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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. 

Fri. April 3 - Algol makes a return performance with its blink routine. This time the two hour maximum dip in brightness will occur from 6.37 to 8.37pm. The onset and recessional periods are gradual, so you might compare its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus both during the minimum and late in the evening to see the difference.

Sat. April 4 - This is Full Moon night, and it again occurs close to the apogee of our companion's orbit around the Earth. This will mean the Moon will appear a bit smaller than at the other side of its orbit, however it should still look impressive as it climbs over the eastern mountains. Below is a picture of the full moon taken by Jim Failes:

Sat. April 4 -  Just before dawn this morning the third total lunar eclipse in the 2014-2015 tetrad will take place low in the southwestern sky. Penumbra begins at 2.35am with the onset of a partial eclipse at 3.15am, totality from 4.45 to 5.06am with mid eclipse at 5am. The partial eclipse will end at 6.454am. Below is a picture of a partially eclipsed Moon which was taken by Jim Failes:

Wed. April 8 - The waning gibbous Moon will pass only about the width of two fingers from the ringed planet Saturn tonight.

Fri. - Sun. April 10 - 12 - There will be an exciting configuration in the western sky these nights as our sister planet Venus slowly passes close to the Pleiades open star cluster in Taurus. It will be a beautiful sight in binoculars as well as through a wide field telescope. Jim Failes captured the earlier similar view below:

Sat. April 11 - This is Last Quarter Moon night with the half lit sphere rising around midnight and remaining high in the morning sky. Dark observing skies are not far off!

Sat. April 18 - This is New Moon night, the central part of the roughly two week period when our neighbour is largely out of the way so it doesn't interfere with deep sky observing, sketching or imaging.

Sun. April 19 - The inner planet Mercury's close visit to ruddy Mars this evening will be watched over by a thin crescent Moon low in the evening sky, providing an interesting grouping of the three objects which will be best enjoyed through binoculars. Jim Failes' extensive photo collection includes the similar scene below:

Tues. April 21 - Mercury's best evening performance of the year is just getting underway and it will be marked by a close conjunction with ruddy Mars low in the western evening sky. Higher in the sky and farther apart will be the crescent Moon and brilliant Venus. Should be quite an evening performance. Jim Failes captured the following earlier view of the Crescent Moon and Mercury:

Wed. April 22 - For lovers of meteor showers, this year's Lyrids will have the benefit of a dark sky with no Moon to interfere with the fainter members. The best opportunity to view them will be tonight from around 11pm to dawn. The radiant will climb into the eastern sky without a Moon to drown out the fainter members.

Sun. April 26 - The Moon will pass about the width of three middle fingers below bright Jupiter in the evening sky. A similar conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter which was photographed by Jim Failes appears below:

Mon. April 27 - Tonight the swelling Moon will approach within the width of three middle fingers from bright Regulus located at the bottom of the reverse question mark in the constellation Leo.

Thurs. April 30 - Fleet Mercury will provide its best evening showing in the coming weeks, climbing as much as it is able to into the evening sky. After sunset tonight it will be only about the width of a middle finger below the Pleiades open star cluster in the western sky.