Sky Lights ~ Taurus
April 19 - May 20, 2010
Venus continues to ascend and brighten above the sunset horizon. The planet can be seen in the constellation of Taurus the Bull during the sign of Taurus. Venus sets at the beginning of Taurus at 10:00pm and by its end at 10:45pm. Venus transits a sparkling star cluster, the Pleiades, and two bright reddish stars now, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. 4/24-26 the planet lies to the left (south) of the Pleiades that mark the Bull's shoulder. 4/25 Map 4/30 the goddess of love lies to the right (north) of red Aldebaran, the Bull's eye and our star of enlightenment. 4/30 9pm Map 5/15 Venus lies twixt the horn tips of Taurus, to the right (north) of red Betelgeuse, the shoulder star of Orion the Hunter; a thin Crescent Moon lies below (west) of Venus. 5/15 8:30pm Sky Chart ~ 5/15 9pm Map As the months unfold Venus continues to rise higher reaching its greatest distance from the setting Sun 8/19. The planet also shines brighter every month reaching greatest brilliancy 9/23. Venus has phases like the Moon; you can see them and more in this Venus 2010 Animation.
Mars, distancing from the Earth is dimming; it noticeably fades from magnitude 0.7 on 4/30 to magnitude 1.1 on 5/31. The rouge-gold planet can be seen overhead as the sky darkens and it sets in the beginning of Taurus at 3:00am and by its end at 2:00am. The planet remains eye-catching as it moves easterly through dim Cancer the Crab toward the beginning of Leo the Lion. Mars and Regulus, the Lion's heart star found at the bottom of the Lion's sickle shaped asterism, are similar in brightness, yet have different hues. Note: Regulus lies between Mars and Saturn. Compare the colors of these 3 celestial bodies. 5/10 9pm Sky Chart Look for the First Quarter Moon 4/21 below and west of Mars, the Gemini Twins lie above; Venus sets in the west-northwest at 9:45pm and Mercury sets at 8:45pm. 4/21 9pm Map The Lyrid Meteor Shower occurs the following morning. 4/22 3am Lyrids Map If you miss the 4/21 Mars Moon Dance, there is an encore performance 5/19. Map 5/19 9:30pm
Saturn is out almost all night long and is positioned highest in the south around 10:00pm. The planet sets around 5:00am in the beginning of Taurus and by 3:45am at its end. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo the Virgin west of its brightest star, Spica. The planet at magnitude 0.9 shines as bright this star, which glows at magnitude 1.0. Compare the color of yellowish Saturn and blue-white Spica. 4/24+25 the waxing Gibbous Moon lies near Saturn. 4/24 Map ~ 4/25 9pm Sky Chart 4/26+27 look for the "fulling" Moon near Spica. 4/26 Map ~ 4/27 9pm Sky Chart Saturn retrograde (1/13-5/30) moves westward from Virgo's dim star, Zaniah (aka Eta Virginis) to dim Zavijava; the planet lies very near Zavijava at the end of Taurus. Helpful Constellation Map Saturn's telescopic rings are generally opening during 2010, revealing more and more of their northern face. However, the planet's ring tilt is slightly narrowing from 5º in early February to less than 2º in late May. Generate images of Saturn's ring tilt as seen from Earth with the Solar System Simulator. Note: Regulus, Leo the Lion's heart star found at the bottom of the Lion's sickle shaped asterism, lies between Mars and Saturn. 5/10 9pm Sky Chart Compare the colors of these 3 celestial bodies.
Jupiter rises in a dark sky in the beginning of Taurus at 4:45am and by its end at 3:30am. Jupiter at magnitude -2.2 is the brightest light in the morning sky and is easily seen above the east-southeast horizon by 5:00am. Late April 6am Map 5/9 look for the waning Crescent Moon above Jupiter. 5/9 5am Map The following morning the diminishing Moon lies to the left of Jupiter. 5/10 Dawn Map/Text Note: As Jupiter rises in the east Saturn sets in the west. 5/11 3:50am Sky Chart Jupiter will be rising earlier and earlier as the months unfold. By mid-July Jupiter will rise just before midnight, making a brief appearance in the very late evening sky.
Mercury sinks out of sight on the sunset horizon as Taurus begins. During Taurus Mercury switches from the evening sky to the morning sky and the elusive planet is lost in the Sun's glow. Mid-May search dawn's early light to get a glimpse of this predawn planet. 5/12 the oldest waning Crescent Moon lies above Mercury; look for brilliant Jupiter to their right in the southeast. 5/12 5:30am Map The planet reaches greatest elongation May 25/26. Dawn Map 5/26 Spring's morning ecliptic is at an angle that keeps Mercury hugging the eastern horizon. Good luck in spotting this messenger of the gods. You'll need right timing, an unobstructed horizon, clear skies and helpful binoculars.
Orion The Hunter is found with the winter stars sinking in the southwest at sunset. The stellar giant fully sets in the beginning of Taurus by 11:15pm and by its end at 10.00pm. Use Orion's stars to navigate this area of the sky. Orion helps one find the Winter Triangle and the Great Winter Hexagon.
Sirius the brightest star in the heavens can be seen the southwest as the sky darkens. Sirius sets in the beginning of Taurus around 10:45pm and by its end at 9:30pm.
Regulus and Leo the Lion spring up overhead. Regulus lies between rouge-gold Mars in Cancer to the west and pale yellow Saturn in Virgo to the east.
Arcturus, is the bright golden star, high in the east at sunset. Use the handle of the Big Dipper to arc down to Arcturus from there spike down to blue-white Spica in the south. Helpful Image The westward movement of Arturus and the Big Dipper can be observed until sunrise. Big Dipper Navigation Notice the seasonal position of the Big Dipper's bowl.
Vega is the very bright star rising above the northeast horizon after sunset.