400 College Avenue - Lancaster, PA 17603-3393 Phone: (717) 291-3941
HOURS: Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. & Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.




COSMIC Mike's® Monthly Sky Calendar

` Planetary Roundup / Lunar Calendar

International Space Station Sightings / Clear Sky Clock / Grundy Observatory

For more astronomical news and events check out and like Cosmic Mike on Facebook.


Celestial Highlights

April 3 - Hyades star cluster

The Hyades star cluster is the nearest star cluster to our solar system. With binoculars or a telescope, observers can see the Moon pass through the Hydes star cluster during the evening hours.


April 14-15- Total Lunar Eclipse

People across North America will get to see a total eclipse of the Moon. The Earth will cast a shadow on the Moon, covering the Sun's light that usually illuminates the Moon. The Earth's shadow will make the Moon appear a dark red. The eclipse will start at 1:20 am EDT and continue until 5:33 am EDT. 

April 14-15 - Mars is closest to Earth

Mars will be at its closest to Earth for the year, the closest its been in 6 years. Mars will be only 57.4 million miles from Earth.
It can be viewed all night.


April 22 -Lyrid Meteor Shower

As the Earth passes through the tail of the comet Thatcher, the Lyrid meteor shower will make its annual appearance. The relatively weak Lyrid meteor shower peaks this morning at 3 AM, appearing around the constellation Lyra in the Northeast sky. Around 20 meteors per hour are expected.


Tonight's Sky video provided by the Space Telescope Science Institute      

 

Planetary Roundup

     Evening Planets:  Jupiter, Mars, Saturn
     Morning Planets:  Mars, Saturn, Venus

as of April 3 Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn
Constellation Aquarius Sagittarius Virgo Gemini Libra
Magnitude - 0.9 - 4.0 - 1.4 - 1.9 + 0.9
Direction Hidden East East Southwest East
Rises (EST) 6:13 AM 4:46 AM 6:46 PM 11:02 AM 9:43 PM
Sets (EST) 6:41 PM 3:52 PM 6:20 AM 1:51 AM 7:55 AM

 Sunset: 7:44 PM EDT                      Sunrise: 6:27 AM EDT

Apparent Magnitude (Mag.) is how bright an object will appear to us. Below are examples of magnitudes for some of the popular / well known objects in the sky to better give you a comparison as to how bright each of the planets will be.  The more negative the number the brighter the object.

Apparent Magnitude Reference Scale
    6.00                    Faintest our eyes alone can detect
    2.02                    North Star Polaris
    0.58                    Star Betelgeuse of Orion the Hunter
    - 1.46                  Star Sirius of Canis Major the Big Dog, brightest star in night sky
    - 12.6                  Full Moon
    - 26.7                  Sun

 

Lunar Calendar

 

 

First Quarter Moon - April 7

Full Moon
-
April 15

Last Quarter MoonApril 22

New Moon - April 29



 

    

Lunar Encounters

April 6- The Moon shines near Jupiter  (after sunset)

April 14 -The full Moon shines near Mars (after sunset)

April 17 - Saturn shines very near to the Moon  (before sunrise)

April 25 - The waxing crescent Moon shines to the upper right of Venus  (before sunrise)

 

International Space Station Sightings

Did you know that you can spot the International Space Station from your very own backyard without the aid of a telescope?  Click on the icon for listing for the Lancaster, PA area.

Or visit the following for additonal ISS sightings: 

Heavens Above (need to log in as guest or can create your own user account to save your location settings)

NASA Human Space Flight (only provides predictions representing 2 weeks at a time)

NASA Spot the Station (sign up for email reminders for when the space station will pass overhead for your location)

When is the ISS visible?

March 9 through April 4 - visible during MORNING hours

April 4 through April 25 - visible during EVENING hours

April 26 through May 12 - not visible

 

Clear Sky Clock

At a glance, this astronomer's forecast shows when it will be cloudy or clear for up to two days.  It's a prediction of when Lancaster, PA will have good weather for astronomical observing.   Click on the actual clear sky chart for detailed information in how to read it.  For example, dark blue for cloud cover means clear skies but there is more to good observing conditions than just cloud cover.

 

 

 Franklin & Marshall College's Grundy Observatory

  • Open every third Monday of each month, weather permitting.
  • Observing starts at sunset
  • Open to the public, FREE admission


Next public observing session: Monday, April 21

For information regarding Grundy's public observing session please visit http://fandm.edu/x11609.xml

For current information as to whether the observatory will be open or closed, please visit https://www.facebook.com/GrundyObservatory on the day of the public observing session.

Directions to the Grundy Observatory

The Grundy observatory is located on Baker Campus off of Harrisburg Pike.

  • From Harrisburg Pike turn onto President Avenue.
  • Head south on President.
  • Turn right onto Hillcrest, toward Lancaster Country Day School.
  • Continue to Wilson Drive (first stop sign), turn right. 
  • Go north on Wilson to the very end of the street, where you see a chain link fence and gate ahead of you.
  • Drive through the gate and keep going until you see the observatory.  Parking is available beside the building.  If lot is full additional parking is available just pass the gate on the right.