Fone IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

Astronomy News for the Month of April 2022

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An Open Invitation

For amateur radio operators and scanner enthusiasts, when in the Denver metro area, please join the Colorado Astronomy Net on the Rocky Mountain Radio League's WØWYX 146.94 MHz and 449.825 MHz repeaters.
Due to hardware issues, links with the Allstar node, Echolink and the Cripple Creek repeater are down until further notice.
The net meets on Tuesday nights at 7 P.M. Mountain Time (US).

Obtain your Amateur Radio (Ham) License or your General Radio Operator's License (GROL)! Visit the South Metro VE Team website for more information. The South Metro VE Team provides test sessions on the 1st Saturday of each month at our new Eagle Street Facility, The City of Centennial, 7272 South Eagle Street, Centennial, Colorado 80112-4244 at 9am.
** Check the website for current info during these COVID-19 times. **

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 Excerpts from JPL mission updates are provided as a public service as part
of the JPL Solar System Ambassador/NASA Outreach program.

For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador website.
(Click on the logo to link to the JPL SSA homepage.)

In this Newsletter...

Background screen credits: NGC5775
Imaged March 21/22, 2001
using the 16" Kitt Peak Visitors Center telescope
as part of the Kitt Peak Advanced Observing Program.

"In November 2019, Jupiter and Venus came within 1.4° of each other. This month brings a closer conjunction, with just 12' ultimately separating the pair." Bill Hood, Astronomy Magazine, April 2022, p. 32.

The Month At-A-Glance
A calendar displaying the daily astronomical events.

19 day moon

The Moon



Moon/Planet Pairs

For reference: The Full Moon subtends an angle of ~0.5°.

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The Planets & Dwarf Planets

Planetary Reports generated by "TheSkyX" software. These reports provide predicted data for the planets for the first of each month for the current year. The rise and set times for the Sun and the Moon for each day of the month as well as meteor shower radiants are also included in the reports. These reports have been optimized for the Denver, Colorado location, however, the times will be approximate for other locations on Earth.

(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

Planetary Highlights for April

"Mercury is at its best for Northern Hemisphere observers this month. It's a highlight in the evening sky. The rest of the planetary action takes place in the morning, with the finest conjunction of the year between the two brightest planets, Jupiter and Venus on the last day of the month. In the run-up to that conjunction, Mar, Venus and Saturn open the month in a fine display that constantly changes appearance and makes April mornings a good time to spring out of bed early and catch the continuing spectacle each day." Astronomy Magazine, April 2022, P. 32.


Sets at 7:16 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:42 p.m. by month's end. Mercury is in superior conjunction on the 2nd. Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation (21°) on the 29th. Look for Mercury to the west about 30 minutes after sunset some time after mid-month. Mercury moves from the constellation of Pisces into Taurus shining at magnitude 0.3 on the 30.


Rises at 4:49 a.m. on the 1st and about 4:22 a.m. by month's end. Look for Venus passing just 0.2° south of Jupiter on the 30th. Look for Venus low to the southeast before sunrise. Venus moves from the constellation of Capricornus into Pisces shining at magnitude -4.6.




Rises at 4:43 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:45 a.m. by month's end. Look for Mars low to the southeast before sunrise. Mars passes 0.3° south of Saturn on the 4th. Mars moves from the constellation of Capricornus into Aquarius shining at magnitude 1.0.


Rises about 6:02 a.m. on the 1st and about 4:20 a.m. by month's end. Jupiter can be spotted low to the east-southeast before sunrise. Jupiter passes 0.1° north of Neptune on the 12th. Jupiter moves from the constellation of Aquarius into Pisces shining at magnitude -2.1.


Rises at 4:48 a.m. on the 1st and about 2:56 a.m. by month's end. Look for Saturn low to the southeast before sunrise. Saturn is in the constellation of Capricornus shining at magnitude 0.7.


Sets at 9:56 p.m. on the 1st and around 8:06 p.m. by month's end. Look to the southwest soon after sunset to spot Uranus during the first half of the month, after that, Uranus will be lost in the evening twilight glow. Uranus is in the constellation of Aries shining at magnitude 5.9.


Rises about 6:08 a.m. on the 1st and about 4:12 a.m. by month's end. Neptune is lost in the morning twilight glow until about mid-month. Look for Venus passing just 0.007° south of Neptune on the 27th. Neptune moves from the constellation of Aquarius into Pisces shining at magnitude 7.8.

