Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.
Look for reddish Mars near the Pleiades this week!
Three Binocular Comets
C/2015 ER61 PanSTARRS is reported to have experienced an outburst and is now reported by Sky & Telescope as “an easy binocular object” before dawn. Details are available at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/comet-er61-panstarrs-in-outburst-binocular-bright/.
Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak (“T-G-K”) is expected to maintain Magnitude 6 through April. For details see the Sky & Telescope article and finder chart at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/comet-41pt-g-k-glows-green-for-st-paddys-day/. It’s very diffuse at this point, however, and requires a long exposure to capture it in a photograph.
Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy is visible at Magnitude 7 (it was only expected to reach 9th magnitude at its brightest). This comet is more condensed and therefore should be easier to observe and photograph. It’s in Pegasus, in the east a couple hours before sunrise. For details see the Sky & Telescope article and finder chart at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/comet-lovejoy-brightens-quickly-heads-north/.
Sunday (April 16)
The moon Europa crosses in front of Jupiter from 8:05 p.m. to 10:28 p.m. MDT, and its shadow (easier to see) will follow from 8:29 p.m. to 10:57 p.m. The Great Red Spot crosses the Jupiter’s central meridian about 11:18 p.m.
Tuesday (April 18)
Mars is now less than 4 degrees (a little less than three fingers’ width held at arm’s length) from the Pleiades and will stay near there pretty much all week. See the above graphic.
Wednesday (April 19)
Last-quarter Moon at 3:57 a.m. MDT.
Saturday (April 22)
The Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak in the morning hours between midnight and dawn. (The Moon should not be a factor as it’s only a waning crescent.) Bright, blue-white Vega (the brightest star in Lyra) will be almost directly overhead (a little to the east) after midnight. Good luck!
Mercury (in Aries):
Mercury is lost in the Sun’s glare.
Venus (in Pisces):
Look for Venus low in the eastern horizon at dawn. (Watch out for the Sun if you decide to view it with a telescope!)
Mars (in Taurus):
Look for a faint orange “star” low in the west during late twilight, near the Pleiades star cluster as shown in the above graphic.
Jupiter (in Virgo):
Jupiter dominates the sky all night, as it passed opposition on April 7th. That bright star below it by about 8 degrees (a little less than a fist’s width, extended at arm’s length) is Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
Saturn (in Sagittarius):
Look in the south in the early morning hours, to the upper right of the Sagittarius “teapot.” Reddish Antares is about 19 degrees to Saturn’s right (a little less than the width of your fist with your thumb extended).
Uranus (in Pisces):
Lost in the evening glare.
Neptune (in Aquarius):
Lost in the morning twilight.
BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES
The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my article at: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.
Sunday (April 16) 09:31:27 p.m. / Magnitude -3.5 / E / Elevation 44 degrees
Wednesday (April 19) 07:37:18 p.m. / Magnitude -5.2 / SSE / Elevation 73 degrees
Wednesday (April 19) 09:22:25 p.m. / Magnitude -1.0 / E / Elevation 51 degrees
Thursday (April 20) 09:16:22 p.m. / Magnitude -8.2 / E / Elevation 51 degrees
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)
These are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.
Pueblo West, Colorado