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Skywatching

Through Galileo's telescope

Through Galileo's telescope

Apr 24, 2020 / 11:00 am

A few years ago, at one of our observatory's open houses, we were lucky enough to be loaned a replica of one of the telescopes that Galileo first trained on...

The 'shrinking planet'

The 'shrinking planet'

Apr 17, 2020 / 6:00 am

Until plate tectonics came along, the most widely accepted theory to explain the Earth's mountains was shrinkage. The idea was that the Earth was once...

Is the moon a child of Earth?

Is the moon a child of Earth?

Apr 10, 2020 / 8:02 am

The moon is unusual. There are bigger moons in the Solar System, some with under-ice oceans and at least one with a thick atmosphere. However, all those other...

Star light, star bright...

Star light, star bright...

Apr 3, 2020 / 11:00 am

On the moon, the sky is black and if you shade your eyes from the bright sun and Earth, you can see stars during the day. Here on Earth, it is sometimes...

Why we look for water

Why we look for water

Mar 27, 2020 / 11:00 am

In 2005, the Huygens lander separated from the Cassini spacecraft and soft-landed on the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Titan is unique in the...

Stop the twinkling

Stop the twinkling

Mar 20, 2020 / 11:06 am

For most of us, a clear, dark sky filled with twinkling stars is one of the most beautiful sights in nature. Astronomers have a more nuanced view. The turbulent...

The second biggest bang

The second biggest bang

Mar 13, 2020 / 11:00 am

What sort of explosion can blow a hole about 15 times the diameter of the Milky Way in a cluster of galaxies? That is, a hole 1.5 million light years across....

Still calling, ET?

Still calling, ET?

Mar 6, 2020 / 11:00 am

In 1960, radio astronomer Frank Drake carried out a pioneering attempt to pick up radio signals from intelligent beings on planets orbiting other stars. He used...

How to make planets

How to make planets

Feb 28, 2020 / 11:00 am

On Jan. 1, 2019, the New Horizons space probe flew past a very important object in the outer solar system. It was a leftover lump of the original construction...

Pulses from deep space

Pulses from deep space

Feb 21, 2020 / 3:00 pm

In the 1930s, we first started running high power radio transmitters at wavelengths that can penetrate the ionosphere and escape out into space. So today, any...

How big is the universe?

How big is the universe?

Feb 14, 2020 / 11:00 am

This might sound like the ultimate unanswerable question, but thanks to astronomical knowledge accumulated over many centuries, and the power of modern...

Twisting space-time

Twisting space-time

Feb 7, 2020 / 11:00 am

Twenty or so years ago, the radio telescope at Parkes, Australia, found something unusual: a white dwarf star and a neutron star in close orbit around one...

The space junk hazard

The space junk hazard

Jan 31, 2020 / 11:00 am

Back in the late 1950s and early '60s, when our first artificial satellites were put into orbit, we didn't pay much attention to what went with them. ...

Living on the far side

Living on the far side

Jan 24, 2020 / 11:00 am

The Earth's gravity pulls at the side of the moon closest to us more strongly than it pulls at the other side. Long ago, when the moon was still hot and...

Can we believe our eyes?

Can we believe our eyes?

Jan 17, 2020 / 11:00 am

In some way or other, our eyes have been strongly involved in almost every scientific discovery we have ever made. Despite this they are pretty awful measuring...

Whistles from space

Whistles from space

Jan 10, 2020 / 11:00 am

In midsummer, quite a few years ago now, an ionospheric physicist friend and I were in a car parked on a remote logging road in Algonquin Park, Ont. On the...

Beetle Juice will die soon

Beetle Juice will die soon

Jan 3, 2020 / 11:00 am

Orion, The Hunter is one of the most spectacular constellations in the winter sky. The easiest way to find it is to start at the brightest, fiercely sparkling...

A new sort of astronomy

A new sort of astronomy

Dec 27, 2019 / 6:00 am

As we sit on the threshold of a new decade, it is interesting to pick what was the most significant astronomical development of the last one. Considering what...

Tasting the water

Tasting the water

Dec 20, 2019 / 11:00 am

One of the most ludicrous ways in which to encounter extraterrestrial life was in a comic I read a long, long time ago. The astronauts were on Mars, and an...

A celestial crab

A celestial crab

Dec 13, 2019 / 5:11 pm

On dark nights this time of year, the southern sky contains one of the most fascinating objects in our galaxy, the Crab Nebula. This object is so intriguing and...

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