Dwarf Planets


Sets at 12:36 a.m. on the 1st and about 11:34 p.m. by month's end. Look for Ceres towards the southwest in the early evening. Ceres is in the constellation of Taurus shining at magnitude 8.9.


Rises at 3:40 a.m. on the 1st and about 1:43 a.m. by month's end. Pluto is stationary on the 30th. Pluto is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 15.2.

As always, good luck at spotting Neptune, Ceres and Pluto, a large telescope and dark skies will be needed.

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Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers

  • The Lyrids [meteor shower] are typically visible between April 16 and 25. Maximum occurs during April 21-22. Although the maximum rate is about 10, there have been instances during the last 200 years when rates were near or over 100 per hour. The average magnitude of the meteors is near 2.4 and the speed is described as rapid. About 15% of the meteors leave persistent trains.

    Meteor Shower Radiant Report

    For more information about Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's Meteor Showers Online web page.

    Meteor Scatter (or Meteor burst communications) - "is a radio propagation mode that exploits the ionized trails of meteors during atmospheric entry to establish brief communications paths between radio stations up to 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) apart." Tune your shortwave or your HF amateur radio to 54.310 MHz SSB and see if you can hear any pings. Try other frequencies as well... 6m FT8 digital - 50.313 Mhz & 50.276 Mhz, JP-65 digital mode and the carrier frequencies of the lower VHF bands for TV channels 2, 3 & 4.

    Meteor Rx How-To by Terry Bullett (WØASP)

  • Comets

  • "IT'S A FOOL'S ERRAND to think one can reliably predict a comet's maximum brightness, but C/2021 03 (
  • For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on observable comets, visit the Observable Comets page from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    For more information about Comets, visit Gary Kronk's webpage.

  • Eclipses

    Solar Eclipses

  • A partial solar eclipse occurs on the 30th. Partiality is visible for parts of the southern Pacific to the west of South America and Antarctica. Greatest partiality occurs over the Straits of Magellan.

    Lunar Eclipses

  • No lunar eclipse activity this month.

  • Observational Opportunities

  • Look for Uranus in the evening.
  • Look for Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn in the early morning before sunrise.
  • Look for Mercury in the evening late in the month.

  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)

    IOTA Logo

  • Information on various occultations can be found by clicking the IOTA logo.
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    Subscriber Gallery

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    Member Meteor Sightings

    In this section I will post meteor, fireball, etc sightings that have been published on the American Meteor Society's web site. I want to make this an active section of the web pages and newsletter and would like to publish the links to member sightings. If you have any published sightings, please provide me with the links and I will post them here for all to enjoy.

    Event ID Date/Time Location Observer Link
    3871-2015 2015-11-13 01:55 MST CO Charles N 3871a
    3587-2015 2015-11-22 17:38 MST CO Kevin S 3587aw
    3829-2015 2015-12-05 18:06 MST CO Burness A 3829a
      986-2020 2020-02-21 22:20 MST CO Lukas S 986
    3716-2020 2020-07-24 23:22 MDT CO Lukas S 3716
    4774-2021 2021-08-13 21:57 MDT UT Lukas S 4774
    7044-2021 2021-10-28 20:37 MDT CO Burness A 249058

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    Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions

    (Excerpts from recent JPL mission updates)

    JPL Latest News
    The Latest from Space

    JPL Latest News

    March 24, 2022
    NASA Finalizes Plans for Its Next Cosmic Mapmaker

    Full Article & Images

    "NASA's upcoming SPHEREx mission will be able to scan the entire sky every six months and create a map of the cosmos unlike any before. Scheduled to launch no later than April 2025, it will probe what happened within the first second after the big bang, how galaxies form and evolve, and the prevalence of molecules critical to the formation of life, like water, locked away as ice in our galaxy. Achieving these goals will require cutting-edge technology, and NASA has this month approved final plans for all the observatory's components."

    Read the latest news and discoveries from JPL's dozens of active space missions exploring Earth, the solar system and worlds beyond.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions.

    For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador web site.

    James Webb Space Telescope
    March 16, 2022
    NASA's Webb Reaches Alignment Milestone, Optics Working Successfully

    Full Article & Images

    "Following the completion of critical mirror alignment steps, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope team expects that Webb's optical performance will be able to meet or exceed the science goals the observatory was built to achieve.

    On March 11, the Webb team completed the stage of alignment known as "fine phasing." At this key stage in the commissioning of Webb's Optical Telescope Element, every optical parameter that has been checked and tested is performing at, or above, expectations. The team also found no critical issues and no measurable contamination or blockages to Webb's optical path. The observatory is able to successfully gather light from distant objects and deliver it to its instruments without issue."

