Once a month, we are joined by Chris North & Hugh Lang from the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University for a roundup of recent events in the astronomy world as well as a look ahead to what exciting things will be visible in the night’s sky over the coming weeks.
April 2013 Roundup – TX: 25/04/13
You can listen to the April roundup here. In addition, here are some pictures to accompany Hugh’s round up of the night’s sky (images generated using Stellarium).
In the evening of early March, try to see if you can spot Mercury. Follow the line between Jupiter and Venus down towards the Horizon, and you should see the faint planet Mercury. Uranus is also visible in binoculars just to the South.
Jupiter and Venus dominate the skies throughout March, and on the 13th will be just a few degrees apart. After sunset, see them in the West, between the constellations of Cetus and Aries. To the south-west you should also see the magnificent constellations of Orion and Taurus, and the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Looking at Venus with binoculars or a small telescope should show its "phase" which, just like the phases of the Moon, is due to the fact that we're only seeing part of its illuminated side.
The Plough, which is part of the constellation Ursa Major, is wonderful for navigating around the sky. Follow the pointers at the end of the "saucepan", upwards (with respect to the pan) to find the Pole Star. Follow them downwards and you find Leo the Lion, with the bright star Regulus and its distinctive "Sickle" shape, which looks like a backwards question mark. Mars is currently near the bottom of Leo, and shines a bright red colour.
Later in the evening, Saturn rises in the constellation of Virgo. Again, we can use the Plough. Follow the arc of the handle round to Arcturus, the bright orange star in Bootes. Continue the line to Spica, the brightest star in Virgo. Nearby you will find the planet Saturn, which is well worth looking at through a small telescope.