In the Sky This Month

There’s one major skywatching highlight this month, and it’s in the daytime sky: a total solar eclipse. The Moon will pass between Earth and the Sun, briefly turning day to night and allowing the Sun’s hot but faint outer atmosphere, the corona, to shine through. In the night sky, Jupiter is disappearing in the west, while Leo, Virgo, and the other constellations of spring climb higher into the evening sky.

The full Moon of April is known as the Egg Moon or Grass Moon.

Perigee April 7
Apogee April 19

Moon phases are Central Time.

Moon Phases

April 1 10:15 pm
Last Quarter Last Quarter
April 8 1:21 pm
New Moon New Moon
April 15 2:13 pm
First Quarter First Quarter
April 23 6:49 pm
Full Moon Full Moon

Moon and Leo

The star El Nath, which marks the tip of one of the horns of Taurus, the bull, is close above the Moon at nightfall. The Moon will slide closer to it during the evening.

Vaporizing Planet

The constellation Aquarius is in the east and southeast at dawn tomorrow. One of its most interesting features is a star system known as WASP-69. It has a giant planet that is so close to the star that the planet is vaporizing from the intense heat.

More Moon and Planets

The crescent Moon snuggles close to two of the three largest planets in the solar system early this evening. The largest, Jupiter, looks like a brilliant star below the Moon. Uranus, the third-largest, is above Jupiter, but you need binoculars to see it.

Moon and Planets

The planet Jupiter stands to the upper left of the crescent Moon early this evening. It looks like a brilliant star. Through binoculars, you can also spot the giant planet Uranus just above Jupiter. The Moon will huddle close to both planets tomorrow night.

Future Eclipses

Today’s total solar eclipse will be visible from a narrow path that stretches from Eagle Pass, Texas, to Houlton, Maine. Skywatchers in the rest of the contiguous U.S. will see a partial eclipse, with the Moon covering only part of the Sun’s disk.

Total Eclipse

The Moon will pass directly between Earth and the Sun tomorrow, creating a total eclipse. The sky will grow dark, with a pink glow at the horizon. Stars and planets will pop into view, and the Sun’s faint outer atmosphere will form silvery ribbons around the Mon.

Eclipse Safety

For those inside the path of Monday’s total solar eclipse, it’s safe to look at the Sun when it’s fully eclipsed. At all other stages of the eclipse, the Sun is much too bright to view directly. Use certified eclipse glasses or other proper eye protection.

Leonine Galaxies

Look for Leo, the lion, high in the east as night falls. If you have a dark sky and a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you can find the spiral galaxies M65 and M66 within its borders. They should appear in the same field of view.

Hercules

Hercules climbs into view in the northeast in late evening. Look for a lopsided square of stars called the Keystone, which represents the body of Hercules. One of his arms stretches to the right.

Gamma-2 Velorum

Gamma-2 Velorum is the brightest star of the constellation Vela, the sail of the ship Argo, which is quite low in the south at nightfall. It is the nearest Wolf-Rayet star, which has blown off its outer layers to reveal its inner workings.

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