There is so much to see this month in our night skies! Mars at opposition, a lunar eclipse and April's Lyrid meteor shower. We can show you some of these objects on the Monrovia Sidewalk Saturday night, April 5th. We can show you Mars, which will be low in the eastern sky, but it's better later in the evening than our sidewalk hours. On April 8 Mars reaches opposition, in its nearly two-year orbit, when it's directly opposite the sun in our sky. This year Mars will be closer to Earth than it has been since 2007. Mars rises in the East in the early evening and is visible all night long. We'll show you the crescent moon, but in another week you can see a total eclipse, but not during our public sidewalk astronomy hours. The lunar eclipse will be visible to everyone in North and South America and the Pacific on April 14 and 15. On the west Coast the eclipse begins at 9:53 p.m. and ends at 3:38 a.m. If you just want to catch the total eclipse, set your alarm clock for midnight on the West Coast. The total eclipse will last an hour and a half from beginning to end. Finally, this month's Lyrid meteor shower peaks on the night of April 22 and the morning of April 23. The third quarter moon rises an hour past midnight, brightening the sky. But the moon will only obscure the fainter meteors. Luckily, the Lyrids are known to produce bright meteors, many with persistent trains. I am betting some LA Urban skywatchers will see some. If not, watch my What's Up video to enjoy these objects vicariously, here: What's Up For April? Lyrids, Lunar Eclipse, Mars at Opposition http://youtu.be/DOS-LkdTTGE Hope to see some of you tomorrow night in Monrovia! NOTE: Calendar for public dark sky National Park star parties: Next Mojave National Preserve Star Party is May 31, next Yosemite Glacier Point Star Party (Jane and Mojo will be there with our friends from the San Jose Astronomical Association) July 25, 26. But there are public star parties at Glacier Point each non-full moon weekend between July 4 and Labor Day. Members bring telescopes, public invited and at no charge. These two are some of the best dark skies in the country, and dedicated to public astronomy, and free of charge.
-- Jane Houston Jones Monrovia, CA @jhjones @CassiniSaturn @NASAInsight What's Up For April? Lyrids, Lunar Eclipse, Mars at Opposition http://youtu.be/DOS-LkdTTGE