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Arizona stargazers will see Lyrid meteor shower, full Pink Moon in April

(Wikimedia photo)

The wonders of spring are here for all of us to enjoy, as the night sky in April is rich with objects to view!

As we pass the midpoint of April, get set for two interesting sights in our Arizona skies.

The first of the major meteor showers will occur as we move into the next few days.

This is the annual Lyrid meteor shower, which will be better seen before the full moon of the month on the morning of the 19th.

The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest of the observed showers of space debris.

First observed as far back as 687 B.C., this shower is one of the oldest that comes from a long period comet.

The source of the Lyrids is the famous comet Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. This comet has an orbital period of some 415 years.

The Lyrids are active from April 16-25, with peak activity occurring the morning of the 23rd.

The best advice to view this shower would be to try and get a few hours of observation beginning on the mornings of the 17th and 18th, when the nearly full moon will not interfere as much.

In order to do this correctly, look to the northeast sky after midnight and look for the bright star, Vega.

Vega is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra the Harp. Vega is a bright blue star, some 27 light years away!

The radiant, or location of the meteor shower, is just a few degrees to the right of Vega.

Even under bright moonlight and clear skies, you may get to see at least a few bright meteors.

Here is a basic finder chart for the Lyrids.

On the other hand, there is something that everyone can view and enjoy.

I am referring to the next great full moon of 2019. This is the full Pink Moon!

With Easter and Passover here, the Pink Moon is a celebration of the season and the flowers we see around us. The desert is awash in magnificent colors from the winter rains.

For those of you who require exact times, the moon will be full at 4:12 a.m. Mountain Time on the 19th.

At that time, the moon will ride low in the southwest in the constellation of Virgo, some 227,000 miles from Earth.

A better view of the Pink Moon will occur on Thursday evening, when the moon will rise at 6:26 p.m. Mountain Time, at 95 degrees of azimuth (just to the right of true East).

This will be a spectacular sight and one in which those with cameras, smart phone and binoculars, will really appreciate.

In the event that you just want to soak in the beauty of the event, you will be rewarded just the same!

Happy Easter and Passover to all!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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