Share the joy of outer space with Lucy Hambly

Spring is known for bringing many exciting changes to weather and temperature, but just as much is happening in the sky as April approaches. Here are some of the most anticipated astronomy events occurring in the upcoming month.

The reveal of the Artemis ll crew is scheduled for April 3. A NASA live stream will announce the names of the four chosen astronauts at 11:00 AM (Eastern Time). Three of these will be NASA astronauts, with the fourth representing the Canadian Space Agency. The Artemis ll mission is an approximately ten day journey into lunar flyby and will be the first crewed test flight of the Space Launch System. The hard work put in by this crew will help to establish a habitat on the Moon that can be used as a stepping stone for longer duration missions in the future.

(The four chosen astronauts will be onboard the Space Launch System rocket, which completed the uncrewed first stage of the Artemis moon mission after successfully launching from the Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2022. Photo credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA)

On April 6, a full Moon will be visible overhead, reaching peak visibility at 12:37 AM (Eastern Time). Also called the Pink Moon and the Paschal Full Moon, it will be the first full Moon after the spring equinox. 

April 13 is the expected launch date for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (also known as JUICE) project. This mission is run by the European Space Agency, and will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket created by Arianespace. JUICE is designed to orbit and study three Galilean moons, specifically Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. It will take eight years for this mission to reach Jupiter, and will begin orbiting Ganymede in December 2034, becoming the first spacecraft in history to orbit a moon other than our own. JUICE will complete many objectives during its time in travel including investigation on the atmosphere of Ganymede and data collection on the potential habitability of each moon. The JUICE satellite will be launching out of French Guinea at 8:15 AM (Eastern Time).

(This image of JUICE undergoing construction was taken on April 30, 2021. This mission was originally proposed in 2012, and the satellite will soon launch to officially begin researching the Galilean moons of Jupiter. Photo credit: ESA-SJM Photography)

A hybrid solar eclipse will occur on April 20. This is an extremely rare occurrence- hybrid solar eclipses make up only 3.1% of all solar eclipses in the 21st century. These eclipses change their appearance as the shadow of the Moon shifts across the surface, unlike with regular solar eclipses. This phenomenon will only be visible in parts of Western Australia and Indonesia, but will also be broadcasted online for global viewing. The next hybrid solar eclipse will not take place until November 14, 2031, and only three more times this century after that.

April 22 is the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower. The first recorded viewing of the Lyrids occurred in 687 BC, making it one of the oldest known meteor showers in history. Anywhere between 10 to 20 meteors per hour can be expected, though the Lyrids have been known to produce sudden plentiful bursts that can reach up to 100 meteors per hour. There will be very little moonlight during this shower, meaning that a clear view of the Lyrids should be possible with highest visibility at 9:06 PM (Eastern Time). This event can be seen from everywhere, but will be most active in the Northern Hemisphere.

(Astronaut Don Pettit captured his view of Lyrids meteor shower peaking from the International Space Station on April 21, 2012. Photo credit: NASA/JSC/D. Pettit)

International Astronomy Day takes place on April 29. This celebration takes place twice a year, once in mid-April and again close to mid-September, to acknowledge the changing sights in the sky. International Astronomy Day is a fantastic opportunity to share the joy of outer space with others and to learn more about how to appreciate it in your daily life. 

These events provide chances to experience scientific advancements, witness fascinating astronomical occurrences, and spread information about astronomy with each other.


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