Canada is going through a bit of a cold snap right now. Cities from Vancouver to Windsor to Toronto are under cold weather alerts, while corners of the Canadian North are making their first plunge below minus 40 degrees Celsius. But to zero in on just how miserably chilly it is, the National Post dug through world climatological readings, historical temperature readings and called up a bunch of planetary scientists who probably had better things to do.

Yes, Mars is indeed warmer than Toronto

Mars vs. Earth temperature comparisons are always a little tricky. The temperamental Martian climate sees such wild variations that there’s usually some temperature overlap between the two planets. But let’s focus on Gale Crater, a notably chilly section of Mars hosting the Curiosity rover. The latest daily weather report from the rover (recorded on Sol 1547) saw an air temperature high of -8 C. In Toronto, Pearson International Airport was recording -8.4 C on Thursday afternoon. The city won’t have to deal with the -75 C overnight temperatures experienced by Gale Crater, but still: You’d think Toronto would be getting a bit more payoff for being 80 million kilometres closer to the sun.

AFP PHOTO/ NASA/JPL-CaltechThe Curiosity rover, possibly pictured in the act of being warmer than you are.

Mayo, Yukon, is colder than the asteroid belt

Mayo, Yukon, ranked as one of the coldest parts of Canada on Thursday with a midday temperature of -43 C. This is just cold enough to put the Yukon community in line with select portions of the asteroid belt. The belt, of course, is a group of minor planets that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. University of British Columbia astronomer Brett Gladman told the National Post that if the sun hits an asteroid just right, “the hottest temperature may rise to about -40 C.” Aside from the occasional planetary body with volcanoes or a thick atmosphere, the asteroid belt is the most distant point in the solar system where temperatures are still warm enough to overlap with Earth. So there you go, Mayo: You’re our last climatological link with the middle solar system.

It’s colder in Regina than the lowest temperature in the history of Australia

On Saturday, the residents of Saskatchewan’s capital are expected to be doing their Christmas shopping at temperatures hovering around -23 C. To date, this remains on par with the coldest temperature ever recorded at our Down Under cousin. In 1994, the fates aligned just enough so that the Australian snow resort of Charlotte Pass could get a fair dinkum taste of -23 C.

AP Photo/Colmar Estate, Bill ShrapnelA kangaroo in snow.

The hottest spot in Canada is colder than the coldest spot in the Orkney Islands

When the Hudson’s Bay Company was recruiting fur traders for its posts in the Canadian frontier, they had to turn to what was then the most bleak, windswept and freezing corner of the English-speaking world: Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Well, on Thursday the Orkneys were practically sun tanning at 10 C. By contrast, the absolute warmest spot in all of Canada on Thursday was on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, where the island’s famous wild horses could enjoy a high of 4.8 C.

It’s colder in Edmonton than at the South Pole

Granted, the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing summer right now. But still; a snowy patch of ice desert in the middle of Antarctica is warmer than the Alberta capital. The pole-based Amundsen-Scott research station was recording -21 C as of press time, just as Edmonton temperatures began plunging towards an overnight low of -28 C.

Terra Nova Expedition A 1912 photo showing Robert Falcon Scott and team at either the South Pole or Jasper Avenue.

Ottawa is way colder than Moscow

The cold of the Russian capital is legendary. It’s Napoleon-freezingly cold. It’s so cold that smiling is illegal. It’s so cold that Vladimir Putin’s cronies sometimes have to put their hands in their own pockets. And yet, on Thursday night Moscow would be a mere -14 C as compared to the -23 C overnight temperatures hitting the Canadian capital.

Victoria will be almost as cold as the peak of Africa’s tallest mountain

There’s a reason Victoria is where Canada puts all its old people; it’s the only large city in Canada that can eke out an entire winter without seeing snow stick to the ground. But on Thursday night, the B.C. capital is expected to see a low of -4 C. Give or take a scarf, that’s roughly on par with the -7 C forecast for the peak of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.

AFP/Getty Images/Carl De SouzaMount Kilimanjaro.

Suck it up, Canada, Pluto can’t even unfreeze its nitrogen

Temperatures of -40 C might feel alien, but it’s positively balmy compared to what most of the solar system has to put up with. The exterior of the International Space Station plunges to -157 C when it’s in shadow. Even though the Voyager spacecraft is still running its heater, its components operate at -79 C. On Pluto, it’s so cold that all of its nitrogen has frozen solid. As Brown University planetary scientist John Mustard told the National Post, “that’s cold.”

• Email: thopper@nationalpost.com | Twitter: TristinHopper

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