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Star Gazing - April 5, 2021


■ Shortly after the end of twilight around this time of year, Arcturus, the bright Spring Star
climbing in the east, stands just as high as Sirius, the brighter Winter Star descending in the
southwest (for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes).

■ Early in Tuesday's dawn the crescent Moon shines under Saturn, as shown below. Then in
Wednesday's dawn, the Moon shines under Jupiter.

. . .And on April 6th and 7th, the waning Moon poses under the giant planets.

■ The bright star high in the west-northwest during and after dusk is Capella. Its pale-yellow
color matches that of the Sun, meaning they're both 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. Article and finder charts.


■ Castor and Pollux shine together nearly overhead in the south after dark. Pollux is slightly t
he brighter of these "twins." Draw a line from Castor through Pollux, follow it farther out by
a big 26° (about 2½ fists at arm's length), and you're at the dim head of Hydra, the Sea
Serpent. In a moonless dark sky it's a subtle but distinctive star grouping, about the width of
your thumb at arm's length. Binoculars show it easily through light pollution or moonlight.

Continue the line farther by a fist and a half and you hit 2nd-magnitude Alphard, Hydra's
orange heart.

Another way to find Hydra's head: It's almost midway from Procyon to Regulus.


■ 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


■ Vega, the bright "Summer Star," rises in the northeast late these evenings. Exactly where
should you watch for it to come up? Spot the Big Dipper almost overhead in the northeast.
Look at Mizar at the bend of its handle. If you can see Mizar's tiny, close companion Alcor
(binoculars show it easily), follow a line from Mizar through Alcor all the way down to the
horizon. That's where Vega will make its appearance.


■ By late evening the Sickle of Leo stands nearly vertical high in the south. Its bottom star is
Regulus, the brightest of Leo. Leo himself is walking westward. The Sickle forms his front
leg, chest, mane, and part of his head. Off to the left, a long right triangle forms his hind end
and long tail.

Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh
current night sky over Nashville, TN
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