April’s Stars and Planets

The planets Jupiter and Venus dominate the evening skies this month, while Saturn is clearly visible between midnight and dawn.  Moreover, there will be a total lunar eclipse on April 4.

On April 7, Venus will move out of the Name A Star Live constellation Aries and into the Name A Star Constellation Taurus where it will remain for the balance of the month.  Venus is the very bright “evening star” you’ll see in the western sky after sunset.  Venus will move between the easy-to-see Hyades and Pleiades star clusters in Taurus during mid-April, so don’t miss it!

Venus, the Hyades & the Pleiades
Facing west on April 11, 2015 (for observers in the northern hemisphere). The bright planet Venus will appear between the V-shaped Hyades star cluster and the dipper-shaped Pleiades star cluster, both in the constellation Taurus. The bright star Aldebaran is in the upper, left-hand part of the “V” of the Hyades.  Unfortunately for observers in the southern hemisphere, Venus will appear very low on the northwestern horizon.

Jupiter will be in the Name A Star Live constellation Cancer throughout April.  Look for the king of the planets well above the southern horizon after sunset.  (For observers  in the southern hemisphere, Jupiter will appear well above the northern horizon after sunset.)  Be sure to check out Jupiter during the evening of April 26 when it will appear near the Moon.

Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse — a “Blood Moon.” As the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon during a lunar eclipse, sunlight is refracted (bent) by the Earth’s atmosphere. Much of that bent sunlight misses the Moon, and of the light that does strike the Moon, most is from the more reddish part of the spectrum, causing the Moon to appear orange-red. Photo by Anne Dirkse – www.annedirkse.com

Saturn is in the Name A Star Live constellation Scorpius all month.  Look for the famous ringed planet toward the south-southwest shortly before sunrise.  If you’re observing around midnight, look for Saturn toward the southeastern horizon beginning in mid-April.  (For observers in the southern hemisphere, look toward your eastern horizon around midnight, and toward your west-northwestern horizon before sunrise.)

A total lunar eclipse — a “Blood Moon” — will occur on April 4, 2015. Weather permitting, it will be visible from most of North and South America, Asia and parts of Australia.  Lasting less than five minutes, this will be the shortest lunar eclipse of the 21st century!  In the Americas the eclipse will occur before sunrise, and in the Eastern Hemisphere the eclipse will occur after sunset.  Click here for details as to when to view the eclipse from your location on Earth.

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