    More information on the James Webb Space Telescope mission is available at The James Webb Space Telescope website.

    The public can follow the mission on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

    March 16, 2022

    Full Article & Images

    "NASA's Juno mission captured this view of Jupiter's southern hemisphere during the spacecraft's 39th close flyby of the planet on Jan. 12, 2022. Zooming in on the right portion of the image (Figure B) reveals two more worlds in the same frame: Jupiter's intriguing moons Io (left) and Europa (right)."

    Images from NASA's JunoCam.

    More information on the Juno mission is available at: Juno and Mission Juno.

    The public can follow the Juno mission on Facebook and Twitter.

    New Horizons
    March 29, 2022
    Pluto's giant ice volcanos may have formed from multiple eruption events

    Full Article & Images

    "Scientists on NASA's New Horizons mission team have determined multiple episodes of cryovolcanism may have created some kinds of surface structures on Pluto, the likes of which are not seen anywhere else in the solar system. Material expelled from below the surface of this distant, icy planet could have created a region of large domes and rises flanked by hills, mounds and depressions. New Horizons was NASA's mission to make the first exploration of Pluto and its system of five moons."

    New Horizons gallery

    Find New Horizons in the iTunes App Store.

    For more information on the New Horizons mission - the first mission to the ninth planet - visit the New Horizons home page.

    January 13, 2022
    Citizen Scientists Spot Jupiter-like Planet in NASA TESS Data

    Full Article & Images

    "Tom Jacobs of Bellevue, Washington, loves treasure hunts. Since 2010, the former U.S. naval officer has participated in online volunteer projects that allow anyone who is interested — "citizen scientists" — to look through NASA telescope data for signs of exoplanets, planets beyond our solar system.

    Now, Jacobs has helped discover a giant gaseous planet about 379 light-years from Earth, orbiting a star with the same mass as the Sun. The Jupiter-size planet is special for astronomers because its 261-day year is long compared to many known gas giants outside our solar system. The result also suggests the planet is just a bit farther from its star than Venus is from the Sun. The finding was published in the Astronomical Journal and presented at an American Astronomical Society virtual press event on Jan. 13."

    For more information on the TESS mission, visit the Latest Tess Stories page.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions

    Visit JPL's mission pages for current status.

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    Mars Missions

    Be A Martian

    Mars website mobile version is here!

    Mars Daily Weather Report

    Mars on the Go! NASA Be A Martian Mobile App
    If you want the latest news as it happens, try our Be A Martian app.
    Download on Mobile Devices
    Android | iPhone | Windows Phone

    JMARS is an acronym that stands for Java Mission-planning and Analysis for Remote Sensing. It is a geospatial information system (GIS) developed by ASU's Mars Space Flight Facility to provide mission planning and data-analysis tools to NASA's orbiters, instrument team members, students of all ages, and the general public.

    Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

    "The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) began in 1948, a decade before NASA. We are the world's only research institute to have sent instruments to all eight planets and Pluto.

    LASP combines all aspects of space exploration through our expertise in science, engineering, mission operations, and scientific data analysis. As part of CU, LASP also works to educate and train the next generation of space scientists, engineers and mission operators by integrating undergraduate and graduate students into working teams. Our students take their unique experiences with them into government or industry, or remain in academia to continue the cycle of exploration.

    LASP is an affiliate of CU-Boulder AeroSpace Ventures, a collaboration among aerospace-related departments, institutes, centers, government labs, and industry partners."

    February 25, 2022
    'Go for launch'—the next GOES satellite to include instrument built at CU Boulder

    Full Article & Images

    "The newest addition to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) weather-observing and environmental-monitoring satellite system is slated to launch from the Kennedy Space Center on March 1. The third satellite in the GOES-R+ series includes an instrument built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder that will serve as the nation's "eyes" on the Sun."

    February 3, 2022
    The MAVEN Team Playlist

    "Ever wonder what the MAVEN team is listening to while studying the Red Planet? We asked the scientists and engineers behind the MAVEN mission what they listen to while working and what they thought MAVEN's favorite songs might be. This led to an amazing playlist with songs of all different genres. Listen along to MAVEN's favorite hits!

    Listen on Spotify!"

    Visit LASP and MAVEN for more information.

