The Moon, Mars and Saturn form a pretty triangle in early April. Lyrid meteors are visible late in the month, peaking high overhead on the 22nd. Through a telescope, Jupiter's cloud belts and Great Red Spot are easy to see.
What's Up for April? The moon, Mars, and Saturn and the Lyrid meteor shower. Hello and welcome! I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
You won't want to miss red Mars and golden Saturn in the south-southeast morning skies this month. Mars shines a little brighter than last month. By the 7th, the moon joins the pair. From a dark sky you may see some glow from the nearby Milky Way.
Midmonth, start looking for Lyrid meteors, which are active from April 14 through the 30th. They peak on the 22nd. In the early morning sky, a patient observer will see up to more than a dozen meteors per hour in this medium-strength shower, with 18 meteors per hour calculated for the peak. U.S. observers should see good rates on the nights before and after this peak.
A bright first quarter moon plays havoc with sky conditions, marring most of the typically faint Lyrid meteors. But Lyra will be high overhead after the moon sets at midnight, so that's the best time to look for Lyrids.
Through a telescope, Jupiter's clouds belts and zones are easy to see. And watch the Great Red Spot transit--or cross--the visible (Earth-facing) disk of Jupiter every 8 hours.
The Juno spacecraft continues to orbit Jupiter. And Juno's JunoCam citizen science team is creating exciting images of Jupiter's features based on the latest spacecraft data.
Next month Jupiter is at opposition--when it rises at sunset, sets at sunrise, and offers great views for several months!
You can catch up on solar system missions to Jupiter (like Juno) and all of NASA's missions at: www.nasa.gov
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.