What's coming up in the night sky in the week of 18 to 24 April 2022.
Link to Star Diary episode.
Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting www.skyatnightmagazine.com or to a digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.
Ezzy Pearson Greetings, listeners, and welcome to Star Diary, Radio Astronomy's weekly guide to the best things to see in the night sky in the week of the 18th to the 24th of April. I'm Ezzy Pearson and I'm joined on the podcast today, as always, by reviews editor Paul Money. So Paul, what are your recommendations for this coming week?
Paul Money Well, Ezzy, whereas last week was dominated by the evenings nice and convenient for us. This is a week of early morning events, so it's one of those things, but it can't be helped. So five o'clock in the morning, I know it really does exist five o'clock in the morning, but look out for the Moon at 5AM on the 18th of April because it's really close to Alpha Libra. Zubinelgenubi. It's quite a mouthful, isn't it?
Ezzy Pearson It is one of my favourite names to say, and one of my least favourite to spell.
Paul Money Oh, I nightmare trying to spell it, so I have to say. And there are different ways you can either add them all together. So it's all one name or I've seen it split up into two and I've seen it on. I tend to split it into three Zubin El Genubi, so, you know, but you're all right, whichever one you use, it's you know, that's how they do them in various books, sometimes. some say it in one, some say it in the other. But it's a nice wide double and split with binoculars, easy. So you've got this nice moon on the 18th is now past full, sort of thing, but it's still quite a thick phase gibbous phase. So they're out there over in the southwest. So keep an eye out whilst you do that sort of thing because there's not just them. There are in actually fact our favourite trio of planets that have been in the mornings sky. Mars, Saturn and Venus as well. They're over in the east southeast, but we'll have more on them in a short while. Cause we stick with the Moon for the time being because the next night, April and 19th, we should say really, morning shouldn't I, five o'clock in the morning. The Moon lies next to Delta Scorpii. That's Deshuba. I think I've pronounced that right. And then to their far left is Antares, the red heart of the scorpion itself. Though we always wait. I love it when Mars is near that to compare the actual colours of Mars and Antares as well. So the thing about this is that the Moon is in Scorpius, and it will be literally in the constellation. But it's a weird constellation because, of course, sort of thing to the left of Antara is and up you actually have the constellation of Ophiucus as well. And so ironically, the next night, technically, if you go to the International Astronomical Union, official guidelines of the Constellation shapes on the next morning. The Moon lies to the left of Antares, but technically in Ophiuchus, there we are. But you need to be looking around about the south, southeast. 5am sort of thing. And so it gives you a guide to Scorpius because it's a lovely constellation. I just wish it was higher in the sky for us. You know, it's one of those things, you know, we don't get to see the tail. You have to go abroad and further south and the sort of things I would sort of like. The good excuse for going to Lanzarote is somewhere like that sort of thing or on the Algarve, I've seen it from the Algarve. Well displayed. Great idea for a holiday is to go there, but it's a lovely constellation and I always think the top half that we get, we do get a dramatic part, because we've actually got a whole string of stars. If I remember right, Deshuba was the one that did a bit of a fade in a few years ago, sort of thing and then came back. So there's a bit of an oddity. Something is either fading or brightening sort of thing in. My memories are a bit fuzzy on that one. But so, yeah, it's a star worth keeping an eye on, just in case stars aren't always absolutely dead firm. We remember, Betelgeuse just a couple of years ago.
Ezzy Pearson Yeah, I just thinking.
Paul Money Just as the pandemic was occuring a few months before the pandemic sort of thing. The end of 2019, the beginning of 2020, and we had Betelgeuse fade dramatically.
Ezzy Pearson Yeah, it's that one was caused by... well they think. It was caused by it, like a massive plume of dust coming off of it. So, you know, these all these all stars, they are active. They do do things, you know, throw off massive flares, massive clouds of dust occasionally, and we can see that all the way from Earth.
Paul Money Yeah. And so some a variable, you know, on Betelgeuse had a long period variable, but it's got various cycles mixed in with it hasn't it as well. And this ejection of dust is apparently part of that as well. So. So who knows, you may you may discover something just looking at the stars. You may notice that is slightly fainter or brighter than normal sort of thing. And if so, always contact us. Make sure we actually know as well. So we get to the 21st now. This is a bit of an odd months then, because we've we have mentioned mainly all early morning things and we mentioned that Venus, Mars and Saturn have been the east southeast again. So keep an eye all this week to the south east if you've got clear morning skies. Again about 5:00, 5:15 is what I've set, because we've had this trio of planets Venus, Mars and Saturn. Mars has now moved away, saturn is a long way off, so it moves very slowly against the background stars. But of course, the motion of the Earth is making the Constellation is in get higher in the sky, so Saturn moving up. But Mars is on Venus. I'll drop him back towards the solar glare and Mars is roughly halfway between Saturn and Venus. But there's an extra one. We've got another planet. Jupiter has emerged.
