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In the Night Sky…

April 2018 night sky

Take a look towards the western horizon and you will get a visual treat!  Venus is the bright object there and gaining altitude!  As April progresses Venus will be getting closer to the Pleiades star cluster, with closest approach April 23rd through the 25th.


Sinking into the southwest will be star-studded region of Orion and Canis Major.  Sirius, the brightest star in Canis Major and the entire night sky is magnificently bright in a telescope or even binoculars.  This is partly due to it being rather close, just 8.6 light years away.  Sirius has a companion, Sirius B, and it is a white dwarf star.  The pair orbits a point between them every 50 years but that point is not centered between them.  A white dwarf is what legends are made of.  One cubic inch of Sirius B star material would weigh two tons if brought to the surface of the Earth.  Incredibly dense material makes up white dwarf stars and so in reality Sirius A orbits the faint Sirius B. 


Looking to the East, The Realm Of The Galaxies is rising.  This name was given to the area between Virgo, Canes Venatici, and the hind-quarters of Leo.  The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, is a huge expanse of galaxies and yet they are gravitationally bound to each other.  Like stars in a star cluster are bound together by gravity, so, too, galaxies can be bound together.  If you have a pair of binoculars (and steady hands), scan the area between Denebola and Vindemiatrix on the chart.  There are faint fuzzies among the stars, about 1500 galaxies, at a distance of roughly 65-million light years.


Steven Aggas is the Director at Apache-Sitgreaves Observatory, located in Overgaard, AZ, using the largest public viewing telescope in Arizona. Visit Apache-Sitgreaves.org for information on events and tickets.