The warmer nights of spring bring a panoply of new stars and constellations. Leo is in good view by nightfall, climbing straight up from the eastern horizon, led by his bright “heart,” Regulus. Virgo follows a couple of hours later; the maiden’s brightest star, Spica, looks like a near twin to Regulus. The planet Venus continues its climb into the western sky as the Evening Star, while Mars, which is near Venus as the month begins, drops ever lower into the twilight.
This Week's Stargazing Tips
April 1: Cor Caroli
Cor Caroli, the brightest star in Canes Venatici, is in the east as darkness falls, not far from the Big Dipper. The star's name means “the heart of Charles.” Edmund Halley, the British astronomer royal, named it in honor of King Charles II.
April 2: Eclipses Through the Ages
The 30th eclipse in a series that began in 1492 takes place early Saturday, with all or part of it visible across the United States. An eclipse series is known as a Saros. This one will consist of 71 eclipses, with the final event in 2754.
April 3: Lunar Eclipse
A total lunar eclipse will decorate the pre-dawn sky tomorrow. Skywatchers in the western half of the United States will see all of the total phase of the eclipse, while those in the east will experience only part of the show.
April 4: Moon and Spica
The just-past-full Moon has a bright companion tonight: Spica, the brightest star of Virgo. It’s quite close to the lower right of the Moon at nightfall, and stays close as they arc low across the southern sky during the night.
April 5: Sirius
Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, slides across the southwest this evening. The star is in the south-southwest as darkness falls and sets by around midnight. It twinkles fiercely as it drops nearer the horizon.
April 6: Arcturus
One of the brightest stars in the night sky is visible all night right now. The star is Arcturus, the leading light of Bootes, the herdsman. Look for it low in the east at nightfall and arcing high overhead during the night.
April 7: Moon and Saturn
The planet Saturn is in good view tonight. It stands just below the Moon as they climb into view after midnight, and looks like a bright golden star. The bright true star Antares is not far below Saturn.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.