The Great American Eclipse of 2017

For three years I’ve been talking about this eclipse.  August 21st, 2017 is a date that feels etched into my skull.  With solar eclipses being few and far between, and usually occuring far from my home in Canada, I’m excited that the great american eclipse of 2017 will be within my budget for travel.  Though like many people, I’m ready to pay a bit extra to get to the right spot. The eclipse is expected to draw over 100 million people to the many towns and cities along the path of totality. Though most of the population of North America...

Mars in the Spotlight

On May 22nd, Mars will be at opposition.  It’s the astronomical term for when Mars and the Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth.  This makes the face of Mars fully illuminated from Earth, and also brings the Earth to it’s closest approach of Mars, at 75 Million Km.  Hubble images the red planet to celebrate the occasion. So get your telescopes out and be ready to take some pictures, because Mars is smiling! Mars will rise in the East at sunset, since they are on opposite sides of the Earth.  It will appear bright with a rusty hue, and...

The Next Canadian Astronaut

This guy is everything you expect in an astronaut.  At least that was my first thought when I was looking at his biography.  David St. Jacques was one of only two candidates (along with Jeremy Hansen) chosen in the 2008 Canadian Astronaut draft, the third in our nation’s history. He has a degree in Engineering Physics, a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, and is a medical doctor.  And that’s just his formal education.  He’s an avid mountaineer, cyclist, skier, and sailor.  Not to mention his advanced certification as a scuba diver, his commercial pilot’s license, and his ability to converse in Russian, Spanish, and Japanese. And so...

ISS Assembled Over Time

Since 1998, when construction began on the International Space Station, 400 Km above our heads, it has undergone significant changes.  It makes sense since it takes a long time to build anything in space, nonetheless a multi-million dollar space research laboratory.  Watch the video from NASA’s Johnson Space Centre, and see how quickly parts of the station move, change, and are relocated as the station reaches it’s current glory. It truly is a marvel of science, engineering, and technology. Watch closely at 1:57 as the Canadian made Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM, colloquially DEXTRE) unit is installed.  A bit of pride for my...

Canadian Wins 2015 Nobel Prize for Neutrino Discovery!

And the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to….. Arthur B. McDonald and Takaaki Kajita for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which show that neutrinos have mass.  It fills me with pride to see that a Canadian scientist can win the most distinguished award for Physics in the world, and proves that cutting edge research is done by Canadian Universities.  We are an important part of the global machine that is advancing humanity’s understanding of science. So what did this East-West collaboration discover? A long Standing Problem in particle Physics, called the ‘solar neutrino problem,’ developed back in the 1960s....

Autumn Colours / Stellar Camping

This weekend will be a great chance for me to enjoy the change in season.  I’ll be up north in Ontario’s Algonquin Park, to do some photography of the autumn leaves.  If weather permits, I’ll definitely be aiming to do astrophotography as well. I grew up an hour north of Toronto, in the farm country outside of Barrie, Ontario.  Every time I go home for thanksgiving in early October I am amazed at the changes that can happen only an hour north.  Algonquin park is a good 3.5 hour drive, and will provide a stunning look at the seasonal change...

Big Discovery Close to Home

I see so many amazing discoveries from educational institutions around the world, as they do cutting edge research in a variety of space-related fields.  But I am truly excited when a discovery is made close to home, at a university here in Ontario, Canada.  A PhD candidate from Queen’s University named Matt Schultz has discovered the first ever massive binary star in which both stars have magnetic fields, a star called epsilon Lupi. Why is this a big deal? Well if you’ve done a bit of astronomy in school, you’ll know that stars like the Sun have huge magnetic fields....

Motivation Monday: Excuses

Canadians always complain about the weather.  No matter what time of year it is. In winter, we get ‘It’s too cold,’ ‘wow is it ever damp outside,’ and ‘I hate the lack of sunshine.’ Yet when we come around to the exact opposite weather, we get summer complaints of ‘It’s so hot outside, it’s uncomfortable,’ ‘It’s too humid, it feels sticky,’ and ‘There’s too many bugs.’  The only happy medium for us is a 20 degree clear day with a slight breeze and moderate humidity, though I’m sure someone would find fault with it.  Complaining is fine once in awhile,...

Complete 3D Map of the Local Universe

It’s always nice to know that amazing science is being done in local institutions.  Here in Ontario, Canada, we have 24 universities, and I had the pleasure of attending two of them, giving me a first hand look at the day to day work of astronomers.  It certainly helped me realize how hard scientists work to get one simple result that the public will only care about for a day or two. About 95% of the work, from grant writing to data acquisition to data reduction to analysis and interpretation, is behind the scenes, and the final 5%, the result,...

Space Junk: An Infographic

I like this picture –  it gives good insight into just how much garbage is up there floating around in low Earth orbit. Space Junk has become a serious problem, and in the last few years has started to collide with satellites, creating more debris. Luckily, by 2018, Switzerland, with the help of Canada, will be launching a Space Junk Cleaner called CleanSpaceOne. Good on you Switzerland!