Just as the flowers have now blossomed, the skies are also in full bloom this spring. This month of April is abundant in astronomical events that are worthy of celebration like the sakura.
Two of these astronomical events have already passed (both occurred on April 1), but there are still eight more to look forward to. Without further ado, here are the nighttime sky phenomena you have to watch out for:
April 6 – Leo the Lion’s Heart Gets Up Close and Personal With the Moon
On the night of the sixth, the heart of the constellation Leo (called Regulus), will only be one degree away from Luna. To best see the blue-white heart of the lion and its closeness with the moon, cover the moon’s disc with your thumb. That way, the glare is cut off and you will better see the distinctive reverse question mark sign of Leo’s front.
April 7 – Jupiter Lights Up the Sky
Just a day after the gibbous moon passes by Leo’s heart, Jupiter will light up the sky with its celestial brightness. This is because Jupiter will be sitting exactly opposite of the sun, letting it bask in the solar light. Thanks to that, the planet will be at its brightest and largest for the year on April 7.
April 10 – Luna Joins Jupiter
Two nights after this, Jupiter will also have another moment as its moons will cast large shadows on its face. However, that is not the last sky event that features the planetary version of the supreme god of Rome. On April 10, the planet will continue to reign in the night sky as a full moon graces the heavens with it. At the same time, the two celestial bodies will also edge closer to Spica. This makes three astronomical events for Jupiter this April.
April 16 – Moon Glides By Saturn
For those who have difficulty spotting Saturn in the sky, watch out for this astronomical event as the moon will help you out. However, this will happen in the wee hours of morning just before dawn, so you either have to stay up later or wake up really early in time for this to happen.
But for patient stargazers armed with even the smallest telescope, Saturn will show off its rings. On top of that, it might even offer a glimpse of its moons.
April 22 – Mars Guides the Eye to Pleiades
The Red Planet will begin its descent in the western sky as early as April 17. Thanks to its movement, it will draw close to the cluster of stars called the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. But the peak of this celestial event will be on the 22nd when they align close to each other at the same spot in the sky.
April 22 – Lyrid Meteor Shower Peak
Although the Lyrid meteor shower is active annually for a week or so around April 16 – 25, this year the astronomical event will peak on the morning of April 22. So if you want to catch the short bursts of falling stars, you have to stay up late on the night of the 21st. And if you want to see the bulk of the shower, you have to keep your eyes peeled until a few hours before sun-up. Fortunately, the waning crescent moon will not rain on the meteors’ parade.
April 23 – Venus Sidles Beside Luna
Venus the Morning Star will align beside the moon in the early morning of April 23. Stargazers are advised to use binoculars to better see Venus and the moon hang in the sky beside each other. Also, the best time for this would be 45 minutes before the sun goes up.
April 28 – Aldebaran and the Moon Meet Again
Aldebaran and the moon will cozy up with each other for the second time in April on the 28th (the first time was on the 1st). Taurus’ brightest star and the earth’s satellite next encounter will bring them much closer to each other. At this point, they will only be half a degree apart from each other.
That’s not all, though. There is an astronomical event called lunar occultation, when Aldebaran goes behind the moon, that lucky stargazers in Europe, North America, and North Africa will witness. Times vary across continents so you have to check out this table to find out what time you should peep at the sky.
So, which one of these astronomical events are you most excited for?
NASA’s DART probe successfully collided with an asteroid.
At the time of impact, the impactor vehicle, about the size of a vending machine, was moving at about 14,000 mph.
After traveling for over a year, NASA‘s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which attempted to provide answers, “Could a specially crafted satellite be used to divert an asteroid from its planet-destroying course? How about a number? “has effectively impacted the Dimorphos asteroid. However, NASA ground control has confirmed that the DART impact vehicle has intercepted the target asteroid. The results and data from the collision are still being received. Yes, Dimorphos is about the size of a football stadium, but space is very big, extremely dark, and both the asteroid and the spaceship were traveling rather quickly at the time.
“It’s been a successful completion of the first part of the world’s first planetary defense test,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said after the impact. “I believe it’s going to teach us how one day to protect our own planet from an incoming asteroid. We are showing that planetary defense is a global endeavor and it is very possible to save our planet.”
