Some daily events in the changing sky for April 18 26.
Friday, April 18
The bright star far off to the Moon's left, dominating the eastern sky, is ginger-ale-colored Arcturus.
Saturday, April 19
Sunday, April 20
Monday, April 21
Tuesday, April 22
Wednesday, April 23
Thursday, April 24
Friday, April 25
The rest of Hydra winds dimly all the way left across the sky to its tail at the southeastern horizon.
Saturday, April 26
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standards are Sky Atlas 2000.0 or the smaller Pocket Sky Atlas) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the even more detailed Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the enchanting though increasingly dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury and Venus are lost in the glare of the Sun.
Mars (magnitude +1.1, in Gemini) shines high in the southwest to west during evening. It forms a skewed triangle with Pollux and Castor above it. The triangle grows flatter every day.
Compare Mars's color to that of Pollux, which now its equal in brightness. Pollux is an orange giant star of spectral type K0 III. To me, the tint of Mars looks slightly deeper.
In a telescope Mars is only 6.0 arcseconds wide just a very tiny gibbous blob.
Jupiter (magnitude 2.3, in eastern Sagittarius) rises around 2 a.m. daylight saving time and glares in the south-southeast by dawn. The farther south you live, the higher you'll be able to observe it and thus the sharper the view of it in your telescope before dawn gets too bright.
Saturn (magnitude +0.5, near Regulus in Leo) glows very high in the south to southwest during evening, just 2¼° from fainter Regulus (magnitude +1.4). They'll remain this close for a month to come.
Telescope users: there's more to Saturn than you may realize. See our Saturn observing guide in the April Sky & Telescope, page 66.
Uranus and Neptune are low in the southeast before dawn.
Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in northwestern Sagittarius) is highest in the south just before dawn's first light.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith including the words up, down, right, and left are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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