Tuesday morning April 23rd the 18-day old waning Gibbous Moon will be in a close conjunction with Jupiter as the two are separated by about 1o. The two should make for an interesting view as they both will very easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
Monday morning April 22nd, before the Sun rises, look toward the south-southwest for the 17-day old waning gibbous Moon. While the Moon is obviously easy to see at a -12.60 apparent magnitude, the nearby, (2-3o), dwarf planet Ceres with an apparent magnitude of 6.90 is outshined by the Moon and is not visible.
As this graphic shows all of the naked-eye visible planets except Mars are arranged from west to east above the horizon. While not naked eye visible Neptune, with an apparent magnitude of 7.94, is also shown. This arrangement of planets then offers an opportunity to visualize the plane of the ecliptic, the Earth’s orbit extended onto the sky. The plane of the ecliptic is one of the primary frames of reference for our solar system, and one of the things the other 7 planets have in common is that their respective orbits are all within about 7o from the plane of the ecliptic. Even our Moon stays within about 6o from the ecliptic.
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Tuesday morning April 16th before the Sun rises watch for the two inner planets Mercury and Venus to be rising together and separated by about 3-4o. Both planets will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
Compare the apparent magnitude of Venus, -3.93 with the 0.22 apparent magnitude of Mercury.
This is the closest the two will come to each other but Mercury and Venus will be visible above the horizon for the rest of the month and into May. Both planets are moving eastward along their respective orbital paths. This animated graphic is set to 1-day intervals from April 16th to April 30th.
Monday evening April 15th the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will be near the open star cluster the Hyades – a v-shaped pattern of stars making up the face of Taurus the Bull. Mars will also be about 5o from the ‘eye’ of the Bull, the reddish star Aldebaran. Both the Hyades and Mars will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars, and should prove to be an interesting sight. Compare the 1.50 apparent magnitude of Mars with the brighter 0.90 apparent magnitude for Aldebaran.
Sunday evening April 14th the 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 5o from the star Regulus, the ‘heart’ of Leo the Lion. Both the Moon and Regulus will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
Friday April 12th the first quarter Moon will be within 6-7o from the star Pollux in the constellation of the Gemini Twins and will more or less fit within the field of view of 7X50 binoculars.
Over the next several evenings the waxing crescent Moon will have moved past the planet Mars and the open star cluster the Pleiades and gradually move past another open star cluster the Hyades. Both open star clusters are part of the constellation Taurus the Bull.