April Constellations


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This view shows the entire April night sky, with the horizon around the edge and straight up in the center. The exact moment you will see this view changes slightly as the month progresses, but most of these star patterns are easily located throughout the evening hours. Planets move around a lot, and therefore are not shown on this chart; refer to our "planets this month" section for information on these objects.

Just west(left) of the center of the chart, almost straight up, is a collection of some of the sky's brightest constellations, sometimes referred to as the "winter hexagon". Most easily recognized of these groups is Orion the hunter, with three stars marking the giant's belt and quartet of bright stars marking shoulders and knees. One of the shoulders is the distinctive red star Betelgeuse. Just south of the belt is the famous Orion Nebula.

[More on the constellations below...]

The "V" shaped Hyades star cluster just northwest of Orion marks the face of Taurus the bull, and the lovely "seven sisters" or Pleiades star cluster marks his tail nearby. Returning to Orion's belt, we can follow them southeast to the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, the lead star of Canis Major (the great dog).

Below Canis Major, just on the horizon, you might catch a glimpse of the second brightest star, Canopus - barely visible from southern California, it rises a mere 3 degrees! North of Sirius, and alongside Orion, is the solitary bright star of Canis Minor, Procyon. Just north of Procyon, you find a distinctive pair of bright stars; these are the celestial twins of Gemini: Castor and Pollux. Straight north from Orion is the pentagonal pattern of Auriga, led by bright Capella.

In the northwest, we can catch a last glimpse of the "W" of Cassiopeia the queen - between her and the pentagon of Auriga is Perseus. Turning to the opposite horizon, we see Leo the lion rising in the east, his head looking like a backwards question mark containing the bright star Regulus. Bright blue Spica follows, carrying the rest of Virgo the maiden with her. Turning to the far north, the big dipper is now high as the sky gets dark, merely the brightest portion of the larger constellation of the great bear Ursa Major. The last two stars in the dipper's bowl point the way to the north star, Polaris, which marks the end of the much less obvious little dipper's handle.

To see the constellation names and read more about them, click on "constellations in depth", below.
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