Southern Cross Stargazer for April


April 01: At dusk, Mercury appears on the west-northwestern begin its evening visit this month.. Bright Jupiter glows high in the east near the hind leg of Leo, Lion. Telescopes reveal storm bands on the planet’s surface and the closest four satellite moons. Mars rises in the southeast about midnight above the head of huge Scorpius.Blazing winter constellations linger one hour longer in the south and west due to the time change.

06: Aries, Ram butts his head on the western horizon. Mercury lies to the lower left of Aries. Sunlit Io, the closest moon to Jupiter, begins to transit across Jupiter’s surface at 9:52 p.m. Io’s tiny black shadow slides across the planet about 10:30 p.m. Fascinating view in telescopes!

08: The young crescent moon floats 6 degrees left of Mercury low in the west. Aim binoculars to the dark Earthshine on the moon.

10: By nightfall, the crescent moon nudges the star Aldebaran 0.03 degree. Aldebaran is the “red eye” of Taurus, Bull in the V-shaped Hyades star cluster, the Bull’s face. Super view in binoculars!

13: First Quarter Moon occurs at 11:59 p.m.

14: Tonight the moon lies 5 degrees below the Beehive star cluster in Cancer, Crab.

17: The moon glows 3 degrees from Jupiter in Leo..

18: Mercury reaches its highest altitude only 10 degrees above the western horizon and directly below the Seven Sisters, (Pleiades cluster).

23: Early Lyrid Meteors may be visible late evening.

24: The Pleiades shimmer 6 degrees above Mercury descending toward the west-northwestern horizon.

27: Winter constellations slide into the west: Taurus, Bull chased by Orion, Hunter and his Big Dog with bright blue Sirius in the southwest.

29: Last Quarter Moon occurs at 11:29 p.m. Ruddy Mars now rises in the east about 10 p.m. en route to its close encounter near Earth next month.

The Gemini Twins and the Beehive cluster drift westward. Capella guides the Charioteer across the northwest. Leo, Lion crawls overhead. The Pleiades and Hyades descend in the northwest.The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Bright Arcturus rises in the east. Corvus, Crow leads Spica, in Virgo the SpringMaiden higher in the southeast. Late evening, Vega rises in the northeast followed by the vast Summer Triangle.


April 01: Silver Saturn, encircled in icy rings, rises in the southeast about 1 a.m. Brilliant Venus, Morning Star, takes her final bows 1 degree above the southeastern stage 30 minutes before sunrise. Following a trip around the sun, Venus will arrive in the evening sky in July.

06: At dawn, the waning crescent moon rises 0.7 degree left of Venus in the southeast.

07: The closest New Moon occurs at 7:24 a.m. and may bring abnormal high tides.

10: At dawn, a celestial triangle occurs in the south. Saturn is 7.7 degrees left of Mars; Antares (red supergiant star), the Scorpion’s red heart, is 5.4 degrees below Mars. In binoculars compare the different shades of red with Mars and Antares.

18: At 1 a.m. the moon lies 2 degrees to the right of Jupiter.

20: By 5 a.m. Saturn and Mars are closest 7.2 degrees above Scorpius in the south-southwest. Mars is now 5 degrees above Antares.

22: The Spring Moon is full at 1:24 a.m. and is the farthest full moon this year.

23: The Lyrid Meteor Shower, visible 20-25th, will reach peak activity in the predawn the 23rd.

The bright moon sets in the southwest at dawn. Earth passes through the dust tail of old Comet Thatcher. Tiny fragments race into our atmosphere at supersonic speed and incinerate into colorful meteors. The shower radiates from Lyra, near bright Vega rising in the northeast late evening. Meteors are visible several degrees away from the radiant. Bright moonlight reduces the rate of meteors to 15 per hour.

25: A celestial “quartet” occurs as the moon joins Saturn and Mars above Antares in huge Scorpius.

27: At dawn the moon floats above the Sagittarian Teapot in the south. The Milky Way arches from the Teapot to the Summer Triangle overhead.

Leo, Lion stalks the western horizon. The Big Dipper drifts toward the northwest. Capella twinkles in the northwest. Vega leads the Summer Triangle overhead. Arcturus sparkles in the west. Spica, in Virgo slides lower in the west. Huge Scorpius crawls into the southwest followed by the Sagittarian the south. The Great Square of Pegasus appears in the east.


April 8, FIU: End of the semester Star Party at 8 p.m. live music, astronomy update, refreshments in CP-145 lecture hall, celestial observing on the FIU Observatory roof, weather permitting. 305-348-3964.

April 15: Southern Cross free public program, Mysteries of the Sun and Intro to the total solar eclipse of 8/2017 by SCAS President Lester Shalloway at 8 p.m. FIU Physics lecture hall CP-145, Maidique campus. Park in the campus garage, Southwest 109th Avenue at Eighth St. and follow the SCAS signs into CP-145.