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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of April 2019

Posted by Guy Pirro   04/08/2019 02:21AM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of April 2019

Big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is one of the last entries in Charles Messier's famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light years across, this galaxy is enormous -- almost twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy. M101, also known as NGC 5457 and nicknamed the Pinwheel Galaxy, lies in the northern constellation, Ursa Major (The Great Bear), at a distance of about 21 million light-years from Earth. M101 was one of the original spiral galaxies observed by Lord Rosse's large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. (The Leviathan of Parsonstown in Ireland was an historic reflecting telescope, 72 inches in aperture. It was the largest telescope in the world from 1845 until the construction of the 100 inch Hooker Telescope in California in 1917). (Credits: NASA, JPL - Caltech, and the Office of Public Outreach - STScI) (Image Credit: Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF).


 

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of April 2019

Welcome to the night sky report for April 2019 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. Clear April nights are filled with starry creatures. Look for the Great Bear and Leo the Lion. You can also spot galaxies like M101, M81, and M82. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard… And let’s follow the advice of James Marshall Hendrix (apparently a fellow admirer of the heavens), who famously proclaimed "Excuse me while I kiss the sky."

 

Late in the evening, high in the northern sky, lies the Great Bear, Ursa Major. The constellation of Ursa Major contains the well known star pattern called the Big Dipper. It resembles a large pot with a handle. The two stars that make up the front side of the pot are called "pointer stars" because they point toward the star Polaris, also known as the North Star.

Polaris is a yellow supergiant star located about 400 light-years away in the constellation Ursa minor. It has two smaller companion stars, making it a triple-star system. It also varies in brightness, making it a special kind of star called a Cepheid variable star.

The North Star isn't the brightest star in the sky. But it can help you find your way and orient yourself nonetheless. Polaris sits more or less directly above Earth's north pole along its rotational axis. This means Polaris doesn't move very far over the course of the night, while the rest of the stars sweep out big circles as they rotate around the sky.

Its location above Earth's north rotational pole is pure coincidence. In fact, Polaris has not always been the North Star. Because Earth's axis rotates like a top (albeit very slowly), over thousands of years the pole points to different stars. Five thousand years ago, the North Star was Thuban, while in 13,000 years, it will be Vega. But since the pole rotates in a circle, in 26,000 years it will point toward Polaris once again.

Finding Polaris is easy on any clear night. Just find the Big Dipper. The two stars on the end of the Dipper's "cup" point the way to Polaris, which is the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper, or the tail of the little bear in the constellation Ursa Minor. Once you're facing toward Polaris, you know you're facing north, which can help you orient yourself any evening you're out stargazing.

The Big Dipper overflows with interesting stars and deep sky objects. The stars Mizar and Alcor make up a double star system that can be seen without a telescope. In ancient times, when Mizar and Alcor were even closer together, they were used as a test of keen eyesight.

M81 and M82 are a magnificent pair of galaxies, showpieces of the northern night sky. M82 has an irregular shape, bestowed by a collision with its larger neighbor, M81.

Turning to the south, we see Leo (the Lion) heralding the coming of spring. In Greek mythology, Leo is the great beast slain by Hercules. The star Denebola, which in Arabic means tail, represents exactly that. The bright star Regulus is the heart of the Lion.

Leo has several galaxies in his belly. M65, M66, and NGC3628 make up the "Leo Triplet," a lovely grouping of galaxies easily seen with a telescope.

Close by is another group. M95 and M96 are large spiral galaxies. Between the Big Dipper and the head of Leo are three pairs of bright stars known to ancient Arab astronomers as "The Three Leaps of the Gazelle."

On April 8th, look low in the west after sunset to find the slim crescent of the four-day-old Moon with some companions. To the right of the Moon is the Pleiades star cluster. Above and to the right is Mars. And above and to the left is the red giant star Aldebaran. By the next evening, the Moon has moved a bit higher in the sky and hangs here, above Aldebaran.

