Kitchener - Waterloo Centre
The Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada
This Site Is Sponsored by
KW Telescope!

Conestogo Lake Clear Sky Chart
Lunar Phase

Member List
What's Up!

Club News


Special Retrospective Issue
Summer 2018 issue
Summer 2018


Next Meeting

Club General Meeting - January 11, 2019
Location: Bricker Academic Building - Wilfrid Laurier University:

Room: 112 at 7:30 PM.
We will have our stand-up sign near the front entrance.



The Stargazers 101
TBD 2019 @ 7:00pm. --At Laurentian Zehrs, community room.


Next Event:


Ask an Astronomer!


Youth Astronomy


What you will see on a clear night in

May-June 2018

Constellation: The Big Dipper (part of the Great Bear)

Double Stars: Alcor & Mizar

Solar System: Venus, Jupiter, & The Moon

Finally, we are enjoying spring weather. Snow has given way to green grass, tulips, daffodils as well as budding trees and bushes. In the sky, changes have taken place as well. ORION the hunter, the largest and brightest winter constellation, has left us. Orion will be replaced by the Summer Triangle in July-August. 

What happened to Orion with its 3-star belt? Most constellations relocate from east to west as the Earth rotates around the Sun. Constellations such as Orion, which is well below the North Star, disappear in the west late in the day. Orion will return next winter.

Gone with Orion is SIRIUS, the brightest winter star. Replacing it is ARCTURUS, the brightest spring-and-summer star. Here's how you find Arcturus: First, locate the BIG DIPPER high overhead to the north. Then draw an imaginary arc-shaped line beyond the handle of the Big Dipper and you will see Arcturus.

That's why some astronomers exclaim, "Let's arc to Arcturus." Continue your imaginary line to the right of Arcturus and you will spot the star Spica.  

The Big Dipper

The seven-star BIG DIPPER--the most well known star configuration in the night sky--is a circumpolar grouping, which means that we see it year-round because it is close to the North Star. The Dipper is part of the constellation URSA MAJOR (Big Bear).

Locate the Dipper's bowl. If you draw an imaginary line beyond the two end stars of the bowl, you will find the NORTH STAR. Many people think that the North Star is the brightest in the night sky. Not true! It's way down on the brightness scale (close to no. 50 on the brightness scale). However, it is in the same spot every night because it is above the Earth's axis.

Big Dipper

The North Star is the lead star of the seven-star LITTLE DIPPER, which pours into the bowl of The Big Dipper. But you have to be at a very dark site-like a farm or a cottage away from city lights-to be able to make out The Little Dipper.

There is something unique about one of the seven stars of the Big Dipper. Look carefully at the second star from the end of the Dipper's handle and you'll spot a double star, ALCOR & MIZAR. The star duo is more definitive with binoculars or a telescope.


VENUS appears as a bright”star” in the west and will continue to do so throughout spring and summer.

VenusIf you can’t see the western sky because of trees and buildings, have your parents drive you to Wilmot Line, a road that branches off Erb St. just past the Waterloo landfill. From there you will have a clear view of the planet.

Venus will look like a cold “star,” but, in fact, it is the hottest planet in the solar system with a surface temperature hotter than Mercury: 500 deg. C. The second closest planet to the Sun is broiling hot because the surface is like a greenhouse, covered by clouds of deadly sulphuric acid, trapping in the Sun’s heat. Venus so hot that all of the robotic probes that have landed on the planet have burned up moments after landing!

Venus’s day is longer than its year! During its 225-day trip around the Sun, it hasn't quite rotated around once on its axis; it requires another 18 days. Venus is referred to as our sister planet since the two are similar in size.


Because JUPITER first appears very low in the southeast in early May, it would be best to wait until mid-month when it will be higher.  It may be necessary for your parents to drive you to a park on an athletic field to get a clear view of the south horizon. Jupiter will also look like a “star,” but not as bright as Venus because it is farther from the Sun.

With a diameter 11 times than of Earth, Jupiter is the giant of the solar system. It takes 12 years to orbit the Sun--about the same time you’ve been on the Earth! The fifth planet from the Sun is a huge gas ball of helium and hydrogen—so big that its volume would contain 1,300 Earths.


Note: The Jupiter video shown here includes its four largest moons, called Galilean moons. Look closely and you will see the moons move around the planet! Even though they look tiny “stars” through a good quality telescope, most of them are larger than our Moon.

Are you aware there are about 150 moons in the solar system? Because of the powerful magnetic fields of the four gaseous planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), they have most of the moons. Since Jupiter has 65 moons, some observers refer to the giant planet as a mini solar system.

If you aim a telescope at Jupiter, you will spot the planet’s four largest moons. Jupiter’s remaining 61 moons are too small to be seen. Even though the four largest moons appear as tiny dots, they are about the same size as our Moon. They are always in a straight line because they are rotating around Jupiter.

The Moon

The brightest object in the night sky--some astronomers say the most rewarding--is the MOON. Between May 29 to June 9 and after June 26, the Moon will display its early evening phases:

  • May 29 & June 28: full Moon
  • May 18 & June 17: crescent Moon.
  • May 21 & June 20: first quarter Moon.

The photo below shows the Moon between crescent and first quarter.


Craters and "seas" (the grey areas of the Moon) can be easily picked out with binoculars or a low power telescope. The secret to viewing the night sky with binoculars is to keep them as steady as possible: either mount them on a tripod or sit back in a lawn chair that has a tilted back.

Where to look for the Moon after sunset? The crescent phase will appear in the west, the quarter phase in the south and the full Moon in the east.

Did you know that the Moon's craters are the result of our closest celestial object being pummelled and battered by giant space rocks or asteroids? If the Moon had an atmosphere, the craters would have long eroded away from wind and water erosion like what happened here on Earth. But because there is no atmosphere on the Moon, the craters have not changed ever since they were formed.

The Moon's craters and mountains are most dramatic if you look near the terminator, the line that separates the dark side from the sunlit side. That's because the shadows created by the Sun are the longest. If you look through a telescope, you can even spot crater walls disappearing into the shadows.