The zodiac is a strip of stars through which the Sun, Moon and planets appear to move over the course of a year. These stars are divided into thirteen unevenly sized constellations that run from WNW to ESE this time of year: Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Ophiuchus, and Sagittarius. To see a few of these, use a star map and the motion of Moon. Between April 8 and 20, Moon traverses Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo.
- April 8: Look for the bright star Aldebaran, part of Taurus the Bull, around 9 pm (see sky-lights below).
- April 11: Moon shines in the Gemini twins with its two bright stars Castor and Pollux glowing about 13 degrees above Moon.
- April 13: the stars of Cancer faintly shine behind Moon, but this constellation is difficult to see unless you are in dark skies.
- April 14: the bright star Regulus, in Leo the Lion, gleams below left of Moon
- April 18: the bright star Spica in Virgo, beams below right of Moon.
Keep watching all year as Moon and planets show you the zodiacal constellations.
|1||Thin crescent Moon 9 degrees right of bright Venus||6:45 am, Low SE|
|2||Very thin crescent Moon below Venus||6:45 am, Very low SE|
|8||Ruddy Mars above Moon. Bright reddish star Aldebaran (twice as bright as Mars) above left of Moon. Faint Pleiades to the right.||9 pm, W|
|9||Aldebaran below Moon||9 pm, W|
|11||Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation||6 am, Low E|
|11-18||Mars and Aldebaran within 7 degrees||9 pm, W|
|14||Bright star Regulus below left of Moon||10 pm, S|
|22||Reddish star Antares below Moon||5 am, S|
|22-23||Lyrids meteor shower peak (appx 10-15 per hour)
The radiant for this shower is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra
|Dark hours before dawn on April 23|
|23||Jupiter just below left of Moon||5 am, S|
|25||Saturn 3 degrees left of Moon||5 am, SE|
When viewing planets, stars or other objects in the night sky, it is helpful to use a sky map. You can download our Minnesota Skies guide or customize your own map on skymaps.com. Minnesota Starwatch is another great resource. Meet up with other stargazing enthusiasts via Twin Cities Sidewalk Astronomers, MN Astronomical Society & MN Institute for Astrophysics.
Meanwhile, on the internet
NASA has selected nine teams to continue the science legacy of the Apollo missions by studying pieces of the Moon that have been carefully stored and untouched for nearly 50 years. A total of $8 million has been awarded to the teams.