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Moon, Regulus, Jupiter on April 27

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Tonight – April 27, 2015 – as darkness falls around the world, the star Regulus, brightest light in the constellation Leo the Lion, appears near the moon. Just don’t mistake the planet Jupiter, the much-brighter starlike point of light to the west of tonight’s moon, for Regulus. Jupiter is brighter! Plus Jupiter is a planet and shines steadily. Regulus, a star, twinkles.

Manhattan rainbow

View larger. | Photo credit: Jennifer Khordi

View larger. | Photo credit: Jennifer Khordi

Awesome photo by Jennifer Khordi. Looks like the pot of gold is somewhere in Brooklyn.

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2015

Sheryl R. Garrison in Sandpoint, Idaho caught this meteor on April 19, 2015.

Sheryl R. Garrison in Sandpoint, Idaho caught this meteor on April 19, 2015.

The Lyrid meteor shower is over. Next up … the Eta Aquarids, peaking on the morning of May 6, 2015. Watch on May 5 and 7 as well! The broad peak to this shower means that some meteors may fly in the dark hour before dawn for a few days before and after the predicted optimal date. Unfortunately, in 2015, the bright waning gibbous moon will drown many meteors in its glare. Follow the links below to learn more about the Lyrids and to learn what to expect for meteor showers over the coming months.

Moon and Jupiter close again on April 26

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Tonight – April 26, 2015 – as seen from around the world, the moon and dazzling planet Jupiter pop out close together at evening dusk. Of course, we really mean that these two worlds reside close together on the great dome of sky, not close together in actual space. The moon, our closest celestial neighbor, is roughly 400,000 km (250,000 miles) from Earth this evening. Jupiter lies far beyond the moon, at about 1,900 times the moon’s distance from us.

Powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake rocks Nepal

earthquake-Kharahara-tower-collapse-BBC

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal today (April 25, 2015). It originally reported the quake at a 7.5-magnitude and later upgraded it. This powerful quake’s tremors were felt across the region, and into neighboring India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Some 700 people are known to have died from the quake so far, which wrecked many historic buildings.

First quarter moon with Jupiter on April 25

The moon's change of position relative to the planet Jupiter and the star Regulus at nightfall April 25, 26 and 27. The green line represents the ecliptic.

The moon’s change of position relative to the planet Jupiter and the star Regulus at nightfall April 25, 26 and 27. The green line represents the ecliptic.

Be sure to watch the magnificent pairing of the moon and Jupiter as darkness falls on these next few evenings – April 25, 26 and 27. The moon and Jupiter rank as the brightest and third-brightest heavenly bodies of nighttime. What’s the second-brightest? It’s blazing planet Venus, also beaming in your western sky at dusk on these April 2015 evenings.

Biggest five – or six? – mass extinctions ever

Over 99% of all the animal species that have ever lived are now extinct. Here are Earth’s biggest extinctions, in under 5 minutes. New video from AsapSCIENCE.

Love is in the air

Purple Finches at a bird feeder in Weatherly, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2015.  Photo by Tom Wildoner.

Photo taken April 22, 2015 by Tom Wildoner. Visit him on Facebook.

It’s spring here in the N. Hemisphere and the thoughts of this male Purple Finch are turning to … well, hello, ladies!

Moon near Gemini stars on April 24

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Tonight – April 24, 2015 – the rather wide waxing crescent moon passes in front of the constellation Gemini the Twins. The two brightest stars in Gemini are Castor and Pollux. The other bright star on the other side of the moon is Procyon, the brightest in Canis Minor the Lesser Dog. The king planet Jupiter, which outshines all these bright stars, lies to the east of tonight’s moon. Look for the moon to be closer to Jupiter tomorrow night, April 25.

Spectacular Calbuco volcano in Chile!

Calbuco volcano on April 22, 2015 via Flickr user Philip Oyarzo Calisto.

Calbuco volcano on April 22, 2015 via Flickr user Philip Oyarzo Calisto.

After remaining dormant for 42 years, the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted twice on Wednesday (April 22, 2015). An ash cloud rose at least 15 kilometers (9 miles) above the volcano. Some 1,500 to 2,000 people were evacuated; no casualties have been reported so far. The first eruption sent up vast plumes of smoke. The second eruption later that night sent up red-hot rocks and produced volcanic lightning. Airlines cancelled flights. A flow of lava was reported into Chapo Lake, which lies lies immediately southeast of the volcano, on the same day.