Posted by: Mario Carr | August 8, 2010

The Outdoor Guide

Posted by: Mario Carr | August 8, 2010

Don’t miss August’s Perseids meteor shower

Star gazers around the world have been looking forward to August for one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year — the Perseids meteor shower.

You can see the meteor shower July 23 – Aug. 22, and during its peak Aug. 12-13 expect more than 60 meteors per hour.

The Hamilton Amateur Astronomers will have a public observing night on Wed. Aug. 11 at the Binbrook Conservation Area 8-10 p.m.  The park’s entrance is on Harrsion Road in Binbrook.  Proceed south on Hwy 56, turn right onto Kirk Rd. and left onto Harrison Rd.  Weather and clouds permitting.  No rain date will be scheduled.

Bring a blanket or lounge chair because lying down is one of the better ways to see the meteor shower.  No need for telescopes or binoculars.  Your naked eyes are the best astronomical instruments to observe the Persieds.  A thin crescent moon should set by 9 p.m. giving way to nice dark skies.

If you haven’t seen it yet, then you are about to witness something spectacular.  The Perseids meteor shower is the best of the seven meteor showers in 2010 and will appear radiating from the constellation Perseus.

It is not actually coming from the constellation but is caused by debris coming from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle entering and burning up in the atmosphere at a rate of 61 km/sec.

A shooting star or falling star is just another name for a meteor.  Every time I watch this meteor shower, I marvel at the power of our atmosphere, which sustains and protects us from falling debris.

The deep sky of summer is the richest of the year. The Milky Way rides high overhead, spanning from the constellation Sagittarius, though the Summer Triangle, to Cassiopeia and the trail of nebulae and clusters seems unending.

Some of my favourite summertime deep sky objects include the Lagoon and Triffid Nebulae in Sagittarius, which are clouds of interstellar gas.

Here are some dates to keep in mind for August stargazing.

August 3 — Last Quarter Moon

August 10 — New moon.  Moon is also at perigee or nearest to the Earth.

August 13 – Don’t miss the triple conjunction of the planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn with the thin crescent Moon in the western sky just after sunset.  No telescope required and it makes a great photo opportunity. All you need is a tripod with a 10 or 20 second exposure on your digital camera.  From this date, the planets will continue to sink towards the western sky.

August 16 — First Quarter Moon

August 20 Neptune is at opposition or opposite the sun and this is the best time to observe it.  Also, Mars and Venus are just two degrees apart.

August 24 — Full Moon

August 25 — Moon at apogee or farthest from Earth.

Posted by: Mario Carr | May 18, 2010

The moment — First trout on a fly rod

By Mario Carr

There is something magical about catching your first trout on a fly rod. Especially with a fly you tied yourself.

For me, it was an experience that I will never forget.

It was one of the hottest days of the year, and I left work early on an August day to join the rest of the members of the Izaak Waltan Fly Fishing Club at the Glen Haffey Fly Fishing pond.

I left work at about 3 pm from Mississauga and arrived at Glen Haffey about 30 minutes later.  So close but yet it seemed an entirely different reality because it seemed that I was way out in the wildernesses.

That is the beauty of living in Canada, nature is not very far away.

As I drove down the dirt road, I saw the sign for Glenn Haffey and made the turn into the Fly Fishing Club.  Weaving through the dirt trail I finally arrived at the pond.  The club has two stocked ponds, one with rainbow and the other with brook trout.

I parked the car near the pond with the rainbow trout and took one of the boats out into the pond.

I rowed the aluminum dingy out to the centre of the pond and dropped anchor.  I tied one of the many assortment of flies that I made while at the monthly fly fishing meetings and made my first cast.  Nothing.  I tried again and still nothing.  Not even a nibble. 

Hours went by but still nothing. 

Other anglers that day had nibbles, some had even caught fish but not I.  Determined to catch my first trout I stayed in the boat casting and trying different flies still nothing.

The day was slowly drawing to a close.  The sun was dropping over the pond and the orange light from the diving sun reflected off the pond.  It was a perfect ending to a beautiful  summer day.  Then there was a hatch coming off the water.  Trout were stirring and jumping to catch the emerging flies.

