Woman stargazing with telescope

Minnesota Skies

Our local guide to observing celestial objects and events

April 2018

Hopefully you all saw last year’s sky show with the Great American Eclipse of 2017. This month, Jupiter steals the show at midnight.

Make sure to keep an eye on Mars this year, as it will shine brighter than it has in the past 15 years! Mars reaches its brightest and its closest to Earth on July 31 but now would be a good time to start watching it brighten from week to week. On April 1 at 5 am, look for the ruddy colored planet about 15 degrees above the SSE horizon. Saturn shines almost as brightly about 1 degree above left of Mars. The bright, reddish star Antares gleams 30 degrees right of Mars and Jupiter blazes about 20 degrees above right of Antares. Watch Moon pass Jupiter on April 3, Antares on April 4 and 5. On April 7, Mars shines about 4 degrees below left of Moon.

As bright as Mars is now, imagine how it will appear in July when it brightens considerably. By mid-July we may even have a chance to see Mars’ polar cap through a decent telescope. As we wait for spring to take hold in Minnesota, who’d have thought we’d be cheering on the opportunity to see an icy landscape?

Sky-lights

Detailed information on this month’s sky pairings and highlights.

April Highlight Comments
2 Ruddy Mars 1 degree below right of Saturn 5 am, 15 degrees above SE horizon
3 Bright Jupiter below left of Moon Midnight to 6 am
7 Mars, Saturn, Moon form line 4-6 am, SSE
17 Venus above right of crescent Moon 8-9 pm, W
29-30 Jupiter below left of Moon 10 pm to 5 am
30 Apr – 1 May Jupiter right or below right of Moon 10 pm to 5 am

Resources

When viewing planets, stars or constellations in the night sky, it is helpful to use a sky map.

Minnesota Starwatch is another great resource for tracking the night sky.

Meet up with other stargazing enthusiasts via Twin Cities Sidewalk Astronomers, MN Astronomical Society & MN Institute for Astrophysics.