Every Monday I pick the northern hemisphere (northern mid-latitudes) celestial highlights for the coming week, but be sure check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses, and more.
What to see in the night sky this week: April 4-10, 2022
It’s all about planets here. Mars, Saturn and Venus will all be visible before sunrise, they appear to be getting closer as the week progresses. And as the week draws to a close, the trio of planets will be joined by a fourth, giant planet Jupiter, which will be visible low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise.
Monday, April 4, 2022: Saturn and Mars in conjunction
Look to the southeastern sky this morning and see Saturn and Mars side by side, separated by less than a degree, roughly the width of the full moon. A little to the left is the much brighter planet Venus.
Tuesday, April 5, 2022: Saturn and Mars in conjunction
and the moon near the Pleiades
If you can bear to get up early again, look southeast about an hour before sunrise and you’ll see Saturn on Mars, still separated by about a degree. Come back many hours later, after the sun has set, and you’ll see a 21% illuminated Crescent Moon about 3° (about three full moon latitudes) from the twinkling Pleiades star cluster.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022: Mars is heading towards Venus
This morning and the following mornings you will see Mars increasing its distance from Saturn as it appears to be moving towards Venus.
Saturday, April 9, 2022: Jupiter appears and a first quarter moon
Look southeast again an hour before sunrise and you’ll see Saturn, Mars, and Venus lined up above the horizon. However, if you wait until just before dawn, you may be able to see the summit of giant planet Jupiter above the horizon just before it is swallowed up by the approaching dawn. It will get much brighter as it climbs higher in the sky for the rest of April.
It’s also a first quarter moon today, so our natural satellite appears to be 50% illuminated.
Constellation of the week: Leo “The Lion”
The winter stars of Taurus and Orion sink in the west as darkness falls. Directly behind them comes Leo “the lion”, a sure sign that spring has arrived. The brightest star in this constellation is Regulus, which is about 78 light-years away. To find it, face south around 10 p.m. and you’ll see what looks like an inverted six-star question mark. Regulus is the bottom star – the dot in the question mark – and it is by far the brightest star in the constellation.
Star Hop of the Week: ‘Bow to Arcturus, Spica to Spica’
Find the Big Dipper in the northern sky. His grip points down towards the horizon. Follow this handle in an arc and you will reach Arcturus low in the eastern night sky. Arcturus is a very bright red giant star about 37 light-years away. Now take a peak to the southeast and you’ll see Spica just over the horizon. Spica is 261 light years away. You’ve just gone “Bow to Arcturus, Spike to Spica,” a major navigational “star jump” only available in Spring.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.