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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...

The following tips on exciting current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.
The pictures are from Jim Failes' photo collection. Hope you enjoy them!

Thurs. April 3 - A real piece of celestial art is in the sky tonight as the crescent Moon snuggles into the Hyades star cluster in Taurus in the western sky. As well as great eye candy, over the course of an hour or so you will be able to detect the Moon's motion in its orbit as the dark cusp lit by earthshine gradually moves eastward through cluster members. Watch for star occultations and perhaps even grazes.

Sun. April 6 - The waxing Moon will pass the width of your three middle fingers below brilliant Jupiter in the evening sky tonight.

Mon. April 7 - This is First Quarter Moon night with the half slice of orange high in the evening sky. Here is an image of a Spring First Quarter Moon which was taken by Jim Failes to illustrate how high it was in the sky.

Tues. April 8 -  This is the time that Mars lovers have been looking forward to. The red planet reaches opposition and its peak brightness, shining out at -1.5 magnitude. Its disk appears 15" across, and if there are steady sky conditions, this week would be a great time to get it into your telescope field to see if you can spot some surface details. Here is a photo of Mars and the star Spica in the pre-dawn sky which was recently taken in mid March by Jim Failes.

Fri. April 11 - If you have nothing to do tonight, or more correctly early tomorrow morning, why not plan to catch the planetary pairing of  bright Venus and much fainter blue Neptune in the pre dawn sky. The separation between the planets will be just over a Moon's width apart.

Mon. April 14 - It's been awhile since we've been treated to a total eclipse of the Moon, but tonight we will see the first one of two during 2014. The Moon will first enter the penumbra or outer shadow cast by the Earth late this evening and it will gradually progress into the dark central umbral shadow with totality beginning at 12.06am continuing until 1.24am. Note the reddish or coppery colour the Moon will assume as well as enjoying the nearby star Spica together with Mars located about the width of your fist to the upper right. Here is a picture of the totally eclipsed Moon which was taken on February 20, 2008 by Jim Failes.

Mon. April 14 - While Mars reached opposition exactly opposite the Sun in our sky last Tuesday, tonight it will actually be the closest to Earth during this conjunction. The discrepancy is because of the eccentricity of our red neighbour's orbit. The distance between Earth and Mars will be a sizeable 92,373,820 km compared to the approximately 56 million km it is when an opposition occurs in August or September.

Wednesday, April 16 - The still near full Moon will pass less than its width below Saturn around midnight tonight.

Tues. April 22 - Though the Last Quarter Moon will enter the sky around midnight to interfere with the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower in the early morning hours, it will be out of the way before then, inviting an evening of meteor spotting. Look for 'shooting stars' emanating from the eastern sky.

Fri. April 25 - For those who missed or passed up the meeting of Neptune and Venus on the 11th, tonight the waning Moon will pass the width of your three middle fingers north of Venus in the early morning hours. Here is a picture of a waning crescent Moon and Venus in the pre-dawn sky that was taken by Jim Failes on February 26.

Tues. April 29 - This is New Moon night when there will be no Moon at all to interfere with deep sky telescope activities.