Image courtesy Sky & Telescope, slight edit by Judy Isacoff

EYES TO THE SKY: Not to be missed: International Dark Sky Week programs reach us at home; scintillating skies within reach

The distinguished presenters are excited to share their passion for astronomy, our cultural connection to the stars, life in the dark, and how we can work together to protect the night.

April 20 – May 3, 2020

“Do you think that the amazingly bright night sky is related to the lack of pollution due to our current shut down state?

I don’t remember ever seeing, especially, such a prominent Venus and Moon! When it’s been clear, the pre-dawn display is breathtaking as well.

I feel there’s a lesson we should be learning …”

— Lynne Posner, “Eyes to the Sky” reader, April 12, 2020

Mount Washington — A cornucopia of astronomical events follows.

Now in progress, International Dark Sky Week, April 19-26: The International Dark-Sky Association invites us — with a special nod to homebound families — to engage with dynamic authors, educators, artists and scientists from around the world. The distinguished presenters are excited to share their passion for astronomy, our cultural connection to the stars, life in the dark, and how we can work together to protect the night.

Presentations are broadcast live every day this week. Find selections from the schedule below and the complete program at idsw.darksky.org, or follow on YouTube or Facebook. There are special opportunities for young adults.

Every day: Observe the colorful, meditative moments of sunsets and sunrises. This week sunset is around 7:30 p.m., sunrise around 6 o’clock. Brilliant planet Venus, rather high in the west at dusk, sets just after 11 p.m.

‘Half the Park is After Dark’ by astronomer-artist Tyler Nordgren

Today’s IDSW schedule begins at noon with this program. “The Role of Art in Conservation” with astronomer and artist Tyler Nordgren. Art as a form of education to encourage people to seek out awe and protect the night. Download free Zoom background image. https://idsw.darksky.org/2020/04/01/dr-tyler-nordgren/

Tonight through Thursday, April 23, all night: Enjoy the constellation Leo the Lion and report the stars you see to citizen science project Globe at Night. Refer to last month’s directions at https://theberkshireedge.com/eyes-to-the-sky-find-orion-or-gemini-and-tell-globe-at-night-heres-how/.

Tomorrow, April 21, into Wednesday the 22nd before dawn: Lyrid meteors peak during the nighttime hours on Tuesday the 21st; best after midnight into Wednesday the 22nd before dawn. Try on the 23rd, too. Shooting stars, as many as two dozen per hour, visible anywhere in the sky. Note that the Lyrid radiant, or apparent source, is above the bright star Vega near the top of the Summer Triangle. While relaxing your eyes to receive the surprise meteors, find delight in the planets, stars and star patterns shown in the illustration. Note that Saturn appears between Mars and Jupiter.

April 22, 4:35 a.m. predicted Lyrid meteor shower peak. Radiant above Vega, high in the Summer Triangle. Image: Judy Isacoff/StarryNight

Wednesday the 22nd (and every day): Earth Day https://www.earthday.org/ and https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-live/

Thursday, April 23, 1 p.m.: “SKYGLO Project” with Harun Mahmadenovic. Tune in to @idadarksky on Facebook or YouTube to watch live. Submit questions using hashtag #IDSW2020.

Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffeman of SKYGLOW Project. Photo courtesy International Dark Sky Association

Friday, April 24: Time TBD. “The Lost Constellations” with John Barentine. The lost constellations are important today because they teach us how humans tried to impose a sense of order and structure on the night sky. They may also have something to tell us about the night sky of the future. John will speak about a different lost constellation every day during IDSW. This program is offered every day, e.g. April 20, 1 p.m.; April 21, noon. Check schedule for other dates and times.

Saturday the 25th at 7 a.m.: “Astrophotography 101” with Bettymaya Foott – Astrophotography for beginners! Any basic camera can capture night sky images. Learn how you too can take pictures of the night sky with your basic DSLR camera setup.

Bettymaya Foott, IDSA presenter, Astrophotography 101. Photo courtesy International Dark Sky Association

In closing, below find the skyview from last month’s “Eyes to the Sky.” The mighty hunter, Orion, and the Great Dog, marked by the brightest star in Earth’s heavens, Sirius the Dog Star, appear much larger now that they are close above the horizon. Be sure to bid them a fond farewell.

Image: Judy Isacoff/Starry Night

Resources and opportunities to participate

https://idsw.darksky.org/ and https://www.darksky.org/aprils-international-dark-sky-week-urges-homebound-families-to-look-up-together/

https://www.earthday.org/ and https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-live/

March 30 issue https://theberkshireedge.com/eyes-to-the-sky-field-guide-to-nightly-entertainment/
March 16 issue https://theberkshireedge.com/eyes-to-the-sky-find-orion-or-gemini-and-tell-globe-at-night-heres-how/