may.jpg
Apr
01

The Stars of April

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 Daylight savings time is in use in most northern latitudes, while darkness now arrives earlier in the south. The Big Dipper (The Plough) is high in the northern sky, Leo is prominent from all latitudes, and the Milky Way, containing a wealth of bright stars, is well placed for those in the southern hemisphere.

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 The seven stars in the Great Bear's tail and rump form the big dipper. The second star in the tail is Mizar, which has a companion, Alcor. Both can be seen with binoculars or by anyone with good eyesight.

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Bd

meteorshower.jpg
Apr
02

Meteor Showers For April

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  Meteor Shower Activity

April Meteor Showers
(The Lyrids)
The Lyrid meteor shower, most easily seen from northern latitudes, reaches its peak around April 21st. It is one of the poorer showers, with a maximum rate of only 10 meteors an hour, but the meteors are fast, bright, and often leave trains. The radiant is in the constellation Lyra, close to the bright star Vega.

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Apr
01

Bootes (Featured Constellation)

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 Mythology of Bootes

Bootes is an elongated constellation depicting a man herding a bear, represented by Ursa Major. The name of its brightest star, Arcturus, is Greek for (bear guard). The northern part of Bootes contains the faint stars that formed the now-defunct constellation of Quardrans Muralis, the mural (or wall) quadrant, which gave its name to the Quadrantid meteor shower that radiates from this area every January.

The Facts

  • Depiction: The Herdsman
  • Pronounced: bo-OH-teez
  • Genitive: Bootis
  • Abbreviation: Boo
  • Highest in the Sky: May to June
  • Size Ranking: 13th
  • Coverage Area: 907 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 15 Hours
  • Declination: 30°
  • Visibility: 90°N to 45°S

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Apr
01

Corvus (Featured Constellation)

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 Mythology of Corvus

This small constellation south of Virgo represents a crow perched on the coils of Hydra, the water-snake. In Greek mythology, the crow was sent by Apollo to fetch water in a cup (represented by the adjoining constellation of Crater), but greedily stopped to eat figs instead. On its return, the crow blamed the water-snake for delaying it. But Apollo, who was not fooled by the lie, condemned the crow to a life of thirst, just out of reach of the cup in the heavens.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Crow/Raven
  • Pronounced: KOR-vuss
  • Genitive: Corvi
  • Abbreviation: Crv
  • Highest in the Sky: April to May
  • Size Ranking: 70th
  • Coverage Area: 184 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 12 hours
  • Declination: -20°
  • Visibility: 61°N to 90°S

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acrux.jpg
Apr
01

Acrux (Alpha Crucis)

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The brightest star in the Southern Cross, known as Acrux or Alpha Crucis, is in fact a close double star. A small telescope will divide it into two sparkling points. A fainter star, which is not related to the main pair, can be seen through binoculars.

ngc4755_2.jpg
Apr
01

NGC 4755

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This open cluster, popularly known as the Jewel Box, is visible to the naked eye as a hazy star, and is best viewed through binoculars or a small telescope. The English astronomer Sir John Herschel described it in the 1830s as resembling a casket of variously colored precious stones.

coalsack.jpg
Apr
01

The Coalsack

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What appears to be a hole in the Milky Way next to Crux the "Southern Cross" is in fact a huge cloud of dust that blots out light from the stars behind it. This Dark Nebula, known as the Coalsack, is about 60 light-years in diameter, and is thought to lie about 600 light-years from us.

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