■ The first-quarter Moon this evening forms a tall, nearly isosceles triangle with Pollux and Castor above it: the two top stars of the Arch of Spring. The Moon is about 8° from each. The stars are 4½° apart.

The rest of the Arch of Spring consists of Procyon, shining lower left of Pollux and Castor, and Menkalinan and then bright Capella farther to the twins' lower right.

■ Over and done are the planetary triangles and bunchings that have highlighted the early dawn. Venus, Mars, and Saturn now form an expanding diagonal line, as shown below. From now on this line will just get longer and longer.

Venus, Mars and Saturn in the dawn, April 9, 2022
The Venus-Mars-Saturn line will keep lengthening until, by late summer, it will extend all the way across the dawn sky from east to west  always in the same order as here. Later this week, Jupiter starts joining the parade down to their lower left. See below.


■ Now the Moon shines left or upper left of Pollux and Castor in the evening.

■ Seen soon after dark this week, Orion tilts in the southwest in his spring orientation: striding down to the right, with his belt horizontal. The belt points left toward Sirius and right toward Aldebaran and, farther on, the Pleiades.


■ Sirius, Procyon, the Moon, and the Pollux-Castor pair form an enormous Y in the sky. Face southwest. Brilliant Sirius is the Y's bottom. Procyon is its middle. The Moon marks the tip of its left branch, and Pollux and Castor give a flourish to the end of its right branch.


■ The Sickle of Leo hooks around the waxing gibbous Moon this evening. The Sickle is standing upright with its open side to the right. Its brightest stars are Regulus below or lower left of the Moon soon after dark (for North America), and Gamma Leonis (Algieba) the same distance left of the Moon.

You'll need clear air to see the fainter stars of the Sickle well through the Moon's bright light. As always, binoculars help.


■ Now the gibbous Moon forms an equilateral triangle with Regulus and Algieba (for North America), 8° on a side.

Twice as far to the Moon's lower left is Denebola, Leo's tail-tip.

■ At this time of year, the two Dog Stars stand vertically aligned around the end of twilight. Look southwest. Brilliant Sirius in Canis Major is below, and Procyon in Canis Minor is high above it.


The Moon continues its eastward advance. Denebola is now closer to its upper left, and the Sickle has been left far behind.

Look three or four fists lower left of the Moon for Spica, and three fists upper left from Spica for brighter Arcturus.

■ While Arcturus is climbing high in the east, equally bright Capella is descending high in the northwest. They stand at exactly the same height above your horizon at some moment between about 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. daylight-saving time, depending mostly on how far east or west you live in your time zone.

How accurately can you time this event for your location? Like everything constellation-related, you'll find that it happens 4 minutes earlier each night.


■ Capella, high in the northwest during and after dusk, has a pale yellow color matching the Sun's, which means they're about the same temperature. But otherwise Capella is very different. It consists of two yellow giant stars orbiting each other every 104 days.

Moreover, for telescope users, it's accompanied by a distant, tight pair of red dwarfs: Capella H and L, magnitudes 10 and 13. That's about 10,000 and 60,000 times fainter than Capella itself! Article and finder charts. Can you make out at least H with your scope through the moonlight?


■ This evening the Moon is only about 3/4 of a day from full (for evening in North America). Look below it for Spica. Much farther to the Moon's left is brighter Arcturus.

Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn now form a line of four in the brightening dawn (April 16, 2022).
And now Jupiter arises. (As always, the visibility of points in bright twilight is exaggerated here.)


■ Full Moon (exactly full at 2:55 p.m. EDT). At nightfall, the Moon is in the dim feet of Virgo. Spica shines about 9° to its upper right (nearly a fist at arm's length), perhaps struggling to be seen through the moonlight. Brighter Arcturus is some 30° to the Moon's upper left.


This Week's Planet Roundup

Mercury, after last week's conjunction with the Sun, creeps up into the low afterglow of sunset late this week. By about Thursday the 14th, look for it low above the west-northwest horizon 30 or 40 minutes after sunset. At least it's bright, magnitude –1.2 that evening. Binoculars will help. With binoculars you may start to pick it up a few days earlier.

Venus, magnitude –4.4, is the bright "Morning Star" shining low in the southeast during dawn.

Mars and Saturn glimmer to Venus's upper right, in that order. They're vastly fainter: almost identical at magnitudes +1.1 and +0.9. Mars, however, is more orange than pale yellow Saturn. Each morning they're a little farther from Venus and from each other.

Jupiter emerges into dawn view this week, well to the lower left of Venus. On the morning of April 9th, it's 19° from Venus. By April 16th they close to within 13° of each other. Look for Jupiter about 45 to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Uranus is lost in the sunset.

Neptune remains invisible in the sunrise glow, close to Jupiter but only magnitude 7.9.

All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions and graphics that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America.

Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, is Universal Time minus 4 hours. (Universal Time is also called UT, UTC, GMT or Z time.)

Want to become a better astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an outdoor nature hobby. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in the center of each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy.

Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The basic standard is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in either the original or Jumbo Edition), which shows stars to magnitude 7.6.

Pocket Sky Atlas cover, Jumbo edition
The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and hundreds of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae among them. Shown here is the Jumbo Edition, which is in hard covers and enlarged for easier reading outdoors by red flashlight. Sample charts. More about the current editions.

