New Moon Marks End of Ramadan | April 2023 Sky Happenings


April 6, 2023
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Editor’s Note: We are looking up as HMNS Astronomer James Wooten explains the sky happenings for the month of April and a New Moon that helps mark the ending of the celebration of Ramadan.

Venus is even higher in the evening sky this month. It is slightly higher in the west at dusk each evening.

Mars is now high in the west at dusk. As Earth continues to pull away from Mars, Mars is a little dimmer each evening. In April 2023, though, Mars still outshines most of the stars at night.

Mercury briefly enters the evening sky from about April 1-20. Face west northwest at dusk and draw a line from Venus down towards the fading glow where the Sun set. The brightest point along this path is Mercury.

Saturn is in the morning sky this month; face east southeast just before dawn.

Jupiter is behind the Sun and out of sight this month. It is directly in line with the Sun on April 11.

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 Boötes, you’re looking straight up out of the galactic plane, towards the galactic pole. There are fewer bright stars in this direction.

New Moon Marks End of Ramadan | April 2024 Sky Map showing constellations found in night sky.
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. Dazzling Venus approaches Mars in the west.

Moon Phases in April 2023

Full April 5, 11:34 p.m.

Last Quarter April 13, 4:11 a.m.

New April 19, 11:12 p.m.

1st Quarter April 27, 4:20 p.m.

The New Moon of April 19 blocks the Sun, causing an eclipse. However, the Moon’s shadow passes over Indonesia and Western Australia (where it will be April 20), never coming near America. This same New Moon marks the end of Ramadan. Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Fitr when the slender crescent becomes visible in the evening.

Our George Observatory is now open every Saturday night for observing! Purchase tickets in advance on our website.

Clear Skies!


Want more sky happenings? Take a look back at what you may have missed in March.

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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