What's Up - April 2015

There is certainly a crispness to the nights now with Autumn in full swing. The nights continue to get longer and the layers of clothing required increases. With Orion getting lower in the West at the start of the night and Scorpius rising in the East late evening it is a good time to get out of our own galaxy and try to observe or image some of the numerous galaxies around the constellations of Leo and Virgo which are high in the sky at the start of the night. Highlights of this region include the Sombrero Galaxy and The Leo Triplet. With Scorpius rising in the East one of the jewels of the southern skies is at its highest point- the easily recognisable and iconic Southern Cross.

Venus passes from Aries into Taurus this month and is easily seen shining brightly in the west after sunset. Mars is also in the west after sunset but becomes increasingly difficult to spot as it gets closer to the Sun. This will be the last chance to observe Mars until it re-emerges in the eastern dawn sky in August. Jupiter is visible to the North after sunset and still presents an impressive sight through a telescope. Saturn is at opposition in May and can be seen rising early evening in Scorpius. April to June will be an ideal time to view this gem of the solar system.

 

On the 4th there will be the only total Lunar Eclipse of 2015 visible for Australia, and it is a very short one with totality lasting between 5 and 12 minutes (sources differ). Partial phases start 8:15 pm EST and totality occurs from 9:54 to 10:06 pm. Partial phases then end at 11:45pm. Due to the Moon just briefly dipping fully into the Earths Umbra do not expect a particularly red or dark Moon and one side of the moon will be noticeably brighter than the other.