Astronomical spring begins

The astronomical spring begins

On Monday, March 20, at 11.29 The Sun will pass through the point of Aries, and thus the astronomical spring will begin. Astronomy enthusiasts will be able to admire the m in well visible planets, two comets and swarms of meteors, e.g. Lyrids.

The seasons are due to the corresponding inclination of our planet’s axis of rotation to the plane of its orbital motion (the ecliptic). The axis of rotation forms an angle of 66.5 degrees with the ecliptic, so that by poł of the year more exposed to the sun’s rays is polkula poNorth, and by the second poł of the year – posouthern hemisphere.

Twice a year the Sun is at points in which theoThe ecliptic of which intersects with roIn the celestial element (that is, the projection of the roterrestrial medium to the celestial sphere). At these moments we are dealing with the zrothe conjunction of day with night and the beginning of astronomical spring or autumn.

The intersection of the ecliptic with the roThe sun is located at points in whichorim the Sun passes from poThe southern hemisphere on the poThe northern celestial sphere, called the point of Aries. When our daily star reaches this point, the astronomical spring begins.

Contrary to its name, currently the point of Aries is not in the constellation of Aries, but in the constellation of Pisces. In the constellation of Aries was more than 2 thousand years ago, but moves across the sky due to the precession of the Earth’s axis of rotation (the full rotation of theot takes less than 26 thousand years). In less than 600 years, the point of Aries will be in the constellation Aquarius, if, of course, then the division of the sky into constellations will still be as accepted today – current limits of the constellationow The International Astronomical Union established in 1930 r.

The actual zroThe alignment of day and night, or rownonnight in the more colloquial sense, according to the currently used method of determining the easternoin and westoof the Sun relative to the edge of the disk, rather than the center of the solar disk, will occur slightly earlier, as the night of March 17-18 will last exactly 12 hours. The day preceding it had 2 minutes less, and the next day will have 2 minutes more than the night.

Cosmic highlights

In the spring there will be no shortage of opportunities to view the planets. Venus, kroling in recent weeks in the evening sky as the so-called “night sky”. The Evening Star, will soon turn into the Morning Star and will be visible in the morning (and for a while will even be visible in both roles). Jupiter observation conditions will become increasingly favorable. The planet will be visible proper throughout the night, the moment of its goration in the sky in mid-April falls around poNorth, and in the following weeks will be increasingly earlier. Improves roalso the visibility of Saturn, ktory from late April and May will already rise before ponnight. In late March and early April it is worth sprob b b b krotko after sunset spot Mercury over the western horizon. In the evening on the same side of the sky it will be possible to see roalso Mars. Weaker planets, visible only through binoculars – Uranus and Neptune – will rise in the second half of the night.

In early April there will be a chance to see comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Crescenták, whichora returns to the vicinity of the Sun every 5.42 years. It will come closest to the Sun on April 14, and a week earlier it will pass the Earth at a distance of 0.15 astronomical units. During this period, it will be visible in the constellations of the Dragon and Little Bear, which means it will be visible throughout the night. Unfortunately, during this period the moon will be full (April 11), which makes it difficult to observe such objectsow, as comets. The predicted maximum brightness of the comet is 6.7 mag, so you need to use binoculars to observe it.

In May, on the other hand, it is worth following reports of comet C/2015 ER61 (PanSTARRS). It was discovered in 2015 and all indications are that its circulation period is as long as 40,000 years. That is, in our lifetime, this is the only opportunity to spot this comet in the sky with amateur astronomical equipment. On April 19, the comet will fly closest to Earth, at a distance of 1.178 astronomical units, while the perihelion of its orbit (the point closest to the Sun) will be reached on the night of May 9-10. Astronomers estimate that the comet will have a brightness of 7.5 mag, but optimists hope for a decidedly more favorable 5 mag for observation. In May and June, the comet will move across the sky in the constellations from Aquarius, through Pisces, to Aries. In early May, it will be observable from hrs. 3 through the morning, and a month poThen from about hrs. 2 to the morning.

Lyrids and Eta Aquarius

With the swarmow meteorow is worth returningopay attention to the Lyrids, whichore will be active from April 16 to 25. RoThis j has been known since antiquity, and in 1803 and 1922 meteor showers were recorded for itow: about 1,800 per hour. The usual activity of the swarm is less and up to 18 meteors can be expectedoin an hour. The maximum will fall on April 22 at. 14.00, which means the best to look out for Lyridsoat night: April 21/22 and April 22/23. RoThis j is associated with the long-period comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher) returning to the vicinity of the Sun every 415 years.

Another interesting meteor swarmoin the visible spring are Eta Aquarida, active from April 18 to May 28, with a maximum on the night of May 5-6. Roj has been known since poOne and a half thousand years and is associated with Halley’s comet. Eta Aquarids are very fast meteors with long tracks. During the period of the maximum, you can see up to 50 phenomena per hour.

During the spring months you will be able to admire several spectacular planetary conjunctions with the Moon. It is worthwhile to zwroWatch for conjunction with Venus (April 27 at 1.7 degrees, May 22 at just over 2 degrees) and Jupiter (April 11 at 2.1 degrees, May 8 at 2 degrees, June 4 at just over 2 degrees).

It is worth preparing binoculars for April 28, because at hrs. 20.22 pm Aldebaran will be covered by the Moon. The phenomenon will last until hrs. 21.04. The Moon will then be on the western side of the sky, low above the horizon.