A Cold Christmas Night

Last night, three days after the Toronto Ice Storm, Santa brought us astronomers a Christmas gift: Clear Skies! Therefore, I decided to take advantage of it.

My goal for this session was to view a rare astronomical event: the occulation (blockage) of a star by an asteroid. The star was a 10.4 magnitude star (not very bright). The asteroid was a 15.4 magnitude asteroid (dimmer than the star). To see it is a slim to nil chance, but I tried.

At 10:50 pm, I took my telescope out in the bitter cold and got it ready to view the stars in the snow. For the first time, I was able to align the telescope using the SkyAlign feature. In previous sessions, I failed to align the telescope using the SkyAlign feature. Yesterday, I succeeded in that. After aligning the telescope, I got the coordinates for the star in Ra/Dec and Alt/Az coordinates. When the telescope slewed to it, it was behind the trees. I had to readjust the telescope to view it away from the trees. When it came time, I looked into the telescope and I saw small stars. However, I don’t think I saw the star that was to be occulted. It was disappointing, but I wasn’t surprised. I was not prepared or experienced enough to find such a small and unknown object. I decided to move on to other objects on my list.

I first slewed to the bright object in the sky, Jupiter. I saw the beautiful stripes, and its 4 beautiful moons. It’s always a sight to see Jupiter. I can check it off my list now.

The next object I saw is Sirius. One fact about Sirius is that it is a double star system, with a star 2 times the size of the sun, and a white dwarf that already died. Looking at it myself, I saw the star, and I think I saw a bulge from one side of the star, which is probably Sirius B. I can’t be sure until I view it closer. I can now cross the constellation Canis Major off my list.

The next objects I observed are the two brightest stars of Orion: Betelgeuse, and Rigel. I first slewed to Betelgeuse, the bright red supergiant. It was magnificent. I next slewed to Rigel. I had to move my telescope a bit, but I was able to find it. It wasn’t as bright as Betelgeuse though. I was able to cross of Orion off my list of constellations.

I looked into the sky and saw a small cluster of stars, and I saw M45 also known as the Pleades, or the Seven Sisters. It is a star cluster that is visible to the naked eye, and is made up of 7 stars. I decided to  look at it through the telescope. Doing that, I saw the magnificence of the 7 sisters in its formation. It was awe-inspiring. I crossed it off my list under the Deep Sky Objects Category.

Remembering my previous session where I could not see the horsehead nebula due to the battery dying on my telescope, I decided to slew towards Orion’s sword, a collection of three stars that represent the sword of the mythological hunter, Orion. The vicinity of those stars are quite interesting. I see dim stars close together and in interesting patterns that one can’t see without a telescope. The most notable one that I saw was at the middle star. There I saw a dim green-tinted cloud of sorts in the sky. I have never seen that before, but I learned about it in the first few lecture videos in my Astronomy class. I believe I saw M42, otherwise known as the Orion Nebula. This was my first sighting of a nebula. I was very excited, and will explore further in the future.


The Orion Nebula through my telescope imaged using an iPhone 5s.

Continuing my journey, my telescope started to become sluggish and unresponsive, which lead me to conclude that the batteries died once more. With that, I decided to call it a day… but not before manually moving my telescope to the rising Waning Gibbous Moon through the trees. It was a very nice sight and another addition to my list.

After that, I packed up my telescope and decided to call it a night.

Overall, it was a very eye-opening experience. I tried to find a unique star event, however, I failed to find it. I was able to observe Jupiter, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel, The Pleiades, the Orion Nebula, and the Waning Gibbous Moon. It was truly an interesting and productive night, which took me a step further in my astronomy adventure. I hope you will come with me.







Full Moon

Hi Everyone,

Before reporting my latest observational session, I would like to announce that I will be attempting to obtain a “Explore the Universe” Observing Certificate offered by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). The website of the program is: http://www.rasc.ca/explore-universe Wish me luck in my quest to see the stars.

On December 15, 2013, the night sky was graced with a full moon. This one was unusual, because it was not only the last full moon of 2013, but the smallest. That’s because the Moon was at its farthest, or at its apogee, at the time. As a result, it looked smaller than the average full moon. Luckily, the sky was clear at that time. I decided to take my telescope out to view the smallest full moon. It was a really cold night, however there was not a cloud in sight. After the telescope was set up, straight away, I slewed my telescope to the Moon. After getting it in focus, I saw a beautiful full moon with all its mares (grey sea) and mountains. It was beautiful!

Smallest Full Moon

After looking at the moon, I decided to turn my telescope to the constellation Cassiopeia; more specifically,  the star “Schedar”. Looking at the constellation Cassiopeia was part of the requirements to obtain that certificate I mentioned above. It was a bit difficult to find Schedar due to the light pollution in Markham at the time, however, as I was slewing the telescope I couldn’t help but notice a lot more dimmer and farther stars that could not be seen unless with a telescope. It astonishes me how so many stars exist, yet we see only the brightest stars in the sky in places like Markham, let alone Toronto. It was an intriguing sight!

Eventually, I found Schedar. Looking at that star, it was a bright ball of light that outshined all the other stars in its vicinity. A rule I set for myself is to observe the brightest stars before checking off the constellation for my program. As a result, seeing that star allowed me to check Cassiopeia off my list.

After viewing Cassiopeia, I was thinking about whether to call it a night, or continue. After looking at Orion, I remembered how one of the stars was close to the Horsehead Nebula. Therefore, I decided to observe it. Unfortunately, the telescope was not slewing. Pressing the buttons to slew the telescope only nudged it instead. Turning it off for a small amount of time allowed the slewing function to work again, if only for a short time. This led me to conclude that the batteries had died. Having no replacement batteries, I decided to call it a night.

During my December 15, 2013 session outdoors, I observed the full moon at apogee and I observed the star, Schedar, in the constellation, Cassiopeia. It was a good start on my list of objects to observe. Two down, fifty-three more to go.



Welcome to Joly Astronomy

Hi Everyone, My name is Chris Joly. I am an Armenian-Canadian student currently living in Toronto, Canada. I am an avid amateur astronomer. Ever since 2011, I had an intrigue in astronomy, and I have developed that hobby to the point where I am taking pictures of these celestial bodies using my Neximage Solar System Imager 5 camera attached to my Celestron Nexstar 8 SE telescope. Using my telescope and camera, I hope to continue taking images of the amazing planets, nebulae, stars, and other celestial objects in the sky and to share it with all of you.

The frequency of posts depend on a variety of factors, such as weather, whether I go on a viewing session, and other factors. However, when I do go out on an astronomy session, I’ll be sure to post it up for you all to read about.

Thank You for joining me on this adventure.

I hope you all enjoy what is written on this website.