April’s full moon is a supermoon, and rises on the 7th – Brainerd Dispatch

But this closeness doesnt last. The very next day, it will be obvious that Saturn has moved away from Mars. In fact, both Saturn and Jupiter are heading westward, away from the red planet. On the 9th, Saturn will be almost exactly midway between Mars, to the left, and Jupiter. By months end, the gap between Mars and Saturn will have opened to nearly 20 degrees.

While Saturn and Jupiter are pulling away from Mars, Earth is moving closer. During April the distance to Mars drops from 135 million miles to 114 million miles. Also, Jupiter is slowly drifting closer to Saturn. In December these two planets make a very close pass.

In the evening sky, Venus visits the lovely Pleiades star cluster. On the 1st, the cluster hovers close above the queen of planets. The next night, Venus has arrived at the border, and on the 3rd the planet appears to be another star in the cluster. On the 4th, Venus is above the Pleiades, and from then on the two objects rapidly separate. The one wrinkle is the bright waxing moon that shines those nights, so keep your binoculars handy.

And if that werent enough, Aprils full moon is one of the closer ones this year and qualifies as a supermoon. It rises the evening of the 7th, looking not only bigger and brighter than usual, but very round because itll be only a couple of hours or so from the moment of perfect fullness. Also, have a look on the 25th, when a young crescent moon of the next cycle appears below Venus and next to Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus, the bull.

April ends with an astronomically based holiday that the ancient Celts (and many contemporary ones) called Beltane. It was celebrated on May 1, which began formally at sundown April 30 and was one of four cross-quarter days falling midway between an equinox and a solstice. The night of April 30 was when evil spirits that had been wreaking havoc since Halloweenanother cross-quarter dayhad a last fling. At dawn on May 1, they had to begin their annual six-month exile from the world of humans. Beltane was, and is, a celebration of the coming summer and hopes for an abundant harvest.

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The University of Minnesota offers public viewings of the night sky at its Duluth and Twin Cities campuses. For more information and viewing schedules, see:

Duluth, Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium: http://www.d.umn.edu/planet

Twin Cities, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics: http://www.astro.umn.edu/outreach/pubnight

Check out the astronomy programs at the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum Exploradome: http://www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/education/exploradome

Find U of M astronomers and links to the world of astronomy at http://www.astro.umn.edu

8/22/19 Contact: Deane Morrison, University Relations, (612) 624-2346, morri029@umn.edu

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Minnesota Starwatch is a service of the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, located in the Tate Laboratory of Physics and Astronomy, 116 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis MN 55455.

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April's full moon is a supermoon, and rises on the 7th - Brainerd Dispatch

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