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An Astronomical Anecdote

One of my old observing buddies, the late Steve Chomniak (Toronto Centre), once told me a story about one time that he went to our dark-sky site in the concessions northeast of Oshawa by himself...

Halloween Thoughts

With days shortening, nights lengthening, and Halloween growing near it is only natural that our thoughts should turn to the dead—and some of them were astronomers. (Insert blood-curdling scream here!)

Throughout history dead people have been interred in grounds sacred or not, either singly or in mass graves. Some had resting places in more formal tombs or crypts, perhaps even inside a church building. But did you know that a few “lucky” people are buried in observatories?

Solar Eclipses and Totality

IN THE DISTANT PAST, the Moon was much closer to the Earth. Thanks to tidal forces and the Law of Conservation of Momentum, the size of the Moon’s orbit has been increasing (currently by ~3.8 cm/yr).1 As luck would have it, we live in an epoch in which the Moon has an apparent size close to that of the Sun. When near perigee, the moon’s apparent size is adequate to completely cover the Sun. (Unfortunately we do not get monthly eclipses because the Moon’s orbit is tilted about 5° with respect to the ecliptic.)

Very Rare Superoutburst of PR Herculis

Winchester Observatory has monitored hundreds of variable stars with an automated imaging system over the last nine years. Most are run of the mill long period variables (mainly Mira-type stars) that vary slowly and somewhat predictably; the rest are the much more exciting cataclysmic variables (CVs)--stars that undergo sudden and dramatic increases in brightness.

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