Mark Alan Lovewell

Lyrid Meteor Shower

Tonight (April 22) is the peak night for the Lyrid meteor shower. The best viewing will be outdoors gazing northeast, the darker the sky the better.

The numbers of meteors can range to a few an hour to a large number. There have been estimates of less than 20 meteors in an hour, but don’t count on it. Most of the meteors will appear to come from the northeast, in the vicinity of the constellation Lyra.

A gibbous moon, almost in the last quarter, will interfere when it rises after midnight.

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Planetary Lineup
Four visible planets will line up almost perfectly in the morning sky on Monday.
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Mercury
Mercury is our only evening planet.
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Morning Planets
The best planetary show this month is in the morning. The assembly of nearly all the visible planets will change through the coming mornings.
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Moon and Three Planets
This Sunday morning there is a treat for those who rise early enough before sunrise.
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Mud Moon

Tonight’s full moon is called the Mud Moon on the Vineyard. The moon is in the constellation Virgo, not far from the constellation’s brightest star Spica. There are no planets to view in the evening sky which gives the moon even greater importance.

In other communities, the moon is called the Worm Moon. Worms are still dormant in this latitude. Mud is more familiar in March than worms, hence the name.

Venus

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Mars and Venus

The two closest planets to the Earth are about to appear closest to each other on Tuesday morning. Venus and Mars, which we’ve been watching for weeks, are about to be almost close enough to talk to each other.

On Tuesday morning the two planets will be just less than four degrees apart. This is a great time to get the best of the show.

Get up early before sunrise. You’ll need a fairly clear view of the eastern sky. Venus is the easiest to spot. Take a second look for the considerably fainter Mars.

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Morning Planets

The bright planet Venus is easy to find in the hour before sunrise or earlier. Venus also is higher in the east too. Look more carefully nearby and the second brightest object is the red planet Mars. These two planets are getting closer and closer together. By mid-March they will be less than 4 degrees apart.

The show continues this month with the fainter planet Saturn appearing farther east, but it too will join with the other two.

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Morning Planets and Moon

The crescent moon spends the weekend in the morning sky with two planets, Mars and Venus.

Take a look early tomorrow morning before sunrise to see the moon form an elongated triangle with the two close to the southeastern horizon. The moon is in the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius and easy to see. Look more easterly for the brightest planet Venus. Underneath Venus you’ll see the red planet Mars.

The scene is more interesting on Sunday morning, when a thinner crescent moon appears right under Mars. You’ll need a clear unobstructed view of the horizon to see all three.

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No Evening Planets

It is an unusual event for those who love astronomy. We have no visible evening planets. Jupiter is so low in the southwestern sky after sunset as to be unobservable. Saturn disappeared late last month and is now hidden in the sun’s glare.

For so long we had Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury and especially Venus hanging in our western sky. Now they are gone. All the action has shifted and will continue to shift to our morning sky.

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