Archive for April, 2012

ScienceCasts: A Wonderful Night in April

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Source – Science@NASA:

If you have to chose just one night in April to go out and look at the stars, NASA scientists say it should be April 21st. This week’s ScienceCast explains what makes that one night so special.

The Lyrid meteor Shower on the night of 21st/22nd April

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The Lyrid Meteor Shower – so called as the radiant (from where the meteor trails seem to radiate from) lies in the constellation Lyra peaks in the early morning of the 22nd April and is a reliable, though not spectacular, shower with perhaps up to 15 meteors seen per hour. Observations of the Lyrid meteors have been made for at least 2,600 years! Happily, this year the peak of activity is only one day after the new moon so there will be no moonlight to hinder our observations should it be clear. Observations made after 1 am are expected to be the most productive. The dust particles that cause the shower have been released by the comet Thatcher, discovered in 1861. Occasionally we pass through a dense clump of particles as happened in 1982 when over 90 meteors were seen per hour. So its worth waking up to have a look if around 1-2 am should it be expected to be clear. Look to the East as shown in the chart.

The Radiant of the Lyrid meteor Shower
Click On Image for larger Picture

Reprinted with the permission of

Ian Morison
Gresham Professor of Astronomy

Professor Ian Morison Lectures can be viewed at

Annular Solar eclipse of May 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Source – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

An annular solar eclipse will take place on May 20, 2012 (May 21, 2012 for local time in Eastern Hemisphere), with a magnitude of 0.9439. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun, causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring), blocking most of the Sun’s light. An annular eclipse appears as a partial eclipse over a region thousands of kilometres wide.

The annular phase will be visible from the Chinese coast, the south of Japan, and the western part of the United States and Canada. Guangzhou, Tokyo and Albuquerque will be on the central path. Kanarraville, Utah will be a perfect place to view the annular phase. Its maximum will occur in the North Pacific, south of the Aleutian islands for 5 min and 46.3 s, and finish in the western United States.

It will be the first central eclipse of the 21st century in the continental USA, and also the first annular eclipse there since the solar eclipse of May 10, 1994 which was also the previous eclipse of this series Solar Saros 128.

Google Map of Annular Solar Eclipse

NASA /JPL What’s up for April 2012

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Source – NASA /JPL Solar System Exploration:

View Saturn all night this month, and view icy moons through a telescope.