Stargazing Information

April kicks off with the first of two total lunar eclipses that are visible from North America this year, then continues with some especially close encounters between the Moon and several stars and planets. The rest of the month’s rapidly warming nights offer a panoply of bright stars, from Aldebaran, which is vanishing in the western evening sky, to Regulus and Spica, which are climbing higher into the eastern evening sky.

This Week's Stargazing Tips

April 18: New Moon

The Moon is “new” today as it crosses between Earth and the Sun, beginning a new month-long cycle of phases. It should return to view as a thin crescent low in the western sky shortly after sunset on Sunday or Monday.

April 19: Lyrid Meteors

The Lyrid meteor shower is building toward its peak on Tuesday night. The best views come in the wee hours of the morning, when your part of Earth turns most directly into the meteor stream. There is no moonlight to spoil the view.

April 20: Moon, Venus, Aldebaran

The Moon is joined in the west this evening by Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” and by Aldebaran, the eye of the bull. Venus stands above the Moon, with Aldebaran to their left.

April 21: Moon and Venus

The crescent Moon and the planet Venus stage a beautiful encounter this evening. Venus is the “evening star,” and stands to the right of the Moon. As a bonus, the bright orange star Aldebaran, the eye of the bull, stands close below the Moon.

April 22: Vanishing Orion

Orion is sinking from view. The constellation is low in the west as darkness falls. Its most conspicuous feature is a short line of three bright stars, known as Orion’s Belt. The belt is parallel to the horizon, and sets in late evening.

April 23: The Centaur

The head and shoulders of Centaurus, the centaur, are visible from much of the U.S. They rise in late evening and remain in view, low in the south, for a few hours. The centaur’s body and legs are visible only from far-southern latitudes.

April 24: Virgo Galaxies

Virgo is low in the southeastern sky at nightfall. It is home to one of the largest and most massive galaxy clusters in the universe. The most prominent member of the cluster is M87, an elliptical galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its heart.

Check last week's tips if you missed a day.


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory