Sudbury Skies

On Sunday, May 18, 2014, during the Victoria Day long weekend, I was up in Sudbury with my family. We were blessed with beautiful night skies, and as a result my dad and I decided to take advantage of it and observe the night sky. We went outside to a clear area in our surroundings. After setting up the scope, it was ready to align.

We saw very unusual objects. There were fast moving objects in the sky moving as a group. We thought they were UFO’s at first, but we realized that they were birds flying across the sky. It was unusual to see these birds illuminated at night, even though Sudbury is a pretty dark place. However, due to the construction around the land, there were a lot of lights pointed towards the sky. Those lights illuminated the birds quite brightly, which led to that confusion. After clearing that up, we continued on with our astronomical goals.

We first aligned the telescope with Mars. Looking at Mars, it was a beautiful red dot that shined brightly in the sky. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make out any details on it. Looking at the sky, we also found Saturn and Jupiter in the sky. Saturn was moving upwards away from the horizon, and Jupiter was moving towards the horizon. From the locations of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, I drew a line between them to see where the ecliptic was. The ecliptic is the path the sun takes when it rises and sets every day. I was able to estimate the location of the ecliptic, because all the planets orbit close to the plane of the sun, thus we see the rising and setting of planets near the same location as the ecliptic. It is quite interesting. After realizing that, we soon decided to slew to Saturn.

After slewing to Saturn we saw a brilliant planet surrounded with beautiful rings. It was a sight to see, especially up in the Sudbury sky. Looking around for another target, we saw a star that was flickering in the atmosphere between different colours. It was intriguing to my dad and me. I thought it was a variable star. However, my dad believed it was a star that was so low in the atmosphere that the atmosphere was dispersing the light. I’m not certain, but it could be it. We slewed to it and saw the fluttering star. However, at midnight, the clouds started to come in and block the starlight. With that, we decided to pack the telescope back into the truck and return inside.

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