Here is a listing of upcoming events and activities that the Hamilton Chapter of the RASC will be conducting. If you are interested in Astronomy, come check us out or contact us for more details!

Monthly Night Sky information provided by Chris Vaughan (@Astrogeoguy) at Starry Night Education (@StarryNightEdu).

February 2024

Thursday, February 22 – Venus Kisses Mars (before sunrise) One of 2024’s closest planetary conjunctions will occur on the mornings surrounding Thursday, February 22. The brilliant planet Venus’ return sunward will carry it very closely on the upper left (or only 0.6 degrees to the celestial north) of far fainter Mars. They’ll be close enough together to share the view in a backyard telescope (orange circle) from Monday to Saturday, with Venus approaching Mars from the upper right before Thursday, and then sliding to Mars’ lower left afterward, though your telescope may flip and/or mirror the image. Binoculars will capture the pair easily, too. Skywatchers closer to the tropics will see Mars more easily.

Saturday, February 24 – Mini Full Snow Moon (at 12:30 GMT) The February full moon will occur on Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 a.m. EST, 4:30 a.m. PST, or 12:30 GMT. In the Americas the moon will appear almost full on both Friday and Saturday evening. The indigenous Anishnaabe (Ojibwe and Chippewa) people of the Great Lakes region call the February full moon Namebini-giizis “Sucker Fish Moon” or Mikwa-giizis, the “Bear Moon”. For them it signifies a time to discover how to see beyond reality and to communicate through energy rather than sound. The Algonquin call it Wapicuummilcum, the “Ice in River is Gone” moon. The Cree of North America call it Kisipisim, the “the Great Moon”, a time when the animals remain hidden away and traps are empty. For Europeans, it is known as the Snow Moon or Hunger Moon. Because this full moon will occur only 26.5 hours before the moon’s apogee, its greatest distance from Earth this month, it will look about 7% smaller than average (red circle) – making it the opposite of a supermoon and the smallest full moon of 2024.

Monday, February 26 – Evening Zodiacal Light (after dusk) If you live in a location where the sky is free of light pollution, you might be able to spot the Zodiacal Light during the two weeks that precede the new moon on March 10. Starting on Monday, February 26, after the evening twilight has faded, you’ll have about half an hour to check the western sky for a broad wedge of faint light extending upwards from the horizon and centered on the ecliptic below the planet Jupiter. That glow is the zodiacal light – sunlight scattered from countless small particles of material that populate the plane of our solar system. Don’t confuse it with the brighter Milky Way, which extends upwards from the northwestern evening horizon at this time of year.

Thursday, February 29 – Leap Day (all day) Thursday, February 29, 2024 will be a leap day. We add an extra day to the end of February once every four years in order to keep our calendar from drifting. Earth takes 365.2425 days to complete one orbit of the sun – our year. That extra quarter of a day, if not taken care of, would eventually cause dates to occur when the Earth has travelled much farther along its orbit – shifting the seasons around and altering the timing of Easter, Passover, and Chinese and Persian New Year festivals, among others. In four years, the drift is roughly a day’s worth, so our leap years are at four year intervals. To eliminate the cumulative effect of the additional 0.0025 day in each year, we eliminate the leap day in years that are divisible by 100, unless the year is divisible by 400. Mars’ year of 668.5991 Martian days (or sols) will require adding three leap days every five years – perhaps a bonus long weekend for future Martian colonists?

March 2024

March 7 – Monthly Club Meeting (Guests welcome)

April 2024

April 4 – Monthly Club Meeting (Guests welcome)

Monday April 8 – Total Solar Eclipse in Hamilton

May 2024

May 2 – Monthly Club Meeting (Guests welcome)

June 2024

June 6 – Monthly Club Meeting (Guests welcome)

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