Near the end of April, the Moon pays a visit to Jupiter and Saturn.

Currently, the solar system's two largest planets can be found near the constellation Sagittarius in the morning sky. Usually imagined as a centaur wielding a bow and arrow, Sagittarius also contains a little pattern of stars, called an asterism, which looks a bit like a teapot.

 

The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.

 

The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."

 

Constellation: Canes Venatici

NGC 4111                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H195-1

NGC 4143                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H54-4

NGC 4151                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H165-1

     - NGC 4145                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H165-1

NGC 4214                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H95-1

NGC 4242                 Galaxy                                    P214

NGC 4244                 Galaxy                                    C26

NGC 4258                 Galaxy                                    M106 Herschel 400 H43-5

NGC 4346                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H210-1

NGC 4395                 Galaxy                                    P71

NGC 4449                 Galaxy                                    C21, Herschel 400 H213-1

NGC 4485                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H197-1 Paired with H198-1

NGC 4490                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H198-1 Cocoon Galaxy Paired with H197-1

NGC 4618                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H178-1

NGC 4631                 Galaxy                                    C32, Herschel 400 H42-4 Whale Galaxy

     - NGC 4627                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with C32

NGC 4656                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H176-1 Hockey Stick Galaxy

     - NGC 4657                      Galaxy                                         - Interacting with H176-1

NGC 4736                 Galaxy                                    M94

NGC 4800                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H211-1

NGC 5005                 Galaxy                                    C29, Herschel 400 H96-1 Paired with H97-1

NGC 5033                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H97-1 Paired with H96-1

NGC 5055                 Galaxy                                    M63 Sunflower Galaxy

NGC 5194                 Galaxy                                    M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

NGC 5195                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H186-1 Paired with M51

NGC 5272                 Globular Cluster                   M3

NGC 5273                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H98-1

     - NGC 5276                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H98-1

NGC 5371                 Galaxy                                    P215

  

Constellation: Coma Berenices

NGC 4147                 Globular Cluster                   Herschel 400 H19-1

NGC 4150                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H73-1

NGC 4192                 Galaxy                                    M98

NGC 4203                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H175-1

NGC 4245                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H74-1

NGC 4251                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H89-1

NGC 4254                 Galaxy                                    M99

NGC 4274                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H75-1

NGC 4278                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H90-1

NGC 4293                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H5-5

NGC 4314                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H76-1

NGC 4321                 Galaxy                                    M100

NGC 4350                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H86-2

     - NGC 4340                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H86-2

NGC 4382                 Galaxy                                    M85

NGC 4394                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H55-2 Paired with M85

NGC 4414                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H77-1

NGC 4419                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H113-1

NGC 4448                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H91-1

NGC 4450                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H56-2

NGC 4459                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H161-1

NGC 4473                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H114-2

NGC 4477                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H115-2

     - NGC4479                       Galaxy                                         - Paired with H115-2

NGC 4494                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H83-1

NGC 4501                 Galaxy                                    M88

NGC 4548                 Galaxy                                    M91, Herschel 400 H120-2

NGC 4559                 Galaxy                                    C36, Herschel 400 H92-1

NGC 4565                 Galaxy                                    C38, Herschel 400 H24-5

NGC 4651                 Galaxy                                    P222

NGC 4689                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H128-2

NGC 4725                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H84-1

NGC 4826                 Galaxy                                    M64 Blackeye Galaxy

NGC 4889                 Galaxy                                    C35

NGC 5024                 Globular Cluster                   M53

NGC 5053                 Globular Cluster                   P78

 

Constellation: Corvus

NGC 4027                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H296-2

NGC 4038                 Galaxy                                    C60, Herschel 400 H28.1-4 Antennae Galaxy (North)

NGC 4039                 Galaxy                                   Herschel 400 H28.2-4 Antennae Galaxy (South)

NGC 4361                 Planetary Nebula                 Herschel 400 H65-1

 

 

Constellation: Virgo

NGC 4030                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H121-1

