Eyes to the Sky: Spring skies, astronomy clubs' season to open


Although the weather may be wintry, spring is written all over the sky. From sunrise to sunset we see our star’s progress northward and, as darkness gathers, hot Arcturus flashes red-orange close above the east-northeast horizon, signaling vernal awakening. Above Arcturus, Leo the Lion strides, the harbinger of spring constellation just as Orion, now in the west, dominated winter.

Stunning planet Mars, as gold as a lion, rises half an hour after Arcturus, to the right of the giant star and below Leo. To the lion’s right, at the top of the sky in the southwest, find Jupiter, brightest of all.

It’s time for spring planning, if not spring planting. When the first weekend in April arrives the Astronomy Association (AA) in Amherst opens the Amherst College Observatory on Saturdays at 9 p.m. for telescope views into the cosmos. Tom Whitney mans the great telescope and also offers safe solar viewing on Saturdays at 1 p.m. on Mt. Pollux. Members and friends of the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association (5A’s) periodically set up additional telescopes around the observatory dome. The 5A’s conduct solar viewing on Main Street, Northampton. Amateur astronomers are known to be well-informed and gracious about sharing their expertise.

The 5A’s and the AA invite the public to observe the upcoming total lunar eclipse on the night of April 14-15 from Mt. Pollux, 1403 South East Street, Amherst. For program details for AA go to http://www.astronomyassociation.org/ or phone Tom Whitney at 413.256.2634. To contact the 5A’s go to www.amherstastronomy.org/ or telephone Kevin at (413) 586-2395 or Crystal at (413) 372-5491.

March began with a new moon and concludes with a second new moon on Sunday, the 30th, ushering in a week of eyelash crescents to be seen following the setting sun.

To contact Judy Isacoff, M.A. go to: www.naturesturn.org


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