April 2018

Sky Report - April 2018

By Dr. Bob Doyle, Emeritus Faculty
Dr. Doyle taught and was Planetarium Director at Frostburg State University for over 40 years

Early April (Apr 1-7)

Sunrise is about 6:55 a.m. with sunset about 7:40 p.m. Daily sunlight lasts 12.8 hours. On April 2, the planet Saturn appears above the orange planet Mars in the southeastern dawn. On that same evening, the moon appears near the bright planet Jupiter in the late evening. On April 7, the moon appears above the planets Saturn and Mars in the southeastern dawn. The brilliant planet Venus shines in the western dusk. The Big Dipper is upside down and high in the North. Take its three handle stars on the right; make an arc with these stars and extend it to the right and you will come to the bright orange star Arcturus, spring evening’s brightest star. Winter’s bright evening stars are creeping westward; you can still see Orion with his three star belt and the dazzling star Sirius, the night’s brightest star. High in the Southeast is Leo, the Lion. The bright stars on the right side of the Lion form a sickle or backwards question mark. At the bottom is the bright star Regulus, which means ‘little king’. Regulus is close to the sun’s path among the star so it often visited by the moon and planets.

Second Quarter of April (Apr 8-15)

Sunrise is about 6:45 a.m. with sunset about 7:50 p.m. Daily sunlight lasts 13.1 hours. On April 8, the half full moon appears above the planets Saturn and Mars in the southeastern dawn. This moon shape is called last quarter as the moon has a quarter of its orbit left before it passes by the sun on April 15 (New Moon). Besides brilliant Venus, the bright planet Jupiter begins to be seen as the sky turns dark after sunset. Look for Jupiter as a bright point of light low in the Southeast. Presently Jupiter and Venus are nearly opposite in direction. But as spring and summer pass, the two planets will approach and both will disappear in the dusk in early fall. Orion and the bright stars around it continue to drift westward in the early evening. Sirius, the night’s brightest star is now low in the Southwest. There will be public Planetarium shows at Frostburg State University on April 11 at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Planetarium is in room 186 of the Gira Center.

Third Quarter of April (Apr 16-23)

Sunrise is about 6:35 a.m. with sunset about 7:55 p.m. Daily sunlight lasts 13.5 hours. On April 17 a slender crescent moon will appear below and to the left of the brilliant planet Venus low in the western dusk. Look around 8:30 p.m. On the next evening, the moon will appear below the bright orange star Aldebaran of Taurus. On April 22, the evening moon will appear half full (like a ‘D’) in the southwestern sky. Along the moon’s straight edge, the sun there is rising, lighting up the crater rims and elevations. April 20 to 24 will be the best evenings for spotting the lunar craters and mountains with a telescope. Each night the moon’s rotation will carry 200 more miles of the moon’s surface into sunlight. So your views of the moon will be quite different each evening. The grey patches of the moon that you can see with your eye are huge lava basins: this are scars from the moon’s early history when asteroids smacked into the moon, breaking open the moon’s crust. Lava oozed out of the cracks creating floods up to a mile high. This is why the lava basins have relatively few craters, having been buried under the lava.

Last Quarter of April (Apr 24-30)

Sunrise is about 6:25 a.m. with sunset about 8:05 p.m. Daily sunlight lasts 13.7 hours. On April 24, the evening moon will appear to the left of the bright star Regulus of Leo. The moon spends about 2 and a half days passing in front of each zodiac group. So the moon will next be passing into Virgo, the widest zodiac group and then into Libra, the Scales. The abbreviation for pounds is Lb. from Libra. The two bright planets in the evening sky are Venus, now in front of Taurus and Jupiter, in front of Libra. Both planets are easily viewed as the sky turns dark. The moon will be full on April 29, rising about sunset. On the next night, the moon will appear near Jupiter. With binoculars, you can see tiny points of light near Jupiter; these are the planet’s large moons, comparable in size to our moon. The Frostburg State Planetarium will have its last spring programs on Wednesday, April 25 at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Planetarium is in room 186 of the Gira Center.

Contact Us

Dr. Jason Speights

Director of the MLC
Assistant Professor of Physics

Email: jcspeights@frostburg.edu (preferred)
Phone: 301.687.4339
Office: Gira CCIT 189

Send Mail To

Department of Physics and Engineering
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303

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