The Night Sky in April 2021 – Astronotes

Hi there Stargazers and welcome to April! Properly, because the saying goes “April showers carry Might flowers”, so we could also be low on clear nights for stargazing. Because of our local weather and site cloud cowl typically interferes with our potential to see what the evening sky has to supply, however we will dwell in optimism and hope! 

When you ever wish to give stargazing a go free from gentle air pollution, cloud cowl and with the useful addition of highly effective telescopes, we suggest Slooh! You’ll be able to be part of Slooh for a small payment and be part of the Armagh Sky Sweepers stargazing membership!

Do not forget that in case you are giving stargazing a go the quaint method, please give your round 20 minutes to completely adapt to the darkish. Chorus from utilizing your telephone and if in any respect potential attempt to go to an space with decrease gentle air pollution quite than the centre of a city (10 miles or much less from your own home in fact). Even in case you do dwell in a city or metropolis you’ll be able to see fairly a bit with the bare eye – so give it a go!

The Moon – this month it’s pink!

The Pink Moon! Not so pink.

Now, earlier than I get your hopes up, the moon sadly received’t be pink. It should very a lot hold its silvery look within the evening sky. The identify “Pink Moon” comes from Native American tribes. They tended to call the months after the colors related to time of 12 months. The April full moon turned The Pink Moon as a result of look of Creeping Phlox and different pink foliage. 

It could seem extra yellow and far bigger than it’s in actuality when it’s nearer to our horizon. This month the total moon is on the 26th, and it’s as soon as once more a supermoon! Supermoons are mentioned to be greater and brighter than your common full Moon (between 7% and 15% bigger).

Whereas the moon is so large and so shut, why not seize the chance to be taught the totally different mare on the moon? Mare are the darker patches on the moon; mare (pronouced mah-rey) interprets from latin to “seas” as early astronomers mistook these basaltic planes for precise seas of water. They’re the truth is areas of iron-rich moon rock fashioned by eruptions early within the historical past of the photo voltaic system. The iron makes them much less reflective of the solar’s gentle and subsequently they seem a lot darker to us on Earth. The mare all have totally different names – see in case you can all of them!

The Mare on the Moon. Credit score: Ian Morison

Guess who’s again?! Venus!

Ah Venus, it’s been a protracted winter with out you! Venus makes her triumphant return to our this time, having been too far beneath our horizon within the evening to see. Venus is in fact well-known for being the 2nd brightest object within the evening sky (the moon being the first). 

Venus. Credit score Stellarium.

Venus is our “evil twin” planet. It is because it’s related in measurement however eerily in the wrong way to the remainder of the planets (and extremely slowly – its day is longer than its 12 months). Its thick environment creates a superb blanket to replicate gentle again at us – therefore why it’s so brilliant! Planets all the time give out a flat gentle versus stars which twinkle within the sky. 

Venus. Credit score: NASA

On 12 April, Venus sits 3.7˚ of a lower than 1%-lit skinny Moon which, at simply 7.8˚ from the Solar, itself could also be a tough spot. Issues enhance as we head in the direction of the tip of the month, Venus’s brightness serving to the planet stand out in order that it could possibly confidently be seen towards the evening sky. 

Taking pictures Stars!

At sure instances of the 12 months, the Earth on its orbit across the Solar strikes into areas of cosmic mud typically left behind by comets getting into into the internal Photo voltaic System. As these mud particles enter the Earth’s environment they fritter away and create meteors or capturing stars within the evening sky. The Lyrids meteor bathe peaks on the night of the 22nd of April and sometimes you’ll be able to anticipate to see as much as 20 meteors an . They get their identify as they appear to originate from the constellation of Lyra which is within the east after Sundown. Because the Moon will likely be in its New Moon part, the capturing stars will likely be extra seen with out the moon’s gentle interrupting the view. Don’t fear if its cloudy on the 22nd, you’ll be able to nonetheless see a flurry of meteors a couple of days earlier than and after the height.

Lyrids – Credit score NASA

Some Constellations To Look Out For!

As we come into Spring we have now some model new constellations to look out for, so why not get to know among the most gamers? Hail Hydra! The primary constellation you’ll wish to look out for is the largest constellation of all of them, Hydra the water snake. All in all of the constellation of Hydra measures at 1303 sq. levels. It was initially a part of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy within the 2nd Century. As I mentioned final month, surprisingly, Hydra solely accommodates one moderately brilliant star and it’s known as Alphard, or Alpha Hydrae for you Bayer designation followers on the market. Alphard means “solitary one,” in Arabic and is also referred to as the “spine of the serpent.” Tycho Brahe, the well-known Danish astronomer and bon vivant par excellence, additionally known as this star Cor Hydræ, that means the “coronary heart of the snake.” Both method, they each sound fairly superior. Alphard is an orange star about 50 instances as extensive as our Solar with an obvious magnitude of at roughly 177 gentle years away from the Earth.

Hail Hydra! (Picture Credit score: Stellarium)

The constellation of Hydra has a few totally different tales woven into it. Certainly one of these tales associates the constellation with the monster Hydra, with its many heads. “Cut off one head and two more shall take its place”…sorry I went all Captain America there. Again to historic mythology. Hercules was tasked in his twelve labours to kill the monstrous Hydra, and with a view to do that he burned out the roots of the heads as he severed them, that means none may develop again.

Virgo is an excellent constellation with 26 identified exoplanets (planets exterior of the photo voltaic system) orbiting round 20 stars. It additionally has at the very least a dozen Messier objects. It’s the largest constellation of the Zodiac and the second-largest constellation general, behind Hydra. Picture Credit score: Stellarium

One other constellation to look out for is Virgo The Maiden. Virgo is the second largest constellation within the sky, and appears a little bit bit like a solar lounger. Virgo will be simply positioned by way of its brightest star Spica. Spica is the fifteenth brightest star within the evening sky, and is definitely a spectroscopic binary and rotating ellipsoidal variable, a system whose two most important stars are so shut collectively their mutual gravitational interplay has made them egg-shaped quite than spherical. One of the simplest to seek out Spica is to comply with the deal with of the Plough (also referred to as the Large Dipper), and arc to Arcturus, the brightest star within the constellation Boötes. When you attain Arcturus, you journey down in a straight line to Spica, you “spike” to Spica. In Latin, Spica means “ear of wheat,” and represents the grains that Virgo is all the time drawn holding.

Properly that’s it for this month! Tell us what you see within the evening sky!

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