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Whats up in the Sky, April '11

posted Mar 25, 2011, 11:03 AM by Marvin Stewart
           I have begun to feel that Missouri owns the cloudy sky franchise after this last March. However there are reports that around twenty - five or so people have been showing up for the free viewing sessions on Friday nights at Broemmelsiek Park, even though the nights were cloudy. Last year the planet, Jupiter, was our main attraction. It was missing the southern equatorial band, which was fun to talk about. On July 9 ,2010, it was ninety degrees from the Sun and on September 21 it was at opposition and spectacular in the eye piece of a small scope at  50" wide. But wait! it also was very near Uranus and now we will have to wait until  April 2024 before they are that close again.
          This year the "star" of the show will be Saturn. On April 3, at almost midnight, it will be at opposition with its ring system open for all to see, after spending some months last year with our view of the rings edge on. At opposition it will be 19.3" wide in the eye piece. So, if you are looking for something interesting and educational to do join ASEM members Friday nights at the astronomy viewing site in Broemmelsiek Park. Saturn will be in its best viewing position until about July 3.
         We had a real treat at our regular March 12 meeting. Five year old Tim McBride, gave us a book report on a book about the planets he got for Christmas. Tim is the grandson of David and Pam Nagel. Tim came well prepared and showed no signs of stage fright as he gave some 40 members of our club his report. He knows the planets in order from the Sun and I am sure he has had a lot of encouragement. What struck me was there had to be over a thousand years of combined astronomical experience patiently listening to Tim give his report. And isn't that what we are about? I know his grandfather hopes as he gets older he still has an interest in the stars, so do we all. But, if he doesn't lets hope he has an interest in his school subjects. Tim, you did a good job, thank you. By the way later in the meeting Tim was seen playing on a hand held video game, after all he is just a kid. Tim is the son of Kevin and Betsy McBride.
        April  1   Look for the waning crescent Moon east of Venus, low in the sky before dawn.
                  3   New Moon. Saturn at opposition.
              6-7   The Moon is below the Pleiades in the evening sky.
                11   First quarter Moon.
                13   The Moon is below the bright star Regulus in Leo.
          16-17   The Moon has moved east into Virgo and will be below Saturn on the 16, and under the bright star Spica at full Moon on the 17.
                24   Last quarter Moon.
    30-May 1   The waning crescent Moon will be above Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter in the early morning sky.