A skywatcher's guide to spring in Toronto
Spring skywatching in and around Toronto is a lot more comfortable than during the winter months. Fortunately, as the weather begins to cooperate and draw us outdoors, there are plenty of celestial events to check out in the skies above the city and surrounding area.
Here's a guide to what to look out for in the night sky this season.
We'll need perfect weather for this one, but if you gaze out above the sunset on the early evening, there's a chance you might see the brand new moon, which will appear as a paper thin sliver in sky. Use binoculars if you have them.
These two planets will form a triangle with the moon (Mars up top and Mercury down low) for a dazzling display right at dusk. Look in the western sky.
With the Earth passing between the sun and Jupiter, the solar system's biggest planet is easy to spot with the naked eye. It'll appear brighter than stars in the night sky, rising in the east and setting in the west. Jupiter is closest to earth this year on April 8 and right beside the moon on April 10.
It's just a regular full moon, but thanks to the close proximity of Jupiter and the romance of the name, this could be a good night to gaze at the night sky.
The first good chance to see meteors this spring, this shower might show off 15 or so an hour under ideal viewing conditions. The best part is its reputation for fireballs, which shoot across the sky with a colourful tail. The best time to watch this one is near dawn in the northeast sky.
Even if this shower is better viewed in the Southern hemisphere, with two solid nights of activity just as temperatures tend to get comfortably warm, it's worth giving it a shot in the pre-dawn hours on either night.
Saturn creeps into the night sky in late May as it tracks to its opposition point on June 15. Through a decent amateur telescope, you can see the rings of the majestic planet, which should be well visible to the end of June.
Many of these events only require you to look to the night sky in order to appreciate their beauty, but meteor showers do not fall into this category. Instead, you'll want to consult a dark skies map to ensure that you're viewing from a location with limited light pollution.
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