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 Companions

The Moon is in the southwest as night falls this evening, with two bright companions. The star Spica stands below the Moon, with the brilliant planet Jupiter a little farther to the right or lower right of the Moon.

Moon and Jupiter

The Moon has a big companion tonight, the planet Jupiter. It looks like a brilliant star quite close to the left of the Moon. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system — about 11 times the diameter of Earth.

Future Fireworks

Cygnus, the swan, soars across the east at nightfall. One of its stars may explode around 2022. The system’s two stars are spiraling closer together. They should merge, causing an outburst that will make the system one of the brightest in the night sky.

Sagittarius Rising

Sagittarius climbs low across the southern sky on summer nights. Its brightest stars form the shape of a teapot, which clears the southeastern horizon a couple of hours after sunset. The center of the Milky Way galaxy is above the teapot’s spout.

Moon and Regulus

The star Regulus perches just a whisker away from the crescent Moon this evening. It’s the leading light of Leo, the lion. The name Regulus means “the little king.” The star is also known as Alpha Leonis, 32 Leo, and more than a dozen other names.

June Milky Way

About an hour after nightfall, the Milky Way curves from the northeast to the south-southeast. In the northeast, look for cross-shaped Cygnus immersed in the Milky Way’s glow. And in the south, look for the scorpion and Sagittarius, the archer.

Summer Triangle

The Summer Triangle is in good view at nightfall. Its brightest point is Vega, in Lyra, the harp, which is high in the east-northeast. The faintest point, Deneb, is well to the lower left of Vega, with Altair farther to the lower right of Vega.

Orange Triplets

A system of three orange stars is in the south-southwest at nightfall, not far to the lower right of the bright planet Saturn. 36 Ophiuchi looks like a single, faint point of light. It consists of three stars that are smaller and cooler than the Sun.

New Moon

The Moon is “new” today, as it crosses the imaginary line between Earth and Sun. It will return to view as a thin crescent on Sunday evening, quite low in the west shortly after sunset.

Eltanin

Eltanin, an Arabic name that means “the serpent,” is the brightest star of Draco, the dragon, which is high in the north on summer evenings. Eltanin is as bright as the nearby North Star, Polaris.

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