Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

April 18: New Moon

The Moon is “new” today as it crosses between Earth and the Sun, beginning a new month-long cycle of phases. It should return to view as a thin crescent low in the western sky shortly after sunset on Sunday or Monday.

April 19: Lyrid Meteors

The Lyrid meteor shower is building toward its peak on Tuesday night. The best views come in the wee hours of the morning, when your part of Earth turns most directly into the meteor stream. There is no moonlight to spoil the view.

April 20: Moon, Venus, Aldebaran

The Moon is joined in the west this evening by Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” and by Aldebaran, the eye of the bull. Venus stands above the Moon, with Aldebaran to their left.

April 21: Moon and Venus

The crescent Moon and the planet Venus stage a beautiful encounter this evening. Venus is the “evening star,” and stands to the right of the Moon. As a bonus, the bright orange star Aldebaran, the eye of the bull, stands close below the Moon.

April 22: Vanishing Orion

Orion is sinking from view. The constellation is low in the west as darkness falls. Its most conspicuous feature is a short line of three bright stars, known as Orion’s Belt. The belt is parallel to the horizon, and sets in late evening.

April 23: The Centaur

The head and shoulders of Centaurus, the centaur, are visible from much of the U.S. They rise in late evening and remain in view, low in the south, for a few hours. The centaur’s body and legs are visible only from far-southern latitudes.

April 24: Virgo Galaxies

Virgo is low in the southeastern sky at nightfall. It is home to one of the largest and most massive galaxy clusters in the universe. The most prominent member of the cluster is M87, an elliptical galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its heart.