It was getting darker and I thought to myself that this is it another day that I will be skunked.  I prepared to pull the anchor and row back to shore but then I thought one more cast and that is it.  I pulled out a leach pattern and tied it to the end of my line.  I remember that it was so dark that it was hard to tie so I was tying mostly by feel.

I made the last cast of the evening and then it happened.  I felt the sudden tug and pull of the trout.  He was a lively fellow too. He was not going to be caught easily though.  He was going to make me work for the catch.  He pulled the line every way under the boat and across my stern.  He even made my four weight rod bend at the tip and I thought for sure that it was going to break. 

He gave a good fight and I slowly managed to real in my line. I had finally caught him.  He jumped as I tried to get the hook out of his mouth but I finally did it. 

I could tell the he was exhausted.  I don’t blame him because he gave a good fight and I was exhausted too.  When I finally carefully pulled the hook out of his, he just stayed there in the water looking straight right up at me for a few moments.   While looking straight into his eyes I felt as though we were sharing a momemt.

I said to him you are free to go and thanks  for the fight. And then it seemed he was preparing to say good bye he quickly swam away inot the the blackness of the ponds depths.

I rowed back to shore smiling because I was so happy and the moment stayed with me for months.

The fly fishing day was a reward to all of us that contributed to the annual Izaak Walton Fly Fishing Forum in Burlington, Ontario..  I was responsible for the event’s promotions and it was a success despite the recession.  We actually managed to raise some money for the conservation local streams and rivers in Southern Ontario.

Posted by: Mario Carr | May 18, 2010

The night sky in May 2010

As our earth makes its journey around the sun new constellations appear in the spring night sky. 

From our perspective it looks as though the sun is moving in relation to the stars.  The apparent path of the sun is called the ecliptic and coincidentally it is also the same path that the moon and planets follow.  The ecliptic also crosses the zodiac constellations.  Virgo, Leo, Cancer and Gemini are spring zodiac constellation that can be seen in May.

Finding them is easy.  If you’re outside during a clear night in the early evening this month face south, look overhead and find the Big Dipper.  Arc an imaginary line down to the horizon from the Big Dipper’s handle until you hit the brightest star in the spring sky Arcturus.  The star is 37 light years away and is in the constellation Bootes the herdsman. 

In space, distances are measured in light years.  What I find really fascinating about astronomy are the incredible distances.  Everything is measured in light years.  That’s because nothing is faster than light.  In one year, light travels about 9.46 trillion kilometers. That’s like going around the earth 240 million times.

Spike your imaginary line even further down to the next bight star, Spica in Virgo the virgin.  Spica is about 260 light years away.  But if you believe in horoscopes, which have nothing to do with astronomy, you might say wait a second, I was born in September why is my sign Virgo if it is spring constellation.  Well, in September, Virgo is behind the sun and that is how your sign is determined.

If you look closely above Virgo with a small telescope you will see a patch of sky that is home to more than 1,300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster.  M64, the Black Eye Galaxy and spiral galaxy M100 are just some galaxies that reside in the Virgo Cluster.  M100 is about 150 million light years away with more than 100 billion stars.

The Virgo Custer is extremely massive and its gravitational attraction actually slows down nearby galaxies.  Its mass was determined from its motion which moves at an astonishing rate of 1,600 kilometers per second. 

Most of these galaxies were discovered in the 1770s.  Slightly below Virgo is the famous Sombrero Galaxy.  It is about 40 million light years away and is an edge on spiral galaxy with a dark dust line running across its centre to give an impression of a Sombrero.

Spica lies close to the ecliptic.  If you follow the ecliptic to the right you will find the star Regulus in the constellation Leo.  Saturn lies in Leo.   Follow the ecliptic further and you will find Cancer and Gemini.

Here are a few dates to keep in mind.

May 14 – New Moon and Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting at  7:30 pm, Hamilton Spectator Building, 44 Frid St.

May 16  – Venus is close to the moon.  Venus appears in the western sky after dusk throughout the month.

May 26  –  Mercury is at its greatest elongation and can be seen during the morning throughout the month.

May 27 – Full moon.

For more information please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomer’s web site at or call (905) 627-4323.



Hubble image of the Sombrero galaxy

Hubble image of the Black Eye Galaxy M64

Hubble image of the Spiral Galaxy M100

Posted by: Mario Carr | May 18, 2010

The Outdoor Guide

Posted by: Mario Carr | May 18, 2010

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