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Star Gazing - April 15, 2018
Sunday, April 15
• Right after dark, Orion is still 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.
• New Moon (exact at 9:57 p.m. EDT).
Monday, April 16
• Vega, the bright "Summer Star," rises in the northeast shortly after dark these evenings, depending on your latitude.
Exactly where should you watch for it? Spot the Big Dipper very high in the northeast. Look at Mizar at the bend of its
handle. If you can see Mizar's tiny, close companion Alcor (binoculars make it easy), follow a line from Mizar through
Alcor all the way down to the horizon. That's where Vega will be.
Moon, Venus, Aldebaran, Hyades, Pleiades, April 17-19, 2018
The waxing crescent Moon joins up with Venus, then Aldebaran, in the western twilight.
Tuesday, April 17
• Venus and a super-thin crescent Moon form a lovely pair low in the west as twilight fades, as shown here. They're
about 5° apart at the time of twilight for the longitudes of the Americas.
• Saturn is at aphelion and the in fact farthest it's been from the Sun (by a trace) since 1959.
Wednesday, April 18
• Now the crescent Moon hangs close to Aldebaran at dusk, cradled in the Hyades for skywatcher in North America (as
shown here). The Moon occults Aldebaran for parts of northern Canada.
Arcturus is the narrow point of the Kite of Boötes, climbing the eastern sky after dark these evenings. Below the head
of the kite is the semicircle of Corona Borealis.
Thursday, April 19
• Arcturus shines brightly in the east these evenings. The Big Dipper, high in the northeast, points its curving handle
lower-right down around toward it. Arcturus forms the pointy end of a long, narrow kite asterism formed by the
brightest stars of Boötes, the Cowherd. The kite is currently lying on its side to Arcturus's left, as shown here. The kite
is 23° long, about two fist-widths at arm's length.
Moon crossing Gemini, April 19-21, 2018
The Moon crosses Gemini as it approached first quarter. (The Moon is drawn three times its actual apparent size.)
Friday, April 20
• This evening the dark limb of the crescent Moon will occult 4th-magnitude multiple star Nu Geminorum for parts of
the southern U.S. and points south. For rough time estimates at your location, interpolate between the time predictions
in the April Sky & Telescope, page 48.
Saturday, April 21
• Now the Moon, almost first quarter quarter, shines lower left of Pollux and Castor after dark.
• The Lyrid meteor shower should be weakly active from about midnight tonight until the first light of dawn Sunday
morning. The Moon, nearly first quarter, sets around 2 a.m. local daylight-saving time. The shower may produce about
a dozen meteors visible per hour for a watcher under an excellent dark sky.
Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh