Friday, April 1, 2011

April 2011 Highlights

We are firmly into spring, even though it doesn't look much like it here, cold and wet still. But, in the northern hemisphere, April brings the promise of warmer weather! There is still the problem of 'April showers,' which can hassle astronomical observations, but hopefully the weather won't interrupt to many events this month. April has been designated Global Astronomy Month by the Astronomers Without Borders, so your local astronomy club might be up to something fun.

This month will see Venus continuing to be bright in the morning sky; and Saturn will rise shortly after sunset, reaching opposition (closest approach to Earth) early in the month, it will be bright. I try to keep this to planets and stuff that you can visually see, so no need for a telescope. Unfortunately, most of the planets are early morning this month. So unless you are an early riser, or really late sleeper, you'll probably miss out.

Here is more you can look forward to:



April 3: New Moon: The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth.
                 Saturn at Opposition: The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun (opposite the Sun from Earth). Without the Moon in the sky this is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. (It's to bad my camera won't be delivered by then.)

April 11: First Quarter Moon: The Moon is halfway through the waxing phase, a great time for observing as the shadows provide wonderful contrast.

April 16: Saturn & Moon: The nearly full moon passes Saturn in the eastern sky. It should be fairly close and early enough in the evening for anyone to go check out.

April 18: Full Moon: The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This moon, in the Native American tradition of naming the full moons throughout the year, is known as the Full Pink Moon. It gets its name from moss pink, one of the first spring flowers to bloom.

April 19: Space Shuttle Endeavour: Scheduled for it's final launch, Endeavour STS-134 is targeted for 7:48 p.m. EST. If you are on the east coast of the U.S., you should be able to get a decent glance as it climbs into space. It will include Commander Mark Kelly (whose wife was shot in that whole Arizona mess.) and will be delivering equipment to the International Space Station. The last planned mission is STS-135, with Atlantis hoping to launch in June.
                 Mercury & Mars: These two will appear less than 1° apart, low in the sky, 15 minutes before sunrise.

April 21-22: Lyrids Meteor Shower: (active April 16-25) Usually an average meteor shower, but because of the Moon, it is predicted to be unfavorable. Expect around 20 meteors per hour during it's peak. The best view is looking towards the constellation Lyra after midnight, the darker the location, the better.

April 23: Uranus & Venus: You might want a pair of binoculars for this one. Dim Uranus will be just above a very brilliant Venus at dawn.

April 24: Last Quarter Moon: Halfway through the Moon's waning phase, The next New Moon will be May 3rd.

April 29-May 1: Mercury, Venus, Mars, & Jupiter: All close to each other and to the waning crescent moon, 30 minutes before sunrise.

Also, I thought I'd include this video from NASA that explains a little bit more about Saturn's opposition:


21 comments:

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

If I had a good telescope I would probably spend a lot of my time looking at the surface of the moon. So badass.

Buckaroopopcorn said...

The other night, for the first time in my life, I actually saw "the man in the moon" face! It really does look like the old drawings. I have no idea why I could see it so well or what made the face stand out. It was really something though.

Shutterbug said...

It's still pretty chilly here in canada. there's still lots of snow on the ground.

Pago said...

I like how you broke it down by day, and where someone should look for said celestial body. I plan on looking for Uranus and Venus.

Jay.CA said...

cool! thanks for the highlights! :D

cool_cicler said...

Simpluy wonderful. Wanna see more. Will follow.

las3R said...

Hmm this month seems to be promising. Will be looking forward to it! Thanks for sharing ;D

Necroticism said...

Ahh! I need a good camera to take great pics of the moon :(

BrAd? said...

Looks like a good month ahead.

Alphabeta said...

Interesting about the Native American tradition of naming full moons.

cool_cicler said...

Wow I´m really impressed. The video you show has stunningly beatiful images. Thanks. Will follow.

mac-and-me said...

interesting stuff happening in the next days/weeks

Megan Hansen said...

oh i can't wait for the meteor shower, i love those

Banacek said...

It's more like April flurries here.

meandmythinkingcap said...

April- April Fools day, Easter-bunny candy enough for me.My brain is overloaded

Moob said...

Interesting stuff

G said...

Great list of things coming up - really useful post, cheers

Sam said...

Agree with Elliot! I love looking at the moon

Biff Tanner said...

Thanks for the list.

Tasos said...

This is going to be cool. I have a month to get my self a telescope (or find a friend who has one). I need to see it for my self! Thanks for sharing!

Killer salmon said...

Isn't Venus almost always visible? Second natural brightest object in the sky I believe. I don't believe I have a local astronomy club, I will have to look for one online. Hopefully if one does exist they will have come out of hiding for april.

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