This Month’s Sky – April 2015


 

WHAT’S UP IN THE SKY
AAA Observers’ Guide
By Tony Faddoul

April’s Evening Planets
Mars is can be seen in the west until 8 PM this month. Venus is visible in Taurus the Bull until 10 PM, setting later each night toward 11PM at the end of April. Bright Jupiter is in Cancer the Crab all night. For about an hour after sunset, Mercury is between Taurus and Aries the Ram for the last ten days of April.

April’s Evening Stars
Spot Capella in Auriga the Charioteer, and Spica in Virgo the Virgin, Procyon in Canis Minor the Small Dog, Arcturus in Bootes the Herdsman, and bright Castor and Pollux in Gemini the Twins. Also find the stars of constellations Cassiopeia, Perseus, Cepheus, Draco, Virgo, Hercules, Leo, Cancer, Corona Borealis, and the two Dippers during the month.

April’s Morning Planets
Jupiter will linger in Cancer the Crab until 4 AM, setting earlier every morning toward 2 AM by the end of the month. Saturn will rise in Scorpius the Scorpion at midnight, and earlier toward 10 PM at the end of April, staying up until sunrise. Neptune will be in Aquarius the Water Bearer shortly before sunrise. Dwarf planet Pluto will be in Sagittarius the Archer by 3 AM, rising earlier each night.

April’s Morning Stars
See the Summer Triangle of Vega in Lyra the Harp, Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, and Al-tair in Aquila the Eagle around 2 AM, rising earlier each night during April. Look for reddish Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion, Arcturus in Bootes the Herdsman, and Spica in Virgo the Virgin, along with the stars of constellations Lyra, Hercules, Libra, Corona Borealis, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Cas-siopeia, Cepheus, Draco, and the two Dippers.

 

April “Skylights”
Apr 1 Moon at apogee (252,293 mi from Earth)
Apr 4 Full Moon at 8:05 AM Total lunar eclipse, partially visible in NY
Apr 8 Saturn 3° south of the Moon (morning)
Apr 11 Last Quarter Moon at 11:45 PM
Apr 16 Moon at perigee (224,325 mi from Earth)
Apr 18 New Moon at 2:55 PM
Apr 22 Sirius, Betelgeuse, the Moon, and Capella line up (after sunset)
Apr 23 Lyrid meteor shower peaks (dawn)
Apr 25 First Quarter Moon at 7:55 PM
Apr 28 Moon at apogee (251,720 mi from Earth)
Times given in EDT.

The First “Blood Moon” Eclipse of 2015

 

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In the early morning hours of April 4, the Moon will undergo a total lunar eclipse, allowing Earth’s natural satellite to shed its silver-white brightness and become a haunting reddish disk.

Is it really going to look red?

During a total lunar eclipse, Earth is positioned directly be-tween the Sun and a full Moon, blocking the Sun’s light from the Moon. At the maximum point of the eclipse, or totality, light disseminated by the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the Moon, giving the celestial body a coppery-red look. In general, the Moon appears dark at the beginning and end of the eclipse, and reddish at the mid-point. The April 4 total lunar eclipse will be the shortest of the 2st century; totality will last for only about 5 minutes.

Is it visible from New York?

Partially. The beginning of the lunar eclipse can be seen from New York City at 5:03 AM with the start of the penumbral phase, when only the diffuse outer shadow of Earth falls on the Moon. It first enters into Earth’s darker umbral shadow at 6:15 AM, but the Moon sets soon after at about 6:30 AM, so New Yorkers will miss the “Blood Moon” maximum at 8:00 AM. The umbral phase lasts about three-and-a half hours. The entire eclipse process takes about six hours to complete, ending around 11:00 AM.

Who else can see the total eclipse?

The full eclipse will be over the Pacific Ocean and can be viewed in eastern Australia, New Zea-land, eastern Japan, and in Alaska and Hawaii. Most of the U.S., Canada, and South America will be able to view part of the eclipse event until sunrise. East Asia and Central Asia will be able to watch part of it until sunset.

What do I need to see the eclipse?

The lunar eclipse can be viewed by the naked eye, and all you really need are clear skies. Even with city lights close by, the Moon will still be visible. However, it will be ap-proaching the horizon, so it is recommended that you go to a high point for better viewing.

When is the next lunar eclipse?

The next total lunar eclipse in 2015 will take place on September 28.

Source: timeanddate.com.