By Roger Chambers | Columnist
Holidays and Observances in April
April 2–Ramadan begins at sundown; Pascua Florida Day
April 10–Palm Sunday
April 15–Good Friday
April 18–Patriots Day (Maine and Massachusetts)
April 21–St. Jacinto Day (Texas)
April 22–Earth Day
April 24–Orthodox Easter
April 29–National Arbor Day
Despite the apparent “return to normal,” most medical experts are still concerned that the covid pandemic is not completely over. New variations still continue to emerge. There have been increased cases in mid-March in China, New Caledonia, the U.K. and New Zealand. Working towards a high percentage of people vaccinated around the world is a necessary priority as many poorer countries, especially in Africa, have vaccination rates of under 20%. It remains unclear if the pandemic is completely behind us.
Despite this uncertainty, most people have Covid fatigue. Mask mandates are mostly a thing of the past. Major exceptions are public transportation until April 18th, while health care centers are continuing with mask requirements indefinitely. Our daily lives have nearly returned to “normal,” though just what that means is open to interpretation. However, most activities have resumed their seasonal occurrence.
A badly-needed St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Utica on March 12. Although the city of Albany postponed their parade for a week, in Utica, fire departments, police, politicians, radio stations and other businesses marched down Genesee Street, along with fewer than usual musical groups during a five-inch snowstorm with blustery winds. Although the crowds were sparse with less music than usual, those on hand enjoyed this annual end of winter hibernation, more important than usual after being absent for two years.
The clubs and arts centers are once again filled with music, community theaters in Utica, Rome and Ilion have resumed plays, and the Stanley Theater is attracting large crowds for a wide variety of shows. The Adirondack Bank Center is filled with fans for the ice hockey of the Utica Comets and the Utica University Pioneers.
As obsession with the pandemic wanes, our attention has shifted to the tragic Russian invasion of Ukraine. Utica has a long history of many Ukrainians immigrants. St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church is raising funds for Ukrainian relief programs through Friday sales of traditional Ukrainian perogies. There are many other businesses and organizations that are also raising money for refugees. Over three million people have left Ukraine as of this writing. It is not certain but quite likely that Utica, the city that loves refugees, may indeed soon be receiving refugees from Ukraine.
The outcome of the war is far from certain. The subsequent sanctions against Russia, unprecedented in scope, have been a significant factor in rising gas prices. The largest military conflict and refugee crisis since World War II is certain to have an impact with higher and food prices. As Ukraine and Russia supply a significant portion of the world’s wheat, there are fears of catastrophic shortages and/or price increases in coming months. This will mean higher wheat prices, having a negative impact on food insecurity, especially in poorer countries.
Easter is on April 17th this year, with Orthodox Easter a week later. By then, spring, which began on March 20th will certainly be here with warmer weather and rain beginning another growing season for farmers and gardeners. As we pass through the still possible last gasps of winter’s snow and cold, get outside and enjoy the nice spring weather.
Lunar Cycle for April
April 1–New Moon. Rises 7:09 A.M.; Sets 8:03 P.M.
April 9–First Quarter Rises 11:49 NE. Sets 3:08 P.M.
April 16–Full Pink Moon Rises 7:50 P.M., E.; Sets 6:24 A.M.
April 23–Last Quarter Rises 2:54 A.M.; SE Sets 11:54 A.M. SW
April 30–New Moon Rises 5:56 A.M. E.; Sets 8:92 P.M. W
Rising and setting time of the Sun, Moon, and visible planets on April 21st
Sun–Rises 6:08 A.M.; Sets 7:50 P.M.
Waning Gibbous Moon–Rises 01:00 A.M. SE.; Sets 09:35 A.M. SW
Venus–Rises 436 A.M. E; Sets 2:53 P.M. W
Mars–Rises 4:11 A.M. E; Sets 2:53 P.M. W
Jupiter–Rises 4:57 A.M. E; Sets 4:42 P.M. W
Saturn–Rises 3:42 A.M. E; Sets1:54 P.M. W
April continues with visibility of planet activity absent in the evening but occurring in the pre-dawn sky to the southeast he from about 5 A.M. to sunrise.
From left to right, Venus, Saturn, and Mars form an uneven line on April 1. On the 4th and 5th Mars and a slightly brighter Saturn are especially close, with Venus off to their left. The Moon, Venus and Jupiter form a bright triangle in the twilight east, and on the 30th the two planets are very close. A partial lunar eclipse occurs mid-month but is only visible in South America and Antarctica.