Some daily events in the changing sky for April 4 – 12.
Friday, April 4
Saturday, April 5
Sunday, April 6
Monday, April 7
Tuesday, April 8
Wednesday, April 9
Thursday, April 10
Friday, April 11
Saturday, April 12
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standards are Sky Atlas 2000.0 or the smaller Pocket Sky Atlas) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the even more detailed Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the enchanting though increasingly dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury is lost in the glare of sunrise.
So is Venus. . . or is it? How low does bright Venus (magnitude –3.8) really have to go before it disappears? We want your observations; see our article.
Mars (magnitude +0.9, in the center of Gemini) shines in the southwest to west during evening, high over Orion. In a telescope Mars is just 6.5 arcseconds wide now — just a tiny blob. A telescope will, however, show that Mars is gibbous.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.3, in eastern Sagittarius) glares in the southeast before and during dawn. The farther south you live, the higher you'll be able to observe it before dawn gets too bright.
Saturn (magnitude +0.4, near Regulus in Leo) glows high in the southeast to south during evening. Fainter Regulus (magnitude +1.4) is a bit less than 3° from Saturn: to its right at dusk, and lower right of it later at night. Watch Saturn and Regulus draw a bit closer together for the rest of April.
The two form a narrow triangle with Gamma (γ) Leonis, which at magnitude +2.1 is only a little dimmer than Regulus. It's located 8° to Saturn's north.
Telescope users: there's more to Saturn than you may realize. See our Saturn observing guide in the April Sky & Telescope, page 66.
Uranus and Neptune are still low before dawn.
Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in northwestern Sagittarius) is well up in the south-southeast before dawn's first light.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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