Nightsky by Astronomer Tania de Sales Marques

In these very unusual times, there’s one thing that we can still do from our homes and that is to look at the sky from our windows or back gardens.

Astronomer Tania de Sales Marques

If you’re unsure of your orientation, try using a compass on your phone or follow the direction of sunset in the West to situate yourselves.

The planet Venus, the third brightest object in the night sky after the sun and the moon, stands out in the southwestern sky throughout the month after sunset as a brilliant beacon which is why it’s also known as the evening star.

With the aid of a telescope you’ll be able to see that Venus is at a crescent phase.

In the evening sky, and facing south, Orion the Hunter is unmistakable, with strangely-dimmed-yet-still-bright red supergiant Betelgeuse marking the shoulder of the Hunter, bright blue supergiant Rigel his foot, and the three stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka, that make up Orion’s Belt, lining up to show us the way to the open cluster M45, the Pleiades, found in the constellation of Taurus, just West of Orion.

Venus in Ultraviolet. Picture: NASA

This cluster of blue hot stars is visible to the naked eye, however you’ll need a clear sky to spot it.

Between Orion’s Belt and the Pleiades you’ll notice an orange star called Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.

It started off as a star similar to our sun, but is now at a later stage of stellar evolution, known as a Red Giant phase, which marks the beginning of the end of the life of the star.

Following Orion’s belt but eastwards, you will see the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, in the constellation of Canis Major, which appears to flash different colours.

Towards the South-east you might spot a sickle in the sky, an asterism marking the head of Leo, the lion, with the first blue white star being Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, and actually part of quadruple star system!

The full moon on April 8 is known as the Pink Moon, named after pink flowers called phlox that bloom at the start of spring in North America, and it’s also called the Paschal Moon, as it’s used to calculate Easter day.


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