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Nighttrek: What to See in the April Sky

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The highlight of April is the planet Venus which is putting on a dazzling display in the west after 7:30 pm.  Venus is very bright now and will be brighter in the next few weeks!   Venus rotates very slowly on its axis – one day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days.  As you know, Earth does this in 24 hours.

 Make sure to go outside on April 11 and look below Venus to see the tiny planet Mercury.  It is at its highest point on that date.  It is interesting that Mercury is closer to the Sun, but Venus is hotter because the clouds covering the planet keeps the heat in.

            The red planet, Mars is still in the west in April and is above Venus.  However, Mars grows dimmer during April.  We have been keeping track of the Mars little helicopter, Ingenuity.  On March 28 Ingenuity flew for over two minutes scouting out new areas for signs of ancient life on Mars.

            The full Pink Moon will be on Thursday, April 6.   This name comes from a ground covering that blooms pink in April called Phlox.  This is a wild flower similar to our California Poppy.

            Make a point to look again at all the beautiful winter constellations like Orion and the star cluster, The Pleiades.   This will be the last month to see them before they go below the horizon and will not return until next December.

 NASA NEWS:  It’s like Fashion Week for space, as NASA unveils the freshly designed spacesuits its astronauts will be rocking on the moon.

            Last Wednesday at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, the sleek new suits were unveiled and were primarily designed for the Artemis lunar missions scheduled for 2025.

            In the meantime, Vandenberg Space Force Base is planning on a very active month with six rockets scheduled to launch!

            After a three year break due to COVID-19, Griffith Observatory is once again bringing back a FREE “Star Party” on the front lawn.  This will take place on the last Saturday of the month, April 29.  It starts at dusk and goes on until 10 pm.

            When not stargazing, Neill Simmons is a Wealth Advisor with LPL Financial in Woodland Hills.  If you have any astronomy or financial questions, he may be reached at (818) 936-2626 or emailed at neill.simmons

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