Astronomy sights for April

| April 4, 2017 @ 4:00 am

April has a number of astronomy sights that do not require any equipment

On April 6, the moon will pass just a degree away from the brilliant blue-white star Regulus, sometimes called the Heart of the Lion. It’s the bottom most star in the constellation Leo which looks a bit like a backward question mark.  Look to the east after sunset.

The following night, April 7, Jupiter reaches opposition—or the opposite side of the sky from the sun, also bringing the planet its closest to Earth (415 million miles).  This week will be a great one to view Jupiter.  It will be at its biggest and brightest, outshining the nearby brilliant star Spica.  Since Jupiter is opposite the sun, look for the planet to rise in the east as the sun is setting in the west and be visible all night.  A good pair of binoculars can also reveal Jupiter’s four largest moons.

Later the month Jupiter, Spica, and the moon will form a tight triangle, look for a Saturn-Moon conjunction, and Mars will nestle up to the Pleiades, a star cluster which plays a role in story telling of native peoples around the world.  The lyric meteor shower peaks the evening of the 21st and Venus will dance with the moon on the 23rd. 

More on those later.

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About the Author ()

Tony Rice is a Solar System Ambassador for NASA/JPL and the voice and brains behinds the weekly Astronomy Report on the WeatherBrains podcast. He grew up in Southern California with Space Shuttle landings and was hooked. He brings weather and space together to communicate the excitement of space exploration and promote a greater appreciation for Earth sciences.

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