The Bogus and Real Celestial Views of Tucson
Humans have long had the urge to ply the skies and that desire continues unabated. Tucson has amazing celestial views. The University of Arizona has a stellar (heh) astronomy department and Kitt Peak and Flandrau Observatories add to our interplanetary dreams. Bookmans stretches our love for Earth to include all the planets and everything surrounding us. Amazing astronomical events occur in the vista above us and brilliant scientists continue to go even farther with our discoveries. Sometimes we see bogus events touted along with the real celestial views in Tucson.
Green Moon sounds really cool and inspired this post. It also serves as a reminder why one should always fact check Facebook posts. The tale goes, on April 20, 2016 a Green Moon will be visible for the first time in 420 years. Yes, the repeated 420 references should have immediately given the gag away–along with the green color. The reason given is equally cheeky, the moon will be green because of the proximity to the planet Uranus. ‘Nuff said. The truth beyond the silliness is that Uranus is not close to the moon on April 20, 2016. There will be no Green Moon, at least not for most of us. Maybe for you. We don’t judge.
If not a Green Moon, you could still see meteor showers. From April 16 to April 25, with peak viewing on the evening of April 22 to the morning of April 23, you may catch the medium strength shower called Lyrids. Lyrids usually produces good rates for three nights centered on the maximum. These meteors usually lack persistent trains but can produce fireballs. Lyrids is best seen from the northern hemisphere where the radiant is high in the sky at dawn. Activity from this shower can be seen from the southern hemisphere, but at a lower rate.
Our next major shower is Eta Aquariids. Watch for it from April 19 to May 26 with peak viewing May 6 to May 7. The Eta Aquariids are a strong shower when viewed from the southern tropics. From the equator northward, they usually only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn. These are swift meteors that produce a high percentage of persistent trains but few fireballs. The longer nights in the southern hemisphere allow the radiant to rise higher in their sky. South of 25S the radiant altitude actually decreases.
We are certain you understood the previous two paragraphs because you are brilliant. If not, come check out our astronomy section with books. Beginners should pick up Norman Davidson’s Sky Phenomena because it doesn’t assume you have difficult to use and expensive equipment. Atlas of the Skies from TAJ books provides the basic information helpful for sky gazing. Kim Long’s The Moon Book is a simple and straightforward account of the movements, meanings and facts about our nearest neighbor. Study up, then explain all this to us. Meanwhile, get outside late at night on the peak dates and look up.
Tucson is far from the only place where space is of interest. The brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking has a bold plan to send tiny butterfly sized spaceships to our nearest neighbor Alpha Centauri. Douglas Adams would be so proud! For more information about this ground breaking project visit Breakthrough Starshot at http://www.breakthroughinitiatives.org/Initiative/3 .
Another group has formed to create the Dark Sky Movement, which Tucson would do well to get behind. The Dark Sky Movement promotes the reduction of light pollution to make our night skies visible again. This would also save energy and reduce other forms of pollution. Check out the Dark Sky Movement at Dark Sky Association http://darksky.org/.
Visit your local planetariums and grab some easy to read guides to get you looking up. There is a lot going on up there, even if the moon isn’t green, you don’t want to miss it.
* Bookmans is your store to explore. If you would like to pick up a book mentioned in this post, please give us a call and we’ll check our shelves for you. Otherwise, we hope you will come in to browse our astronomy section.
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