Skywatching This Week: April 8-14

Sun and Moon

This week, the SUN sets between 7:24 pm and 7:31 pm Central Daylight Time. It rises between 6:21 am and 6:12 am Central Daylight Time. The MOON is new on April 10. This means you can see the waning crescent just before sunrise at the beginning of the week, and you can pick out the waxing crescent just after sunrise at the end of the week.

Planets

JUPITER is visible in the evening in the southwest. It’s the brightest object in the night sky (after the moon) and it doesn’t set until around midnight. SATURN now rises before 9:30 pm; it is not as bright as Jupiter, but you can spot it in the east below the very bright star ARCTURUS.

Looking east at about 10:00 pm Central Daylight time, the planet Saturn is the lowest point in a triangle with the bright stars Arcturus and Spica. Arcturus is the brighter of the two. (Screengrab: Stellarium)
Looking east at about 10:00 pm Central Daylight time, the planet Saturn is the lowest point in a triangle with the bright stars Arcturus and Spica. Arcturus is the brighter of the two. (Screengrab: Stellarium)

Early Evening

The bright star REGULUS is high in the southeast as soon as it gets dark after sunset. The bright stars ARCTURUS and SPICA can also be seen in the east after sunset. As noted above, the planet SATURN forms a triangle with these two stars. Saturn rises a little later than Arcturus and Spica.

Also, if you look to the northeast, you should be able to see the Big Dipper. The dipper hangs almost vertically, the “bowl” pointing left and the “handle” pointing downward to the horizon. The arc of the handle points to the star ARCTURUS. This is where the phrase, “Follow the arc to Arcturus,” comes from.

Although it is considered a winter constellation, Orion can be still seen in the southwest after sunset. It features the bright stars BETELGEUSE (the red-orange star on the top left) and RIGEL (the blue-white star on the lower right). You can use Orion (and it’s three-star “belt,” now nearly horizontal) to help guide you to other features in the western sky: the planet JUPITER and the bright stars ALDEBARAN, CAPELLA, SIRIUS, PROCYON, and POLLUX. These stars will be exiting the night sky stage in a few weeks.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s