April, 2016 Programs

#1 —  THE SPRING CONSTELLATIONS

Locate the mythical figures in the current sky above Lincoln, and learn their legends.  Then, weather permitting, take a guided tour of the sky on the terrace behind the observatory with one of our volunteers who will show you how to locate the important stars and objects in the current night sky.  Running time:  19 minutes.

#2 — JUNO:  MISSION TO JUPITER

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” tells us about the first major probe to enter Jupiter space in nearly 20 years:  The Juno mission goes into orbit around the giant planet on July 4th this year.  Among other things, it will show us Jupiter’s north and south poles in far greater detail than we have ever seen.  Running time:  20 minutes.

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April Objects in the Hyde Telescopes

Planets:  Jupiter is in Lincoln’s sky all evening in April.   You can see its rapidly changing cloudtops and watch the 4 Galilean satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto revolve around their mother planet.  Mars rises about 10:30 p.m. at the start of April, and begins to get high enough in the East for the Hyde telescopes to pick it up just before closing time (11:00 p.m.) at the end of April.  It will become a major viewing object in May.  Saturn rises about an hour after Mars and will be a late Spring object.   Mercury is visible just after sunset in the west.

The Moon will be seen best in telescopes after its New phase on the 7th.   The optimum time to view the moon in the Hyde telescopes this month will be on the nights of April 9 (thin crescent in the west just after sunset) and the 16th (just after First Quarter).  Full moon occurs on April 22, which means the moon will rise just after sunset on the 23rd, so it will be in a Hyde telescope that night.  However, be forewarned:  a telescope view of the moon around its full phase can be disappointing because (1) it is almost blindingly bright and (2) the sun is shining directly down on the lunar surface.  That means no shadows, but mountains and craters casting shadows allows you to see details.   The moon will rise after the observatory closes on the night of April 30th.

Deep sky objects (stars, galaxies and nebulae) will be on full display in April.