The Seasonal Almanac: Nature and Astronomical Events for April and May 2000

The Seasonal Almanac covers nature and astronomical events for April and May 2000.
By Fred Schaaf
April/May 2000
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The seasonal almanac is a calendar of nature and astronomical events.
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The Seasonal Almanac shares nature and astronomical events for April and May 2000. 

Seasonal Almanac for April and May 2000

APRIL 2000

1 April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day; the sun should now be near the maximum in its roughly 11-year cycle of sunspots and other activity - so in this month after the equinox (when the active latitudes of the sun are pointed more directly toward Earth) look for possible great displays of the Northern Lights, maybe even visible to the southernmost United States; watch the west at dusk and in early evening this month and next to see marvelous patterns of the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

2 Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 A.M. - set clocks ahead one hour ("spring forward" in spring); Pascua Florida Day; International Children's Book Day (on birthday of Hans Christian Andersen).

3 Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974: 148 tornadoes in 13 states, 330 deaths and 5,484 injuries (worst hit were Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio); Washington Irving born, 1783; Pony Express began, 1860.

4 NEW MOON, 2:12 P.M. EDT; NATO established, 1949.

5 Mars at its closest to Jupiter (only about 1° - less than the width of your little finger at arm's length - separates slightly ruddy Mars from far brighter Jupiter this evening and tomorrow evening), with moon not far away and Saturn to upper left.

6 Islamic New Year (start of year A.H. 1421) begins at previous days sunset if crescent moon is seen (this New Year moves back in civil calendar an average of 11 days each year); moon near Saturn, with Jupiter and Mars to lower right; Robert Peary becomes first to reach North Pole, 1909.

8 Astronomy Day; Japanese celebration of Buddha's birth.

9 Appomattox Day: Lee surrenders to Grant to end Civil War in 1865.

10 American SPCA incorporated, 1866.

11 FIRST QUARTER MOON, 9:;30 A.M. EDT; Mars appears about equally distant from Jupiter and Saturn.

12 Highest wind gust ever directly measured by an anemometer: 231 mph at Mount Washington in New Hampshire this day in 1934; Fort Sumter in South Carolina attacked, starting Civil War, 1861.

13 Thomas Jefferson's birthday, 1743; Jefferson Memorial dedicated, 1943.

14 Mars, Jupiter and Saturn now fit within a circle of sky just 5° wide (about half the width of your fist held at arm's length) - a spectacular sight, but look as soon as darkness falls, low in the west.

15 Mars closest to Saturn, 2.3° apart (about width of your thumb at arm's length); U.S. personal income tax forms due today (perhaps a scarier day than Halloween?); 76 inches of snow fell in 24 hours at Silver Lake, Colorado, this day in 1921; Leonardo daVinci born, 1452.

16 Palm Sunday.

17 Patriots' Day in Maine and Massachusetts; Bay of Pigs unsuccessful invasion, 1961.

18 FULL MOON, 1:41 P.M. EDT; sun enters constellation Aries; Paul Reveres ride, 1775; San Francisco earthquake and fire, 1906.

19 Sun enters astrological sign Taurus.

20 First day of Passover; this day in 1901, 35.5 inches of snow fell in Warren, Ohio.

21 Good Friday; peak of Lyrid meteor shower should occur late tonight, but moon will greatly hamper visibility of meteors; Queen Elizabeth II born, 1926.

22 Earth Day - 30th anniversary of the event (see "@MotherEarthDay," page 15).

23 Easter (for comments on its date, see The Date of Easter ); Shakespeare born (traditional date) in 1564; he died this day in 1616.

24 Library of Congress established, 1800.

25 10th anniversary of Hubble Space Telescope's deployment into orbit.

26 John James Audubon born, 1785.

28 National Arbor Day; crest of Mississippi River at St. Louis reached 43.3 feet this day in 1973.

29 In 1905, 2 inches of rain fell in 15 minutes at Taylor, Texas.

30 Orthodox Easter; May Eve; Walpurgis Night - festival in which fires are lit to ward off witches and demons (though now a rite of spring in which fireworks are the attraction) held in parts of Germany and Scandinavia.

