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Category Archives: Science Gallery & Planetarium

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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August’s Solar Eclipse, Part 1

As many people have heard, there is a solar eclipse occurring on Monday, August 21st, 2017. On that day, the moon will pass in front of the sun from our point of view here on earth, slowly covering it and then uncovering it over the course of a few hours. Where you are on the planet will determine what you will see, but no matter where you are, this is a great event to watch. If you happen to be in the right place on that day,  you will see a total solar eclipse – one of the truly amazing spectacles of nature. Unfortunately for Manitobans, “the right place” this time…

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Solar Eclipse This Summer, Part 1: Planning

Although summer may feel like it’s a long time from now, it’s not too early to start planning for at least one summer blockbuster event. On Monday, August 21, 2017, the moon will pass in front of the sun, causing a solar eclipse which will be seen all across North America. For a narrow line which runs across the central United States, the eclipse will be total: the moon will completely cover the bright part of the sun, providing a couple of minutes of the most amazing sight nature has to offer on this planet. For the rest of the continent, the eclipse is partial: the moon covers up only a part…

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Earth-like planet discovered around closest star

A new planet has been discovered outside our solar system. That wouldn’t normally be big news, since astronomers have discovered about 3,200 exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. This one is rather special, though. First, it’s about the size of our planet earth. That generally means it is made up of the same sort of things that the earth is made up of – rocks, not gasses. It’s probably solid, like our own planet. Second, the new planet orbits its star in the “Goldilocks zone”. That’s the area that isn’t too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist. That means, if the planet has an atmosphere,…

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Perseid meteor shower shines above Manitoba

Perseid meteor shower – updates! Updated 8 August 2016 9:29CDT Every year, the annual Perseid meteor shower occurs around August 11th and 12th. This year, though, is predicted to be a much more active shower than in previous years. What can we expect, why is it happening, and how can you see it yourself? As the earth orbits the sun, it crashes into bits of rock, ice, and dust which are left over from the formation of the solar system. These tiny fragments hit the earth’s atmosphere at cosmic velocities, quickly heating up due to friction and vaporizing tens of kilometers above the ground in a flash of light. These…

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Transit of Mercury – Monday, May 9th, 2016

This Monday, Manitobans can witness a rare astronomical event that at once demonstrates some of the most important principles of the Universe. All you need is clear skies… and a special telescope. Luckily, the Planetarium has you covered on that second one! (More on that later.) As the planets orbit the Sun, their position in our sky changes. Right now (in May 2016), Jupiter is visible in the evening, with Mars and Saturn both rising later in the night. (See our Manitoba Skies blog for details.) There are two planets that orbit closer to the Sun than our planet Earth, and so they never appear late at night – from our point…

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Manitoba Skies for March 2016

Although the weather hasn’t noticed yet, spring is on the way. March brings the Vernal Equinox, the official start of spring in the northern hemisphere. It also brings excellent views of the two largest planets in our solar system, a solar eclipse we won’t see from Manitoba, and a chance to catch the winter constellations in slightly warmer conditions. Read all about the events visible in Manitoba Skies this month on the Planetarium’s Current Night Sky page.

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Five planets; Nine planets?

This has been a busy week for solar system news. For early risers, you can see all five of the naked-eye planets at the same time before sunrise. This week also saw the announcement of some new research suggesting there may be an undiscovered planet out there, way out past Neptune. We’ll start with the easy one. There are five planets in our sky that can be easily seen with the unaided (or “naked”) eye – without a telescope or binoculars, but most of the time only two or three are visible at any given time. For the next several weeks, though, you can see all five at once. Just…

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Manitoba Skies: January 2016

January has a number of interesting events in the night sky, easily visible by anyone who can see the sky. If you get up before sunrise this month, you can see four other planets (plus the Earth) with your unaided eye! Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are all there in the pre-dawn skies, just waiting to be discovered. Over the next month, they all move in their orbit around the Sun, changing their apparent positions and getting closer together or farther apart in a complicated pattern. For details on all the things you can see this month in Manitoba Skies, visit the Planetarium’s “Current Night Sky” page and start your…

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