April 2011 night sky

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Image via Wikipedia

 Generosity always amazes me.

 After reading my articles, Don Pfeffer last month donated his 8” Sky Watcher Dobsonian telescope to the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers Club. Thank you Don, your generosity won’t be wasted. It allows the club to have a telescope lending program. There is already a waiting list to borrow it.

Don’s donation represents a great opportunity for any member who would like to try out a telescope. I’m sure it will provide inspiration, enjoyment and broaden the minds of many people interested in learning about the night sky.

This is the start of good things to come. The club is building its inventory of lending telescopes. If you would like more information, or would like to donate a telescope please contact the club.

Here are some important events for April stargazers. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Leo will be roaring high in the sky. Look for a backward question mark that makes up the constellation head and neck. Seven galaxies can be seen between Leo’s front and back paws. Some can be seen with binoculars.  

Mercury will rise early and be very low in the western evening sky. It will not be observable after mid-month. Venus will be very low in the eastern morning sky.

Mars can be seen towards the end of the month low in the southeast morning sky at twilight. Jupiter will be difficult to see until the end of the month. It will be very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight.

Saturn rises around sunset and is high in the southern sky by midnight. Uranus is not visible since it’s lost in the sun’s glare. Neptune is low in the south east before sunrise. Pluto rises in the southeast around 4 a.m.

April 2 – The moon is at apogee and will be the furthest away from the Earth for the year at 406,655 km. What a difference only a few weeks make. On March 19 it was a super moon when it was at perigee, or closets to the earth for the year at 356,577 km.

April 3 – New moon. Saturn is also at opposition to the Earth. Since it’s fully illuminated by the sun, it’s a good time to view and photography the ringed planet.

April 8 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting at 7:30 p.m., Hamilton Spectator building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Featured speaker will be long time member Don Pullen. He will focus his talk around new members and their concerns. Free admission with door prizes. An optional donation of non-perishable food items will be collected for local food banks.

April 11 – First quarter moon

April 17 – Tonight the full moon is also known as the Pink Moon. It’s at perigee or closets to the Earth for the month at 358,087 km. Mercury also approaches Mars for the next several days in the morning.

April 21-22 – The best time to see the Lyrids Meteor Shower is after midnight at dark skies. You could see 20 per hour. Some can be seen April 16-25. The shower will be radiating from the constellation Lyra. It’s caused by falling debris from comet Thatcher burning in the atmosphere. This year, the glare of the gibbous moon will hide most of the faint meteors. A gibbous moon is not quite a full moon.

April 24 – Last quarter moon

April 27 – The days are getting longer and summer is coming. The sun will rise at 6:19 a.m. and sets at 8:16 p.m.

April 28 – Mars approaches Jupiter and gets closer every night until April 30 when it’s only .5 degrees apart.

April 29 – The moon is at apogee for a second time this month at 406,042 km

For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers web site at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323.

 

Mario Carr is the club’s director of public education and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca.

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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