Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma

Tonight's Sky

Explore the night sky each month with Kirkpatrick Planetarium Director Tom Arnold! Each month Tom will provide a sky chart, created using Digistar Technology, and a viewing guide with labeled constellations that are visible from inside Oklahoma City. You’ll be able to locate which prominent stars and planets are located in the evening sky and learn about the month’s astronomical events.
 
Tom has had a life-long passion for the night sky, with his early fascination leading to a professional career in astronomy. Whether you consider yourself an astronomer or not, we hope that by exploring Oklahoma’s night sky and learning how to identify stars and constellations, you find a similar sense of wonder. Below you will find information to discover our universe, just by looking up. 

To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.

Download the chart!

Tonight's Sky: Mars

The Sky in April

Sun. 4th Last Quarter Moon
Tues. 6th Saturn is 4o north of the moon
Wed. 10th Jupiter is 4o north of the moon.
Sat. 12th New Moon
Sat. 17th Mars is 0.1o north of the moon, occultation in Asia
Sat. 20th First Quarter Moon
Thurs. 22nd Lyrid Meteors Shower
Sun. 27th Full Moon

 

Saturn - Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium

The Planets in April

Mercury
Mercury is visible for the first few days of April in the morning sky. As it moves eastward, it is quickly lost in the sun’s glow.

Venus
This month, Venus is too close to the sun to be seen.

Mars
Mars remains in the constellation of Taurus all month, moving westward as the month progresses. The moon will be close to Mars on April 17 causing an occultation visible only from Asia.

Jupiter
In the morning sky before dawn, Jupiter will continue to move away from the rising sun as the month progresses.

Saturn
Saturn will be in Capricorn all month, not far from Jupiter. The waning crescent moon will be close to both giant planets on April 6-7.

Tonight's Sky: The Great Nebula In Orion & Others

The Great Nebula In Orion & Others

One of the showpieces of the sky, the Great Nebula in Orion is visible to the unaided eye under a clear, dark sky. The map shows the constellation of Orion and the location of the nebula in the sword labeled M42.

1,300 light-years away and 24 light-years wide, the Orion Nebula is the most photographed and studied object in the night sky. There are several reasons why this is true. First, it’s the brightest star-forming region in the sky and holds many new stars as well as stars yet unborn. This cosmic nursery produces extreme turbulence and shock waves in the nebula accounting for the variety of interesting detail in the object.

The primary element in the nebula is hydrogen. The image seen here was made primarily in hydrogen with some oxygen and sulfur added to account for color modifications. Photographing in hydrogen accounts for much of the detail visible here and is a standard practice by astronomers to study specific detail in celestial objects.

The entire region surrounding the Orion constellation is filled with molecular hydrogen and contains many other smaller and interesting nebulas.

Tonight's Sky - Lyrid Meteor Shower

Lyrid Meteor Shower

On April 21st one of the oldest known meteor showers will occur. Its central origin will be in the constellation Lyra. Poor by meteor shower standards, it will produce only about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. Like all meteor showers, it will be the result of the Earth passing through the tail of a long passed comet. This comet was Thatcher G1 discovered in 1861. Yet the observation of the shower dates back to 687 BC! The moon will be at its first quarter, and not extremely bright. While not extremely bright, it will hinder the observation of this shower. As always, meteor showers are best seen from a clear, dark, sky.