NGC 4179                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H9-1

NGC 4216                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H35-1

NGC 4261                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H139-2

     - NGC 4264                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H139-2

NGC 4273                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H569-2

     - NGC 4268                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H569-2

NGC 4281                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H573-2

     - NGC 4277                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H573-2

NGC 4303                 Galaxy                                    M61, Herschel 400 H139-1

NGC 4365                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H30-1

NGC 4371                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H22-1

NGC 4374                 Galaxy                                    M84

NGC 4406                 Galaxy                                    M86

NGC 4429                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H65-2

NGC 4435                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H28.1-1 Eyes of Markarian’s Chain (North)

NGC 4438                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H28.2-1 Eyes of Markarian’s Chain (South)

NGC 4442                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H156-2

NGC 4472                 Galaxy                                    M49

NGC 4478                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H124-2

     - NGC 4476                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H124-2

NGC 4486                 Galaxy                                    M87 – Virgo A Galaxy

NGC 4526                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H31-1

NGC 4527                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H37-2

NGC 4535                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H500-2

NGC 4536                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H2-5

NGC 4546                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H160-1

NGC 4550                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H36-1

     - NGC 4551                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H36-1

NGC 4552                 Galaxy                                    M89

NGC 4569                 Galaxy                                    M90

NGC 4570                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H32-1

NGC 4579                 Galaxy                                    M58

NGC 4594                 Galaxy                                    M104, Herschel 400 H43-1 Sombrero Galaxy

NGC 4596                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H24-1

NGC 4621                 Galaxy                                    M59

NGC 4636                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H38-2

NGC 4643                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H10-1

NGC 4649                 Galaxy                                    M60

     - NGC 4647                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with M60

NGC 4654                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H126-2

NGC 4660                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H71-2

NGC 4665                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H142-1

NGC 4666                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H15-1

NGC 4697                 Galaxy                                    C52, Herschel 400 H39-1

NGC 4698                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H8-1

NGC 4699                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H129-1

NGC 4753                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H16-1

NGC 4754                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H25-1 Paired with H75-2

NGC 4762                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H75-2 Paired with H25-1

NGC 4781                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H134-1

NGC 4845                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H536-2

NGC 4856                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H68-1

NGC 4866                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H162-1

NGC 4900                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H143-1

NGC 4958                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H130-1

NGC 4995                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H42-1

NGC 5054                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H513-2

NGC 5068                 Galaxy                                    P203

NGC 5247                 Galaxy                                    P67

NGC 5363                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H6-1 Paired with H534-2

NGC 5364                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H534-2 Paired with H6-1

NGC 5566                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H144-1

     - NGC 5560                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H144-1

     - NGC 5569                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H144-1

NGC 5576                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H146-1

NGC 5634                 Globular Cluster                   Herschel 400 H70-1

NGC 5746                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H126-1

     - NGC 5740                      Galaxy                                         - Paired with H126-1

NGC 5846                 Galaxy                                    Herschel 400 H128-1

 

For more information:

Northern Latitudes:

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2295/whats-up-march-2019-skywatching-from-nasa/

http://hubblesite.org/videos/tonights_sky

https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTiv_XWHnOZrT_ppDGiT__fI3yjD4t7dI

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/skyreport

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/skyreport/whats-new

http://outreach.as.utexas.edu/public/skywatch.html

https://stardate.org/nightsky

http://griffithobservatory.org/sky/skyreport.html

http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/whats-up-in-tonights-sky-2/

http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/

http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/physicsoutreach/engagement/the-sky-tonight/

http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk/learn/astro/nightsky/maps

https://www.astromart.com/news/search?category_id=3&q=kiss+the+sky&from=&to

 

Equatorial Latitudes:

http://www.caribbeanastronomy.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=30&Itemid=51

 

Southern Latitudes:

https://www.stardome.org.nz/astronomy/star-charts/

 

 

Astromart News Archives:

https://www.astromart.com/news/search?category_id=3&q=.

 

 

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