Meteor show. Photo © NASA

Watching the night sky from the western edge of the continent at this latitude at this time of year presents a gamble. Announcements that a full moon would light the way for midnight mass-goers this year overlooked our forecast rain showers and our understandable preference for warm, lit, cosy quarters over damp, dark, blustery venues.

Even on December 21, clouds ruled the night. They blocked views of the annual Ursid meteor shower. If the weather had cooperated, the solar-reflector qualities of the nearly full moon so enjoyed elsewhere would have washed out sightings of falling stars we might otherwise have caught.

Before the Ursids zipped by behind thick cloud cover, we could have tried our night-sky luck with the much more spectacular Geminids. This shower peaked on December 13 and 14. Typically, as many as 120 meteors can be observed each hour at its height. More »


Comet ISON, photographed April 2013 by NASA, may present the biggest sky show of 2013.

A massive object is hurtling towards me.

It’s not Nature Boy racing to get the last of the pumpkin pie from the fridge.

No, the massive object in question is a giant snowball whizzing through space towards the sun. With its tail as big as a kite, Comet ISON provides the exclamation point on a year filled with objects appearing out of the great black yonder….

Read the rest of this column in the Victoria Times Colonist….