On the night of April 16, people around the world will have to wait until mid-to-late evening to see the waning gibbous moon pairing up with the ringed planet Saturn. Once the moon and Saturn climb above the eastern horizon tonight, the twosome will adorn the nighttime until dawn. Look for the moon and Saturn in the east before going to bed tonight, and if you’re an early riser, look for them in the western sky before sunrise.
The moon and Saturn will pair up especially closely as seen from the Americas. In fact, the glare of the waning gibbous moon may obscure Saturn from view, so you might need binoculars to spot Saturn tonight. From South America, the moon will actually occult – cover over – Saturn, temporarily blocking the ringed planet from view. Click here for more information on this occultation.
If you’re not one to stay up late or wake up early, you’ll be pleased to know that two very bright planets, Jupiter and Mars, light up the sky first thing after sunset. The brighter of these two brilliant beauties, Jupiter, shines high in the southern sky at dusk and nightfall, as seen from northerly latitudes. South of the equator, Jupiter is seen in the northern sky at early evening.
You almost can’t miss Jupiter, as it’s the brightest star-like object in the evening sky. Although the planet Venus shines more brilliantly than Jupiter does, Venus is now a morning planet, rising in the east a few hours before sunrise. Venus will continue to be a fixture of the morning sky until October 2014.
As for the other brilliant evening planet, Mars, it’ll be beaming low in the east at nightfall as seen from all around the world. Mars will climb upward during the evening hours, and the moon and Saturn will eventually follow Mars into the sky by around mid-evening.
Throughout April 2014, Jupiter and Mars come out first thing after sunset, whereas Venus is seen in the east before sunrise. But tonight – on the night of April 16-17, 2014 – the moon is your guide to the ringed planet Saturn.