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This densely populated group of stars is the globular cluster NGC 1841, which is part of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way galaxy that lies about 162,000 light-years away. Satellite galaxies are bound by gravity in orbits around a more massive host galaxy. We typically think of the Andromeda Galaxy as our galaxy’s nearest galactic companion, but it is more accurate to say that Andromeda is the nearest galaxy that is not in orbit around the Milky Way galaxy. In fact, dozens of satellite galaxies orbit our galaxy and they are far closer than Andromeda. The largest and brightest of these is the LMC, which is easily visible to the unaided eye from the southern hemisphere under dark sky conditions away from light pollution. Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Sarajedini.

Star Gazers Enjoy Eclipse, Planets in April

BY JONATHAN TRUAX, ASTRONOMER, MUSKEGON COMMUNITY COLLEGE'S CARR-FLES PLANETARIUM

This month, enjoy a solar eclipse, three planets, the moon, the constellations of spring, and warmer nights of observing.

During April the planets will put on a challenging show in the morning sky. Two planets are visible during the hour before sunrise. Mars and Saturn are seen as two bright “stars” low in the southeast before sunrise. Mars will appear orange, while Saturn is quite yellow. Both planets are best seen 30 to 40 minutes before sunrise. The waning crescent moon is near the pair of planets on the mornings of April 5 and 6.

This month the only evening planet is Jupiter. The planet is visible late in the western sky 45 minutes after sunset west of the stars of Taurus the Bull. Jupiter appears as a very bright white “star.” The waxing crescent moon will be near the planet the night of April 10.

In the dawn sky of the mornings of April 14 through the 30th the Lyrid meteor shower is active with meteor radiating from Lyra the Harp. The shower reaches peak activity on the mornings of the 22nd and 23rd with as many as 20 meteors per hour visible radiating from the northeastern sky.

This month sky watchers across North America will witness a solar eclipse. On April 8 a narrow swath across the country will witness a total solar eclipse. In west Michigan we are too far north to witness a total eclipse, but instead a deep partial eclipse will occur. The sun will be nearly 95% eclipsed by the moon as seen from west Michigan around 3:00 p.m. local time.

Partial eclipses require observers to use a solar filter or pinhole camera projection the entire event. Observers should not directly look at the sun without a proper filter or pinhole camera! As close as Indiana and Ohio you can experience three minutes or more of totality and view that phase of the eclipse without eye protection.

As darkness falls after sunset this month, locate the bright yellow star Capella of Auriga, the charioteer, high in the west. The winter constellation of Taurus can be seen very low in the west, marked by the orange star Aldebaran. The waxing crescent moon will cruise through the stars of Taurus on the evenings of April 10 through the 12th. Sky watchers can locate Orion low in the southwest by looking for three stars in a row, the famous “belt” of Orion. Use the “belt” stars pointing downward toward the southeast, to locate the bright blue-white star Sirius the brightest star in the Heavens. A giant ellipse can be formed by connecting the star Aldebaran, to Capella, and then moving east to Pollux and Castor of Gemini, then south to Procyon a bright star east of Orion, down to Sirius of Canis Major, then west to the blue star Rigel of Orion, and then back to Aldebaran. This super constellation or asterism is called the “Winter Ellipse.”

Looking high in the north, nearly overhead, locate the “Big Dipper” formed by the stars of Ursa Major. Low on the northern horizon; find a “W” forming the stars of Cassiopeia. Low in the eastern sky; easily locate Arcturus of Bootes, the brightest star of summer.


Visit the MCC Carr-Fles Planetarium website for upcoming events and call (231) 777-0289 for sky show information. Carr-Fles Planetarium is located on the Muskegon Community College campus in Room 135. Thanks to the generosity of the Reach for the Stars campaign donors, you can now experience Carr-Fles Planetarium with state-of-the-art digital projection, sound and lighting systems; all-new library of shows; and modern theater seating and domed ceiling.

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Jazz: Midnight, with art inspired by jazz album cover design, drops readers into the late night music clubs of 1957. From Gary Scott Beatty. Click here for Jazz: Midnight.

Worlds, the first Gary Scott Beatty retrospective is now on Amazon. This 96 page collection includes early work, unpublished art, in-depth articles, a jazz art gallery and more. Click here for “Worlds.”

Wounds, Gary Scott Beatty’s zombie horror book with a twist, is now on Amazon. Click here for Wounds.

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Contents:

THE ARTS
Gary Scott Beatty's thrilling, free, 66 chapter story begins April 23. Blog subscribers get to read it from the beginning (and a free comic.) Find out more here!

SENIORS
Jodi Clock unravels the knots of senior care with a trusted guide to making the right choices. Discover Senior Care Questions in this helpful article!

COMMUNITY
Local United Way volunteers have an enormous impact on the well-being of our community. Learn how volunteers are making a difference here!

LAKESHORE STAR GAZER
This month enjoy a solar eclipse, the constellations of spring, and warmer nights of observing! MCC Astronomer Jonathan Truax is your guide.

CLASSIC CARTOONS
It's spring, a favorite theme for early animators! We enjoy UB Iwerk's Summertime and a Burt Gillett's Rainbow Parade Cartoon here.

BUSTER KEATON
Buster Keaton and family take to the lake in "The Boat," a film that was once thought lost. Enjoy the 1952 short, complete and online, here!

EVENTS CALENDAR
Track and discover area events here with Muskegon County's best online events calendar, courtesy of Visit Muskegon!

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Inquire about ADVERTISING here.

Muskegon Magazine.com is locally owned and produced. Gary Scott Beatty, editor and publisher. Contents and design © Copyright Gary Scott Beatty, 1509 Princeton Rd., Muskegon, Michigan 49441.

Muskegon Magazine.com is an educational and informational service to help you make informed decisions. The content, tools and services of Muskegon Magazine.com are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Privacy.