyes on the sky. Don’t use binoculars or a telescope, since those only show a part of the sky at once – you want the wide field of view provided by the factory-installed optical detectors you came with.

In the age of mobile devices, this advice is even more critical. It takes a good five minutes for your eyes to go from “daytime” mode to “night vision” mode, but it only takes a second of bright light to ruin your night vision and require another five minutes to switch back. every one second you look at your screen means you’ll miss at least 5 minutes’ worth of meteors.

Shooting a Shooting Star

You can take pictures of the sky with any camera, even the one in your mobile device – if you know how. The typical camera is designed for family pictures at the beach, not stars, so find out how to make your camera work well. Turn your flash off (it won’t help, and will ruin the night vision of everyone else around you), and set the camera for “night mode” or long exposure. There are also dedicated apps for taking star pictures you can find on your device’s app store. Point-and-shoot cameras often let you set the camera to “bulb” (manual) or take exposures up to 30 seconds. A DSLR or mirrorless camera will take amazing star pictures, but takes practice to use.

Point the camera at an area of sky, set it on the ground or use a tripod, and press the button. You’ll get a picture of the stars at least, and if you’re lucky, a meteor will happen in that part of the sky while you’re taking the picture. If not… just try again. And again. For every meteor image you see online, that photographer has hundreds of no-meteor images that still show the constellations, Milky Way, satellites, or Northern Lights. Still cool, even without the meteor.

If you get any good pictures this meteor shower, I’d love to see them! Send them to Space@ManitobaMuseum.ca and we’ll show the best ones on our Dome@Home show.

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Comet Leonard visible in morning

At the edge of the solar system, there is a cloud of small, icy objects that are left over from the formation of the solar system. They’re too small to see from Earth, and much too far to visit, and yet they are like a deep-freezer full of evidence of how our solar system formed, preserved in the cold of deep space. Luckily, every so often one of these icy bodies gets bumped or deflected into a new orbit that carries it towards the inner solar system. Right now, you can see one of these tiny bodies in the sky with nothing more than a pair of household binoculars.

The object in questions is called Comet 2021 A1 (Leonard) – it was the first comet discovered in 2021, by Greg Leonard, a senior research specialist working at the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona. Catalina scans the sky looking for new things, so it finds a lot of comets, and this isn’t the first Comet Leonard, either. However, this comet Leonard may be bright enough to see without a telescope later this month.

A star chart outlining the trajectory of Comet Leonard from December 2 to 7, 2021.

How Do I Find It?

The comet is currently sitting in the morning sky between the Big Dipper and the constellation Bootes the Herdsman, and it has been seen in binoculars from a dark location (read: outside the city, without any nearby lights or the Moon to interfere). You can use the detailed chart below to zero in on where the comet will be each night – its orbit carries it around the sun fairly quickly and it’s in a different spot every night.

What Will I See?

If you’re using binoculars, you will probably see a faint round ball of grey light, perhaps with the hint of a tail sticking upwards. Try not looking directly at the comet, but direct your eyes slightly away and get the more sensitive parts of your retina involved – this technique of averted vision is key in seeing fainter objects.

If you have a DSLR camera, try sticking it on a tripod and taking some time exposures of the sky – use ISO of 800 or higher and exposure times of 1 second up to about 10 seconds, and see what you get. (You might get something with other kinds of cameras or cell phones, but probably not.)

Why Bother?

I’m not gonna lie, seeing a faint fuzzy ball in the sky isn’t going to make you jump up and down because of the physical appearance of the object. It’s a challenging observation of an object that humans may never see again, and a chance to see an object that is older than anything on our planet. Plus, comets have a way of being unpredictable, sometimes surging in brightness unexpectedly or even breaking apart into multiple pieces. You never know what you’re going to see.

Finding a comet with binoculars is something we can’t do very often – maybe once a year or even less. It’s also perfect practice for using a telescope – many of he skills you develop finding Comet Leonard will help you out if you aspire to use a telescope at some point. But for me, the chance to see such a fleeting celestial visitor is a magical experience, one that really makes me feel connected with the cosmos.

Now, all we need are some clear skies…

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Perseids Meteor Shower: 2021 Edition

August brings the Perseids meteor shower, an annual event that gets many people looking skyward. In recent years, social media has been hyping (and sometimes overhyping) celestial events, since they tend to generate a lot of interest (and thus “clicks”, “likes”, and “shares”), so it can be hard to know what you can actually expect to see. Here is the Manitoba Museum Planetarium’s guide to the 2021 Perseids meteor shower.

