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 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.
April 25: Moon and Jupiter
Dazzling Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, perches to the upper left of the Moon as darkness falls tonight. Jupiter looks like a brilliant star. The only other planet or star to outshine it is Venus, which is in the west at that hour.
April 26: More Moon and Jupiter
The Moon, the planet Jupiter, and the star Regulus stage a beautiful show this evening. Brilliant Jupiter stands to the upper right of the Moon at nightfall, with fainter Regulus a little farther to the left of the Moon.
April 27: Moon and Regulus
Leo’s bright heart, the star Regulus, lurks close above the Moon at nightfall. The much-brighter planet Jupiter stands well to their right or upper right.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.