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/.
The Moon is at last quarter on Sunday, April 8th, and slowly fades away to new Moon as the week progresses. If you’re an early riser like me, you should enjoy the many interesting objects on “the left side” of the Moon that aren’t normally in a good viewing position at other times due to glare.
One of my favorite objects, and well within the capabilities of a small telescope, is the Straight Wall, also known as Rupas Recta (to the right-center on the following graphic). Look to the far eastern (right) side of Mare Nubium as shown above for a great view near last quarter!
Sunday (April 8)
Last-quarter Moon at 1:18 a.m. MDT.
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 2:00 a.m. and are in good viewing position well before dawn, above the “teapot” in Sagittarius. Mars and Saturn are moving away from each other now, after their close encounter last week.
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) in late July. At that time Mars will be brighter than at any time since 2003, and almost twice as bright as Jupiter.
Jupiter (in Libra)
Jupiter rises about 10:00 p.m. and dominates the southern sky for the rest of the night. It is getting close to opposition (next month) and is now about as bright and big as will all year.
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 11) 5:22:55 a.m. / Magnitude -1.3 / S / Elevation 53 degrees
Thursday (April 12) 5:16:53 a.m. / Magnitude -1.0 / S / Elevation 52 degrees
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)
These are too numerous to list here! If you’re seriously interested, load the ISS DETECTOR or HEAVENS-ABOVE app on your smart phone or tablet.
Pueblo West, Colorado