Wednesday, February 15, 2023

SkyNews is closed

End of an era.

The end of a magazine.

The only Canadian magazine on astronomy.

A legacy created by Terry Dickinson.

Taken over, for a short time, by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

But it was a sinking ship for a long time. COVID hit. Paper costs have skyrocketed (no pun intended). Shipping costs rose. RASC could not rescue it. They didn't have the acumen to do it.

SkyNews closed piece

I'm sad for a few reasons.

Yes, I was getting paid for my writing. But to me, that was a perk.

I really enjoyed reaching Canadians from coast to coast to coast, sharing my discoveries in 3D printing, on planning software, on imaging.

I enjoyed just reading the magazine. It was one of my primary sources for planning, knowing what was happening in the sky for the next two months.

And it's all gone.

It's a sad day.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

downloaded Feb issue

I do not recall a notification for the February Journal of the RASC.

I downloaded it directly.

cover of the Feb '23 Journal
Skimmed quickly.

Noted the president's remarks on preparing well for your presentation. Good overall advice though I don't think he suggested mastering one's software tools...

Learned of Carl Jorgensen's death. That saddened me. The loss of a double star afficiando. He was in my Stellarium class, 15 days before his passing on 18 October 2022.

A number of other RASC members were lost...

This edition included my usual Binary Universe column. I wrote about Hello Aurora, an Android application for predicting aurora borealis with sharing options.

I plan to read the issue more thoroughly.

submitted article

Finally submitted by Binary Universe column for April.

Couple of days late...

install GraXpert on Linux

After reaching out and receiving some help on the Discord channel for GraXpert, I was able to install the application on the Ubuntu computer, the Surface gen 1.

Looks and works 'zactly the same.

received a brief meeting update

I learned that the RASC national council, open only to the executive, board, and NC representatives, was complete.

Purportedly it was a "heavy" one.

I look forward to hearing from the rep as to what happened.

Nothing, it seems, urgently affects the national Observing Committee. I suppose that's good news.

Also, I learned that many matters were deferred. The matter of the Far East group was not dealt with.

where are the headlines?

Nobody's talkin' about the Moon today.

So strange. So odd. 

Why not? 


Stoopid media...

Lame, ignorant, money-grubbing media.

Today's full Moon is the smallest of the year.

Small doesn't sell newspapers, I guess.

You freaks!

Saturday, February 04, 2023

made almanac for Feb

With COELIX APEX, I made the almanac chart and list for February.

In a first, I added the comet.

The graph for February.

astronomy almanac chart

The list for the month.

almanac list

Once again, I did not make a visual legend.

The planets:

  • grey - Mercury
  • white - Venus
  • orange - Mars
  • yellow - Jupiter
  • green - Saturn
  • aquamarine - Uranus
  • dark blue - Neptune


  • light blue - midnight


Friday, February 03, 2023

awfully cold (St Thomas)

Surprisingly clear as my sis and I did some errands after work. There had been white-outs during the afternoon.

Spotted burly clouds over Lake Erie.

We noted a big round Moon up high. We both thought it looked nearly full.

Donna asked about the bright points to the west: Venus low; Jupiter high.

Awfully cold. 

The stoopid bright orb and the chilly conditions were putting me off...

Didn't think I'd chase the comet tonight...

Thursday, February 02, 2023

spoke on doubles

Delivered my talk for the North York Astronomical Association on visually observing double stars.

Felt like it went well.

Lots of good questions after.

Good to see some familiar faces.

I sent over a PDF version of my slide deck at the end.


Received a nice note from Malcolm P:

I enjoyed your talk also.  You might be surprised to hear this, but I have been observing double stars!  The optics on my Edge HD 9.25" are very good and it helps to have good optics.  I started doing this at star parties.

He helped distribute my PDF file.


Some nice words from Frank, the prez:

It was a great presentation, Blake, and resonated with many people already familiar with the topic, and generated positive comments about the presentation.  As expected, it 'focussed' attention on double star observing and I thought that you did a good job pointing out why observers should observe them.  Also I appreciate your assistance in providing a pdf version of your presentation.  Thanks again!

I sent him links to my double stars measuring video and supplemental notes.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

lost a great author

The great Terence Dickinson died today, sadly.

I met him once or twice, or was, at least, in the same room. 

But he was very instrumental for me in the early days of the hobby.

He co-authored The Backyard Astronomer's Guide which I found incredibly useful in a great numbers of ways.

I also own Splendors of the Universe: A Practical Guide to Photographing the Night Sky. Another book I relied on heavily.

He was also a founder of the SkyNews magazine, Canada's only astronomy magazine, which I have been very proud to contribute to...

It is fair to say that he impacted many lives across Canada.


There is a touching tribute from Sky & Telescope.

Bob McDonald of the CBC recounted memories of Terry.

Susan's eulogy (his widow) is shared on the Wartman web site.