STARCAST APRIL 2021.
Happy belated Easter Stargazers. Before we get into the starcast, let me provide you with a snippet of useless astronomy trivia. Did you know that the date of Easter is based on astronomical factors, explaining why it varies from year to year? Most of us know that Easter has its origins in the early Christian church’s attempts to incorporate Pagan beliefs into Christianity. The northern hemisphere Spring equinox held importance to early European communities who largely followed pagan religions, and marked a time when rebirth rituals were celebrated. What better time than to celebrate the rebirth of the Son of God than to make it coincide with this change of season. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
This year the Equinox fell on 20 March, and full moon on 28 March. Hence Easter Sunday was on 4 March.
Now the Starcast
Facing north, you will see our north marker Capella disappears on the northern horizon at about 7pm. Your north markers are now the Piscean twins Castor and Pollux. Castor is the lower of the two. To the left of the twins Mars has become almost stationary as Taurus slips by behind it. I’ll explain why Mars is stationary another time. The Pleiades will soon set for another 6 months, so it’s your last chance to see the sisters. Higher above Taurus the unmistakable Orion also heads towards setting in the west. Also your last month to get views of the spectacular Orion Nebula. After it’s gone
you’ll have to make do with Eta Carina or the Tarantula Nebula.. looking to the east of Castor and Pollux you can see the upside down sickle marking Leo. The brightest star here is Regulus. . Turning to face East you can’t miss the conspicuous rectangle making up the body of Corvus ( the crow) and below it the bright star Spica. After 11.00 pm you should see Scorpio rising in the South East. The Milky Way rises up perpendicular to the southern horizon. My last post detailed what’s to found there. Finally, turning west, only Achernar will outshine other stars in this sector.
Friday 9 April to Friday 16 April is your best stargazing time, with the moon, being just a sliver each side of new moon.
On 15 April, those of you who own
sundials are in luck. On this date apparent solar time minus mean solar time is zero (solar time – watch time), meaning you can set a watch to your sundial!! You’ll also get the best view of earthshine on the moon on 15 April. Killer day!!