Ezzy Pearson Another one?
Paul Money Yeah, we've got Jupiter back and the second brightest of the planets as a rule. And so it's now emerging and because it's bright. It makes it easy to see even in bright twilight. And we talked about line ups the week. Well, how's for a lark. We've got four planets in a line sort of thing. And again, following the line of the ecliptic itself. The Earth's orbit projected on to space
Ezzy Pearson Pretty evenly spaced as well. It should be quite... Quite an interesting one to see on the night sky, so definitely worth keeping an eye out for it.
Paul Money Definitely, and certainly one worth trying for photographically. Although the bright sky will make Saturn harder because you will overwhelm Saturn with the twilight
Ezzy Pearson More challenging.
Paul Money Yes, exactly.
Ezzy Pearson Not harder, more challenging.
Paul Money Challenging. There your challenge for this week. See if you can capture all four planets in one picture and I tell you, or even better, do it with an iPhone or a smartphone, an Android or a Google, whatever, you've got sort of thing, you know, just see if you can capture it with your camera and naturally, send in the pictures to Sky at Night. We always love the pictures don't wee. There'll be loads of pictures. We love them, but this is it. So we're now back to full planets. It has to be said in the morning sky. So, you know, it's it's nice to see them when they always think last they've emerged. So they now I have to say I'll have to wait for this because unfortunately, my horizon is terrible towards the southeast, but lots of stuff in the way. So you do need a good clear horizon if we're honest. So, you know, a long, uncluttered horizon, its said. Now something else on the 22nd, something different. We have a meteor shower. Now the thing about meteor showers is the first off the first quarter of the year is a rubbish. It's rubbish, Ezzy. We had the Quadrantids in January. And then we have no major bright shower until April. Yeah, that's not fair, is it? It's not fari. You should be more evenly spread out on the sky. Well, we've got the April Lyrids now. This is debris from Comet Thatcher, and they peak around about the 22nd to the 23rd. So because they're actually associated with Lyra. The constellation Lyra, Lyra is very low down. So, you know, it's one of those things that the radiant allows about a maximum 18 per hour. That's the zenith hourly rate. That is the perfect if it was directly above you in know conditions. Clear sky, absolutely perfect transparency. I mean, we just don't get that do we? Which is a shme? You can hear me crying. We don't often get those, but the point is sort of thing, you know, it's worth keeping an eye out. And as the morning progresses, sort of things. So after midnight, the radiant will gradually get higher on the night of the 22nd into the 23rd. And so keep a lookout. Any any meteors coming from Lyra are likely to be the Lyrids associated with this particular comet, comet Thatcher. Well, worth having a look at, even if the rates will be diminished because of the altitude of the radiant and the fact that you're technically looking through thicker part of the atmosphere, the more you look towards the horizon... it's why we get a red sky towards the horizon. Wspecially when the Sun set in, it's this thick atmosphere. The light's passing through this thick atmosphere in attenuates the light refracted light as well. But he's well worth having a look at something and seeing how many could actually see. They do actually, these showers, we tend to talk about the peat, but there's actually a range, and it's generally from about April 16th through to the 25th for this particular shower itself. So but the rates build up to the peak and then drop down again. So, you know, it's one of those things that you know is better for the peak to get the most meteors if you're going to stand a chance. But of course, you need clear sky and again, ideally an uncluttered, sort of thing, horizon towards the Northeast, really, to get these meteors. Oh, there we are. That's all that's happening in this particular week.
Ezzy Pearson Yeah, certainly sounds like there's a lot going on. As always, you've got some fantastically named stars in the beginning of the week, Zubin El Genubi and Deshuba. I just wanted to say the names. And then later on in the week, we have a line up of four planets right the way across the sky that's going to be particularly spectacular to look at. And then finally finishing off with a nice. Meteor shower, which is always good, especially if you've got some people in your life that perhaps aren't or you yourself, if you're new to astronomy, it's always a great way to get people invested in stargazing. So thank you very much, Paul, and we will hear again from you next week.
Paul Money Thank you. Take care.
Ezzy Pearson if you want to find out even more spectacular sites that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month, be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night magazine. Well, we have a 16 page pull up sky guide with a full overview of everything worth looking up for. Whether you like to look at the Moon, the planets or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars telescopes or neither, our Sky guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky from all of us here at BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Goodbye.
Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of the Star Diary podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night magazine, which was produced in our Bristol studio by Brittany Collie. For more of our podcast, visit our website at Sky at Night Magazine Dot Com or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.