Last update Jan 18, 2017

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The BOEC was declared Canada's 15th Dark Sky Preserve in Nov, 2012. At the ES Fox Observatory, we have a large reflecting telescope (a 28-inch Webster) and a 10-inch SCT on a GOTO mount that we use regularly in our public viewing sessions.

Click for maps to: ES Fox Observatory or Tom Thomson Art Gallery meeting locations.

January/February 2017 astronomy events are now listed below and in COMING EVENTS

Observing at Fox Obs. for Jan and Feb is not scheduled but may occur on an impromptu basis, weather permitting. See BAS Calendar of Events below for contact info if you would like to join us. Public is welcome!

Next BAS club meeting is Mar 1, 2017 (7 pm) at Tom Thomson Art Gallery.

Meeting Recap for a review of the Dec 7, 2016 meeting.

JANUARY 2017 StarGazerNews is available for download here: NEWSLETTER

ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2017 -the complete list- is available here: ASTRONOMY 2017

MORE than one binocular COMET for January and February -see Binocular Events below

Jan/Feb 2017 (the short list)

BAS regular meetings are the 1st Wed of the month at 7 pm at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound (there are no regular meetings in January and February). Check the calendar here: [BAS 2017 Events Summary coming soon] for meeting dates and other events like public viewing nights at the Fox Observatory.

If you would like to be included in our list for impromptu observing nights contact Brett T. or John H. Some of the more interesting sky viewing opportunities are also described graphically in SKY SIGHTS.

NOTE: ALL observing events require clear skies. If it is overcast or raining, observing will NOT be possible. If you arrive at the venue and it is overcast or raining, there may not be any BAS members there. See COMING EVENTS for more details and instructions including a contact phone number if you are unsure about whether to attend due to weather. When visiting the Fox Observatory, please park at the main lot by the Learning Centre. Parking near the Fox is reserved for disability access and equipment drop-off.

NOTE: BAS Meetings and public viewings are open to the public at no charge. BAS viewing at ES Fox Observatory is also generally open to the public (dates in monthly listing below and in our BAS 2017 Events Summary coming soon). We welcome out-of-town guests on all of our listed observing nights. Individuals or groups may request private tours on other dates (subject to availability of guides) by contacting John H. at: . We also offer private tours/observing on a fee basis.

Our next BAS Wed meeting at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery is Mar 1, 2017 at 7pm. This will be our first meeting of 2017. Meetings usually consist of a short business meeting and include a speaker or presentation on an astronomy topic. More details can be found in COMING EVENTS.

More details for the remaining 2016 events and Jan/Feb 2017 events listed below can be found on the COMING EVENTS page. A list of ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2017 is available here: ASTRONOMY EVENTS 2017. Note this list changes from time to time as additional astronomy events are added.
A list of BAS events (meeting dates, public observing sessions, etc.) for 2017 will soon be separately available here: BAS Club Events.


Note that
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is in the sky now (look in the centre of Capricornus) and may be within range of binoculars. It is in the morning sky in February after rounding the Sun. More information below and on the VIS.COMETS page.

January 2017

01 Sun 03:00 Mars 0.02° S of Neptune (1.2 minutes separation!) See SKY SIGHTS for more details.
02 Mon 04:20 Venus 1.9°S of Moon
02 Mon 23:00 Neptune 0.4°S of Moon (occ’n visible W. coast N. America)

