Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges for April
Sky and Telescope's "Pocket Sky Atlas" is a wonderful resource for all amateur astronomers. These challenges are designed for spicing up your observing.
Sky and Telescope Magazine's "Pocket Sky Atlas" has found a place in the tool kit of many amateur astronomers. The convenient size makes it easy to use at the telescope without requiring a separate chart table. For urban astronomers, the charts are sufficient for the brighter stars visible under urban skies; the charts offer enough detail for star hops with telescopes or binoculars. When taking advantage of a dark sky location, the details of the charts allow for hours of wanderings per page depending on the size of the telescope and the skill of the operator.
These challenge objects are indexed to the star chart pages containing those objects. The idea is to have fun and perhaps expand your observing past the "usual suspects" that can be found because of past experiences. Seeing conditions may not allow finding these objects every night, but they should be visible at some point during the month.
It's April, and astronomers have visions of galaxy clusters dancing in their heads. Now is the time to get your binocular or telescope rig sorted out for the next few months of viewing. Try to get your eyepieces, battery packs and other assorted bits assembled into a unified kit that is ready to go with observing with your telescope at a moment’s notice. Nights can still be chilling so pack some spare clothes if you are venturing away from home base.
Don’t forget the sky charts and lists you've compiled of objects you want to see. Many months’ cold and snow have dulled out enthusiasm for the night sky, but now the excuses don’t seem so valid. Warmer spring breezes push us back to places of wonder in the night sky. Prepare your equipment, find your charts and guides, get ready to taste the night sky again.
April is also the biggest outreach month amateur astronomy has during the year. Make sure you share your love of the night sky with others. Sharing and explaining how you do astronomy makes you think about what you are doing; in return, makes you better at what you do.
I've indexed the objects to their respective pages.
Between April 16th and 25th, peaking on the 21st and 22nd is the Lyrids Meteor Shower. Look near Vega, page 63, toward the border of the Constellations Lyra and Hercules low in the east-northeast. A special treat this year will be almost moonless nights to enjoy the Lyrids.
Regulus, Algieba, Adhafera and Rasalas, Page 35
Nekkar, Edasich and Thuban, Page 42.
Small Scopes and Binoculars:
Tania Australis and Tania Borealis, page 33.
14 LMi and 15 LMi, page 33.
M13 page 52.
Alphecca page 53.
NGC 3193 and NGC 3190, Page 35
NGC 4144 and NGC 4203, Page 43.
NGC 6207 page 52.
UGC 10822 page 52.
IC 2574 Page 31.
NGC 4889 Pages 32, 43.
NGC 3184 Page 33 (good photo op!).
NGC 188 Page 41.