Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.
Mars and Saturn are at their closest (for this apparition) in the morning of April 2nd. In addition, Mars will be practically on top of M22, a bright globular cluster that some call “the M13 of the south.” Have a look through binoculars or your telescope! (I took a photo late last week – see below – and although Mars was far to the right of Saturn at that time, you can still get an idea what this event looks like through binoculars or a wide-field telescope. M22 is at the bottom of the photo, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is visible just below Saturn at the top left.)
(For an explanation of “M” objects, see my short article at http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/03/16/what-is-a-messier-object/).
Later in the week, Mars has moved away from Saturn, but you can still get an eyeful as the last-quarter Moon hovers above Sagittarius.
Monday (April 2)
Look for Mars and Saturn within 1.3 degrees, as shown in the above graphic. That’s about the width of your thumb held out at arm’s length.
Friday through Sunday (April 6-8)
The Moon does a fly-by over Mars and Saturn (see above graphic). On Saturday the Moon will be close to and above Saturn (photo opportunity?).
Mercury (in Pisces)
Hidden in the Sun’s glare this week.
Venus (in Aries)
Look for Venus low on the western horizon shortly after sunset.
Mars and Saturn (both in Sagittarius)
Both planets rise about 2 a.m. and are in good viewing position well before dawn, above the “teapot” in Sagittarius. Mars and Saturn will be their closest (1.3 degrees) on April 2nd. (See above graphic.)
Mars is fairly bright now, but it will be getting brighter over the next few months as it gets to opposition (on a line extending outward from the Sun through the Earth). At that time Mars will be brighter than at any time since 2003.
Jupiter (in Libra)
Jupiter rises about 10:30 p.m. and dominates the southern sky for the rest of the night. It’s in its best position for observation about 3 a.m.
Uranus (in Pisces) and Neptune (in Aquarius)
Both planets are now lost in the glare of the Sun.
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 short article at: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.
Wednesday (April 4) 4:35:59 a.m. / Magnitude -3.1 / W / Elevation 27 degrees
Saturday (April 7) 4:20:18 a.m. / Magnitude -1.3 / E / Elevation 19 degrees
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)
These are too numerous to list here! If you’re seriously interested, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.
Pueblo West, Colorado