MAY 2000

1 May Day; ancient Celtic holiday Beltane; Law Day and Loyalty Day in United States; Lei Day in Hawaii.

2 For next seven days or so, some Eta Aquarid meteors will be visible, shooting out of the southeast, just before morning twilight.

3 Sun, moon and five bright planets all within 27° span in sky (but bright sun's nearness makes several of them unviewable); Niccolo Machiavelli born, 1469.

4 Snow from Maine to Philadelphia this day in 1812; four students killed during anti-war demonstration at Kent State University this day 30 years ago.

5 NEW MOON, 12:12 A.M. EDT; Cinco de Mayo, Mexican holiday celebrating the defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (also celebrated in U.S. cities with large Mexican-American populations); 12 inches of snow fell on Denver this day in 1917.

6Hindenburg exploded and burned up before horrified onlookers in New Jersey this day in 1937 (miraculously, many of the passengers survived the inferno); Sigmund Freud born, 1856.

7 Great Natchez Tornado killed 317 people this day in 1840; American Medical Association organized, 1847; British liner Lusitania sunk by German sub, 1915.

8 Truman Day in Missouri; V-E Day (Victory in Europe) Day, 1945; Jupiter at conjunction with sun (therefore unviewable); Mercury at superior conjunction with sun (therefore unviewable).

9 Latest opening of waterways ever in Buffalo, New York, this day in 1926; first flight over North Pole, by Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett, in 1926.

10 FIRST QUARTER MOON, 4:00 P.M. EDT; Saturn at conjunction with sun (therefore unviewable); first public planetarium, Adler Planetarium in Chicago, opened this day in 1930.

11 Three Ice Saints' Days (often time of last frost in northern Europe) begin: today, that of St. Mamertius.

12 St. Pancratius' Day; in 1934, Dust Bowl storm darkened skies from Oklahoma to East Coast; National Hospital Day, held on the birthday of Florence Nightingale (born in 1820, she lived to be 90).

13 St. Gervatius' Day; sun enters constellation Taurus; man killed by hail this day in 1930 near Lubbock, Texas.

14 Mother's Day; temperature dropped to -10 degrees Fahrenheit in Climax, Colorado, this day in 1896.

17 Venus and Jupiter too close to the sun in sky to view but engage in closest conjunction with each other since 1896 - they are only about 1/100° apart; sun and five bright planets now are contained within a span of just 19 1/2° in Earth's sky - but sun's brightness renders virtually all of them unviewable.

18 FULL MOON, 3:34 A.M. EDT; great eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington on this day 20 years ago.

19 Famous"Dark Day" in 1780, when noon was almost as dark as night across New England - caused by smoke pall from western forest fires.

20 Armed Forces' Day; sun enters astrological sign Gemini.

21 American Red Cross organized, 1881, by Clara Barton; Lindbergh landed in Paris, 1927.

22 Victoria Day in Canada.

25 American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson born, 1803.

26 LAST QUARTER MOON, 7:55 A.M. EDT.

27 Great St. Louis tornado of 1896 killed 306 people.

28 Rogation Sunday, the Sunday preceding Ascension Day, the Thursday 40 days after Easter on which Christians commemorate Christ's ascension into heaven; look very low in east about 45 minutes before sunrise to see Jupiter and dimmer Saturn just 1.1 ° apart (less then the width of your little finger seen at arm's length.

29 Memorial Day (observed); birthday of John F. Kennedy, 1917, and Patrick Henry, 1736; Oak Apple Day, Royal Oak Day or Nettle Day in England (commemorates the May 29, 1660, restoration of King Charles).

30 Jupiter passes east of Saturn (conjunction in right ascension) for first time since 1981 and last time until 2020 (see entry for May 28 above for information on observing them); Lincoln Memorial dedicated, 1922.

31 In 1889, Johnstown flood killed 2,100 people in the Pennsylvania town; Feast of the Visitation (Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, culminating in the prayer, the Magnificat); spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere - of Mars


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