The April Sky and the ISS

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By Chuck McPartlin

In the predawn sky of Thursday, April 5, look to the southeast to see Saturn and much dimmer Mars only 0.4° apart.

On Friday, April 8, between about 2 PM and 4:35 PM PDT, look for the Lunar X feature along the terminator, the line between night and day on the Moon. The intersecting rims of craters form an illuminated X protruding into the part of the Moon still in darkness.

On the night/morning of April 21/22, look for Lyrid meteors radiating from near the bright star Vega, which will be near the zenith at 5 AM. The Moon will be near Last Quarter, so it will drown out the dimmer meteors. The shower is active from about April 16 to April 25.

On Wednesday, April 27, the predawn sky to the southeast will feature a thin waning crescent Moon near bright Venus and Jupiter. On Saturday morning, April 30, Venus and Jupiter will be half a degree apart.

The International Space Station will be making a few visible passes through Santa Barbara’s skies in the first week of April, weather permitting. Its orbit may change from time to time, so to get the latest and most complete predictions, visit Heavens Above.

On Wednesday, March 30, the ISS will make a brief, low pass over our mountain horizon, starting in the NNW at 9:25 PM PDT below Cassiopeia, and ending minute later in the N, in Cepheus.

Thursday will have another low pass appearing at 8:37 PM below Cassiopeia, and passing through Cepheus into Draco, where it will fade into the Earth's shadow in the NE at 8:40 PM.

On April 1, no fooling, the station will make two passes. The first will rise at 7:50 PM in the N and pass very low below Cepheus, through Draco, and into Boötes, disappearing into our shadow near orange Arcturus at 7:52 PM in the NE. On its next orbit, it will pop up in the NW at 9:25 PM in Andromeda, and vanish two minutes later as it reaches the head of Perseus in the NW.

On Saturday we'll get a bright pass which will start at 8:37 PM in the NNW in Andromeda, go below Cassiopeia, and then close to the head of Cepheus, a star known as Errai. Errai is a binary star with an exoplanet designated Tadmor of almost twice the mass of Jupiter in a 2.5 year orbit. In about a thousand years, precession of the Earth's axis will make Errai our new North Star. The ISS will continue below Polaris, our current North Star, go along the length of the Little Dipper asterism, and then pass close to Mizar and Alcor, the double star at the bend in the handle of the Big Dipper. In ancient Arabia, if you could see these two stars visually, you could be an archer in the army. If not, you were a marcher. The ISS will then fade away in dim Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs chasing the Great Bear.

Sunday will have two passes, starting at 7:49 PM in the NNW, following a longer and slightly lower version of Saturday's pass, continuing through Canes Venatici and into Virgo in the E, where it will set at 7:55 PM. It will show up again at 9:26 PM in the WNW in dim Triangulum, cruise through Aries, above the Moon, through the nose of Taurus, and disappear in the shield of Orion at 9:28 PM in the W.

On Monday, April 4, the space station will have a bright pass rising at 8:38 PM in the NW in Andromeda, going through Perseus, Auriga, the feet of Gemini, along Canis Minor the Hot Dog, and into Hydra, the largest constellation, where it will fade out at 8:42 PM after passing Alphard, the reddish heart of the Sea Serpent, in the SSE.

Tuesday's pass will be the highest and brightest of this sequence, rising in the NW in Cassiopeia at 7:49 PM, soaring high through Camelopardalis, then the nose of Ursa Major, through the middle of Leo, and down between dim Crater and the sail-shaped Corvus the Crow to set in the SE at 7:56 PM.

On Wednesday, the ISS will appear in the W at 8:39 PM in Aries, go through the hooves of Taurus, into Eridanus and Lepus below Orion, then under Canis Major into Puppis and Vela in the S, setting at 8:44 PM.

The final pass on Thursday will be slightly longer and higher, starting in the WNW at 7:50 PM, skimming Orion's foot Rigel, going by the haunches of Canis Major, and into the southern constellations Pyxis, the Compass, and Antlia, the Air Pump. When European sailors ventured into the Southern Hemisphere in the 16th century, they made up constellations representing many of the instruments and implements of the Renaissance.

The ISS will be in our predawn skies in the third week of April, returning to our evenings on May 12.

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EastBeach Apr 04, 2022 11:35 PM
The April Sky and the ISS

Very nice pass this evening! Bright and visible for quite awhile. Wonder if Russia will follow through on its threats to suspend its participation in the ISS.

macpuzl Apr 05, 2022 12:53 PM
The April Sky and the ISS

I think Rogozin is just spouting off - he's not known for thinking before speaking. However, the Putin regime seems to be just crazy and paranoid enough that anything could happen.

macpuzl Apr 02, 2022 09:42 PM
The April Sky and the ISS

That first sentence should read:
In the predawn sky of Tuesday, April 5, look to the southeast to see Saturn and much dimmer Mars only 0.4° apart.

Not Thursday.

bicyclist Apr 02, 2022 10:24 PM
The April Sky and the ISS

Thanks for the "Clarification", I was trying to wrap my head around the math conundrum of Thursday the 5th & the next sentence Friday the 8th?

FondofSB Mar 29, 2022 08:25 PM
The April Sky and the ISS

Dear Chuck : Thanks for all this trove of fascinating and so informative information !
Let's get together and have a good dinner and bottle when Errai replaces Polaris (who deserves a well earned rest for having played her role for so long) .
How many AUs is Tadmor away from Errai ? Must be close to it given the "martian type" orbital period ?
Thanks !

FondofSB Mar 30, 2022 01:35 AM
The April Sky and the ISS

Thanks Chuck !
Since Tadmor orbits Cephei A it then passes BETWEEN A and B at times which must provide spectacular sights and "sky" views (but makes it hard to sleep for the "Tadmorians" when they have one star on each side : no more nights for a while ...).
And being close to the giant and away from the dwarf must be spectacular !

macpuzl Mar 29, 2022 10:58 PM
The April Sky and the ISS

Fond - You got it - Tadmor orbits about 2 AU (would be between Mars and the main belt asteroids) out from Errai's A component, and Errai B orbits about 20 AU away (like the Sun - Uranus distance). The system is probably only stable if Tadmor and Errai B orbit in the same plane. The whole shebang is about 45 light years from us.

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