    Mars 2020 - Perseverance
    March 18, 2022
    NASA's Perseverance Rover Hightails It to Martian Delta

    Full Article & Images

    "NASA's Perseverance Mars rover is trying to cover more distance in a single month than any rover before it — and it's doing so using artificial intelligence. On the path ahead are sandpits, craters, and fields of sharp rocks that the rover will have to navigate around on its own. At the end of the 3-mile (5-kilometer) journey, which began March 14, 2022, Perseverance will reach an ancient river delta within Jezero Crater, where a lake existed billions of years ago."

    Learn more about the Mars 2020 (Perseverance) mission.

    Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity
    March 30, 2022
    Sols 3430-3431: Out Like a Lamb... "Baa"

    Full Article & Images

    "The rover engineers better understand the minor issue that occurred after our weekend activities. While we're still in the same location, they can fix the issue in this plan. Our arm activities in the previous plan executed successfully. Today we focused on recovering the mast activities, as well as getting bonus, additional contact science at this location before driving."

    For information about NASA's partnership with Foursquare.

      Mars Rover Landing - Free for the Xbox 360 (requires Kinect)

      Visit the Mars Science Laboratory page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission
    February 14, 2022
    How Do Spacecraft Deal with Dust Storms on Mars?

    Full Article & Image

    "A large dust storm on Mars, nearly twice the size of the United States, covered the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet in early January 2022, leading to some of NASA's explorers on the surface hitting pause on their normal activities. NASA's Insight lander put itself in a "safe mode" to conserve battery power after dust prevented sunlight from reaching the solar panels. NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter also had to postpone flights until conditions improved. A fleet of NASA orbiters monitor Martian dust storms like this one and serve as lifelines to Earth by relaying data from the rovers and lander on the ground back to the team. This includes the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, and Odyssey. Odyssey, while facing its technical issue, was able to recover quickly enough to come to InSight's aid during the dust storm."

    All of the HiRISE images are archived here.

    More information about the MRO mission is available online.

    Mars Odyssey Orbiter
    April 7, 2021
    NASA's Odyssey Orbiter Marks 20 Historic Years of Mapping Mars

    Full Article and Images

    "NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft launched 20 years ago on April 7, making it the oldest spacecraft still working at the Red Planet. The orbiter, which takes its name from Arthur C. Clarke's classic sci-fi novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Clarke blessed its use before launch), was sent to map the composition of the Martian surface, providing a window to the past so scientists could piece together how the planet evolved."

    Daily Mars Odyssey THEMIS Images
    Can be found at the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) website.

    The Odyssey data are available through a new online access system established by the Planetary Data System.

    Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page.

    Journey to Mars - InSight - Revealing the Heart of Mars
    January 11, 2022
    NASA's InSight Sees Power Levels Stabilize After Dust Storm

    Full Article and Images

    "Updated Feb. 15, 2022, at 2:35 p.m. PST (5:35 p.m. EST):

    Several weeks after the end of a dust storm on Mars, the solar panels of NASA's InSight lander are producing almost as much power as they did before the storm. That power level should enable the lander to continue science operations into the summer.

    The team anticipates that continued dust accumulation will progressively diminish the spacecraft's overall power budget in the months ahead and has been carefully conserving energy by turning on science instruments for limited periods of time. Having completed all primary mission science objectives, the goal now is to enable the spacecraft to operate through the end of its extended mission in December. A passing whirlwind that removes dust or a new dust storm that increases the dust accumulation could alter the timeline."

    Interactive selection of raw images taken by the cameras aboard InSight.

    Learn more about the InSight Mission.

    Mars Missions Status

    New Mars missions are being planned to include several new rover and sample collection missions. Check out the Mars Missions web page and the Mars Exploration page.

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    Astronomy Links and Other Space News

    (If you have a link you would like to recommend to our readers, please feel free to submit it.)

    Green Laser

    Colorado Astronomy Links

    Radio Astronomy Links

    Other Astronomy Links

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    Astronomical Lexicon

    Definitions of astronomical terms. Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter are defined here.

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    UT Logo

    Read the Universe Today Newsletter by clicking on the logo.

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    Acknowledgments and References

    Much of the information in this newsletter is from Astronomy® Magazine (Kalmbach Publishing), JPL mission status reports, the Internet, "Meteor Showers - A descriptive Catalog" by Gary W. Kronk, Sky & Telescope web pages, and other astronomical sources that I have stashed on my bookshelves.

    The author will accept any suggestions, constructive criticisms, and corrections. Please feel free to send me any new links or articles to share as well. I will try to accommodate any reasonable requests. Please feel free to send questions, comments, criticisms, or donations to the email address listed below. Enjoy!

    More Acknowledgements and References

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