Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Posts tagged “philippine sky april 2011

40% Waxing Crescent Moon – April 2011

Amazed by the remarkable beauty of the Moon hanging on a perfect indigo sky one afternoon, I immediately set up the tripod and grabbed my trusty Kodak C813 8.0 megapixel digital camera to capture the view.

My camera is not suitable for taking images of distant objects such as the Moon especially during low light conditions. Nevertheless, I still tried my luck in getting a few relatively decent shots.

The Moon was nicely situated on the sky (almost directly overhead) that it appeared close to my favorite Avocado tree. 🙂

Moon and the Avocados! (left) Camera setting: Flash was fired.

This 40% illuminated Moon was in the constellation Gemini during this apparition. While checking on the images, I saw that a star was visible on the upper left of the Moon — about 10 degrees away from it. After running Stellarium, I realized that it was the 1.93 magnitude star Alhena (or Gamma Geminorum)  that is located on the left foot of the Twin Pollux.

Alhena and Luna (click to enlarge). Notice also the faint earthshine on the Moon's disk.

 I really need a camera upgrade I guess. 🙂 Haha!

It feels great whenever there’s great opportunity like this to take photos of the night sky.


Anyway, with or without pictures the  Moon has really never failed to amuse me.

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Skywatching Highlights: April 2011

This month’s highlights:

  • Saturn in the evening sky
  • The 2011 Lyrid Meteor Shower
  • Four Planets and a Crescent Moon in the morning sky
Date Event Time (in PHT, UT+8)
3 New Moon 22:30
5 Saturn at Opposition 

— The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.

09:50
6 Jupiter in conjunction with the Sun 23:00
10 Mercury in inferior conjunction 04:00
11 First Quarter Moon 20:05
17 Moon at perigee (nearest distance to Earth) 14:00
18 Full Moon 10:45
21-22 Lyrid Meteor Shower* 

— The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 – 25. This year, the gibbous moon will hide most of the fainter meteors in its glare. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight, and be sure to find a dark viewing location far from city lights.

22 Mercury-Venus-Mars-Jupiter visual alignment 

— Visible from April 25 to May 30

dawn
23 Venus at Uranus at minimum separation (0.9 degrees) dusk
25 Last Quarter Moon 10:45
27 Neptune 6 degrees south of the Moon 21:00
29 Four Planets and Crescent Moon in the morning sky 

— On the last two mornings of the month, given a clear low eastern horizon, there will be four planets and a thin crescent Moon visible just above.   You will need binoculars, so cease looking when the Sun has risen.

dawn
31 Moon at apogee (farthest distance to Earth) 02:00

*Check out the following links for more info:

Lyrids Quick Facts:

The red dot shows the "radiant" for the Lyrid meteor shower. The radiant is the spot in the sky that the meteors seem to fan out from. (Image courtesy of NASA)

Lyrid meteor streaks | Image credit: Wally Pacholka

A video guide on finding the constellation Lyra:

HubbleSite – Tonight’s Sky: April 2011

 

Clear skies to all and happy observing! 🙂

 

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References:


Celestial Grouping on May 2011

Here is another rare planetary grouping that is hard to miss! 🙂

As soon as I came across this website shared by Daniel Fischer and read about the proximity of Venus and Jupiter to each other  on May 2011, I immediately ran my Stellarium software and simulated planetary positions throughout that month.

I got excited when I saw the nice planetary grouping of Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Mercury (you can add Uranus and Neptune to your count if you have binoculars or a small telescope) with the thin waning crescent Moon during the predawn hours of May 1 and 2.

Uranus could be found a few degrees above Venus but is too faint to see. Image: Stellarium screenshot

All of these celestial objects will lie just within the constellation Pisces, separated by only a few degrees from each other. 😀 This is a good opportunity to spot all these planets close together during one occasion.

In order to observe this, you must have a clear eastern horizon because they will appear very low in the sky. Also, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to help you see these objects better and wake up early to avoid the glare of the sun.

Venus is, as always, the brightest and most visible of the planets, and it can be your guide to spotting the others. About half way between Venus and the rising sun is Jupiter, the second brightest planet.

Mars will be a tiny speck just above Jupiter, and Mercury another tiny speck about half way between Jupiter and Venus. Uranus is slightly more than one binocular field above and to the right of Venus, and Neptune is much farther to the right, about 40 degrees away in Aquarius.

The planetary grouping is visible from April 23 to May 30.

Checkout the eastern sky during the next mornings. Note: The time is in PST (UT+8)

Astrologers have always been fascinated by planetary alignments, and the doomsayers of 2012 have been prophesying a mystical alignment on Dec. 21, 2012. They view planetary alignments as foretellers of disasters. Modern amateur astronomers look forward to them as nothing more than grand photo ops. In fact, the modern tools of astronomers, such as planetarium softwares, show otherwise: absolutely no alignment at any time in 2012.

Happy observing 😀