The Sky On April 2009


The Moon is in particularly fine form this month. It stages close encounters with all five of the naked-eye planets -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn -- as well as the stars Regulus and Antares. On the morning of the 13th it will cover up Antares as seen from Hawaii and parts of Mexico, and on the 22nd it will cover up Venus as seen from most of the continental United States. The Moon even cooperates for the Lyrid meteor shower; at the shower's peak, the Moon is a thin crescent in the pre-dawn sky, so there's little moonlight to interfere with the show.

5 Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, stands a little to the left or upper left of the Moon at nightfall. The planet Saturn is below them.

6 Saturn, which looks like a bright golden star, aligns quite close to the Moon this evening, with Regulus above them.

12 Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius, huddles close to the Moon tonight. It is close to the Moon's lower left as they rise after midnight, and even closer at first light. As seen from Hawaii, the Moon will briefly cover up Antares on the morning of the 13th.

18 The brilliant planet Jupiter stands a little to the lower left of the Moon at first light. They are low in the southeast.

21 The Lyrid meteor shower is at its best tonight.

22 The Moon, Venus, and Mars congregate low in the east at first light. The Moon will pass across the face of Venus, briefly hiding the planet from view.

26 The Moon, the Pleiades, and the planet Mercury align low in the west-northwest as night falls. The Pleiades star cluster is a little below the Moon, with Mercury about the same distance below the Pleiades. Mercury looks like a fairly bright star. Binoculars will enhance the view.

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