Friday, April 2, 2010

Mercury the only - planned - main show of April 2010

As already indicated in the last posting (3rd graf), we are in the midst of the best evening apparition of Mercury for the whole year, with Venus as a bonus: Pictures on April 1 from the U.S. (near Albany, NY), Königswinter (more, more), Wetzlar and other places in Germany (also a wide view) and Scotland, on March 31 from the U.S. (SC), Königswinter and Bonn in Germany, Austria and Rome, Italy (making even headlines ...), on March 30 from Japan, on March 29...31 from Germany and on March 28 from the U.S. (KS). More pictures are here, there is demand for them, and Science@NASA, Sky & Tel. and Nat'l Geographic have further "ads". The planet pair is also the main attraction of (the 1st half of) April, as previews hier, here, here, hier and hier show:
  • April 3 (Americas) or April 4 (Europe): Closest approach of Venus & Mercury, about 3°, though technically this is 'only' a quasi-conjunction as at no time do Mercury and Venus have the same right ascension or ecliptic longitude.

  • Night April 5/6: For the western USA and Alberta a naked-eye star will be occulted by a big asteroid in the brightest asteroidal occultation ever predicted for North America involving an asteroid this large.

  • April 9: Greatest Eastern elongation of Mercury (19.3°), but the planet has faded quite a bit by then.

  • April 15: Just as Mercury's evening apparition ends (~April 18; inferior conjunction is on April 28), the crescent Moon is close by (only 30 hours old when dusk arrives in Germany) to the now pretty faint planet at +1.4 mag.

  • April 16: Moon close to Venus.

  • April 16 to 18: Mars passes through the Beehive cluster (and the April 21 the Moon is nearby).

  • Night April 22/23: Peak of the Lyrid meteor shower; the 1st quarter Moon sets early enough. Not a high ZHR usually, but outbursts possible.
In other news a close-up of AR 11057 on the Sun (which looked like that today was a source of radio emission) and thoughts about the solar cycle from ESA and • Comet views & news: 81P/Wild on March 25 and March 24, P/2010 A2's streak on April 1 (no changes!), a newspaper story and an observers' note on comet Machholz, and a March 25 picture (not showing it) and another story about the break-up of Siding Spring. • More on a meteorite fall in Hungary (already mentioned). • Mars on March 23. • The Moon with extreeeme refraction as seen from the ISS (and without any a bit later) - and countless pictures of the ISS from the ground.

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