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TOPIC: April 2010


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RE: April 2010
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Saturn is now up all night in Virgo. The famous rings have begun to narrow slightly from our point of view.
Telescope observers can also look for a nice alignment of Saturn's moons on April 20. Look for five moons in a row. It's difficult to spot Iapetus above and to the right of bright Titan. Jupiter rises in the dawn's twilight until mid-month.

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saturn-2010-4-20-22h29m.gif

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As spring warms in Wyoming, the nights become progressively better for stargazing by getting out the binoculars and telescopes.
Yet many new telescope users are under the assumption that to truly enjoy the sky, you must use the highest magnification you can find. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many of the most beautiful sights in the night sky are best viewed through low-power, wide-field eyepieces or binoculars.

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It's a stellar planetary lineup when Saturn, Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter take to the heavenly field.
As night falls, Venus and Mercury will be visible low on the western horizon. Venus is very bright, and Mercury seems dim. At week's end, Venus begins to climb in the west, as Mercury, initially stationary, eventually sinks.

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Dominating the springtime night sky is the majestic constellation Leo. Leo is one of the few constellations that actually looks like its mythological character, making it a favourite for beginner stargazers and fairly easy to spot. The lion's basic form is a small triangle formation of stars connected to a series of stars in a shape of a giant backwards question mark, or hook.
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A meteor shower in late April will give stargazers a treat as the Lyrids meteor shower makes its appearance from April 22 to predawn of April 23.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the shower's peak may feature an average of 10 to 15 meteors per hour.

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Mercury, the solar system's most elusive planet, will be easier to see for the next two weeks.
Astronomers say that Mercury and Venus will appear unusually close together between now and April 10. Because Venus is one of the brightest objects in the night sky it can be used as a pointer to find the hard-to-see Mercury.
Just look in the lower western sky about an hour after sunset. Find Venus and look down and to the right for Mercury.
They will appear closest together on April 3 and 4, but Venus is really on the other side of the sun.

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april.jpg

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The name for April comes from the word Aprilis, which means aperture or opening. That's what much of the northern hemisphere is doing as we are ever so slowly tilting back toward the sun again after the vernal equinox.
There are many highlights to enjoy during the warmer nights. Try to find the darkest skies to catch these celestial events, both the obvious and more subtle ones.

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Mars continues to capture our attention, shining brightly in the constellation Cancer. On April 21, Mars and the waxing crescent moon bracket the Beehive (Praesepe, Messier object 44), all well within the field of view a pair of 7 x 50 binoculars.
Look right after sunset for Mercury and Venus during the first two weeks of April. Low on the west-northwest horizon, the two inferior planets (meaning that they lie between Earth and the sun) surround a day-and-a-half-old moon on April 15. You might need binoculars to spot the tiny lunar sliver.

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Mercury makes its best evening appearance in 2010 this month.
Looking about 10 degrees above the west-northwest horizon about 45 minutes after sunset, you will be able to spot Mercury. In this same part of the sky, you also will notice a brilliant shining "star," which actually is the planet Venus. First find Venus, Mercury is located just below and to the right of Venus.
Find Mercury early in the month, for by April 15, it will be low above the mountains and be lost below the horizon a couple of days after that. On this date, find a slender crescent Moon just above Mercury.

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