Babe Among The Stars: April 2014

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

Name That Planet

The IAU (International Astronomical Union) are now accepting nominations to name extrasolar planets. If you wish to call one 'Bob' after your uncle, then you'll need to read these instructions carefully.

Eclipses at the Double

This month the Earth, Sun and our Moon line up, providing astronomers and photographers with ample opportunity to see something special. There's a lunar eclipse on the 15th, but it will only be total from the vantage point of those in the Americas, Australian and Pacific regions. It will be a partial eclipse from everywhere else. An eclipse of the Moon can occur only at Full Moon. Exactly two weeks later, at New Moon phase, the Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun. Occasionally the Moon's disc and the Sun's disc appear to be exactly the same size, which gives us an opportunity to witness one of the most spectacular events of a lifetime, a total solar eclipse. That's not going to happen this month though. The Moon's disc will appear smaller so when this eclipse occurs, the Sun will look like it's got a giant hole in its centre. This is called an annular eclipse and it can only happen at New Moon phase. Warning: you will need to take precautions to protect your eyesight if you are planning to view this. Here are a few images of previous annular eclipses at the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive:

The next time the Sun, Moon and the Earth will perform this cosmic dance will be in October 2014.

April 2014 Diary Dates

  • 02: Asteroid 1995 SA (1.6km) closest pass to Earth (0.187 AU)
  • 02: Asteroid 2014 GS1 (20m) closest pass to Earth (0.0046 AU)
  • 04: Asteroid 2000 HD24 (1.3km) closest pass to Earth (0.108 AU)
  • 06: Asteroid 2014 GN1 (52m) closest pass to Earth (0.006 AU)
  • 06: The Moon is 5° south of Jupiter
  • 08: The Moon is at apogee (furthest from Earth)
  • 12: Venus is less than a degree from Neptune
  • 14: Mars is closest to Earth (57 million miles)
  • 14: The Moon is 3° south of Mars
  • 15: Full Moon - total lunar eclipse
  • 17: The Moon is less than half a degree from Saturn
  • 18: Asteroid 2007 TV18 (88m) closest pass to Earth (0.019 AU)
  • 22: The Moon is at perigee (closest to Earth)
  • 22: Earth Day
  • 23: The Lyrids meteor shower peaks
  • 24: The Moon is 5° north of Neptune
  • 25: The Moon is 4° north of Venus
  • 27: The Moon is 2° north of Uranus
  • 28: Asteroid 2007 HB15 (12m) closest pass to Earth (0.017 AU)
  • 29: New Moon - annular eclipse

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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