Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mercury Can Be Found In April Skies

April Skies
By Jon Spargo, Tech Astronomy Club

During April, the tiny Planet Mercury will probably put on its best show for 2010. From the 1st through the 15th it can be found about 10 degrees above the western horizon starting about one half hour after sunset. During this period, it will slowly fade from magnitude -0.9 to +1.4. By the 15th binoculars may be necessary to see it.
Brilliant Venus will be easy to spot as it blazes away at magnitude -3.9. During the first two weeks you can use Venus as a guide to finding Mercury. On the 3rd, the two planets will be separated by only 3 degrees, Mercury being a bit lower and to the right of Venus.
Mars is high overhead in the early evening and continues to fade as the Earth continues to put more distance between Mars and us. From the 16th through the 18th Mars will be just one degree north of the center of M44, the ‘Beehive Cluster.’ This will be a good time for viewing both through binoculars and small telescopes before the waxing Moon arrives in the neighborhood on the 20th and 21st.
Recently passing opposition, Saturn will be visible just about all night long for the entire month. The rings will continue to close during the month heading for a minimum of just 1.7 degrees in mid May. Because of this and the increasing distance from Earth, Saturn’s magnitude will fade slightly as the month progresses.
This month, we welcome Jupiter back to the early morning skies. You will find it low in the east about 1 hour before sunrise. By the end of the month it will rise 2 hours before sunrise making it a bit easier to find shining at magnitude -2.
The Moon will be last quarter on the 6th, new on the 14th, 1st quarter on the 21st and full on the 28th. Beginning on the 2nd about one hour before sunrise, the Moon will make yet another impressive pass through the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. On the 3rd the waning gibbous Moon will be a mere 1 degree above the bright orange star Antares which is said to be the “heart” of the scorpion. Antares is also known as the ‘rival of Mars’ because of its orange color. On the western horizon, the crescent Moon will be found just one degree above tiny Mercury on the 15th about 1 hour after sunset. On the 21st, shortly after dark, the Moon, Mars and M44 (the Beehive cluster) will form a nice little group of objects

No comments:

Post a Comment