What's Up in The Sky Now

Monthly Stargazing Targets  Getting Started in Astronomy

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April 2017 (Notes by DMAS member Dave Lynch) 


The Planets 

Spring may finally have arrived, and the changing of the guard regarding the planets is changing as well. The kings of summer, Jupiter and Saturn are coming back while the winter planets, Venus and Mars slowly fade away. 

MERCURY, on the first of April, will reach its highest point in the sky all year. Just barely clearing the western horizon, this tiny inner most planet will be visible for those of us here for only about a week. Look quickly.

VENUS has faded from the night sky and is once more assuming its place as the "Morning Star." Look for Venus to rise above the eastern horizon only about one hour before the sun rises in the morning.

EARTH has shed its dark mantle and the first signs of green start to appear. That doesn't mean that winter is completely over but it is off to a good start. The best part about April is temperatures will continue to warm up all month.

MARS is still visible in the western sky just before sunset this month. It just refuses to go away. Look early as by the end of April Mars will be too low in the sky to see unless you have a clear unobstructed view of the west.

JUPITER is well up in the sky as the sun sets this month. It reaches opposition on April 7th so as the sun sets, Jupiter rises. In its twelve year cycle around the sun, this year it will have reached its farthest distance from the sun.

SATURN begins it movement to the west on April 6th and will start to climb above the eastern horizon as early as 12:30 am as the month begins and as much as one hour earlier by the end of the month.

URANUS is still on its outward trip behind the sun and can not be viewed this month.

NEPTUNE is also keeping up with Uranus and will not be available this month.



 First Quarter -> April 3
Full Moon -> April 11

Last Quarter -> April 19 
New Moon -> April 26



Although the Lyrid Meteor Shower has been somewhat of a bust in recent years, the "experts" are predicting that this year's shower may be different. First off, the moon is only a waning crescent on the peak night. Secondly, the experts" are predicting as many as 18 streakers an hour this year. The best predicted time for the peak for this shower is from midnight on April 22 to the early morning hours. We could see meteors associated with this shower from April 16th all the way to April 25th. This is still April so dress for the weather.

TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE IN AUGUST: Total Solar Eclipse - 2017

If you don't know about the Total Solar Eclipse coming August 21, 2017, you soon will. Click the button above for an information sheet. This may be your only chance to see one of nature's greatest shows and you won't have to travel to the ends of the earth to see it. Now is the time to start making plans. Check our Saturday Public Night schedule for programs about the eclipse, or talk to a DMAS member. We do have approved solar viewers available at Ashton. 

Deep Space Objects 

Click the link above for Monthly Stargazing Targets to get details about other things that can be seen this month.


 Meteor Showers

web fireball 9x12Meteor showers come each year at the same time. Click here to see a list and descriptions.






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