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FULL MOON TONIGHT: The first full Moon of northern Spring is tonight, Friday, April 6th. The timing of this moon sets the date of Easter, which occurs on the following Sunday, April 8th. Go outside at sunset, look east away from the setting sun, and you might see something that looks like an Easter-egg. Enjoy the moonlight!
THREE EXPLOSIONS: Three coronal mass ejections (CMEs) blasted away from the sun in quick succession during the late hours of April 5th: movie. The clouds were propelled by magnetic filaments erupting in various locations around the sun's northern hemisphere. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this explosion, the most potent of the three:
The movie shows a filament connected to sunspot AR1450 rising up and snapping. In the aftermath of the eruption, an arcade of hot-glowing magnetic loops forms over the blast site as a "canyon of fire" illuminates the empty filament channel.
Remarkably, given their number, not one of the CMEs appears to be heading for our planet. This conclusion is only tentative, however, because of visual confusion among the three clouds. Stay tuned for updates.
HEAVENLY DEJA VU: At first glance, the picture below looks exactly like thousands of others taken this week as Venus passed through the Pleaides star cluster. Look again. The date in the corner says "April 1972." Richard Keen of Boulder, Colorado, took the picture 40 years ago:
Talk about deja vu!
"Thanks to its orbit, Venus' appearance in the sky repeats itself almost exactly every 8 years," explains Keen. "Forty years ago, on April 2, 1972, Venus passed by the Pleiades only half a degree from its position two days ago. It's fun to compare this photo I took back in 1972 with this week's wonderful images."
Venus is exiting the Pleiades now, but as Keen's snapshot shows, there will be a next time--eight years from now to be exact. The next Venus-Pleaides conjunction is due in April 2020. Until then....
more images: from Miguel Claro of Fonte-de-Telha, Portugal; from John Chumack of Mill Creek, Texas; from Carl Bernhardt of Lone Pine, CA; from Laurent Laveder of Pluguffan, Brittany, France; from Aissa Moussa Mohammed of Guerrara, Ghardaia, Algeria; from Kosma Coronaios of Louis Trichardt, Limpopo Province, South Africa; from Göran Strand of Frösön, Sweden; from Alan C Tough of Elgin, Moray, Scotland; from Vesa Vauhkonen of Rautalampi, Finland; from Viktor Veres of Budapest, Hungary; from Andy Dodson of New Plymouth, New Zealand; from Amirreza Kamkar of Qayen-Iran