Sun Not in Taurus

April 19th  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Taurus the Bull on Saturday April 20th. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on the 19th is within the boundary of the constellation of Aries the Ram, as this graphic shows. Actually the Sun had just entered Aries the day before on April 19th.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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Yuri’s Night 2019

yuri   April 12th 1961 Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave the surface of the Earth and orbit our planet. Coincidentally 20 years later, on the same date in 1981 the United States launched its first space shuttle, the Columbia.
   However April 12th is a date for celebrating the accomplishments of the Russian space program and the cosmonaut who became the first to orbit the Earth. So, on April 12th people around the world will take part in local events in what is known as Yuri’s Night. Use the link to the Yuri’s Night web site to learn more about this event and to see if there is a Yuri’s Night event in your area.

yuri   8 years ago during the 50th anniversary I had an opportunity to work with a group of musicians (Dark Matter) in producing a series of videos about the solar system and our home planet that were then projected as full-dome videos on a Planetarium dome ceiling. Accompanying the videos were two musicians playing their respective instruments (Flute and Clarinet) along with electronic notes, live sampling of their music, and sounds of the interior of a spacecraft. Below is a version of that performance that was entered into a worldwide contest – placed in the top five by the way.
   Please excuse the quality of the video graphics – a result of my video abilities and state of video editing capabilities ‘way back then’.


   
   
   

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Mars and Two Open Clusters

   Monday evening April 1st the planet Mars was within about 3o from the open star cluster the Pleiades and about 8-9o from the open star cluster the Hyades. These two open star clusters are part of the constellation Taurus the Bull with the v-shaped Hyades and its reddish star Aldebaran making up the Bull’s face, and the ‘small dipper-shaped’ Pleiades are located along the Bull’s shoulder.

   From mythology it has been told that Orion and Taurus are engaged in a battle. Orion with a shield held up against the charging bull, and the anger of the bull indicated by its red eye, the star Aldebaran.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Moon – Venus, Mercury, Neptune – Triple Conjunction

   Tuesday April 2nd the 27-day old thin waning crescent Moon will join three planets, Mercury, Venus, and Neptune in a triple conjunction. All four will be grouped within an area about 8-10o across. This separation is slightly more than the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
   The group of planets and our Moon have an interesting range of apparent magnitudes. The waning crescent Moon is -9.8, Venus -3.9, Mercury 0.82, and Neptune 7.95.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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April Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Monday April 1st. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.79 Earth diameters 252,520 miles (406,391 km) from the Earth.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth? From our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However, in reality, the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*

   On the day of the apogee the 26-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be over the southeastern horizon 30-60 minutes before sunrise local time.

*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Planets Line Up in the Morning Skies

   Starting Monday April 1st, and continuing for a couple of weeks there will be an arrangement of 5 planets over the eastern to southern horizon in the hour or so before the Sun rises. Of these Neptune is the only one not bright enough to be visible to the unaided eye.

The Planets at 10-day Intervals During April
   The basic organization of our solar system is to have the other 7 planets follow orbits close to the plane of the ecliptic, and given how these planets are arranged and appear from the Earth this month makes it easy to visualize the ecliptic. This ‘view from above’ animated graphic shows the planets at 1-day intervals during April.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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March Moon at Descending Node #2

   Friday March 29th the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
29 March 6 am CDT   On the day of the node crossing the 23-day old waning crescent Moon will be over the southeast horizon rising about 1-2 hours before the Sun rises. Toward the west from the Moon will be the outer ringed-planet Jupiter, and a bit further west the dwarf planet Ceres. About 4o east from the Moon is the outer ringed-planet Saturn. Both of these will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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