The Insider's Guide to the Galaxy

(Formerly Homebound Astronomy)

Join us online to learn basic astronomy that you can do on your own from your backyard! We'll give you the tools to learn astronomy on your own at home, along with some observing goals to try. All you need is your computer! A pair of binoculars will help, but are not necessary. Sessions are always on Tuesdays at 3:30pm ET, but frequency of sessions changes. Please see below for details.

TIMING CHANGE: Over the summer we will be slowing down our streams a bit. We are taking a break for all of June, and will only hold one session per month in July and August. Come September, we will be back to every other Tuesday at 3:30pm ET!

Register here! Videos will also be livestreamed to The RASC YouTube Channel.

 

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Life Cycles of the Stars

  • The stars are just like us! They're born, they get older (and bigger) and then they die. Some live fast and die young, others linger almost “forever”, and the most massive ones explode into supernovae, neutron stars, and black holes. Find out how to see stars at all different stages of their life, right from your own backyard.

 

Date Host Topic
Tuesday,
March 31st
Chris Vaughan

All About Stellarium!

  • Install and set up Stellarium, a free, open source planetarium software that runs on all platforms!
  • How to use basic tools in Stellarium to navigate and learn about the night sky.
  • Learn about the planets and constellations you can see tonight and early tomorrow morning!
  • After you're done, try out this Scavenger Hunt to give your new Stellarium skills a workout! We'll go over the answers on Thursday, April 2nd
  • Rewatch All About Stellarium here!
Thursday,
April 2nd
Chris Vaughan

Introductory Observing

  • Find out the answers to the Scavenger Hunt from March 31st!
  • A tour of the night sky including deep sky objects and objects you can see from your back porch.
  • Observing tips and tricks for beginners, including a special appearance by Venus on April 3rd! Chris will show you where to look and what to look for.
  • Rewatch Introductory Observing here!
Tuesday,
April 7th
Chris Vaughan

2020's Last Supermoon

  • What is a Supermoon? Why is it interesting? Come find out all about the last Supermoon of 2020!
  • Ask an Astronomer! Have you ever had questions about space but no one to ask? Chris will answer those questions in an informal Q&A. 
  • Scavenger Hunt 2! Try your hand at finding even more objects using Stellarium! Answers will be revealed on Thursday, April 9th
  • Rewatch 2020's Last Supermoon here!
Thursday,
April 9th
Chris Vaughan

Demystifying the Stars

  • Find out the answers to the Scavenger Hunt from April 9th!
  • We will focus on common questions about stars, such as how far away they are, why they are different colours and temperatures, and how they are named.
  • We'll also go over the constellations and how to use them as a map around the night sky!
  • CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT! Take a photo of something up in space* and post on Instagram or Twitter for the chance to win a copy of the current issue of SkyNews, and Nightwatch, an amazing introductory astronomy book! Tag @astrogeoguy, @royalastronomicalsocietycanada (Instagram) / @rasc (Twitter), and use the hashtag #astronomytime to enter. Winner will be selected at random, so don't worry about your astrophotography skills! Contest closes Tuesday at 10am EDT, winner will be announced at 3:30pm EDT during the Astrophotography livestream.
  • * object must be at low Earth orbit or higher (e.g. the ISS, satellites, stars, the Moon, Venus)
  • Rewatch Demystifying the Stars here!
Tuesday,
April 14th
Paul Owen

Introductory Astrophotography

Thursday,
April 16th
David Shuman

Introductory Photoshop

  • Learn how to edit a DSLR image of the sky! Practice images can be downloaded here.
  • Learn about deep-sky photography and how using filters can be a completely different experience.
  • Rewatch Introductory Photoshop here!

Tuesday,
April 21st

Chris Vaughan

Galaxy Season

  • It's springtime, which means it's Galaxy season! What does that even mean?
  • Learn about different types of galaxies and why they look so different from one another.
  • We'll also go over the Lyrids Meteor Shower happening on Wednesday.
  • Rewatch Galaxy Season here!

