Sunday, 1 April 2018

Welcome to the Pickering Astronomy blog, providing updates on what to see in skies above Pickering with the unaided eye during April.

Here is a short list of night sky sights for the unaided eye during the coming month.

Stars and Constellations

Some prominent constellations visible in the evening sky are Bootes, Coma Berenices and Virgo
Follow the ‘handle’ stars of the Big Dipper star group southward to the star Arcturus in Bootes, and then further south to the star Spica in Virgo
Arcturus is a bright (first magnitude) orange star high rising in the east during spring evenings
Spica is a bright (first magnitude) blue star lower in the southeastern sky during spring evenings
Coma Berenices is a small group of faint stars west of Arcturus, and nearly overhead by late evening
The region of sky in the direction of Virgo and Coma Berenices contains numerous galaxies that can be seen in a moderate-size telescope

Planets

Mercury is practically not visible, except that it will be very low above the eastern horizon before sunrise in late April and early May
Venus is visible in the western sky during early evening and appears as a very bright white light
Mars is the southern sky before sunrise
Jupiter rises during the late evening and is low in the southeastern sky around midnight, in the constellation of Libra
Saturn rises after midnight and is visible in the southern sky before sunrise

Moon Phases
  •  Third Quarter April 8, 03:18 EDT
  • New Moon April 15, 21:57 EDT
  • First Quarter April 22, 17:46 EDT
  • Full Moon April 29, 20:58 EDT
Noteworthy Sky Events
  • Mars is very close to Saturn (the two planets are in conjunction) in the morning sky April 2 and then Mars moves eastward from Saturn fairly rapidly each day, and the 2 planets are distinctly further apart a week later. Mars is brighter, red-coloured and below Saturn which is yellow-coloured
  • Venus is very bright in the western sky during early evening all month, and the thin waxing crescent moon (2 days old) will appear lower left of Venus during the evening of April 17
Sky Resources Online
Some website resources for sky charts, weekly sky events, and more information:
  • www.skymaps.com
  • www.heavens-above.com
  • www.skynews.ca
  • www.skyandtelescope.com
  • http://astrogeoguy.tumblr.com/
Below is a chart of the sky as it would appear above Pickering, Ontario at 9 pm EDT, mid-April (courtesy of www.heavens-above.com). Custom sky charts like this can be plotted and printed at the websites www.heavens-above.com or www.skymaps.com.