Astronomy: The Week Ahead – Mon 27 Apr thru Sat 02 May

A stunning image of NGC 6960 – The Witch’s Broom by Robert Franke (USA)

A stunning image of NGC 6960 – The Witch’s Broom by Robert Franke (USA)


Monday April 27

Step outside and look south an hour after sunset, and note the Moon at 9+ days in waxing gibbous phase, just below Leo’s brightest star Regulus directly to our south. Jupiter is near by moving slowly eastward through the center of Cancer. Our solar system members move through the twelve Zodiacal constellations, which include Leo and Cancer.


Tuesday April 28

The predawn morning sky gives us a nice view of two star systems in Cygnus, Omricon Cygni 1 and Omricon Cygni 2. In binoculars they appear as three stars of contrasting colors. Omricon Cygni 1 is also called 38 Cygni, an eclipsing binary with a primary being an orange supergiant and its partner a hot blue-white star. Omricon Cygni 2 is a red giant, just over 1 degree away from the other pair. This is a very nice binocular view!


Wednesday April 29

Due west after sunset, you’ll find Gemini the Twins standing straight up, its two brightest stars Pollux and Castor easy to pick out between the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter.


Thursday April 30

Mercury and the Pleiades put on a show after sunset tonight, low on the western horizon in Taurus. They are separated by under two degrees, and will fit well in a binocular view. To their east you’ll see bright Aldebaran, the red giant star that is the eye of Taurus the bull. Venus is riding night tonight, between the bull’s horns, close to the star Elnath, one of the rare stars that shares two constellations (Auriga and Taurus).


Friday May 1

The Moon and Spica team up in tonight’s twilight sky, just about 5 degrees apart. The Moon is waxing gibbous and 97 percent illuminated at nearly 13 days old.

With the moon this big, it is so bright that it will likely obliterate all the stars in Virgo except brilliant Spica.

Earlier in the week the moon was close to Regulus in Leo. Both Regulus and Spica are near the ecliptic, the path of our Moon and planets.


Saturday May 2

Are you ready for summer? You can get a jump on it looking directly overhead this weekend. Vega, the brightest star in Lyra is virtually dead overhead, at zenith. The star and constellation bring with them the summer constellations, and summer Milky Way. Can you find Deneb and Altair too?

The three bright stars make an asterism called the Summer Triangle. If your skies are dark enough, you’ll see the Milky Way slicing past Deneb and Altair. Now that May is here, summer skies are just around the corner!

Happy viewing!