Saturn only visible planet through the month of April

Apr 01, 2011
Saturn. Credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- For those who enjoy viewing clusters of planets, the evening sky in April may be a bit disappointing. Saturn will be the only planet visible for most of the night, until the sky starts to brighten toward dawn.

Saturn will be well above the southeastern horizon as darkness falls, one of the first "stars" to appear. The bright yellow planet will be opposite the sun in our on the night of April 3-4 ("at opposition"), and it will gleam at its biggest and brightest for the year. It will remain near its peak of visibility for most of the night throughout April. The best views through a telescope will be when it is highest in the southern sky in the middle of the night. Saturn will outshine nearby Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. Visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm for the latest news and images from the orbiting Saturn.

Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, will be due south of the planet on April 1 and 17, and due north on April 9 and 25.

Venus will rise in the east-southeast about 80 minutes before the sun on April 1 and an hour before the sun on April 30. It will be so dazzlingly bright that it will be easy to find above the eastern horizon.

For observers at mid-northern latitudes, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars will rise shortly before the sun after the middle of April, but they will be so close to the eastern horizon in the brightening sky that they will be difficult to find even with binoculars or a telescope.

Light pollution

A great deal of energy and money is wasted on inefficient, improperly directed outdoor lighting. To help call attention to this problem of , the International Dark-Sky Association encourages people in the United States to turn off unnecessary outside lighting during National Dark-Sky Week. This year NDSW will be from April 1 to April 8. More information is available at http://www.darksky.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=579 .

Meteor shower

The Lyrid meteor shower will peak on the night of April 22-23. For observers in North America, 10 to 20 meteors per hour should be visible in a clear, dark sky around midnight, before the moon rises. The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but they will seem to come from a point called the radiant in the constellation Lyra the Harp, which gives the shower its name. Lyra's bright white star Vega will be almost at the radiant, and the meteor count should be highest when Vega is well above the eastern horizon. Try using a tree or building to block the moon's glow after it rises around 1 a.m. local time.

Moon phases

The moon will be new on April 3, at first quarter on April 11, full on April 17 and at third quarter on April 24.

Explore further: Chilly end for sex geckos sent into space by Russia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The moon meets the Pleiades in April

Mar 31, 2008

The Pleiades star cluster will have a beautiful encounter with the slender moon in the western sky after sunset on April 8. Usually the moon's brightness overpowers nearby stars, but not when it's such a thin ...

Saturn dominates the night sky in January

Jan 04, 2007

The highlight of January will be the planet Saturn, which will rise in the east around 8 p.m. local time at the start of the month and two hours earlier by month's end. The planet with the famous rings will ...

STAR TRAK for May

May 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- After sunset each evening in May, look to the west-northwest to see the planet Venus as a beautiful "evening star," the brightest point of light in the sky.

STAR TRAK for February 2011

Feb 03, 2011

Jupiter will be the only bright planet visible as evening twilight fades during February, coming into view in the southwest. At mid-northern latitudes, this will be the last month until July when Jupiter will ...

Recommended for you

We are all made of stars

1 hour ago

Astronomers spend most of their time contemplating the universe, quite comfortable in the knowledge that we are just a speck among billions of planets, stars and galaxies. But last week, the Australian astronomical ...

ESA video: The ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre loading process

1 hour ago

This time-lapse video shows the ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre loading process and its integration on the Ariane 5 launcher before its transfer and launch to the International Space Station from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French ...

Titan's subsurface reservoirs modify methane rainfall

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The international Cassini mission has revealed hundreds of lakes and seas spread across the icy surface of Saturn's moon Titan, mostly in its polar regions. These lakes are filled not with water ...

User comments : 0