gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Remembrance Day

November 11, 2020 @ 11:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Today we pause to remember the sacrifices made by so many people so that we can live in peace and freedom. This year, which is the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, we cannot gather at the at the places like the National War Memorial because of COVID, but that doesn’t mean we cannot pause and reflect.

To those who have served, I say thank you.

Happy New Year!

January 01, 2020 @ 00:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Welcome to 2020! I hope everyone has a safe, happy and prosperous new year!

Exciting things in the night sky… or so I’m told

December 27, 2019 @ 17:29 By: gordon Category: Astronomy

So, there are interesting things going on in the night sky right now. Betelgeuse, the shoulder of Orion the Hunter, is the dimmest it has been. This is exciting for astronomers because it could be the prelude to Betelgeuse going supernova. Or not. (Or at least not yet.) It is, apparently, visibly dimmer than it was just a few weeks ago, which is a pretty big deal, astronomically-speaking.

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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2019 @ 00:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Merry Christmas, everyone! The Christmas season can be stressful for some people, so I hope everyone has a safe, happy and relaxing Christmas season with friends and family!

Remembrance Day

November 11, 2019 @ 11:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General


We pause today to remember all those who have made the supreme sacrifice in order that we may have peace and freedom.

Thank you seems so inadequate.

This doesn’t bode well for watching the Mercury transit on Monday

November 10, 2019 @ 00:46 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Weather

While starting to prepare for observing the transit of Mercury on Monday, I took a look at the cloud cover forecast for Monday morning. It’s not terribly encouraging:

There is an intriguing hole in the Eastern Townships near Sherbrooke. That might be the place to be.

Maybe the forecast will change between now and then. (It could happen.)

The last transit of Mercury until 2032 is on Monday

November 08, 2019 @ 12:59 By: gordon Category: Astronomy

Source: Wikipedia

The planet Mercury will passing across the face of the sun on Monday, November 11th. The transit starts at 07:35am Eastern (12:35 UTC) and ends at 1:04pm (18:04 UTC). This will be the last transit of Mercury until November 13th, 2032 (it’s a Saturday).

Observing it is a bit challenging because you can’t just walk outside with a pair of binoculars and stare at the sun to see the tiny black dot that will be Mercury. You need special solar filters for your binoculars/telescope/camera to make it safe to look at — a neutral density filter is not sufficient. If you don’t use an appropriate solar filter, you risk causing yourself serious eye damage and you could also ruin your binoculars/telescope/camera in the process.

My photo of the last transit of Mercury

I observed the last transit of Mercury in May 2016 in front of where I work at lunch using a piece of #14 welder’s glass in front of the lens of my camera. My plans for the upcoming transit include both my 6″ telescope and my William Optics RedCat 51, with proper solar filters, of course!

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have the necessary equipment. If you want to observe it, members of the Ottawa Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be at Marion Dewar Plaza outside Ottawa City Hall (110 Laurier Avenue West) from 7:30am to 1:30pm with their telescopes and the public is welcome to drop by and observe it safely. Monday is Remembrance Day, so be sure to leave yourself lots of time to get there.