Astronomical events of interest for April 2015


Stargazing events of interest for April 2015
 
April is the fourth month of the year in our calendar and one of four months with a length of 30 days. It is believed the Romans named the month Aprilis, a goddess who was the equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, but this is uncertain. April is associated with the Latin verb aperire, "to open”. We relate this “opening” to the budding of trees and the blooming of flowers. April however was not always the fourth month of the year, and therefore not in spring.  In the earliest (700 BC) Roman calendar, April was the second month before it became the four month around 450 BC, but had only had 29 days. Julius Caesar added the 30th day
around 45 BC.
 
This month’s full moon is most commonly known as the Pink Moon. It is also known as the Seed Moon, Planter’s Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Grass Moon, Flower Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, and Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation (Dakota Sioux). April’s full moon usually plays a role in determining Passover and Easter. Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon (Paschal Full Moon) after the spring equinox. Those “early” Easters occur when the full moon occurs in March after the spring equinox.
 
Moon:
  • Farthest from Earth: April 1 (252,284 miles mini-size moon)
  • Full Moon: April 4 (lunar eclipse visible in North America)  
  • Last Quarter Moon: April 11
  • Closest to Earth: April 16 (224,329 miles super-size moon)            
  • New Moon: April 18
  • First Quarter Moon: April 25
 
Planets Visible:
 
Shortly (1 hour) after sunset:
  • Mercury will be visible low on the western horizon after April 18
  • Mars is visible low on the western horizon until April 20
  • Venus is visible in the west. Look for the brightest “star” in that area of the sky
  • Jupiter will be visible in the south. Look for the brightest star in that area of the sky. It will move to the southwest by month’s end.
Morning before sunrise:
  • Saturn is visible in the south all month. Look for two bright stars. Saturn will be the brighter of the two sitting above and right of the star Antares, a red giant.
 
Sun:
  • April 1: Sunrise 6:44am MST, Sunset 7:22pm MST
  • April 19: Sun enters the astronomical constellation Aries.
  • April 20: The Sun enters the astrological sign Taurus.
  • April 30: Sunrise 6:02am MDT, Sunset 7:51pm MDT                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
 
Earth:
  • April 5: Easter and Second day of Passover (first Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox)
  • April 22: Earth Day
  • April 25: National Astronomy Day the first of two days when local astronomy clubs sponsor public outreach activities.  See Special Events.
 
Meteors:
  • April 22-23: Lyrid Meteors. Best observed in the early morning hours (1am to 3am) on the morning of the 23th.  Up to twenty meteors per hour are possible.
 
Special Events:

·         April 4 very early morning: Shortest total lunar eclipse of the century. The Moon will enter the Earth’s shadow at 4:16am. Total eclipse begins at 5:58am. Total eclipse ends at 6:03am (5 minutes). Moonset is at 6:46am. The Moon will be setting partially eclipsed. The Moon leaves the Earth’s shadow at 7:45am, 59 minutes after moonset. Look west.  Spica the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo the virgin will be to the left of the Moon during the eclipse.

  • April 4 evening: The Moon will be just above and left to Spica. You may need binoculars to see Spica. The Moon’s glare may make it difficult to see Spica. Look east.
  • April 5 morning before sunrise: The Moon will be above of Spica. Look west.
  • April 8 morning before sunrise: The Moon will be next to Saturn and above right of the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion. Look south.
  • April 21 after sunset: A very thin crescent moon will be above Aldebaran the brightest star (the bull’s eye) in Taurus the bull. Bright Venus will be right of the Moon. Look west.
  • April 24 evening: Dr. Robert Stencel (AKA Dr. Bob) will be presenting a lecture on “Astronomy in a Time of Climate Change” at the Community College of Aurora starting at 7:00pm. The school’s observatory will be open after the lecture weather permitting. The lecture will be held in room F100 in the Fine Arts Building just north of the observatory. Go here for more information.
  • April 25 after sunset: The Moon will be below Jupiter and above Procyon the brightest star Canis Minor the little dog. Look south.
  • April 25 evening: Chamberlin Observatory Open House weather permitting. The observatory’s 20” telescope and telescopes belonging to members of the Denver Astronomical Society will be available for viewing. The event starts at 8:00 pm. Click here for more information
  • April 25-26 evening: The Moon will pass below Jupiter. Both will be in the constellation Cancer the crab.
  • April 27 evening: The Moon will be below the star Regulus the brightest star in the constellation Leo.
 
Historical Trivia
  • April 12, 1961: First man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
  • April 1, 1997: Comet Hale-Bopp passes Perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) causing tremendous cultural and astronomic excitement when it outshines the brightest stars in the sky


 
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KEZW and our friends at the Glenn Miller Archive at the University of Colorado present the Star Spanged Radio Hour, Saturday night at 6pm.  Rick and Dennis Spragg introduce live big band radio broadcasts from the 30s and 40s that haven't been heard since they originally aired.  It's our time capsule from the big band era and you can only hear it on AM 1430!  Miss a show?  Click here.

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