November Public Viewing – Cancelled

Update as of 10:15AM Nov. 18

The forecast for our viewing hours this evening is for cloudy skies, so unfortunately we have to cancel. We will try to arrange a viewing for sometime in December and will post to this blog once a date is determined.

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We will hold a public viewing on Wednesday, November 18, 6:00-8:00 PM. Anyone attending the event should meet in Memorial Hall room 215* and we will direct you up to the observatory when there is room for visitors. Information about how to find the observatory or parking can be found here.

In the first part of the viewing, we will probably try to observe the first quarter Moon before it gets too low in the sky to see through our telescope. So if you missed our Moon night, or you have young children who need to get home to bed, do come early on. Later in the viewing session, we will point the telescope at some other interesting objects.

This event, as always, is subject to the weather. If it has to be cancelled, notice will given on this blog as well as through our other communication means.

* Although we normally meet in room 417, it is already in use during the viewing time, so we have switched to a different meeting room.

October Public Viewing – Cancelled

UPDATE (Oct. 22): Due to the cloudy & rainy weather this evening, tonight’s viewing is cancelled. We will try to schedule another viewing for November and will post when the date is decided.

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We will return to our observatory for this month’s public viewing on Thursday, October 22 from 7:00-9:00PM. Anyone attending the event should meet in Memorial Hall room 417 and we will direct you up to the observatory when there is room for visitors.

In the earlier part of the viewing the sky will not be completely dark, but we can view the ~70% illuminated Moon. So if you missed our Moon night, or you have young children who need to get home to bed, do come early on. Later in the viewing session, we may point the telescope at some other interesting objects.

This event, as always, is subject to the weather. If it has to be cancelled, notice will given here as well as through other communication means.

Total Lunar Eclipse Sept. 27/28

In the late hours of September 27 and the early hours of September 28, there will be a total eclipse of the Moon. Such an eclipse occurs when the Moon moves directly into the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra.

You don’t need any special equipment to enjoy a lunar eclipse – just your own eyes will do. If you have some binoculars, then get them out to check out the Moon’s surface features under some of the different lighting conditions.

The image below shows the general stages of the eclipse and there’s also an animation of the Moon’s appearance from Charlottetown. You won’t really notice much happening with the Moon until the partial eclipse starts at 10:07 pm ADT. Then it will appear like a larger and larger bite is being taken out of the Moon. The Moon’s colour will shift to red by the time the total eclipse begins at 11:11 pm ADT. This stage is sometimes referred to as a “blood moon” due to the red colour. Times for the different stages of the total lunar eclipse (note times are in ET so add on one hour for AT)

Times for the different stages of the total lunar eclipse (note times are in EDT so add on one hour for ADT)

The total eclipse phase lasts until 12:23 am ADT, over an hour after it started. So that leaves plenty of time to have a look at the red Moon and take some photos.

There won’t be another total lunar eclipse visible from Charlottetown until 2019, so if the weather permits, it’s worth making a point of seeing this one.

 

We had a viewing that wasn’t cancelled due to weather!

We had perfectly clear skies (and unseasonably warm temperatures) for our Moon Night which helped to make it a successful event – and the first one in a long while!

Looking through the archive of blog posts, the last successful public viewing we had weather-wise was April of 2014! We did manage to squeak in a few minutes of viewing between clouds in December of 2014, but either way you look at it, our recent Moon Night was the first successful viewing of 2015. That speaks to the challenges of doing astronomy in the quickly changeable PEI weather.

Telescopic view of the Moon captured at the event by UPEI student Hannah Reid on her smartphone.

Telescopic view of the Moon captured by event guest and UPEI student Hannah Reid on her smartphone.

We had five telescopes set-up on the UPEI campus for the event – the Physics Department’s 6-inch Dobsonian (donated to us by the Sidewalk Astronomers of Charlottetown) plus four other telescopes. Keith Cooper, Judith MacNeil, and Jane Vicary with their personal telescopes, and Ryan Casey, a teacher participating in the Scopes for Schools program. Another Scopes for School teacher, Rachelle Arsenault, also came along to lend a hand in telescope operation. And Physics students Dave, Trevor, Cameron, Aidan, Deanna, Andrew, and Phoenix came out to practice using our telescopes, which hopefully means plenty of potential volunteers for our future viewings.

In addition to viewing the Moon, our astronomers aimed their telescopes at Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, and some double stars, so the 40-plus visitors got to enjoy all sorts of astronomical sights. It was particularly delightful to hear the exclamations of excitement from some guests who had never looked through a telescope before.

Here’s hoping for more clear-sky nights like this one in the future!

Planetarium Memories

As some of you may remember, UPEI used to have a planetarium.
UPEI Planetarium

UPEI Planetarium

Michelle Cottreau, a UPEI Physics graduate, sent me the photograph below and shared the following memories of her time working at the planetarium.
“I worked there for several years and only have one picture of that time. It wish I had more and some of the inside. It was amazing and the best job I ever had!”
Planetarium staff, summer 1985 (left to right): David Yorston, David Brennan (Manager), Michelle Cottreau, David Wheeler

Planetarium staff, summer 1985 (left to right): David Yorston, David Brennan (Manager), Michelle Cottreau, David Wheeler

“We had several different shows but my favourite was the one we did for young children called “Our Sky Family”. The star projector was nick-named “Jake” and the show began with the sound of snoring. Jake would suddenly wake up and would rise out of the underground well (where the projector was stored) to greet the children and the show began.  They loved it!”