Next up is the larger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; nearly three times as many. The next up, once you know your way around, are the even larger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And be sure to read How to Use a Star Chart with a Telescope. (It applies just as much to charts on your phone or tablet as to charts on paper.)

You'll also want a good deep-sky guidebook. A beloved old classic is the three-volume Burnham's Celestial Handbook. An impressive more modern one is the big Night Sky Observer's Guide set (2+ volumes) by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope replace charts? Not for beginners, I don't think, and not on mounts and tripods that are less than top-quality mechanically, meaning heavy and expensive. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say in their Backyard Astronomer's Guide, "A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand."

Audio sky tour. Out under the evening sky with your
earbuds in place, listen to Kelly Beatty's monthly
podcast tour of the heavens above. It's free.

"The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It's not that there's something new in our way of thinking, it's that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before."
            — Carl Sagan, 1996

"Facts are stubborn things."
            — John Adams, 1770



Image of Anthony Barreiro

Anthony Barreiro

April 8, 2022 at 4:06 pm

I saw Jupiter this morning, Friday April 8, at 0610 PDT, about 35 minutes before sunrise, for the first time during Jupiter's current apparition. Clear weather. Jupiter was easily visible to the unaided eye about two or three degrees above the horizon (Potrero Hill lies to my east, so my eastern horizon is a few degrees higher than the nominal horizon). Through 10x42 binoculars Jupiter was a lovely disk. No moons visible.

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April 9, 2022 at 7:17 am

Anthony, very good on seeing Jupiter. This past week at my location in MD, we have some 4 inches of rain that moved through. This morning near 0600 EDT, I did briefly see Venus, and then more clouds moved in 🙂 Perhaps tomorrow night I may be able to view the Moon with my telescope 🙂 First Quarter Moon this morning at 0648 UT according to April issue of Sky & Telescope. My days now will be spent doing grass mowing and weed whacking 🙂

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April 12, 2022 at 1:26 pm

I try, but they are so into their smart phones they hardly look out the window, let alone the skies.

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mary beth

April 9, 2022 at 10:45 am

So nice you have a great view! Love seeing objects close to horizon. The entire 360° view is probably amazing from the hill. If I lived there I’d want to go up the hill every nice day!

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April 11, 2022 at 2:56 pm

This morning, April 11, saw Jupiter as it rose just before my first school bus pickup at 0605 MDT. Clear flat east horizon her in N New Mexico.

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mary beth

April 12, 2022 at 12:21 pm

You are in a prime location! We have a place in High Rolls Mountain Park. My husband worked at Holloman for a few years, and he loved the NM skies. We are currently in Texas but will be going back to New Mexico at some point. So glad you appreciate and enjoy. Do you tell the school kids about the stars? it could almost be like a classroom for them if they are interested!!

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April 12, 2022 at 2:06 pm

mary beth, generally in the 1st week of May,

The NW corner of MD could go to 1st week of June in mountain areas. Today temperature is 70F and yesterday 65F so lovely weather. Bees are out and honey is being made by a bee keeper down the road. I could smell the honey yesterday when mountain bike riding 🙂

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April 10, 2022 at 9:53 pm

I was able to do some lunar observing tonight. This link shows some chart views using Stellarium and Starry Night I viewed,!Ag__n9x2eoQTgcR49G0d9uqWEFCkHA?e=YFeyuk

Observed 1930-2100 EDT. Sunset 1939 EDT/2339 UT. First Quarter Moon 09-April-2022 0648 UT. Moon waxing gibbous in Cancer. Virtual Moon Atlas reports angular size near 30.5 arcminute. I viewed using 90-mm refractor telescope using TeleVue 40-mm plossl and TeleVue 14-mm Delos eyepieces. 25x to 71x viewing. I used Orion Moon filter for some views. Numerous craters along the terminator line in south limb of the Moon, Blancanus crater area. Archimedes, Eratosthenes, and Copernicus crater areas studied. Two stars were visbile near the lunar limb tonight, southern section. HIP43950 (a bit more than 10 arcminute angular separation) and HIP43727 (a bit more than 22 arcminute angular separation from the lunar limb). I did view M44 in Cancer at 25x, a bit more than 4-degree angular separation from the bright, waxing gibbous Moon. An enjoyable evening out after a period of clouds and rain over the area. Temperature 8C, winds NW/15 knots.

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April 11, 2022 at 6:33 am

Skies clear this morning with temperature 0C and some frost all over the pastures and fields. I was able to observe Venus, Mars, and Saturn along the ecliptic, unaided eyes. Venus and Saturn separated by 13-degrees 21 arcminutes according to Stellarium. This was from 0520 EDT through 0625 EDT, viewing at different times. Sunrise 0636 EDT my location. Jupiter up but still too low for me to observe or the sky too bright. A great, early spring morning with frost on the fields 🙂 Venus in a good telescope viewing angle at 0625 EDT. Perhaps I will get out again and view Venus with my telescope 🙂

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mary beth

April 12, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Hello Rod glad to hear you’re enjoying the best of spring stargazing and nature. When is your last frost date generally? Cloudy skies here the last few days but hoping to get some clear weather to enjoy the waxing gibbous moon! I hope you get to see it!

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