April 2018

WATCH this on YouTube
LISTEN as a podcast on Podbean, Stitcher, or iTunes

 

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

April brings us plenty of Jupiter time, a close encounter between Mars and Saturn, and a potentially decent Lyrid meteor shower. And MAYBE some better weather.

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Venus (W)
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (EàW)
  • Morning – Satur (E) , Mars (E), Jupiter (W)

Mercury

  • Not really worth looking for. In between us and the Sun most of the month.

Venus

  • Venus makes significant progress up the sky this month, getting to about 25˚ by month’s end at sunset. Look West and find the brightest source of light in that direction, about two fist-widths above the horizon.

Mars

  • Rises between 2am and 3am. Look SSE around sunrise and find the red object near Saturn, in Sagittarius.

Saturn

  • Rises around 3am at the beginning of the month and 1am at the end. Look about 20˚ above the SSE horizon, to the left and down from Mars and at the top of Sagittarius.

Jupiter

  • Rises around 11pm in early April, 9pm in late April, in the ESE. Moves across the sky throughout the night, hanging out right in the middle of Libra.

 

EVENTS...

2nd Close EncounterMars & Saturn – Find the teapot of Sagittarius and also find bright caramel-colored Saturn and ruddy red Mars less than 1˚ apart, with Mars below Saturn.

7th Close EncounterMoon, Mars, Saturn – Find the Moon after 2:30am and you’ll also find Saturn 2˚ below and to the left, and Mars 2˚ below and to the left of that.

Last Quarter Moon – 8th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

New Moon – 15th (darkest skies) 

17th - Close EncounterMoon, Venus – Look West after sunset for bright Venus with a very thin crescent Moon just 5˚ to the left.

22nd LYRID METEOR SHOWER – Not the strongest shower, at only 10-20 meteors per hour, but the Moon will be a First Quarter, so look North in general after midnight and into the morning. 

Some advice for watching:

Find a dark location and lie down in a reclining chair or something that insulates you from the ground.

Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

If you’re feeling extra nerdy, do a scientific meteor count (S&T and IMO)

Or find out if your local astronomy club or museum is holding a viewing party.

First Quarter Moon – 22nd (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 29th (Visible all night)

30th Close EncounterMoon, Jupiter – Find the Moon after 9:30pm and you’ll also find Jupiter about 5˚ to the right, both within Libra.

 

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

After Sunset (sunset is around 7:30-8:00pm) – Cancer, Leo, Lynx, Ursa Major’s legs - Extra Challenge! Find M44 in the middle of Cancer – an open cluster of stars also known as the Beehive Cluster.  You may be able to see it as a small fuzzy patch with your naked eye if you have very dark skies.  However, with a pair of binoculars or a telescope on low power, it will look like a hive of bees in the distance, hence its nickname.

Between Sunset and Midnight – Leo, Leo Minor, Ursa Major’s legs

Midnight – Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices are closer to the Zenith (the point straight above you), but Ursa Major, Leo, and Bootes make a nice but bigger triangle around it.

Early Morning – Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are starting to rise in the morning now, that means that summer is on its way.

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Winter constellations:  LAST CHANCE FOR THE WINTER CONSTELLATIONS! Orion is still easy to spot as he is directly in the SW after sunset.  You can use Orion to find many other winter constellations, for the last time until the fall.

Using Orion:  Find Orion by looking for the three stars in a row that make up Orion’s belt in the Southwest.  If you draw a line from the left star to the right star and keep going right about 20 degrees (about 2 fists at arm’s length) until you reach another very bright star, you will have reached the star Aldebaran in Taurus (the V).  Follow that line a little more (about another fist) and you’ll find the Pleiades.

If you start at his belt again, but instead go the opposite way and draw a line from the right star in Orion’s belt to the left star, and keep going left about 20 degrees (2 fists again), you’ll come to the brightest star in the sky – Sirius – part of Canis Major.

Above these three constellations are Gemini and Auriga.  The brightest stars in each of these constellations form a circle in the sky.  Going clockwise - Aldebaron (Taurus) – Rigel (Orion – bottom right foot) – Sirius (Canis Major) – Procyon (Canis Minor) – Castor & Pollux (Gemini) – Capella (Auriga).  It makes for great stargazing in the winter sky.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

 

00:0000:00


Share | Download(Loading)