2009: The International Year of Astronomy (IYA)
Comets: Comet Lulin put on a moderately good showing during mid February and into March and I got to see this on several nights when the clouds were not present so overall it was a pleasing Comet to Observe with its vaguely seen 2 tails and slightly greenish in colour through my 20X100 Mounted Big Binoculars, it is now fading around Magnitude +9 in the Constellation of Gemini as it moves away from the Earth as well as the Sun so I think we have seen the best of this one.
Other Comets: There are 2 other brighter comets around at the moment-Comet Itagaki (2009 E1) which has a poor Elongation at the moment and around Magnitude +8 and Comet Yi SWAN which is around Magnitude +8.5 and steady-this one is visible all night in the Constellation of Cassiopeia for people with reasonable Telescopes.
Astronomical Events for April:
13th April: Antares is 0.4 Degrees South of the Moon
15th April: Mars is 0.5 Degrees South of Uranus, Venus is Stationary
17th April: Ceres is Stationary
18th April: Venus is 6 Degrees North of the Moon
19th April: Jupiter is 2 Degrees South of the Moon
20th April: Neptune is 2 Degrees South of the Moon
22nd April: Lyrid Meteor shower reaches its best
26th April: Mercury is 1.9 Degrees South of the Moon
The Planets for April and May:
Mercury: Has its best Evening Apparition of the Year for British Observers and is at its best Elongation on 26th April at 20 Degrees East of the Sun
Venus: Will be a brilliant Object in the Morning Sky but will be very low on the Eastern Horizon to Observe
Dwarf Planet Ceres: Culminates at 22.00 Hours in mid Month and is visible Close to the Sickle in the Constellation of Leo
Jupiter: Still low on the Eastern Horizon in the Early Morning Twilight at the moment.
Saturn: Now past Opposition and still visible all night underneath the Constellation of Leo
Uranus: Too close to the Sun to be Observed during April
Neptune:Too low as well in the glow of the early morning Twilight.
Dwarf Planet Pluto: Low in Sagittarius
Upcoming Astronomical Space Events for April and May:
The Space Shuttle Atlantis or STS 125 should return to the Hubble Space Telescope for an upgrade of the Space Orbiting eye on the Universe-lift off is targeted for May 12th and the 11 day mission is the final Shuttle Mission to the HST with several spacewalks or EVA's (Extra Vehicular Activity) to install 2 new instruments and repair others with Hubble components, this Mission should extend its working life until at least 2014, its the 5th Hubble service Mission, 30th flight for Atlantis and the 126th STS Shuttle flight.
4 Launches worldwide are still scheduled for the rest of April and in May 6-8 Launches are scheduled including the STS 125 to the HST Servicing Mission.
Later on during this Summer between 20th and 26th July will be the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landings when man first set foot upon the Moon.
All times are G.M.T or Universal Time U.T (add 1 Hour B.S.T)
Rest of April:
First Quarter Moon was on 2nd April at 14.34 Hours U.T
Full Moon is 9th April at 14.56 Hours U.T
Last Quarter Moon is on 17th April at 13.36 Hours U.T
New Moon is on 25th April at 03.23 Hours U.T
First Quarter Moon is on 1st May at 20.44 Hours U.T
Full Moon is on 9th May at 04.01 Hours U.T
Last Quarter Moon is on 17th May at 07.26 Hours U.T
New Moon is on 24th May at 12.11 Hours U.T
First Quarter Moon is on 31st May at 03.22 Hours U.T
There are 2 First quarter Moons in the Month of May and 2 Full Moons (or a Blue Moon) in the Month of December of this year 2009, there is also a Partial Eclipse of the Moon on New Years Eve 2009 during the evening but only 8% of the Lunar Surface will be Obscured.
Lighting Up Times for April into May:
All times are G.M.T or Universal Time U.T (add 1 Hour BST)
15th April: 19.28 Hours U.T
1st May: 19.59 Hours U.T
15th May: 20.26 Hours U.T
31st May: 20.52 Hours U.T
Good Clear Skies.