This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, April 1, through Sunday, April 3 written by Sam Salem
On Friday, the Sun rises at 6:37am and sets at 7:22pm. The moon rises at 2:46am Saturday, 3:31am Sunday, and 4:12am Monday.
Mercury climbs quickly into the western sky after its superior conjunction last month. This is the best evening apparition of Mercury for the year.
Venus is still bright in the dawn sky, but dropping toward the Sun.
Saturn and Mars, continue to move closer to each other in April. Mars spends most of the month in Ophiuchus. Mars rises around 23:54 on Friday and is visible the rest of the night. Saturn is retrograding in Ophiuchus, rising around 00:37 at midnight and will be visible all night.
Jupiter is easily visible in the evening following its opposition last month. It sets before sunrise around 5:53am. Jupiter is retrograding in Leo. The ancient and well-known constellation, Leo, is a Zodiac constellation, where the ecliptic passes through it. Leo is one of the 48 constellations listed by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century, but it dates back at leas a thousand years earlier to the Babylonians.
If you have a telescope, the most interesting star in Leo is the second one above Regulus, where the lion’s back joins onto his mane. The star is called Algieba, which means “the forehead” in Arabic. Algeiba is a double star, described as one of the finest double stars in the sky. However, it’s difficult for low power telescopes to resolve.
Arcturus, the bright Spring Star, shines just as high in the east as Sirius, the brighter Winter Star, does in the southwest. The Big Dipper, high in the northeast, points its curving handle lower right down toward it.
Arcturus forms the pointy end of a long, narrow kite asterism formed by the brightest stars of Bootes, the Cowherd. The head of the kite, at the far left, is bent slightly upward.
Friday, at 8 p.m., the Dudley Observatory will host a lecture and star party at the Octagonal Barn in Delanson, NY. The evening’s lecture will be “The Astrophysics of Time Travel“ by Dr. Matthew Szydagis of SUNY Albany. The star party will be held, weather permitting, after the lecture. Directions to the Octagonal Barn can be found at http://dudleyobservatory.org/directions/.
The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers will be hosting their first star parties of the year this Friday and Saturday nights at the Landis Arboretum at 8:00pm. Star Parties are cancelled if the skies are mostly cloudy. Please call the Frenches at 518-374-8460 if you are unsure. Directions to the Landis Arboretum can be found at http://dudleyobservatory.org/AAAA/directions/.