starry night at Woodland Caribou PP

Eyes on the skies — April

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This space (<– see what we did there?) will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

For those of us in Ontario, April is that transition month between winter and spring weather. The snows start to melt away, the lakes start to open up and, by month’s end, the first buds may appear on the trees.

Here are our astronomical highlights for April, 2019:

The sun

The sun, having passed the Spring Equinox, continues to rise (and set) further north of due east (and due west). And, as usual, when the sun appears more northerly in the sky, the full moon that month appears almost equally further south.

Sunrise and sunset times:

April 1 April 15 April 30
Sunrise 7:06 am 6:40 am 6:14 am
Midday 1:29 pm 1:26 pm 1:23 pm
Sunset 7:54 pm 8:12 pm 8:32 pm

The moon

moonrise

April’s phases of the moon occur as follows:

April 2019 moon phases

The planets

This April isn’t a great month for evening planet viewing. However, if you wake up at dawn and find clear skies in the southeast, you will see bright Jupiter and Venus illuminating the early twilight glow.

Featured constellations: the Bears and a Dragon

In last month’s blog, we discussed some of the constellations that are prominent in the spring: Leo the Lion, Cancer the Crab and Coma Berenices (Queen Berenice of Egypt’s hair).

This month, we will focus on two of the most well-known, as well as one of the longest, constellations visible in the night sky: Ursa Major, the Great Bear (Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor, the Little Bear (Little Dipper).

bear constellation

 

For more information on this month’s constellations, click here.

 

Did you know…

…you can determine your direction without a compass or GPS?

It would be wonderful if we had a built-in system to help us tell direction. If we did, it would probably have saved many lives who became lost by travelling away from safety rather than towards it.

For more information on how you can tell direction using the sun and stars, visit this post.

This completes our review of April skies…

Remember to bundle up and enjoy the view from our parks. The stars await those who make the effort to enjoy them!