What's Up: The Sky Tonight


Each month on this page, the Big Sky Astronomy club hosts a video, produce by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) featuring the planets, deep sky objects and one or more of the constellations that are visible in our night sky at this particular time of year.


Featured during the month of April, 2018

  • April 2018 has the planet Venus as the "evening star", which shines brilliantly in the western sky after sunset.

  • Through a small telescope, we can see sunlight reflecting off it's thick, cloudy atmosphere;

  • The "king of the planets", Jupiter, rises in the east before midnight;

  • Circumpolar in the northern hemisphere, the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear) lies high overhead in the northern sky this time of year;

  • The well known asterism known as the Big Dipper resides in Ursa Major. I looks like a drinking cup with a long handle;

  • The two stars that form the front side of the cup are known as the "Pointer Stars", because a line drawn from the lower star and up through the upper one will points to the North Star, Polaris;

  • Under dark skies and, if you look closely, the middle star of the Big Dipper's handle is actually a double star, visible to the naked eye. Ancient peoples used Mizar and Alcor as a test of keen eyesight;

  • Using a small telescope you can observe two neighboring galaxies. M81 and M82 lie at a distance of about 12 million light years;

  • Turning southward from Ursa Major, the distinctive constellation of Leo the Lion is prominent in April;

  • The bright star Denebola received its name from the Arabic word for "tail". Fittingly, Denebola represents the end of the Lion's tail;

  • The other brilliant star in Leo is Regulus. It represents the "heart" of the Lion;

  • Leo is home to numerous distant galaxies, many of which are easily visible in small telescopes;

  • A compact trio of these forms what is commonly known as the "Leo Triplet";

  • Nearby lies another pairing of large galaxies, M95 and M96;

  • Located between the Big Dipper and the head of Leo are three pairs of bright stars known to ancient Arab astronomers as "The Three Leaps of the Gazelle";

  • In the hours before dawn, Saturn and Mars rise in the east, in the summer constellation of Sagittarius. They join Jupiter which is, at this time of day, arcing towards the western horizon.

We cordially invite you to

"Discover the Universe with The Big Sky Astronomy Club"