Changing Planet

5 Sky Events This Week: Blue and Green Giants With Goddess of Love

Neptune as seen by Voyager 2. Credit: NASA

Along with a sprinkling of shooting stars, sky-watchers this week will marvel at the moon, which guides them to the mythical characters studding the night sky.

Lyrids peak. In the early morning hours of Tuesday, April 22, observers can expect this small meteor shower to peak, with rates of up to about 20 shooting stars per hour under dark skies. Best times to look up will be between local 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. across the Northern Hemisphere. Individual meteors will appear to radiate out from the shower’s namesake constellation, Lyra—the harp rising before dawn in the east.

Moon joins Neptune. The most distant large planet in the solar system can be a difficult target, thanks to its gleam being buried by the glow of the local sunrise on Thursday, April 24. However, Neptune will be joined by our waning crescent moon, which will make it somewhat easier to track down this week.

First, use binoculars to scan to the lower left of the moon and look for a tiny, faint, blue disk. The moon and Neptune will appear in the constellation Aquarius, at a distance from each other of only 5 degrees—equal to the width of about three middle fingers held at arm’s length. Next, using a low-power eyepiece, train your backyard telescope on the tiny, bluish disk of the ice giant 2.86 billion miles (4.6 billion kilometers) away.

Moon snuggles with Venus. Look for the second planet from the sun just south of the razor-thin crescent moon at dawn on Friday, April 25. The pair will appear only 4 degrees apart, making for a pretty photo opportunity for early-bird sky-watchers.

As added observing challenge, see how long during daylight you can continue to follow Venus, the Goddess of Love, in the brightening sky. With the moon acting as a convenient guidepost, keep watch with binoculars and see if you can spot the planet with just your eyes.

Pallas asteroid and Leo. Although the second largest asteroid in the solar system reached peak brightness weeks ago, at 8.3 magnitude, it’s still an easy target for large binoculars and small telescopes—that is, if you know where to look in the sky.

On Saturday, April 26, the giant rock should be a quick find, thanks to the fairly close pass of a superbright springtime star, according to a report at Pallas will be situated only 5 degrees south of brilliant naked-eye star Regulus—the lead member of the constellation Leo, the Lion. Look for the cosmic king of the beasts high in the southwest sky after nightfall.

Luna meets green giant. On Sunday, April 27, folks in the Southern Hemisphere will see the seventh planet from the sun, Uranus, enjoy a close encounter with the moon, low in the east before dawn. The green giant is only 2 degrees—equal to the width of four full moons side by side—away from the hair-thin moon.

The green-colored ice giant is four times the width of Earth, but since it lies nearly 1.9 billion miles (3.1 billion kilometers) away from Earth, it’s barely visible to the naked eye—and only in very dark, pristine skies.

Because of the glare from the nearby moon, binoculars will be your best bet in spotting Uranus. Just look for a tiny, greenish-blue disk in the field of view. By the way, the absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere is what gives Uranus its cool cyan coloring.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on TwitterFacebook, and his website.


Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Alicia

    What do you mean with local time, what if we live in France?

  • Dan Vergano

    Local time is your current time, so in France, you will see the particular sight then on your clock at that time (e.g. 3 a.m.) in your time zone, as Earth revolves to face that part of the sky at that time

  • Tania

    En México podrá observarse alguno de ellos?

  • Kubilay Han

    when can I see in Türkiye ?

  • Monika

    Can most of this be well see here in the southern hemesphire?

  • Cameron Hedges

    Who cares about France?

  • Damaris

    What it will be my local time?

  • Muhammad Shoaib Ahmed Shah

    what time will be in Pakistan, Islamabad to see this particular perspective.

  • patrick

    what is that local time?

  • Linda

    OMG are you stupid in France? If it’s 3:00 in the morning for the event to happen, you’ll see it at 3:00 in the morning there like I’ll see it at 3:00 in the morning here in the USA. If they say local time, they mean your local time. It’s simple.

  • Laksa Mee

    Hi Linda…
    we would appreciate if the ‘stupid’ not in your line.
    please use the nice words for others in explaining others.
    Please, please & please…

  • Pamela Brown

    Everyone makes fun of us from KY get a map, Google or look on or cell phone and whatever time it is in one place find or time zone and Linda we are not going to see it @12 like Australia. That is not how the earth rotates and we are not exactly 12 hrs behind them just think about that statement.

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