03 Tue 01:47 Mars 0.2° S of Moon (occ’n not visible in N. America)
03 Tue 09:00 Quadrantid Meteor Shower peak 120/h, moon 27%
05 Thu 14:47 FQ
09 Mon 09:07 Aldebaran 0.4°S of Moon (occ’n not visible in N. America)
09 Mon 04:00 Mercury 6.7° S of Saturn
10 Tue 01:07 Moon at Perigee: 363 242 km
12 Thu 06:34 FM
12 Thu 08:00 Venus at Greatest Elong: 47.1°E (50% sunlit)
12 Thu 20:00 Venus 0.4° N of Neptune (separation about 22 min until pair set 9 pm)
. See SKY SIGHTS for more details.
14 Sat 23:07 Regulus 0.9°N of Moon
14 Sat Venus at Dichotomy (exactly 50% illuminated)
17 Tue 20:00 Vesta at opposition mag 6.1 in Cancer (6° from Pollux)
19 Thu 00:26 Jupiter 2.7°S of Moon
19 Thu 05:00 Mercury at Greatest Elong: 24.1°W
19 Thu 17:14 LQ
21 Sat 19:14 Moon at Apogee: 404 913 km
24 Tue 05:37 Saturn 3.6°S of Moon
25 Wed 19:46 Mercury 3.7°S of Moon
27 Fri 07:47 Thin last crescent Moon (11.0 hours old, elevation 3.3°)
27 Fri 19:07 NM
28 Sat 17:27 Thin first crescent Moon (21.8 hours old, elevation 8.3°)
31 Tue 08:11 Jupiter 3.5°N of Spica
30 Wed 06:00 Neptune 0.2° S of Moon (occ’n not visible in N. America)
31 Tue 09:34 Venus 4.1°N of Moon
Tue 20:09 Mars 2.3°N of Moon See SKY SIGHTS for more details.

February 2017

02 Thu 21:00 Ceres 1.0° S of Moon (occ’n visible in N. Canada)
03 Fri 23:19 FQ
05 Sun 16:14 Aldebaran 0.2°S of Moon (occ’n not visible in N. America)
06 Mon 08:59 Moon at Perigee: 368 817 km
10 Fri 19:33 FM
10 Fri 19:44 Pen. Lunar Eclipse; mag=0.988 (some darkening should be visible). See SKY SIGHTS for more details.
11 Sat 09:04 Regulus 0.8°N of Moon (occ’n not visible in N. America)
11 Sat 14:44 Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková closest to Earth and brightest (mag 6 to 7). See VIS.COMETS for more details.
15 Wed 09:55 Jupiter 2.7°S of Moon
17 Fri 02:00 Venus greatest illuminated extent, -4.63 magnitude. See SKY SIGHTS for more details.
18 Sat 14:33 LQ
18 Sat 16:14 Moon at Apogee: 404 376 km
20 Mon 18:44 Saturn 3.6°S of Moon
25 Sat 06:48 Thin last crescent Moon (28.5 hours old, elevation 1.3°)
26 Sun 09:53 Annular Solar Eclipse; mag=0.992 (S. hemisphere event)
26 Sun 09:58 NM
26 Sun 19:00 Mars 0.6° N of Uranus (minimum separation 34 min 7 sec. at 7:00 pm)
27 Mon 18:39 Thin first crescent Moon (34 hours old, elevation 8.0°)
No Leap Year this February (next one is 2020)

A list of ASTRONOMY EVENTS FOR 2017 is available here: ASTRONOMY EVENTS 2017. Note this list changes from time to time as additional astronomy events are added.

An astronomical calendar for 2017 (with diagrams of sky sights) is available for download from Alan Dyer's website here: (look at the bottom of the "about Alan" page).


Naked Eye/Binocular Astronomy Events :

Venus is back as Evening Star -you can't miss it!

Venus now is the prominent Evening Star above the SW horizon after sunset.
Look for Venus (and Mars, too) crossing Capricornus in December, then through Aquarius and into Pisces in January 2017. Both will be near the “Circlet” or "Western Fish" by the third week of January. All winter long Venus will be playing catch-up with Mars and eventually the faster Venus gets closer but then it stops its own eastward motion and starts retrograding to the west. Date of closest approach is Feb 2 or so when the pair are about 5.5° apart. This is not that close as planetary appulses go and not the closest that these two get this year. On Oct 5, 2017 in the morning sky, they are a mere 0.2° (15 minutes) apart when they rise in the east around 5:30 am DST. Now, that’s better!

The image below was taken Jan 1, 2017 (my first astro-image of 2017!) and shows Mars (magnitude 0.9) at upper left, Venus is pretty obvious at magnitude -4.3 and the 3.5 day old crescent Moon is at lower right. It was a bit hazy that night and glows are seen around the brightest objects. The nice diffraction spikes are produced by stopping the lens down, in this case it was at f/5.6.