Thursday,
April 23rd

Chris Vaughan

Messier and NGC Catalog

  • You may have heard about Messier objects before. There are 110 of them!
  • What is the story behind Messier and his objects? We're going to talk about the history of their discovery and what makes them special.
  • Rewatch Messier and NGC Catalog here!
Tuesday,
April 28th
Chris Vaughan

Apps and Tools

  • We'll go over the best apps you can find to help you with astronomy, from planning sessions to gathering information to visualizing space.
  • Rewatch Apps and Tools here!
Tuesday,
May 5th
Chris Vaughan, Blake Nancarrow

Double Stars and Easy City Targets

  • What are double stars? Why are they special? Join us this week to find out!
  • The full Moon is coming up, so we're going to go over a few easy to spot targets in light polluted skies. This is the perfect session for city-dwelling astronomers!
  • Rewatch Double Stars and Easy City Targets here!
Tuesday,
May 12th
Chris Vaughan

Beginner Telescopes

  • We'll be talking all about reflectors and refractors and the benefits of both.
  • If you are considering buying a telescope, or have just purchased one and want to learn the ropes, this is the session for you!
  • Chris referenced a PDF in his talk about telescopes. View that PDF here.
  • Rewatch Beginner Telescopes here!

Tuesday,
May 19th

Paul Owen

Intermediate Astrophotography Part 1

Tuesday,
May 26th

Paul Owen

Intermediate Astrophotography Part 2

Tuesday, June 30th

Chris Vaughan

Science Fiction in the Stars

Tuesday, July 14th

Chris Vaughan

Touring the Summer Milky Way

  • The best objects of all types to see in the summer months, using unaided eyes, binoculars, and telescopes. We'll give you some tips on using nebula filters, and dive into some history about Scorpius and Sagittarius!
  • Rewatch Touring the Summer Milky Way here!

Tuesday, July 28th

Chris Vaughan

Constellation Deep Dive

  • We're diving into some more constellations this week! We'll go over Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila, the three constellations that contain the bright stars in the Summer Triangle, and some of the cool objects you can find in those constellations!
  • Rewatch Constellation Deep Dive here!

Tuesday, August 11th

Chris Vaughan

A Virtual Tour of the Southern Hemisphere

Tuesday, August 25th

Chris Vaughan

Summer/Fall Planet Viewing Preview

  • Summer 2020 evenings will feature Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and Mars, too! We'll preview how to view those planets, what features on them to look for, and some observing tips.
  • Rewatch Summer/Fall Planet Viewing Preview here!

Tuesday, September 8th

Chris Vaughan

Stargazing for Beginners and the Best Sights for Autumn

  • We'll help you get started in visual astronomy by explaining the basics - how to use a sky chart, how sky coordinates work (spoiler alert - it's easy), what's a variable star, how to tell a galaxy from globular cluster, and more. We'll leave time for questions, too. And - it’s the start of autumn soon, so we'll highlight some of its best targets for beginners. 
  • Rewatch Stargazing for Beginners here!
Tuesday, September 22nd

Chris Vaughan

How to Get the Most Out of Your Telescope

  • Struggling to set up your telescope? Can’t see Jupiter as clearly as you want to? We’ll set up our scopes to show you exactly what we do each time, give you some tips to make your telescope observing sessions even better, and recommend some gadgets and accessories.
  • Rewatch How to Get the Most Out of Your Telescope here!

Tuesday, October 6th

Chris Vaughan

Mars Fest 2020

  • Today’s the day! Mars is at its closest approach to Earth, making it the biggest and brightest it will be for another 15 years! We’ll explain why that is, give you tips for seeing Mars in your telescope, take a look at Mars' geology and the spacecraft and rovers that are exploring the Red Planet, and more! And we'll explain the difference between Mars’ closest approach today, and its official opposition on October 13th.
  • Rewatch Mars Fest 2020 here!

Tuesday, October 20th

Chris Vaughan

Out of This World Records!

