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.
The presentation at this week’s SCAS Membership Meeting will be a twofold discussion about the Sun: “What are Sunspots” and “Solar Eclipses.” The meeting will be in Room 108 of the CSU-Pueblo Math/Science Building, at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21st.
The solar eclipse presentation will be a good introduction to next year’s total solar eclipse, which SCAS is planning to attend as a group; planning for this trip will be discussed during the business portion of the meeting. I will facilitate the solar eclipse presentation – I attended a total solar eclipse in 1998 and have a few photos and stories to relate. In addition, there will be a couple selected eclipse videos – not the same as being there but they will give you a good idea of what to expect. See you there!
Sunday (April 17)
The gas-giant planet Jupiter is the bright “star” near the Moon tonight. Interesting trivia to keep in mind while you observe these two objects: Jupiter is 40 times larger than the Moon and is now 1,760 times farther away.
Thursday (April 21)
Full Moon at 11:24 p.m. MDT.
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, will fade in brightness as the week progresses.
Venus (in Pisces)
Lost in the glow of sunrise.
Mars (in Ophiuchus)
Mars rises about 11 p.m. 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 grows in size from 14 to 15 arc-seconds in diameter this week, 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.
Dave Furry, SCAS Director of Education