Image by John H. Canon 6D at 100 mm at f/5.6 ISO 3200, 16 s exp. on tripod

Venus watching will get even better as the winter wears on, and there are two planetary appulses to watch for. On January 12, when Venus is only 50% illuminated, it will pass Neptune with only a half degree to spare but seeing both Neptune and the phase of Venus requires a telescope. A month later, on February 2, 2017, there is a 5° close approach of Venus to Mars. After this, the normal westward motion of the sky will carry both planets lower and by spring of 2017 they will be lost below the western horizon. The crescent Moon is near Venus and Mars on the first few days of each month Dec, Jan and Feb, making a nice grouping for photographers.

A thorough explanation of the current Venus appearance can be found on Brian Ventrudo's Cosmic Pursuits website here:
Venus viewing Guide 2016-2017

A comet for Christmas and New Years: Comet 45P/

Finally a comet visible in binoculars has returned to our sky! Comet 45P/ will be visible for the rest of 2016 and into February 2017. Read all about it here: Comet 45P A finder chart is available on our VIS.COMETS page.


Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova taken by Michael Jager Oct 1, 2011 using a 10" f/3.8 Newtonian telescope and CCD imager. Image credit and copyright: Michael Jager


Thin Moon Challenge: Can you beat 21 h?

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Image above is a 24-hour young crescent and was taken Mar 16, 2010. Canon 20Da, 0.5 seconds, ISO 400, 400 mm focal length. A 21-hour crescent is not much thinner than this if you are looking to spot one. There is a detailed listing of thin crescents, both before and after NM in the
BAS Weblog which you should see if you are interested in breaking the 21-hour record held by Lorraine R. and Aaron T.


From Our Astrophotographers:

Frank Williams latest submission to the "BAS Hall of Astrophotographic Fame" is an image of M17, or the Swan Nebula in Sagittarius.
He writes:
"worked on Swan Nebula M17 during Starfest week from my little observatory in Allenford, and with cloudy weather here got to processing it. This has Luminance 1 hour, red filter 90 minutes, blue and green filters 75 min [using a] 140 mm TEC apochromatic [refractor] sbig STL 11000 camera cooled to -20c (As cold as I could get it running peltier cooler flat out). Processed in Pixinsight slight crop (to remove misaligned frames)".

All I can add is "WOW!"



The countdown to the Great Aug 21 2017 Solar Eclipse continues:

Mar 29, 2006 Solar Eclipse Montage from Antalya Turkey by J.Hlynialuk

If you are looking for a detailed map of the ground track of the Aug 21, 2017 eclipse here it is:
Note: this is a big file -be patient.

More info is available on the
2017 SOL ECLIPSE tab.

ES Fox Observatory Clear Sky Chart

Note: the chart below may not show the current cloud patterns.Click anywhere on the chart for the current display. If chart is still out of date try clearing your browser cache.


Auroral Displays

Auroral displays in our area are declining as we have passed solar maximum. There have been periods of "blank Sun" where sunspots have been totally absent for a time. However, at far northern and southern latitudes near the auroral ovals, sometimes magnetic disturbances from the sun produce auroras even without visible sunspots. So if the auroral oval in the graphic below is showing an intense RED, aurora borealis may be visible from your location. The graphic is updated regularly with time indicated at the top in UT so subtract 5 h to get local EST, or 4 h for DST. (Use the appropriate factor for other time zones). For more information click here: NOAA home website.

Current Auroral Oval not available right now

Click on image below for the
Current Planetary Index Chart or Latest Solar Heliospheric Observatory Images:

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From the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Image Archives:
A recent meeting of BAS showed images from the CFHT on Mauna Kea. By popular demand, this space will be devoted to showcasing some of these. Have a look at this site for more: CFHT Image Of Month

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Startrails over CFHT (note Polaris altitude = 20° at Mauna Kea)

Star trails and "see-through" dome

Horsehead Nebula

Star-forming globules in Lagoon Nebula M8

Mauna Kea panaroma in winter

M16 Eagle Nebula

Planetary Nebula in M46

Barnard's Galaxy