About Chris Joly

I am an Armenian-Canadian student. I am an amateur astronomer, amateur photographer, home winemaker, and writer. My goal is to write about my experiences, and anything of significance and to share it with the world. I hope you all enjoy what I write.

Update on Joly Astronomy

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all well!

School, Work, and other priorities started to take over, and I neglected to update my blog regularly. For that, I am sorry!

Moving forward, I will continue to make posts on this website. However, I will post it at my own discretion.

I will no longer post about upcoming astronomical events. For those who found it useful, I’m happy to hear that it helps, but other priorities have kept me from regularly posting monthly astronomical events. You can find the astronomical events for 2016 here.

Other than that, I will continue to write about the night sky, space missions, and other topics that catch my eye.

Lastly, this past December 19, 2015, was the second anniversary of the start of my blog! Thank You for everyone who has followed my blog throughout the past two years. I hope to see you all here in 2016!


Here are some images I would like to share.


June 7 gave me a fantastic opportunity, albeit a difficult challenge. The International Space Station (ISS) was going to streak through the Toronto sky after dusk. After a few failed attempts, I decided to try and get the ISS again. To increase the challenge further, I decided to use the CCD camera to get a closer look. After I got the video, I was relieved it was done but was left wondering what the result was. There were over 10,000 frames of nothing, 200 frames of trailing ISS, but I got 5 good frames of the ISS out of it. Here is one of them:


The ISS. The image is cropped. (I’m very proud of this picture!)









On June 21, I hosted my first workshop. a little more than 10 people came to the workshop, where we covered Startrails, Astrophotography with DSLR and CCD cameras, etc… It was a great success. Many of the participants enjoyed the workshop and went home with amazing startrails images. I also tried to take some Milky Way shots from here. Little did I know that the Galactic centre was below the tree line. Next time!


20″ exposure, f/4, ISO-800

On June 24, I took out a borrowed 127 mm Achromatic Refractor to image the Moon with. It was an interesting experience. The pictures look good, and I was impressed with the image that the Refractor produced. The result is below:


1/40″ exposure, f/6.5, ISO-100 (Note: The Moon is flipped upside down.)

On that same night, I also went out to Glen Major Forest and took a Startrails image. It lasted for an hour, and compared with my first ever startrails from Glen Major, it had longer startrails and more ground. It is a good image. While I was imaging it, there were other people there having a good time, and I was worried that some car light from them would wreck the image. Thankfully, none of their lights ruined on my image, and I came home with a good set of images to stack. The result is below:


162 frames, 30.5″ exposure, f/4.5, ISO-1600

On June 29, the day before I returned the refractor, and the day before the Venus-Jupiter conjunction, I learned that tomorrow would be cloudy. June 29 had cloud cover on it, but it wasn’t so bad. I could still see Venus and Jupiter. Therefore, I rushed back home and brought out the refractor. While I was observing the two planets, I noticed that Venus and Jupiter had some fringing on it, much like my Canon lenses, when aimed at the Moon. It was annoying to see that, but I found a solution to it. After taking many pictures, and being eaten alive by mosquitoes, I went back inside and rested. The resulting image is below: It’s amazing how close the two planets got. It got closer last year, but I was very impressed by this grouping of two planets.


1/10″ exposure, f/6.5, ISO-1600. Cropped. Adjusted with Lightroom

In July and August, I led two different workshops hosted by the Creative Photographers Markham. There, everyone took their own startrails images and had a grand time imaging the night sky. I also tried to take my own timelapse that night. However, it was a very humid night, which led to dew accumulating on my lens. By the end of the timelapse, the image became very blurred and very foggy. It was disappointing, but it was a lesson learned.

On September 27, 2015, the last Lunar Eclipse in the tetrad was to occur. I also planned the last workshop to occur that night. However, there was clearly going to be clouds in the sky, which was disappointing. We had a rough start, but many people came to the workshop and we were lucky enough to have a break in the clouds and we were able to see the lunar eclipse for a short period of time. We all had a great time, and got great pictures!

Lunar Eclipse Sept 27

300mm telephoto lens, 2″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO-100

On the latter part of 2015, I was able to take this picture of the Lunar X. This feature is visible every lunar cycle for only a few minutes when the light hits the moon just right. The angle of the light shapes the craters like an X.


I hope to see you all again!

New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto

Yesterday was a momentous occasion. July 14, 2015, will forever be known as the day New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto. The closest it got to Pluto was 12,500 km from the surface, at 7:49 am EDT. At that time, 1,200+ executives, scientists, and guests counted down as it reached its closest approach. Later that night, the very same people cheered as they heard back from the intrepid explorer, signalling that it is safe and out of harms way. It is now moving away from Pluto at breathtaking speeds, marking humanity’s first encounter with the last unexplored traditional Solar System planet.

The picture below is one of many pictures it brought back for us, which revealed its unique surface features for the first time after many years of secrecy. Check it out:

Today, an image will be released by NASA showing a picture of Pluto up close and personal. I can’t wait!