  • What’s the biggest constellation out there, and the smallest? What's the farthest thing a human eye can see - or the hottest star - or the closest star cluster? How about the first exoplanet ever discovered? We’ll tell you all about the record-holders in our sky, and how to observe them! 
  • Rewatch Out of This World Records here!

Tuesday, November 17th

Chris Vaughan, Bryon Czarnik

All About Meteor Showers and Meteorites

  • When better to talk about meteors and meteorites than on the peak of a meteor shower? Tonight is the peak of the Leonids Shower, and we'll be talking about what makes some meteor showers better than others. We'll be joined by expert guest Bryon Czarnik who will talk to us about how to find, identify, and even buy meteorites. We'll have lots of time to answer questions and will go over some astronomy highlights coming up in the next two weeks, too!
  • Rewatch All About Meteor Showers and Meteorites here!

Tuesday, December 1st

Chris Vaughan

Orion Deep Dive

  • Orion is one of the most recognizable constellations in our night sky, and is a favourite of astronomers everywhere for all the treasures it holds. Join us for a deep dive into the constellation and everything in it! We'll also be previewing the winter planets and discussing the upcoming Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, where they will be so close to one another that you'll be able to see them in the same field of view of a telescope!
  • Rewatch the Orion Deep Dive here!

Tuesday, December 15th

Chris Vaughan

Observing with Binoculars!

  • Everyone associates telescopes with astronomy, but did you know you can do some incredible observing with binoculars, and sometimes they may even be the better instrument to observe with? Even better, binoculars are commonly found in forgotten parts of the house, and can be more financially accessible than telescopes. Join us as we talk about how to observe using binos, and the best binocular targets.
  • Rewatch Observing with Binoculars here!

Tuesday, January 19th

Chris Vaughan

The Science Behind Astrology

  • Planetary alignments, ascending and descending nodes, retrograde and prograde motion, where do all those astrology terms come from? Many astronomers will walk away when they hear someone start talking about it, but astrology's origins are deeply rooted in astronomy itself. We'll be talking about the astronomical origins of astrology, and discussing what is actually happening when people talk about Mercury being in retrograde.
  • Rewatch the Science Behind Astrology here!

Tuesday, February 2nd

Chris Vaughan

Step Outside and Travel Through Time

  • Looking up into our night sky takes us on a journey through time as the light from distant objects finally reaches us after years of travelling through space. Find out the closest and furthest objects from us as we step outside and travel through time - with your unaided eyes, and in binoculars and telescopes, and learn how we measure distances across the Universe.
  • Rewatch Step Outside and Travel Through Time here!

Tuesday, February 16th

Chris Vaughan

Observing the Moon

  • Anyone anywhere on Earth can see the Moon, even if you live in the biggest of cities! It’s our closest and most easily observed celestial neighbour. Join us to learn a little bit more about how to observe Earth’s only natural satellite, and where to look for extinct volcanoes, scars of recent impacts, whimsical shapes, colourful patches, and more.
  • Rewatch Observing the Moon here!

Tuesday, March 2nd

Chris Vaughan

Messier Marathon and Galaxy Season

  • Let Galaxy Season begin! Around this time of year, we get to see an unbelievable number of galaxies and deep sky objects. So we'll share some viewing tips and suggest the easiest ones to look at. If you time it right, you can see every single Messier object in a single night! We’ll show you how to achieve this item on many amateur astronomers' bucket-lists.
  • Rewatch Messier Marathon here!

Tuesday, March 16

Chris Vaughan

Astronomy and Religions Around the World

  • As we approach spring equinox, an important day in many calendars, we will be discussing how astronomy influences religious observances around the world. You’ll be surprised by some of the astronomical histories behind religious traditions!
  • Rewatch Astronomy and Religions Around the World here!