Perseids Meteor Shower 2021

Start of activity: July 17

Peak activity: early morning of August 12

Peak rate: 50-75 meteors per hour from a dark sky

Lasts until: August 24

A photograph of several meteors shooting past in the night sky as the last bits of sunset fade away near the horizon.

What’s Happening?

A meteor is the formal name for a “shooting star” or “falling star” – it’s a streak of light that flashes across the night sky. They happen when a tiny piece of dust or grain of sand from space crashes into the earth’s atmosphere at thousands of kilometers an hour. The speed of the dust particle gets turned into heat and light energy, and creates the visible flash we see. The piece of dust is totally vaporized while still high up in the atmosphere dozens of kilometers above Earth’s surface.

This actually happens all the time, but most of us don’t notice. If you went out on a dark, moonless night you’d probably see a half-dozen metros per hour if you watched the sky continuously. But they only appear for a second and they’re gone – so look down at the wrong time and you’ll miss them.

The source of this dust is perhaps surprising – it’s leftover material from the formation of the planets. There’s dust spread throughout the solar system, each piece in orbit around the sun like a tiny planet. The earth as it orbits the sun sweeps up some of this dust, and each one becomes a meteor.

Several times a year, though, the earth goes through an extra-thick area of dust – like a cosmic dust bunny. These dust bunnies are left behind by comets – “dirty snowballs” a few kilometers across that orbit the sun in oval-shaped orbits. When comets get close to the sun, the snow melts and leaves the dust behind in a trail. If that trail happens to cross the orbit of the earth, we will see a meteor shower every year on that date.

The Perseids

The Perseids meteor shower is probably the best-known meteor shower (although it’s not the best one of the year) because it happens during summer vacation time for the northern hemisphere. Its peak is around August 12th each year, although the date varies by a day or so. The Perseids are dust left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which loops around the sun every 133 years or so. The meteor shower is named after the constellation that the meteors seem to come from – the constellation Perseus.

How and When to Look

The best way to see meteors is to get outside the lights of the city. Some of the meteors will be faint, and so you will miss them if the sky is too bright from nearby streetlights, houses, or other sources of illumination. A park or parking lot outside the city is a good place to head. This year, the light from the Moon will not interfere either because the moon will set in early evening, so this is probably one of the better years to see the Perseids.

Meteor showers are the ultimate in low-tech observing. Take a blanket or reclining lawn chair along, and set up with your feet pointed away from any nearby lights or light pollution. (For southern Manitobans, this generally means putting your back to Winnipeg’s lights.) You don’t need binoculars or a telescope – you want to be able to see as much sky at once as you can, since the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky. A telescope would just narrow your view too much.

Turn off your phone – the light from a mobile device will ruin your eyes’ ability to see faint stars and meteors. Even a quick glance will make it hard to see for a few minutes, so resist the inclination to check the web. Spend the time with the stars instead.

As for when the look – it depends on what you want to see. If you go out before midnight, you will see only a few meteors, but the ones you do see will probably be big bright ones. If you want to see lots of meteors, you want to watch from about 2am to dawn on the morning of the 12th. In the run-up before dawn, your part of the earth is heading straight into the trail of dust, and you’ll see the most meteors.

This is why some people have been disappointed by meteors showers (in addition to the social media hype). Meteor showers have a slow fade-in period of a few weeks, then a peak that might only last a few hours, followed by a slow fade-out. On the night before or after the peak, meteor rates are often less than half of what the peak is, and the rate drops quickly as you get farther from the peak.

This year, the Perseids are definitely worth the drive out of town for the peak. I plan to be out from dark on the 11th until dawn on the 12th with our all-sky camera system to record what we can. Follow the Manitoba Museum on social media for updates and live broadcasts during the meteor shower (weather permitting).

While you’re out counting meteors, there are lots of other sights to see: constellations, planets, satellites, and the year’s best views of the Milky Way. Visit the planetarium in person to see Manitoba Skies, a live sky tour, to learn more (showtimes here). You can also check the Manitoba Museum’s Astronomy blog for Manitoba Skies posts about monthly night sky information.

Clear skies!

Scott Young

Scott Young

Planetarium Astronomer

Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.