This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 April 22 – April 29~
This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 April 22 – April 29
A favourite galaxy among stargazers is M104; better known as the Sombrero Galaxy as it resembles such a bonnet in astrophotos, thanks to a central dust cloud that forms the brim. The dust cloud can be seen from a rural location with a medium-size amateur telescope. The galaxy is seen as a small gray smudge with binoculars.
Although M104 is officially within the borders of the constellation Virgo, most people start their search from the recognizable quadrilateral of stars that forms Corvus the Crow. In mythology, Corvus was sent by Apollo to fetch a cup of water from the river but the bird was distracted by ripening figs. When the crow returned late it made up a tale that it had been deterred by a water snake (Hydra). In a fit of rage, Apollo tossed the bird, the cup and the snake into the sky. To the right of Corvus is the constellation Crater the Cup, and they both sit atop Hydra. They can be seen in the southern sky when twilight fades to darkness.
To find M104, imagine a line from the middle of the bottom of Corvus to the upper left star, and extend it not quite that distance. Look in this area with binoculars for a small arrowhead of three or four stars. This asterism has been called the Star Gate. The arrowhead points to a small line of a few stars, which in turn points toward M104 nearby. That line of stars also forms the mouth of an asterism called the Shark, which has a fin and a curved body stretching away from the Star Gate. Good luck, and wear your Sombrero proudly.
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:20 am and sunset will occur at 8:15 pm, giving 13 hours, 55 minutes of daylight (6:27 am and 8:18 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:09 am and set at 8:24 pm, giving 14 hours, 15 minutes of daylight (6:16 am and 8:27 pm in Saint John).
The crescent Moon is between the Pleiades and Venus this Saturday evening, upper left of Venus on Sunday, near Mars Tuesday and Pollux Wednesday. It reaches first quarter for the first time after Easter on Thursday, making this International Astronomy Week (Monday to Sunday). On Sunday at noon Venus will be to the right of the Moon, about a third of the way up in the eastern sky. If the sky is clear try to get both in binoculars, and then with just your eyes. Mars is moving up through Gemini for a future line-up with Pollux and Castor. Saturn rises around 4:30 am this week, but Jupiter is still too close to the Sun for viewing. Early risers might see some meteors from the Lyrid shower this weekend, shooting away from a point near the bright star Vega.
Celebrate Astronomy Week in Saint John with public observing at the Rockwood Park bark park after sunset next Friday evening, with a cloud date of Saturday, April 29.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason