The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25; however, it peaks this year on the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The crescent moon should not pose too much of a problem for viewing this year and the skies should still be dark enough for a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
This April 7, Jupiter will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands. A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter’s four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet.
This April 11, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 06:08 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. This moon has also been known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Growing Moon, and the Egg Moon. Many coastal tribes called it the Full Fish Moon because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
This March 28, the Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 02:58 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
This March 20, the March equinox occurs at 10:29 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.
This March 12, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 14:54 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Worm Moon because this was the time of year when the ground would begin to soften and the earthworms would reappear. This moon has also been known as the Full Crow Moon, the Full Crust Moon, the Full Sap Moon, and the Lenten Moon.
This February 26, an annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun. This results in a ring of light around the darkened Moon. The Sun’s corona is not visible during an annular eclipse. The path of the eclipse will begin off the coast of Chile and pass through southern Chile and southern Argentina, across the southern Atlantic Ocean, and into Angola and Congo in Africa. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout parts of southern South America and southwestern Africa.
This February 26, the Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 14:59 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
This February 11, a penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra. During this type of eclipse the Moon will darken slightly but not completely. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern South America, eastern Canada, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.