Go Stargazing! April Edition


April 1, 2008
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Creative Commons License photo credit: joka2000

This month, Mars continues to fade as Earth pulls away from it, but you can still see it if you face high in the west at dusk near the ‘twin’ stars of Gemini. Mars’ position among these stars changes quite noticeably on a nightly basis.

Saturn is high in the east at dusk this month. To find it, look to the east at dusk to find stars in the shape of a backwards question mark. These form the mane of Leo, the lion. The ‘point’ under the question mark is Regulus, a star of similar brightness. Saturn is to Regulus’ lower left.

Jupiter is in the predawn sky this month, in the south-southeast at dawn. It outshines everything else, unless the Moon is present. Venus is lost in the Sun’s glare, and will remain out of sight through the end of the summer.

April is the last full month to get a good look at Orion, the Hunter, and the striking star patterns surrounding this stunning constellation. Along with Orion, these include the two dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor, the zodiacal constellations Taurus and Gemini, and Auriga, the Charioteer. These patterns are all high in the south and west at dusk on April 1, but appear a little lower to the horizon each night. They begin leaving the evening sky during May.

Moon Phases in April 2008:

New April 5, 10:55 pm
1st Quarter April 12, 13:31 pm
Full April 20, 5:24 am
Last Quarter April 28, 9:13 am

For the best viewing conditions, get as far away from the city as you can – and visit us again to let us know what you see.

James
Authored By James Wooten

James is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He teaches students every school morning in the planetarium, and also answers astronomy questions from the public.

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