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 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.
April 28: Evening Mercury
Look for Mercury quite low in the west-northwest beginning about 30 minutes after sunset. The planet looks like a bright star, far to the lower right of Venus, the “evening” star. Mercury will climb a bit higher in the sky over the next few days.
April 29: Vega Rising
One of the most prominent stars of summer is climbing into the evening sky. Vega, in Lyra, the harp, is low in the northeast not long after night falls, and soars high overhead later on. It is the third-brightest star visible from most of the United States.
April 30: Missing Stars
The fewest bright stars shine in the evening sky in late April and May. That is because the hazy band of the Milky Way, which outlines the disk of our galaxy, is out of sight, so most of the Milky Way’s brightest stars are hidden from view.
May 1: Moon and Spica
The gibbous Moon creeps up on a bright star tonight: Spica, the leading light of the constellation Virgo. The star is directly below the Moon at nightfall. They will arc across the southern sky during the night, then set around first light tomorrow.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.