The constellation Taurus is especially prominent this month thanks to the Moon and the planet Mars. The bull is dropping toward the western horizon at nightfall, and soon will disappear from view. But orange Mars passes by its shoulder, the Pleiades star cluster, early in the month, and the crescent Moon passes between Mars and the bull’s orange eye, the star Aldebaran, a few days later.
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In the Sky This Month
April 25: Hydra
Hydra, the water snake, is the largest of all the 88 constellations. It winds about a quarter of the way around the entire sky. And right now, the whole thing is in view after about 11 p.m., when its tail snakes into view in the southeast.
April 26: Crow and Cup
Corvus and Crater roll across the southern evening sky at this time of year. Corvus, the crow, resembles the sail of a boat, while fainter Crater, the cup, looks like a faint goblet. Both constellations sit on the back of Hydra, the water snake.
April 27: Alphard
Alphard is the brightest star of Hydra, the water snake, which wriggles most of the way across the southern sky as darkness falls. There are no other bright stars close to it. In fact, the name Alphard means “the Solitary One.
April 28: Hercules
Hercules climbs into good view in the east and northeast a couple of hours after sunset. His torso is outlined by a lopsided square of stars known as the Keystone.
April 29: Messier 3
Messier 3, a ball-shaped cluster of hundreds of thousands of stars, is high in the east at nightfall. It stands to the upper left of the bright star Arcturus, by a little more than the width of your fist held at arm’s length.
April 30: Moon and Venus
The crescent Moon and Venus, the “morning star,” will peek through the dawn twilight early tomorrow. They are quite low in the east about a half-hour before sunrise.
May 1: NGC 4696
Today is Beltane, an ancient Celtic festival celebrated with bonfires. It is a cross-quarter day, which falls roughly half way between a solstice and an equinox. In many cultures, these dates marked the start of the seasons, so May 1 was the first day of summer.