This Week’s Sky: April 19 to 25, 2021 | SkyNews

Tuesday, April 20 – First quarter (at 6:59 GMT)

A diagram of the Moon at first quarter April 20, 2021. | SkyNews
First quarter Moon (Chris Vaughan, Starry Schooling)

When the moon the primary quarter of its orbit round Earth at 2:59 a.m. EDT (or 6:59 GMT) on Tuesday, April 20, the relative positions of the Earth, solar, and moon will trigger us to see it half-illuminated – on its jap facet. At first quarter, the moon all the time rises round midday and units round midnight, so it’s also seen within the afternoon daytime sky. The evenings surrounding first quarter are the most effective for seeing the lunar terrain when it’s dramatically lit by low-angled daylight.

Tuesday, April 20 – Moon passes the Beehive (in a single day)

A diagram of the Moon passing the Beehive cluster on April 20, 2021. | SkyNews
Moon passes the Beehive (Chris Vaughan, Starry Evening Schooling)

A number of days after passing Messier 35, the waxing gibbous Moon will encounter one other outstanding open star cluster named Messier 44, Praesepe, and the Beehive, in Most cancers. Within the southwestern sky after nightfall on Tuesday, April 20, the Moon will likely be shining a number of finger widths to the higher left (or 3.5 levels to the northeast) of that cluster. To higher see the “bees,” conceal the intense Moon simply past the higher fringe of your binoculars’ subject of view (crimson circle). Observers in western Africa and Europe, and the UK will see the Moon whereas it’s considerably nearer to Messier 44.

Thursday, April 22 – Lyrids Meteor Bathe peak (pre-dawn)

A diagram showing the Lyrids Meteor Shower peak on April 22, 2021. | SkyNews
Lyrids Meteor Bathe peak (Chris Vaughan, Starry Evening Schooling)

The annual Lyrids Meteor Bathe, derived from particles dropped by Comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher), runs from April 16 to 30, and is predicted to peak in depth at roughly 12:00 p.m. UTC on Thursday, April 22. The Lyrids can produce as much as 18 meteors per hour on the peak, with occasional fireballs. Probably the most meteors will seem between midnight and daybreak on Thursday, with an affordable variety of meteors on the mornings earlier than and after, too. Lyrids meteors will streak away from a degree within the sky (the bathe’s radiant) close to the intense star Vega, which will likely be excessive within the jap sky earlier than daybreak. The brilliant, waxing gibbous moon will scale back the variety of Lyrids in 2021 – however it should set simply earlier than Four a.m. native time – offering about an hour of darkish sky earlier than daybreak.

Thursday, April 22 – Gibbous Moon close to stationary Vesta (night)

A diagram showing the Gibbous Moon near stationary Vesta on April 22, 2021. | SkyNews
Gibbous Moon close to stationary Vesta (Chris Vaughan, Starry Evening Schooling)

On Thursday, April 22, the principle belt asteroid designated (4) Vesta will full a westward retrograde loop that it started in January (crimson path with labeled dates:time). After briefly pausing its movement by way of the celebrities of central Leo, Vesta will resume an eastward trajectory. This week search for magnitude 6.65 Vesta sitting lower than a finger’s width under (or 0.5 levels south-southeast of) the star 51 Leonis. On Thursday evening solely, the intense, waxing gibbous moon will move lower than a palm’s width under Vesta.  (Picture: Apr22b-2021 at 9 pm – Gibbous Moon close to Stationary Vesta.jpg)

Saturday, April 24 – Mercury strikes previous Venus (after sundown)

A diagram showing Mercury moving past Venus on April 24, 2021. | SkyNews
Mercury strikes previous Venus, after sundown (Chris Vaughan, Starry Evening Schooling)

Instantly after sundown on the evenings surrounding Saturday, April 24, look simply above the west-northwestern horizon, the place speedy Mercury will likely be climbing previous a lot brighter Venus. On Saturday, Mercury will likely be positioned a thumb’s width to Venus’ decrease proper (or 1.25 levels to the celestial northwest). On Sunday and Monday Mercury will ascend to Venus’ higher proper. The very best viewing occasions will likely be at about eight p.m. native time. Make sure that the solar has utterly disappeared under the horizon earlier than utilizing binoculars (crimson circle) or telescopes in your search.

Chris Vaughan is a science author, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you’ll observe him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He may also deliver his Digital Starlab moveable inflatable planetarium to your college or different daytime or night occasion. Contact him by way of to tour the universe collectively.

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