Celestial events in the skies for the week of Apr. 10-16, 2018 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
New Moon week when the evenings will be dark and tempting and the morning positively planet-filled. The winter constellations are saying good in the west while in the east spring stars of Leo the Lion and Virgo the Virgin Maiden are rising high.
Tuesday, April 10
All spring the southern sky of 4 am to sunrise just after 7 am will have planets Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in the Milky Way. Jupiter is in Libra the Scales, but to its left is the heart of Scorpius, red star Antares. Yellow Saturn and red Mars are close to each other at the top of Sagittarius, which looks like a tea pot.
Wednesday, April 11
Leo the Lion rises high in the east, its stars very easy to find: the head and mane are a backward question mark dotted by bright, yellow star Regulus; and hindquarters is a right triangle of three equally bright stars. On this date in 1970, Apollo 13 was launched on the third manned landing on the Moon—aborted when an oxygen tank explosion crippled the Command Module on April 13th. The three astronauts used the Lunar Module as a lifeboat and looped around the Moon, returning alive April 17, 1970.
Thursday, April 12
On this 1961 date in space history, Yuri Gagarin was rocketed into Earth orbit, the first human in space. Around the world is celebrating Yuri’s Night. Twenty years later on this date 20 years later, the first Space Shuttle Columbia was launched in 1981. You won’t see it without a good backyard telescope, but eighth planet Neptune is above the crescent Moon this morning.
Friday, April 13
Looking north and you’ll see the most recognized star pattern of all—the Big Dipper. These seven stars are the hindquarters of a much bigger constellation, Ursa Major the Big Bear. Looking this direction is to look away and outside our Galaxy into the depths of our Universe and untold millions of other galaxies. The handle of the Big Dipper will “arc” you to the bright, orange star, Arcturus in Boötes. Continue that curve and you’ll run by Spica, a brilliant white star.
Saturday, April 14
Early morning risers and jogger will see the three planets in the south, and if lucky from 6:30-45 am see slenderest crescent Moon rising before the sunrise, and above it will be Mercury. Just a month ago Mercury was above Venus in the evening sky.
Sunday, April 15
New Moon is at 9:57 pm EDT when the Moon is exactly between the Earth and Sun. In the daytime the Moon is invisible below the Sun, its back side showing a full phase if looking from Venus or Mercury.
Monday, April 16
Darkness sets in before 8:30 pm, and in the west Orion is setting after 10 pm, its bright stars dramatically seen between budding trees. The bright star above the horizon is Sirius, the brightest in sky, but not as bright as planet Jupiter rising in the east and well above the horizon by 11 pm.