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

One Month Away

A spectacular total solar eclipse is just one month away. It will be visible across a narrow path that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, with the rest of the United States seeing a partial eclipse.

Lagoon Nebula

The Lagoon Nebula is visible low in the southern sky tonight. To find it, look south around 10 p.m. for Sagittarius, a pattern of stars that forms a teapot. The Lagoon Nebula is visible through a small telescope just above the teapot’s spout.

Moon and Venus

Beautiful Venus, the brilliant “morning star,” stands close to the upper left of the Moon at dawn tomorrow. The planet is brighter than any other object in the night sky other than the Moon, so it’s hard to miss.

Moon and Companions

The Moon is closing in on two bright points of light in the dawn sky: the star Aldebaran and the planet Venus. Aldebaran stands to the lower left of the Moon at first light tomorrow, with Venus, the “morning star,” farther along the same line.

Milky Way

The hazy band of the Milky Way arches high overhead tonight. It represents the muted glow of millions of stars in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Even so, it is impossible to see if you are surrounded by artificial light sources.

Delphinus II

A pretty binary climbs across the southern sky tonight. Gamma Delphini is at the snout of Delphinus, the dolphin, which is in the east as night falls. Under dark skies, Gamma Delphini looks like a single point of light, but a telescope reveals two stars.

The Dolphin

Although the small constellation Delphinus, the dolphin, is faint, under a moderately dark sky it’s fairly easy to pick out. That’s because its outline really does look like a dolphin. It’s about a third of the way up the eastern sky at nightfall.

Virgo Cluster

Virgo stands in the southwest this evening. Its brightest star is blue-white Spica. Hundreds of galaxies stand above and to the right of Spica (and above the brilliant planet Jupiter). Binoculars reveal a few of them, and telescopes show even more.

Scorpion’s Tail

The stars that mark the scorpion’s stinger are low in the south tonight, to the lower left of Antares, the scorpion’s brightest star. The two stars are side by side, with the one on the left a bit brighter than the one at the stinger’s tip.

Scorpion’s Head

Scorpius is in the south and southwest on July evenings. Its head stands to the upper right of orange Antares, the scorpion’s brightest star, and is outlined by three stars. From top to bottom, they are known as Beta, Delta, and Pi Scorpii.

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