Tuesday, March 30

Chris Vaughan, Alan Dyer

Observing the Aurora Borealis

  • Spring and fall, when the Earth's magnetic defenses are weaker, are the best times in the year to see the Northern Lights. We'll review the physics of the aurorae, including a Canadian connection, and show you how to be alerted when aurora are predicted.Those beautiful glowing curtains in the sky can be quite tricky to capture. We’ll talk about tips, tricks and tools you can use to help you observe and photograph this fleeting phenomenon. 
  • Rewatch Observing the Aurora Borealis here!

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Library Episode!

Books in the Sky: Harry Potter

  • We’ll tour the night sky virtually, and show you the stars that JK Rowling used to name many of your favorite Harry Potter characters.

Your Own Starfinder

  • Download and print a Starfinder from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), and we’ll show you how to assemble it and then use it on the next clear night.

Stories in the Stars

  • We’ll share some cool stories from Greek Mythology and Canada’s Indigenous Cultures.

How to see Where Stars and Solar Systems are Being Born – with Binoculars

  • Have you ever seen a nebula? We’ll point out where to see the biggest and best one in the springtime sky. It’s near Orion’s Belt! Then we’ll highlight more things to see on spring nights!

The Best Sky Sights for 2021

  • Finally, we’ll tell you what to look forward to in the sky this year, including advice for safely seeing a partial solar eclipse in June, August’s fantastic Perseid Meteor Shower, the bright planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn in the fall, Supermoons, and more! If the day is sunny, we might even share a view of the sun through a special solar telescope!
  • Rewatch the Library Episode here!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Spotting Satellites

  • Did you know that the International Space Station orbits the Earth once every ninety minutes? Many other satellites do too, which gives us lots of opportunities to see them. We’ll explain how to tell a satellite from an aircraft, talk about the different types of satellites, and share tools for finding any bright satellite in the sky, even Boeing’s new space plane!
  • Rewatch Spotting Satellites here!
Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Galaxies in Plain Sight

  • It's New Moon time! Usually to find galaxies you have to carefully study a star chart, point your telescope at the right patch of sky, and then try to see and focus on a fuzzy patch amid total blackness. But Chris has a trick up his sleeve! He’ll be helping us easily find galaxies using nextdoor-neighbour stars that guide us right to them. Bring a notebook; you’ll want to go out observing right after this session! 
  • Rewatch Galaxies in Plain Sight here!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Safely Viewing the Sun

  • Have you ever seen the Sun? Of course you have. But have you ever been able to safely look directly at the Sun? The Sun has begun to acquire spots now that it has passed through solar minimum. We’ll go over how to get into safe solar viewing, including how to use filters to safely see it with a telescope or binoculars, how to make a pinhole projector, and what features to look for. Then you'll be ready to view the partial solar eclipse that will be visible in much of Canada on June 10!
  • Rewatch Safely Viewing the Sun here!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Summer Astronomy Round-Up

  • We are so excited to be back to talk to you about the best of the best astronomy sights this summer! We'll share how to spot the most meteors during the Perseids meteor shower, where the planets will be over the next month, and when to view the moon. Finally, we'll suggest the best naked-eye, binoculars, backyard telescope, and dark sky targets for summer of 2021 – and answer viewer questions. We can't wait to see you again!
  • Rewatch Summer Astronomy Round-Up here!

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Gas Giants Spectacular

  • We're taking a deep dive into the gassy atmospheres of the giant planets in our Solar System! Find out all about seeing the Great Red spot and the shadow transits, eclipses, and occultations of Jupiter’s moons. We’ll talk about Uranus' strange spin and Saturn's light and fluffy atmosphere. We’ll tell you how to view distant blue Neptune and its moon Triton. And we'll show you where to find them in the night sky, and share some telescope tips for observing this summer’s planets!
  • Rewatch this episode here!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Chris Vaughan

Space and Astronomy Books

  • As avid readers, we want to share with you our favourite space and astronomy books! Chris will be diving into his favourite observing books and Jenna will talk about her favourite books on all sorts of other astronomy topics – from the Big Bang to Alien Worlds to the End of Everything. And viewers can let us know which are your favourite space books!
  • Book list download available here.
  • Rewatch this episode here!

 

 

Insider's Guide Playlist