SCAS – Southern Colorado Skies / April 10 – 16, 2016

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and a very good program (Cartes du Ciel) is available free at http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start.

THIS WEEK

For early risers, you still have a shot at seeing Comet 252P/LINEAR. (A finder chart is available at https://in-the-sky.org/findercharts.php?objs=78283&duration=5.) It’s now high in Ophiuchus (just above Sagittarius and Scorpius) and in a moonless sky! Look just before the first light of dawn. It’s holding (for now) at 6th magnitude so you might be able to see it with binoculars.

Here are a couple decent shots of M44 (the Beehive Cluster) taken from my deck (you can see part on my house on the right) in Pueblo West a week or so ago. I annotated the first photo to show the constellations. The last photo is a closer view. Bothl photos were taken with a zoom lens on my camera (no telescope) – try it!

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Wednesday (April 13)

First-quarter Moon at 9:59 p.m. MDT. As night begins, look for the Moon between Procyon (to the Moon’s lower left) and the twins Pollux and Castor (to its upper right).

PLANETS

Mercury (in Aries)

The smallest and fastest-moving planet is in view again as an “evening star.” It’s low in the west-northwest during twilight, and rises a little over the next several days. Now is your chance if you’ve never seen Mercury – it’s at its best apparition for the year!

Venus (in Pisces)

Lost in the glow of sunrise.

Mars (in Scorpius)

Near the “head” of Scorpius). Mars rises before midnight and by early dawn it’s in the south just to the right (west) of Saturn. Mars should be big enough to show some surface details in your telescope (using at least a high-quality 3-inch scope). Mars, Saturn and Antares form an interesting sky triangle! Mars is just over 13 arc-seconds in diameter but will increase to over 18.6 arc-seconds in late May when it reaches opposition.

Jupiter (in Leo)

Jupiter is high and bright in the south about 11 p.m. after dark and sets just before sunrise.

Saturn (in Ophiuchus)

Located in the “legs” of Ophiuchus, Saturn rises around midnight and is to the left (east) of Mars. Mars, Saturn and Antares form an interesting sky triangle!

Uranus (in Pisces) and Neptune (in Aquarius)

Both gas giants are lost in the glare of the Sun.

IRIDIUM FLARES AND INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

Sorry – these are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet. Alternatively, refer to SCAS member Chuck Percival’s column in the Sunday Pueblo Chieftain.

Have fun!

Dave Furry, SCAS Director of Education

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