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Category Archives: Astronomy

Star-Crossed Lovers in the Summer Triangle

by Claire Woodbury, Science Communicator “Once upon a time there was a beautiful and talented weaver, the daughter of the Sky King. She met and fell in love with a handsome and skilled herdsman. They were so devoted to each other that they neglected all else. The weaver stopped weaving and the herdsmen let his animals wander all over the place. The Sky King didn’t approve of this behaviour and separated the lovers on either side of the heavenly river. His daughter was heartbroken and despondent so the Sky King relented and allowed the couple to meet, but only once a year. Every year, on the seventh day of the…

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The Perseid Meteor Shower for 2018

The Perseid Meteor Shower for 2018 by Claire Woodbury, Science Communicator The highlight of August sky observing is the Perseid meteor shower. A meteor shower is a high occurrence of shooting stars over several days. Of course, “shooting stars” aren’t really stars at all, but dust-sized bits of rock or metal (meteoroids) that collide with the earth and burn up in our atmosphere. As they vaporize, they cause a brief streak of light in the sky (a meteor) which can be seen from the ground. Rarely, a larger version of a meteoroid survives its time as a meteor and makes it to the ground intact; we call these meteorites. Confused with the similar-sounding…

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Manitoba Skies – February 2014

The early evening sky in February reveals the constellations of winter: Orion stands in the southeast, his belt of three stars unmistakable, while overhead the familiar “W”-shape of Cassiopeia may look more like a letter “M” if you are facing north. There are many bright stars and star clusters scattered across the sky at this time of year, and you’ll discover many beautiful sights by scanning the sky with binoculars or just your eyes. Avoid the lights of the city for the best views (although ensure you take proper winter precautions in terms of transportation and clothing… skywatching is not an aerobic activity, so you can get cold fast!) Constellation…

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Fireballs over Winnipeg

Over the past week we have had dozens of reports of green fireballs over Manitoba. Here’s the typical description: A flaming object, greenish in colour, flashing into existence and flying in a straight line towards the horizon. Perhaps it explodes; perhaps it heads behind some trees or buildings and disappears. It’s usually visible for only a few seconds, leaving many viewers wondering if they even saw it or imagined it. It usually looks like it is very close overhead, or came to earth just behind the trees nearby. These are well-known objects, although we seem to be getting a lot of them lately. Called bolides, they are basically large versions…

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Comet PANSTARRS becomes visible in Manitoba Skies!

Beginning March 7th, Comet PANSTARRS will become visible in the evening sky for observers in Manitoba. This is a cool chance to see a comet, those mysterious visitors from the ragged edge of the solar system that occasionally grace our skies. But, you’ll need a pair of binoculars (and clear skies) for the best view. What is Comet PANSTARRS? It’s a small chunk of ice only a few kilometers in diameter that is in a long, oval-shaped orbit around the sun. Most of the time it is totally invisible, but right now it is swinging close past the sun. The sun’s heat vaporizes some of the ice, and the solar wind blows the dust and gas back into a tail which…

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Capturing a Celestial Dance

Jupiter and Venus aer close together in the evening sky – and you can capture the scene easily with your basic digital camera.

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Bright Fireball seen across southern Manitoba

On August 23 at about 9:35PM, a bright fireball was seen across southern Manitoba and several U.S. States. We are colelcting reports of the object to determine where it came from and also where any pieces might have landed. If you say this object, please email us at skyinfo@manitobamuseum.ca with the details. Please include the following information: * where you were when you saw it; * the direction you were facing when you first saw it; * whether the object was moving left-to-right, right-tyo-left, or up-and-down, and at what angle * how high above the horizon it was – use the degree scale, where 0 is the horizon, 90 is…

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Jupiter and Mercury visible after sunset this week

Mercury and Jupiter are visible close together in the evening sky this week.

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Goodbye Mars Hoax… for another year, anyway

Yet another August has brought yet another rendition of the Great Mars Hoax. A viral email telling people Mars would be as big as the Moon on August 27th derailed several days of work while I answered hordes of  public inquiries about what would be seen. (Short answer: nothing.) Don’t get me wrong, I love answering questions from the public. It’s a chance to interact one-on-one with people interested in science and astronomy, genuinely curious about the night sky. Unfortunately, in this case I had to tell people that what they read on the internet just wasn’t true. A lot of people were disappointed in the answer, and in the sky…

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August update

Finally back to blogging after being away on baby leave for a while. The Sky Update section of the Museum’s website has been updated with August information, and September’s update will occur this week. We’re also in the last couple of weeks of laser shows at the planetarium – only until September 6th!

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