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Post Info TOPIC: April 2009


L

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RE: April 2009
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The James Madison University Department of Physics and Astronomy invites the public and the JMU community to take a free and close-up view of Saturn and the Orion Nebula from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Friday at the JMU Astronomy Park.

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L

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Put April 25, 26 or 27 on your stargazing calendar for a nice look at Mercury, nestled near a crescent moon and the Pleiades star cluster.
The timing couldn't be more convenient. Look up 45 minutes after sunset in the west-northwest sky. There you have it; you don't even have to stay up late or get up early. Also, chances are the temperatures will be much milder than they were a month or two ago.
Those milder temperatures will also help if you want to glimpse the Lyrid meteor shower this month. The Lyrids are not among the showiest of meteor showers, but they can have their moments.

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During the morning, 22nd April, 2009, Venus will be occulted by a  waning thin crescent (9%) Moon.
The event will be observable in North America.

Chicago                12 45 UT
Denver                 12 21 UT
Detroit                 12 56 UT
Houston               12 27 UT
Tucson                 12 07 UT


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L

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Soaring high in the eastern sky and almost overhead at around midnight are the two stars marking the Hunting Dogs, known as Canes Venatici. Located about a third of the way from the end of the Big Dipper's handle and below it, these dogs were placed in the sky to assist Bootes, the Bear Driver in his daily task of pursuing the Big Bear (Ursa Major) around the pole of the heavens.

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L

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With spring's arrival evening temperatures are beginning to warm, making for more pleasant viewing, and April is loaded with wonderful night-sky sights.
Mercury will spend the month rising higher into the evening twilight, reaching its greatest elongation on April 26. Look for it following close behind the sun in the growing darkness whenever we have clear skies over the Olympics. If the skies are clear on the 26th, binoculars will show it, the Pleiades star cluster and a thin crescent of the waxing moon gathered close together near the western horizon 45 minutes after sunset.

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L

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There's good news and bad news as March turns to April and a long winter finally fades.
The bad news: the spring sky has nowhere near as many bright deep-sky objects for small telescopes as winter, at least for northern-hemisphere observers.
The good news?  All five bright planets are visible this month, so you still have lots of observing to do.  And if you have a 6 to 8-inch or larger scope and dark sky, this is a great time of year to go hunting for faint deep-sky fuzzies in the galaxy fields of Leo, Virgo, and Ursa Major.

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