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 9: Auriga

Auriga, the charioteer, drives across the western sky this evening. Its brightest star is yellow-orange Capella, which stands high in the west-northwest as darkness falls.

April 10: Sparse Neighborhood

Our stellar neighborhood is thinly settled. Only 11 stars lie within 10 light-years of the solar system, and only one of them is visible from northern skies: Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which is in the southwest in early evening.

April 11: Vela Supernova

A nebula in the constellation Vela spans about 16 times the width of the Moon in our sky – almost as big as your fist at arm’s length. The Vela Supernova Remnant is 800 light-years away. It was born 11,000 years ago, when a supergiant star exploded.

April 12: Galactic Fireworks

NGC 6946 is the source of a lot of fireworks. Over the last century, it’s produced more exploding stars than any other galaxy. The galaxy is high in the northeast before dawn, to the left of Deneb, the bright star at the tail of the swan.

April 13: Virgo

Virgo is the second-largest constellation. It is so big that it takes about four hours to clear the eastern horizon. Yet it contains only one bright star, blue-white Spica, which climbs into view around nightfall.

April 14: Moon and Planets

The Moon is rolling past a trio of bright planets in the early morning sky this week. Tomorrow, Saturn will stand above the Moon, with brilliant Jupiter to the upper right and orange Mars to the lower left.

April 15: Moon and Mars

Mars teams up with the Moon at first light tomorrow. The planet looks like an orange star above the Moon. Saturn and Jupiter line up to their upper right, with Jupiter by far the brighter of the two.