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Sky Happenings April 2007
Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude 109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m

The Sky for April 2007
By Faylene Roth

MAJOR CONSTELLATIONS
OF APRIL:

Northward
Ursa Major
Lynx
Perseus
Cassiopeia
Cepheus
Draco
Ursa Minor

Eastward
Bootes
Corona Borealis
Hercules

Southward
Virgo
Libra
Corvus
Crater
Hydra

Westward
Leo
Cancer
Gemini

Meteor Showers
Prime viewing for the Lyrid Meteor Showers occurs on April 22-23. The best viewing time for meteor showers is after midnight. By then, the constellation Lyra should be fairly high in the northeastern sky. Lyra is a small constellation located just south of Cygnus. Look for four stars in the shape of a small parallelogram with the bright star Vega immediately to the west. Meteor sightings in this region should increase from April 16 to April 25. Fortunately, the moon will be in its crescent phase and setting before midnight until April 20.

Venus
Since Venus is between the Earth and the sun, it passes through phases just like the moon--full, gibbous, quarter, crescent, and new. During the month of April, Venus grows brighter as it passes through its gibbous phase, waxing towards full.

Alpenglow
The red-orange glow that reflects from the rims and cliffs just before sunrise and after sunset are intensified by the red rocks of Moab. As the sun sets, its light rays are projected through the atmosphere at an angle. The shorter wavelengths of blues and greens are easily absorbed and scattered. The long red and orange wavelengths penetrate deeper through the atmosphere and tint the peaks, rims, and clouds that rise above the sun’s horizon. While the term alpenglow, refers to the pink light reflected off mountain peaks, it is the same physical phenomenon that illuminates our red cliffs and creates red, pink, and purple clouds at sunset.

Primary Sources: USGS, U.S. Naval Observatory, http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/

 

Cygnus the Swan, also known as the Northern Cross, appears to fly through the Milky Way throughout the summer. Look for it high in the northeastern sky toward the end of April.

As the night and the month progress, the constellations will shift toward the west. Orion,Taurus, and the Pleiades move beyond the western horizon by the end of the month.

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