Answers about the Night Sky

Answers about the Night Sky

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What’s up in Tonight’s Sky

By Garry Beckstrom

 

April 2017

HERE’S WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS MONTH

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Click HERE to Download our basic EVENING Star Map for April 2017 (pdf)

April2017StarMap copy(For star maps to print properly, download pdf and save to your computer, then print from there.)

Download our star maps to help you find your way around the sky.
Our basic star maps show the planets and major star patterns or constellations visible in the evening and morning skies this month, without faint background stars. This makes it easier to pick out the brighter patterns in the real sky. Hold the map over your head with “North” on the map facing the direction north. The middle of the circular map (marked “zenith”) is the point directly over your head. The edges of the circular map mark the horizon all around you. Find one of the bright constellation patterns, ignoring fainter stars you might see in between. You can then jump from constellation to constellation, finding your way around the sky. It helps to use a dim, red flashlight so that you can see both the map and the sky together.

 

Click HERE to Download our basic MORNING Star Map for April 2017 (pdf)

April2017MorningStarMap copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS MONTH

All descriptions below are for mid-northern latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. EST is Eastern Standard Time in North America.
EDT is Eastern Daylight Time in North America.

Below you’ll find a section about what to see in the EVENING SKY this month, followed by a section about what to see in the early MORNING SKY before dawn.

Below those sections you’ll find a list of dates this month where we point out specific things to look for on those days, along with other interesting information.

We hope you’ll find our night sky information fun and easy to use. Happy Stargazing!

 

 

THE EVENING SKY IN APRIL

The planet Jupiter dominates the night sky this month. During April the giant planet is the closest, biggest and brightest it will appear in the sky all this year. Right now Jupiter rises toward the east as the Sun sets in the west, is visible all night, and sets toward the west as the Sun rises in the morning.

You’ll notice the bright star Spica near Jupiter all month too.

Looking southeast late evening on April 15. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
March15-SE-LateEvening copy

 

The little planet Mercury is usually hard to see because it is always close to the horizon during twilight either before sunrise or after sunset.

But, you have a chance during the first week of April to catch a glimpse of this elusive planet. In fact, on April 1 Mercury is at its greatest distance away from the Sun in the sky, but by the end of the week it is again getting too low to see.

Can you find Mars above and to the left of Mercury? Mars will be in the west all month after sunset, but will get lower as the days pass.

Looking west 30 minutes after sunset on April 1. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April1-W-30 after copy

 

 

The spring evening sky always features the star pattern of Leo the Lion. You can find Leo high in the south during late evening. You’ll see in the scene below that Jupiter is to the lower left of Leo. You can use the bright planet to help you find the constellation pattern.

Looking high in the south late evening. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April15-HighS-LateEv copy

 

 

In the spring, it always seems to appear that Leo the Lion high in the sky, is chasing the stars that dominated the evening sky during the winter, right out of the sky. You can see what’s left of the bright winter stars getting lower in the west each night.

Looking west late evening. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April15-W-LateEv copy


 

 

 

 

 

THE MORNING SKY IN APRIL

The April morning sky before dawn features the beautiful ringed planet Saturn in the south, the blazing light of Venus to the east, and Jupiter low in the west

Looking south an hour before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April12-S-1hrBefore copy

 

Looking east 45 minutes before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April15-E-45Before copy

Looking west an hour before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene for a full image.
April15-W-1hrBefore copy

 

A preview of summer also greets you before dawn. The three stars of the Summer Triangle, Vega, Deneb and Altair fly high in the southeast. They will gradually move into the evening sky as we get into summer. Can you find them?

Looking high in the southeast an hour before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April15-HighSE-1hrBeforeB copy


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON SOME SPECIFIC DAYS THIS MONTH

BE SURE TO CLICK ON EACH SCENE BELOW FOR A FULL IMAGE.

 

April 1 EVENINGWhat a sight! Mercury at its highest in the west with Mars and the Moon lined up into some of the bright winter stars.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April1-W-1hrAfter copy


 

April 3 EVENINGFirst Quarter Moon occurs at 2:39 p.m. EDT. The Moon is one quarter of the way around the Earth and appears half lit in the evening sky. The lit part is facing the Sun.
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April 5 EVENING Over the next three nights the Moon will pass the bright star Regulus. Regulus is the brightest star in Leo the Lion. Can you see the shape of the lion? Go to THE EVENING SKY IN APRIL section above to see what the lion should look like.

Looking south-southeast mid-evening. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April5 copy

 

 

April 6 EVENING The bright star Regulus is just left of the Moon tonight.

Looking south-southeast mid-evening. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April6 copy

 

 

 

April 7 EVENING The bright star Regulus is to the upper right of the Moon tonight.

Looking south-southeast mid-evening. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April7 copy

 

 

 

April 10 EVENING – Jupiter is just to the right of the Moon tonight with the bright star Spica below them.

Looking southeast late evening. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April10 copy

 

 

 

April 11 MORNING – Full Moon occurs at 2:08 a.m. EDT. The Moon is now half way around the Earth in its orbit. The Earth is between the Moon and the Sun so we see the Moon fully lit.  We now see the Moon opposite the Sun in the sky, so as the Sun sets, the Moon rises.
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April 16 MORNING -The Moon visits Saturn this morning.

Looking south an hour before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April16 copy

 

 

April 18EVENING – Over the next few days the red planet Mars comes pretty close to the Pleiades star cluster, sometimes known as the Seven Sisters. You might want to take a look with binoculars.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April18 copy

 

 

 

April 19 MORNING – Last Quarter Moon occurs at 5:57 a.m. EDT. The Moon is three-quarters of the way around the Earth now. It appears half lit in the early morning sky; the lighted side always faces the Sun.
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EVENING – Check out Mars and the Pleiades star cluster with your binoculars.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April19 copy

 

 

 

April 20 EVENING – Check out Mars and the Pleiades star cluster with your binoculars.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April20 copy


 

 

April 21 EVENING – Check out Mars and the Pleiades star cluster with your binoculars.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April21 copy

 

 

April 22 MORNINGThe Lyrid Meteor Shower peaks this morning. This could be a good year for this shower as there will only be a waning crescent moon in the morning sky, not lighting things up too much. From a dark sky area you may be able to see up to 18 “shooting stars” per hour. Lay back so you can see as much of the sky overhead as possible. Be sure to dress warm enough.

The best time to watch will be just before dawn. By that time the constellation Lyra will be high in the sky. The meteors will appear to be coming from an area near Lyra if you trace their trails backwards, hence the name.

These meteors are debris left from a comet called Comet Thatcher.
meteor

 

 

 

April 23 MORNINGA pretty sight in binoculars. A little crescent Moon right near Venus this morning.

Looking east 30 minutes before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April23 copy

 

 

April 26 MORNINGNew Moon occurs at 8:16 a.m. EDT.  The Moon is directly between the Earth and Sun and not visible. In a couple of days it will appear as a thin crescent in the evening as it pulls away from the Sun from our point of view. The crescent, or lit side of the Moon, always faces the Sun.
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April 27 EVENING – A lot of stuff to see in the west after sunset over the next two evenings. In addition to the leftover bright winter stars, can you pick out a very small crescent Moon above the horizon, and below Aldebaran, Mars and the Pleiades.

Be sure to look below at April 28 where the Moon has moved farther up in the sky after Sunset.

Looking west 45 minutes after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April27B copy

 

 

April 28 EVENING – This is really pretty. The crescent Moon is just above the bright star Aldebaran.

Looking west 45 minutes after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
April28 copy

 



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