Moon in Winter Circle on April 12
Tonight – April 12, 2016 – look for the moon and Winter Circle stars. It’s difficult to convey the humongous size of the Winter Circle, this lasso of brilliant stars that fills our western sky at dusk and nightfall. But you can see the circular pattern of stars around the moon tonight.
The Winter Circle stars aren’t the brightest star-like object in the sky on these April, 2016 evenings. Instead, the brightest “star” in the evening sky is actually the planet Jupiter. The king planet will be hard to miss, because Jupiter ranks as fourth-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, respectively, after the sun, moon and the planet Venus. But throughout April of 2016, Venus will sit in the glare of the rising sun and will not be all that easy to catch before sunrise (especially in the Northern Hemisphere).
The Winter Circle can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere, as well. If you’re in that part of the world, the star Sirius will appear at the top of the Circle and the star Capella at the bottom (if you can see Capella at all; it’s far to the north on the sky’s dome).
No matter where you live worldwide, observe the Winter Circle at dusk/nightfall because the Winter Circle stars that loom low at nightfall will sink below the horizon by early evening.
Bottom line: Use the moon on April 12, 2016, to find the bright stars of the Winter Circle!
Bruce McClure is the chief writer for the popular EarthSky Tonight pages. Since joining EarthSky in 2004, he has written thousands of astronomy articles, enjoyed here by millions. He also writes, gives planetarium shows and hosts a wide assortment of public astronomy programs in and around his home in upstate New York. If you ask an astronomy question on our site, it’s likely to be Bruce that answers it. His love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, and he has sailed the North Atlantic, earning his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. Bruce is also a sundial aficionado. He says his number one passion – besides his wife Alice – is stargazing.
Article published on EarthSky