In an effort to investigate the employment of defensive satellites as a method of planetary defense against Near Earth Objects, NASA launched the DART mission in November 2021. Nearly 68 million miles from Earth, the DART impactor vehicle, about the size of a vending machine, tragically crossed Dimorphos’ path while traveling at about 14,000 MPH.
It remains to be seen if future generations of a planetary defense system will be packed with satellites ready to go full June Bug vs. Chrysler Windshield against real planet-killer asteroids. Dimorphos is one of two asteroids that are gravitationally entangled; its parent rock is more than five times larger than Dimorphos itself, but both are dwarfed by the space rock that struck Earth 66 million years ago and destroyed 75% of the planet’s multicellular life while gouging out the Gulf of Mexico.
Various Companies Partner Up to Put a Mobile Phone Network on the Moon
The world of science and technology brings us yet another crazy possibility that’s going to be explored quite soon. Fourth Generation Cellular Networks are seeing implementations on various places. One of them could be the natural satellite orbiting the earth: The Moon.
A partnership between Nokia, Vodafone and Audi is looking to implement cellular networks on the moon sometime next year. Even if the proposition sounds crazy, it seems like they have a lot of plans to make this dream a reality.
Vodafone will be designing the lunar network and will make use of equipment designed by Nokia Bell Labs. This connectivity will allow two Audi Lunar Quattro rovers to communicate wirelessly with a base station at the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module.
Using existing satellites, mission organizer Part Time Scientists will also be able to live stream scientific data and HD video content from the Moon to viewers on Earth. In other words, we will be getting some very detailed views of Earth for public viewing.
The networking equipment will be launched into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. If you think it’s going to be very heavy and sloppy to handle. Nokia’s engineers have worked really hard to make it weigh less than one kilogram.
We’re seeing the vestiges of life in the moon very frequently now. All thanks to the options becoming more and more accessible with the fast advancements in technology. Of course, this rapid growth is far from reaching its peak potential.
Who knows? Maybe we will be able to look at interplanetary travels and living. The sky is the limit when it comes to the amount of creations. Nowadays bizarre ideas like mobile networks in different planets aren’t that far fetched eiher.
It’s going to be an interesting ride, for sure. However, we must be also conscious about the planet we’re currently living in. Even though there are efforts to make this planet greener, there is a lot left to do.
Spacesuit’s “Take Me Home” Button can help Lost Astronauts
Alright, it’s been some time since we’ve talked about developments in Space Technology. This development in particular can actually save the lives of countless astronauts who find themselves in quite nightmarish situations. I mean, being “lost in space” is a very serious issue for a lot of astronauts.
A recent patent made by Kevin Duda, a space systems engineer at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts shows a self-return system that allows safety for spacewalking astronauts. Even in the most threatening scenario of the crewmates not being able to rescue the astray spaceman.
The self-return spacesuit system, Duda explained, had to be capable of determining a precise location in a harsh space environment where GPS is unavailable. This basically makes for a “Return to Home” button that is very tricky to develop.
The system has to compute an optimal return trajectory that accounts for time, oxygen consumption, safety and clearance requirements. Not only that but the system has to be able to guide a disoriented and possibly unconscious astronaut to safety effectively.
Draper Director of Space Systems Séamus Tuohy said the return-home technology is an advance in spacesuits that is long overdue. He mentions how current spacesuits feature no navigation system and could be a very challenging aspect for astronauts in the current age.
The patent also shows how the system works. It monitors the movement, acceleration and position of the crewmember relative to a fixed object nearby. The navigation module can also be configured using GPS, vision-aided navigation or a star-tracker system.
Additionally, to improve the astronaut’s positioning and orientation, Draper has developed software that fuses data from vision-based and inertial navigation systems and that benefits from the advantages of both sensing approaches. The development of this and other kinds of spacesuits will be handled by NASA
Not only that, but this technology can be used to help Earth’s inhabitants as well. Clothing equipped with sensors of this caliber could help First Response members and even firefighters during dire situations. If you want to see the full patent listing, I’d suggest you read it right here.
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