Sky Report by Ted Gruber
Mars (magnitude 1.1) is visible high in the western sky as darkness falls. The red planet currently sets around 1:30am and about 30 minutes earlier by mid-April. The moon appears about 2° south of (below) Mars on the evening of March 19, just west of Mars on April 16, and just southeast of Mars the following night.
Venus returns to the evening sky in mid-April, and Mercury does the same toward the end of the month. Look for more details in next month’s sky report.
Saturn (magnitude 0.7) currently rises in the east-southeast about 5:30am, with Jupiter (magnitude -2.0) following 30 minutes later, and Mercury (magnitude 0.0) edging above the horizon about 6:30am. By the end of March, Mercury disappears into the morning sunlight, but the innermost planet will return to the evening sky by the end of April.
A crescent moon appears about 4° south of (below) Saturn on the morning of April 6, and about 4° southeast of Jupiter the next morning. By mid-April, Saturn rises in the southeast just before 4:00am and Jupiter just before 4:30am. Both planets rise earlier and climb higher above the horizon each month through summer.
The Lyrids meteor shower is active from April 16 to April 30, peaking the night of April 21-22, with an expected rate of 18 meteors per hour at the peak when the moon is about 70% illuminated. The shower produces its highest rates over three nights centered on the peak. The Lyrids are so named because the meteors appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Lyra in the eastern sky.
First (3/21), full (3/28), last (4/4), new (4/11), first (4/20), full (4/26)
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.