Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

125,625 subscribers and counting ...

Use moon and Jupiter to identify three stars on April 7

The moon and Jupiter will pop out first thing at evening dusk. As dusk deepens into nightfall, look for the Gemini stars to come out to the north of the moon and the star Procyon to the south.

Tonight for April 7, 2014

When darkness falls on the night of April 7, Jupiter and the moon will be the first objects to pop into view.

When darkness falls on the night of April 7, Jupiter and the moon will be the first objects to pop into view, as seen from around the globe.

No matter where you are worldwide, as darkness falls on April 7, 2014, look first for the moon. The nearby star-like point of light will be Jupiter. The moon and Jupiter shine as the brightest and second-brightest heavenly bodies in the April 2014 evening sky.

As seen from mid-northern latitudes – the U.S., Canada, Europe, for example – the moon and the planet Jupiter pop out in the south to southwestern sky at dusk on on April 7. From the tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the moon and Jupiter hang high overhead. In the Southern Hemisphere, the moon and Jupiter appear in the northern sky.

As dusk turns into darkness, three bright stars join up with the moon and Jupiter in the starry sky. The stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini the Twins. They appear to the north of the moon. Meanwhile, the star Procyon of the constellation Canis Minor the Lesser Dog shines to the south of the moon.

For northerly latitudes, that means you’ll see Castor and Pollux above the moon as darkness falls, and you’ll see Procyon below the moon.

Here are Jupiter, Castor and Pollux on the night of April 5, 2014, when the moon was to the right of them, out of view in this photo by Jean-Baptiste Feldmann.  See the star Procyon?  It's in the trees ...

EarthSky Facebook friend Jean-Baptiste Feldmann captured Jupiter, Castor and Pollux on the night of April 5, 2014, when the moon was to the right of them, out of view in this photo. See the star Procyon? It’s in the trees. Thank you, Jean-Baptiste!

After the moon moves away, you can use the Big Dipper in the northern sky to find Mars and Spica.  Just follow the curve of the Dipper's handle all the way into the southern sky.

You’ll easily recognize the planet Mars now, in the each each evening. It’s very bright and red in color. To confirm that you’ve found Mars, use the Big Dipper in the northern sky. Just follow the curve of the Dipper’s handle all the way into the southern sky. You will see Mars and the nearby blue-white star Spica.

By the way, don’t forget to turn eastward in the evening toward a bright red “star” – really the planet Mars. Earth will pass between Mars and the sun on April 8, 2014, placing the planet closer to Earth and brighter in our sky than it has been for six years.

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.

From southerly latitudes, on the other hand, you’ll see the star Procyon above the moon, and the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, below it. Seek for the moon, Jupiter and these stars at nightfall or early evening, or when they’re still high in the sky.

EarthSky Facebook friend Tom Wildoner captured this photo of the moon and Jupiter on April 6, 2014.  Thanks, Tom!

EarthSky Facebook friend Tom Wildoner captured this photo of the moon and Jupiter on April 6, 2014. Thanks, Tom!

Bottom line: From around the world on April 7, 2014, the moon and Jupiter come out first after sunset, followed by Procyon to the south of the moon, and Castor and Pollux to the north of the moon.

Get your kids interested in astronomy and the sky! Use EarthSky’s lunar calendar as a fun way to enjoy the moon phases throughout the year.