Congratulations to the many people who worked on New Horizons ! ‪#‎PlutoFlyby‬

Astronomical Events for July 2015

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of July: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • July 2: Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina may reach binocular visibility.
  • July 6: Earth will reach aphelion at 13:00 UTC.
  • July 6: Pluto will reach opposition with Earth at 15:00 UTC.
  • July 12: The Moon will occult Aldebaran. It is best seen in North-eastern Asia at ~18:17 UTC.
  • July 14: The New Horizons Probe will reach its closest approach to Pluto.  New Horizons is the first probe to make a close approach to Pluto, and send back images to Earth.
  • July 19: The Moon occults Venus. It is best seen in the South Pacific at ~1:07 UTC.
  • July 25: Asteroid 49 Pales occults a +6.6 Magnitude star. It is best seen at 10:55 UTC in Mexico.
  • July 28: The Delta Aquarids peak at this time.
  • July 31: A Blue Moon will occur. This is the second Full Moon of the Month. This is the opposite of a Black Moon.






What I’ve Been Up To

Hi Everyone,

Notwithstanding my update for June’s astronomical events, I’ve been absent for the whole month of May. That is because it’s been a busy month for me. Here’s a bit of an update of what I’ve been up to from April 22 to now.

On April 22, 2015, I delivered my presentation about my experience as an amateur astronomer that day. Throughout the presentation, I talked about the photos I took, honestly, and with a little bit of humour. It was well received by the audience.  I hope to follow that up with another presentation a few years down the line.

On April 28, 2015, I discovered the wonders of BackyardEOS. It’s a program that uses your DSLR camera like a CCD Camera. It was really effective as an imaging device, and as a focusing device. I got a few pictures like this using BackyardEOS.


On May 8, 2015, It was a clear night, and I felt like taking another startrails image. Therefore, I made another startrails image from my backyard. I used over 700 frames, 5”, f/4.5, ISO-800. It turned out really well.


From May 20-24, 2015, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the International Space Development Conference (ISDC). It was a great experience as I made met many heavyweights in the aerospace industry, gained valuable experience, and made many new friends. I had a great time. In addition, I was able to get this startrails image from the heart of downtown Toronto. I took over 1043 frames to get this image. Each frame were 3” exposure, f/5.6, ISO-1600. It was a long image, but it was worth it. Next year’s ISDC will take place in Puerto Rico. Who knows, maybe I’ll be there…


This image was a difficult one to capture. I needed to balance how much light I would capture, while still capturing the movement of the stars. Too much exposure captured the light pollution of the city. Too little and the stars won’t show up. That’s why I chose 3″ exposure, because it wouldn’t capture too much light, while still capture the stars. f/5.6 to reduce the amount of light pollution captured, and ISO-1600 because we need to capture enough light.


That is what I’ve been up to these days. Thank You for everyone’s support. Sorry for the sporadic blog posts. Keep looking up, you never know what you’ll find up there.

Astronomical Events for June 2015

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of June: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • June 1: The ISS will reach full illumination, which means Northern Hemisphere observers will be able to see it many times.
  • June 4: Io and Ganymede will cause a double-transit on Jupiter, which will occur from 4:54 to 6:13.
  • June 5: Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation for 2015. It will be at most 45 degrees from when the sun at 16:00.
  • June 10: Asteroid 424 Gratia will occult a +6.1 magnitude star. It will occur at approximately 15:10 in Northwest Australia.
  • June 15: The Moon will occult Mercury at approximately 2:26. It’s best seen at the South Indian Ocean.
  • June 15: The Moon will occult Aldebaran during the day approximately 11:33. It’s best seen in the high Arctic.
  • June 16: Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS may become visible with the naked eye.
  • June 21: The summer solstice will happen at 10:51. Northern Hemisphere observers will experience the longest day of the year.
  • June 24: Mercury reaches its greatest morning elongation at 22.5 degrees west of the sun. This will take place at 17:00.






Astronomical Events for May 2015

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of May: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • May 5: The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will peak.
  • May 7: Mercury will reach its highest point at 21.2 degrees away from the sun. It will start to descend back into the sun at this point.
  • May 19: The Moon will occult Aldebaran at approximately 2:53 UTC. It is best seen in North America.
  • May 20: Comet C/2014 Q1 PANSTARRS may become visible in binoculars.
  • May 20: Io and Ganymede will cast their shadows on Jupiter in a double-transit event at  22:04 – 22:53.
  • May 21: Callisto and Europa will also cast their shadows on Jupiter in another double-transit event at 11:26 – 11:59.
  • May 23: Saturn reaches opposition at approximately 1:00.
  • May 24: Asteroid 1669 Dagmar will occult Regulus at approximately 16:47. Best seen in the Arabian Peninsula. This will be the brightest asteroid star occultation in 2015.
  • May 28: Ganymede and Io will cast their shadows again in a double-transit event at 00:01 to 2:18.
  • May 30: Comet 19/Borrelly may become visible with binoculars.







In two days, the fuel-exhausted MESSENGER probe will crash into Mercury, leaving behind its own crater. This will be the end of an era, as the inner solar system will no longer have any probes actively studying the inner planets.

Before it’s death, MESSENGER gave us one last picture:

MESSENGER’s last pic of Mercury

This image was taken using the Visual and Infrared Spectrometer to bring out the craters and mountains present in Mercury. Despite its loss, it has done a lot of work for us: It found evidence of frozen water found in areas of permanent shadow. It found an unidentified layer of material above the ice, which is suspected of being organic material. It discovered that Mercury has shrunk 7 km in radius since its creation.

It’s slated to hit Mercury on April 30. It will be behind Mercury, therefore, we won’t see its collision until much later. Goodbye MESSENGER.