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April Skies 2014 

Orion’s stars, so familiar for the past several months, are now sinking into the twilight.  The spring stars may not dazzle in comparison, yet the Big Dipper is placed high in the northeast, Leo, the Lion champions the southern skies, and Gemini’s Twins settle into the west.  Jupiter is just below the Twins, but the spotlight shifts to the east, where Mars makes its best appearance in several years.  Saturn rises late in the evening, while Venus is bright but low in the morning twilight.  The other highlight this month will be the Total Lunar Eclipse on April 15th, early Tuesday morning from 2 AM through 5:30 AM.


24 –  Early risers tomorrow morning, between yawns from 4:45 until 5:00, will be treated to a picturesque celestial scene, with a waning Crescent Moon above and a little right of the brilliant morning planet Venus, very low in the east-southeast.  If you are up early Saturday, the even-thinner Crescent Moon will be well to the left of Venus, just above the horizon.

25 –  At 9 o’clock this evening, the western skies are cluttered with bright stars.  High in the west are the Twins of Gemini, with the blazing Jupiter below them.  Continuing straight down, still looking in the west, the orangish-white star Betelgeuse marks Orion’s shoulder, then below is Orion’s Belt, and nearing the horizon, the star Rigel, forming Orion’s foot.

26 – The northwestern skies in the evenings are home to Capella, the Goat Star. In mythology this is the nurse goat for the great Jupiter, and was rewarded with a place in the heavens. It is in the northwest, well to the right of the Twin Stars in Gemini.

 

 

star chart to find Leo the Lion in early May

 

 

 

Astronomy Resources


Sky and Telescope’s safe eclipse viewing guide


You can view the partial eclipse safely and easily following the directions provided.

 

The Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover

This is the home page for the Curiosity Rover.  Explore the site to find images, videos, and volumes of science information.

 

The Mars Exploration Program

This is the home page for all of the on-going missions to Mars.


 


The Mars page of the website Nine Planets

Nine Planets is a great website featuring information about each planet (and even though there are only eight “planets”, you’ll find information about nearly all of the moons, dwarf planets, and other small solar system bodies)

 

Sky & Telescope's Interactive Star Chart

You must register first (it's free) to use this on-line chart.  Follow the directions to get a chart that will show the sky for any location, at any time.  You can also create a .pdf file to view from your computer any time.

 

The Old Farmer's Almanac

 

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Each day brings a fascinating look at astronomy, and an explanation of what you are seeing.


Vermont Astronomical Society

The Vermont Astronomical Society (VAS) is a group of amateur astronomers that has been serving northern Vermont for over 45 years. Membership ranges from beginning naked-eye stargazers to advanced amateurs with home observatories and elaborate equipment.

 

 

NASA Science

This is the home of NASA, where science ranges from the Earth to the ends of the universe.  That means there's a lot to explore!  

SpaceWeather.com


News and information about the Earth-Sun environment, including astronomy events (eclipses, moon phenomena, asteroids, etc.), discoveries, and Northern Lights.  


Magazines:  

Sky & Telescope Magazine


 Astronomy Magazine

Books: There are thousands of books, and each has information that can be helpful.  You might collect a few before you find one that matches your taste and way of thinking about astronomy.  To help you get started, check with your local library or favorite book store for the following titles:  

The Stars by H. A. Rey

Rey, well known for writing and illustrating the "Curious George" books, wrote this wonderful introduction to the night sky in the 1950s, and it remains one of the best for a wide range of ages and interests.  

NightWatch by Terrence Dickinson

This ring-bound book leads the beginning star gazer through the heavens, rich in photographs, charts, and lots of practical information.  

Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen 

For those who love the myths and origins of star names and constellations, this is a wonderful start.  Some of the interpretations have been challenged in recent years as others have looked into the subject, so it is not considered the final authority.  But it is still a wealth of ideas and information.  

Night Sky: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guides) by Mark R. Chartrand

This all around guide book shows you how to find the constellations, describes the nature of the heavens and the objects we see, and how to set up and use a telescope  

Exploring the Night Skies with Binoculars by David Chandler

This is must, because it gives such practical and realistic expectations about what you can see.   

Also of interest:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astronomy by Christopher De Pree and Alan Axelrod

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo

The Sky: A User’s Guide by David Levy
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