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  • Chris Baker

What's up? - APRIL 2024

Each month I highlight a few objects you can spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment.


Total Eclipse - there is so much being written and broadcast about the total eclipse (today 8th April) you'll find all that you need on line - so I'll concentrate on other objects/events of interest.


COMET WARNING!

This month though you'll probably need to dig out your binoculars - to spot a comet!


As for the planets - it is not a brilliant month I'm afraid but there are still opportunities to observe some beautiful sights.



ABOUT COMET 12P/PONS-BROOKS


This comet puts in an appearance this month - but given the of light pollution most of us have to cope with, you'll need to use your binoculars- but it is well worth it! (The next chance you'll have to see this one will be in over 70 years time..so best try now!)


Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is a Halley-type periodic comet that was first discovered by Jean-Louis Pons on July 12, 1812 and then independently rediscovered by William Robert Brooks in 1883. It has an orbital period of about 71.3 years. During its closest approach to the Sun, or perihelion, the comet comes within about 0.78 astronomical units (AU) of the Sun, while at its furthest point, or aphelion, it is located at a distance of about 17.2 AU.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is also known for being the probable parent body causing the κ-Draconids meteor shower.


It is currently in the constellation of Aries at a distance of 240,815,393 kilometres from Earth.


HOW TO SPOT THE COMET

The comet is visible during the first half of the month from the northern hemisphere.- BUT the earlier in the month you can observe the better as it will drop down low making it more difficult.


Example positions


Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks 8th April around 20:30 looking WEST and below bright Jupiter

Courtesy of Stellarium



10th April around 21:00 looking WEST below crescent Moon

Courtesy of Stellarium

You can try to spot it any evening until about mid month - sweeping the binoculars below and to the right of Jupiter.


What will you see?

A smudge! But an amazing one!


Let me know if you spot the interloper.



PLANETS


Mercury

Probably too difficult to spot this month


Venus

Probably too difficult to spot this month


Mars

Probably too difficult to spot this month



Jupiter

The earlier in the month the better to spot Jupiter. You'll spot it shining brightly in the west as the sky darkens


Jupiter in the west around 21:00 on the 9th April


Courtesy of Stellarium



Saturn

Probably too difficult to spot this month



Enjoy the night sky this month and let me know about your observations.


Thank you for reading this blog and do let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my Newsletter each month.

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