Full Moon Brings Easter | April 2022 Sky Happenings


April 5, 2022
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Mercury is the only evening planet this month. Look for it low in the west at dusk, over the point of sunset, beginning mid-month,.

Venus remains in the morning sky this month. Venus outshines everything except the Sun and the Moon, so you can try to find it low in the southeast at dawn. Venus remains a ‘morning star’ for most of 2022.

Mars is low the morning sky this month. The Red planet is near Saturn the first week of April, then pulls away from it and is to Saturn’s lower left by the end of the month.

Saturn is now low in the southeast before dawn. Saturn appears slightly higher each morning as Venus and Mars move past it. Mars passes Saturn April 5.

Jupiter enters the morning sky this month. You can see it low in the east at dawn, especially after the first week of the month. All month Venus approaches Jupiter, catching up to it on April 30.

Astronomers using NASA Hubble Space Telescope have found a bow shock around a very young star in the nearby Orion nebula, an intense star-forming region of gas and dust.
Astronomers using NASA Hubble Space Telescope have found a bow shock around a very young star in the nearby Orion nebula, an intense star-forming region of gas and dust.

April is the last month to see the full set of brilliant winter stars which now fill the western evening sky. Dazzling Orion is in the southwest at dusk. His three-starred belt is halfway between reddish Betelgeuse and bluish Rigel. Orion’s belt points rightward to Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. To Orion’s upper left are the twin stars Castor and Pollux, marking the heads of Gemini, the Twins. You can find Sirius, the brightest star we ever see at night, by drawing a line from Orion’s belt towards the left. Forming a triangle with Sirius and Betelgeuse is Procyon, the Little Dog Star.

Joining the winter stars are stars of spring rising in the east. Ursa Major, the Great Bear, which includes the Big Dipper, is high above the North Star on spring evenings. Extend the Big Dipper’s handle to ‘Arc to Arcturus’ and then ‘speed on to Spica’. Look for Leo, the Lion high in the sky at dusk. There are fewer bright stars in this direction because of where the plane of our galaxy is in the sky. The area of sky between Gemini and Taurus and over Orion’s head is the galactic anticenter, which means that we face directly away from the galactic center when we look in this direction. Those bright winter stars setting in the west are the stars in our galactic arm, right behind the Sun. On the other hand, if you look at the sky between Ursa Major, Leo, Virgo, and Bootes, you’re looking straight up out of the galactic plane, towards the galactic pole. There are fewer bright stars in this direction.

Map of constellations found during the month of April.
This star map shows the Houston sky at 10 pm CDT on April 1, 9 pm CDT on April 15, and dusk on April 30. To use the map, put the direction you are facing at the bottom.
In the west, Dazzling Orion, the Hunter sets with Taurus, the Bull. To Orion’s left are the two Dog Stars—little dog Procyon and big dog Sirius. Sirius outshines all other stars we see at night. The Big Dipper is high in the north. Leo, the Lion, is high in the south. These stars, along with Arcturus, announce the spring.

Moon Phases in April 2022:

New April 1, 1:24 a.m.; April 30, 3:28 p.m.

1st Quarter April 9, 1:47 a.m.

Full April 16, 1:55 p.m.

Last Quarter April 23, 6:56 a.m.

Sunday, April 17, is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the first day of spring. Therefore, this is Easter Sunday.

Clear Skies!

Look back to our March Sky Happenings.

Looking to visit The George Observatory? Be sure and keep these Do’s and Don’ts in mind.
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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