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Monthly Stargazing Targets  Getting Started in Astronomy

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 April 2021 (Notes by DMAS member Dave Lynch) 

  

The Planets 

This month is not one of the better months for planet observing. Not only do we have very few available at decent times, it seems the moon will probably be the best solar system object for viewing. Besides, April in Iowa is not known as a kind month as far as weather goes. Expect a mixed bag of everything. 

MERCURY is one of the few of what I would call visible planets this month. This tiny planet never climbs high enough for good views around here but by the end of the month it should be high enough above the western horizon for a quick peek.

VENUS is halfway between the morning sky and the evening sky. Late in the month it keeps close company with Mercury right after sunset but quickly sets and returns to the morning sky.

EARTH is undergoing a change in seasons and can't make up its mind about the weather. Expect lots of cloudy skies and possibly a quick snow shower. Otherwise, prepare for lots of wet days.

MARS is still hanging around in Taurus and is one of the few planets visible in April. Located very close to the Pleiades Cluster, the Red Planet will
be visible most of the night sky making it the Lone Ranger this month.

JUPITER is only for you early risers this month. It just begins to clear the horizon close to 1:00 am and doesn't climb high enough by sunrise to make it worth getting up early to see. 

SATURN is also a very early morning planet and like Jupiter, it won't climb high enough to spot before sunrise. If you are fortunate enough to have some high ground and a clear view of the east, both Jupiter and Saturn can be seen low in the eastern sky. Look between Pegasus and Capricorn.

URANUS will be totally out of sight this month as it returns to conjunction with the sun. By early April it will be gone from view around here.

NEPTUNE puts in a very brief appearance late this month just minutes before sunrise. It won't climb more than ten degrees high before being lost in the sunlight.

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Moon 

  • Last Quarter -> Apr 04

  • New Moon -> Apr 12

  • First Quarter -> Apr 20

  • Full Moon -> Apr 27

Other topics this month: 

COMET ATLAS STILL CHUGGING ALONG:

April may be the last time to try and take a look at this comet as it scoots quickly from Aqulia to Hercules. Traveling at more than 4 degrees a day, this comet is starting to lose some of its luster and is beginning to dim somewhat. Right now it is a very dim 11th magnitude which is just on the edge of being easy to see with a scope. By the end of April we will probably lose sight of this visitor. Better take a look now because this ice ball won't be returning for another thousand years.

 
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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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